FREE- TO- AIR FILMS
IHAD been wondering what had happened to P. J. Hogan, the boy from Brisbane who gave us Muriel’s Wedding , My Best Friend’s Wedding and other good things. Then I noticed that Ten is showing his Peter Pan at 3pm on Sunday. It’s a lovely, generally faithful account of J. M. Barrie’s play, notable for the fact that Peter is played by a real boy ( Jeremy Sumpter). There are enough mildly erotic implications to give things a modern flavour, however, at variance with Barrie’s pre- sexual vision of childhood, and the special effects are state of the art ( or at least they were in 2003). It was also a bold idea to have the fearsome Captain Hook played by the same actor ( Jason Isaacs) as Wendy’s kindly old dad. Unfortunately for Hogan, his film was overshadowed by Finding Neverland , in which Barrie was played by Johnny Depp. Anyone wanting to see Depp on the small screen will have to settle for Blow ( Sunday, 11pm, Nine), the story of a Boston workingclass boy in the 1960s who becomes the biggest cocaine dealer in the US, something Barrie would not have approved of. Perhaps it’s time for a Hogan retrospective; certainly a Heath Ledger retrospective, now I think about it. What are the networks doing? We keep getting old movies with Nicole Kidman and the blessed Cate. In The Interpreter ( Sunday, 9pm, Ten), Kidman plays a translator at the UN who overhears a plot to assassinate a visiting African dignitary. She knows the conspirators know that she’s on to them. Sydney Pollack’s film is full of dark contemporary references to global terrorism, genocide, ethnic cleansing, political oppression: all the evils of the modern international order. And Kidman — intense, withdrawn, edgy and primly bespectacled — is as good as I’ve seen her. She has excellent support from Sean Penn as a secret service agent. But there’s a price to be paid for the film’s depth and complexity. It never really works as a thriller, which is why I prefer Charlotte Gray ( Sunday, 11.40pm, Ten), directed by Gillian Armstrong. Blanchett plays a Scottish girl ( bookish, educated, fluent in French) parachuted into France in World War II to work with the Resistance. Yes, she looks a little too glamorous and conspicuously beautiful wandering around a French village in her cute red beret, and you wonder why the police in Vichy France don’t immediately haul her in for interrogation. Sebastian Faulks’s
novel was as much a love story as a thriller, and Armstrong’s film is tense and moving. I think I was the only person who liked it at the time. If you want an older film with similar themes, the ABC has Joan of Paris ( Monday, 1.15am, ABC), made in 1942, with Michele Morgan as the Resistance hero saving the lives of Allied pilots. But the one I’d go for is The Narrow Margin ( Wednesday, 1.40am, ABC). Made in 1952, it is among the great Hollywood B movies, and set almost entirely on board a train travelling from Chicago to Los Angeles. Charles McGraw is the cop escorting a racketeer’s widow to a West Coast court where she can testify before a grand jury.