The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - EVAN WIL­LIAMS

THE new year hol­i­day of­fer­ings aren’t bad at all. The ABC has three early Hitch­cocks lined up on Sun­day night, be­gin­ning with The Lodger ( 11.35pm), a 1926 silent thriller in­spired by Jack the Rip­per ( in a print from Bri­tain’s Na­tional Film Ar­chive with mu­sic track added), fol­lowed by two cer­ti­fied mas­ter­pieces, The 39 Steps ( 12.45am) and The Lady Van­ishes ( 2.10am). I’ve men­tioned them all be­fore and will add only that The Lady Van­ishes , re­leased in 1938, is said to have been highly in­flu­en­tial in tough­en­ing up Bri­tish pub­lic opin­ion for the im­mi­nent un­pleas­ant­ness with Hitler. The cli­mac­tic gun­fight on a rail­way branch line in some be­nighted cen­tral Euro­pean out­post was seen as a warn­ing against PM Neville Cham­ber­lain’s pol­icy of ap­pease­ment. Them! ( Sun­day, 12.15am, SBS), a clas­sic of a dif­fer­ent kind, was born of 1950s Cold War para­noia and pop­u­lar fears of nu­clear ra­di­a­tion. A colony of gi­ant ants is dis­cov­ered in the New Mex­ico desert, spawned by se­cret atomic test­ing. It was Warn­ers’ big­gest gross­ing film in 1954, gen­uinely fright­en­ing, and proof that great spe­cial ef­fects could be pro­duced with stu­dio mod­els, long be­fore the ad­vent of com­put­ers. For an­other tech­ni­cal tri­umph see Rus­sian Ark ( Wed­nes­day, 1pm, SBS), di­rected by Alexan­der Suko­rov and shot in a sin­gle take on high- def­i­ni­tion dig­i­tal video in the Her­mitage in St Petersburg. Thou­sands were baf­fled or bored by it, but it bowled me over when I saw it at Syd­ney’s Chau­vel, then run by Alex Mescovic, who used to say it was the big­gest art house hit he’d put on there ( and one of the last), and among the first films shown pub­licly with dig­i­tal pro­jec­tion. Suko­rov links a suc­ces­sion of his­tor­i­cal scenes and cameos to con­jure up the pomp and glory of tsarist Rus­sia in its dy­ing throes as the cam­era moves mag­i­cally through space and time. Help!, Richard Lester’s sur­real Bea­tles movie, would be a good way of spend­ing New Year’s Eve ( Mon­day, 9.10pm, Seven), and Nine is show­ing Arnold Sch­warzeneg­ger’s moody re­venge thriller Col­lat­eral Dam­age at 8.30pm on Tues­day. Kin­sey ( Fri­day, 11pm, Seven) is a brac­ingly in­tel­li­gent, un­flag­gingly en­joy­able Hol­ly­wood biopic about the fa­mous sex­ol­o­gist, whose re­searches into Amer­i­can sex­ual at­ti­tudes and prac­tices in the ’ 40s helped usher in, for bet­ter or worse ( I’m still de­cid­ing), the age of lib­eral per­mis­sive­ness. Writ­ten and di­rected by Bill Con­don — I al­most wrote Bill Clin­ton — it fea­tures a per­for­mance of ro­bust dig­nity and good hu­mour by Liam Nee­son. I also can rec­om­mend Bobby and Peter Far­relly’s Stuck

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