FREE- TO- AIR FILMS
NINE is observing Holy Week with The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima ( Friday, noon), of which I’ll say no more, while Seven is offering Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ ( Friday, 10.30pm). The Gibson film is harrowing and deeply personal, though in retrospect it strikes me as odd that Mel’s name should take precedence over the other name in the title. Ten is showing Broadcast News ( Sunday, 11.20pm), which had much to say about the ethics of electronic journalism. James L. Brooks directed from his own script, and if I look at it again it’s bound to seem hilariously dated in matters of detail ( as usually happens with films that are desperately up- to- the- minute on their release). But there’s a great cast and many good lines. Holly Hunter is the network news producer whose professional relationship with a veteran correspondent ( Brooks) is disturbed by the presence of William Hurt’s affable, but somewhat dim, newscaster. Watch for Jack Nicholson’s scene- stealingly self- important anchorman. I thought it the best and wittiest film of 1987 and was disappointed when it was pipped for the big prize on Oscar night by the flatulent Bertolucci epic The Last Emperor. At this year’s Oscars many wanted Julie Christie to win something for her portrayal of an Alzheimer’s sufferer in Away from Her . But there’s an equally moving depiction of the disease in Iris ( Tuesday, noon, Seven), in which Judi Dench plays novelist Iris Murdoch. Richard Eyre’s film is about her slow, carefree dying, endured with blithe indifference and a sweet puzzlement at odds with the pain felt by others. Dench is unbearably good with her repeated words and little flutters of confusion, and Kate Winslet plays the young, confident Murdoch in flashback. It’s a very sad film and a very beautiful one. Doctor Zhivago ( Saturday, noon, Nine), David Lean’s magisterial, gloriously spectacular adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s novel about the Bolshevik revolution, was his follow- up to Lawrence of Arabia: marvellous to look at, with some great set pieces, including Zhivago’s trek across the snowy Russian steppes ( shot in Finland), but let down by Omar Sharif’s glum presence and the gratingly repetitive theme song composed by Maurice Jarre. In The Longest Yard ( Saturday, 9.30pm, Nine), Adam Sandler is a
former celebrity football pro who runs foul of the law and ends up in a windswept Texas jail coaching a prisoners’ football team to play the guards. It is silly, crude and violent, a remake of a remake, and I’m ashamed to admit how much I enjoyed it. ( The 1974 Burt Reynolds film, which this one follows closely, was a runaway hit.) Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown ( Friday, 10.05pm, SBS) is 1988 vintage Pedro Almodovar, an extravagantly stylish, dreamlike farce exploring the idea of obsessive love, with one of the director’s favourite performers, Carmen Maura, as the abandoned Pepa, searching for the elusive lover who has left her pregnant.