EVAN WIL­LIAMS FREE- TO- AIR FILMS

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

SEVEN is back with an­other Heath Ledger trib­ute, though it’s a pity it couldn’t have picked a bet­ter one than The Four Feath­ers ( Fri­day, mid­day). There have been at least six ver­sions of A. E. W. Ma­son’s clas­sic tale of Bri­tish colo­nial gal­lantry, and this one, from di­rec­tor Shekhar Ka­pur ( El­iz­a­beth ), is a showy, ex­pen­sively mounted piece with too many ir­rel­e­vant bat­tle scenes. Ledger plays Lieu­tenant Harry Faver­sham, the dash­ing Bri­tish of­fi­cer who has to live down a charge of cow­ardice when he quits his reg­i­ment to stay at home with his girl­friend ( Kate Hud­son). Ledger, the bearded Ir­ish out­law in re­volt against Bri­tish colo­nial im­pe­ri­al­ism in Ned Kelly , is now a bearded Bri­tish of­fi­cer de­fend­ing the same val­ues in Su­dan. And it’s more or less the same per­for­mance: som­bre, stoic, a tri­fle dull. But his English ac­cent is spot- on. I still think the Bond films give the best value in ad­ven­ture sto­ries, even if the plots get sil­lier. To­mor­row Never Dies ( Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Seven) was Pierce Bros­nan’s sec­ond out­ing as 007, and he was the best Bond since Sean Con­nery. The plot has some­thing to do with a me­dia mogul ( Jonathan Pryce) con­spir­ing to cap­ture the world’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels and con­trol our lives. So what’s new? Any­way, Bond has to stop him. The films started go­ing down­hill when Judi Dench took over as M and they ran out of Ian Flem­ing nov­els. And what hap­pens when they run out of J. K. Rowl­ing nov­els? Harry Pot­ter and the Philoso­pher’s Stone ( Satur­day, 7.30pm, Nine), the first Pot­ter film, was an en­tirely faith­ful adap­ta­tion of the book: not sur­pris­ing, per­haps, as Rowl­ing was given fi­nal artis­tic con­trol and could pull rank on di­rec­tor Chris Colum­bus. As mil­lions of read­ers in 46 lan­guages know, Harry is brought up by his mean aun­tie in Lon­don be­fore he’s res­cued by an owl and taken to Hog­warts School of Witch­craft and Wiz­ardry. Mar­vel­lous trick ef­fects and fan­tas­tic fun, and didn’t Daniel Rad­cliffe look young in 2002: charm­ing in his mild, win­some way, but strangely un­moved by all the won­ders tak­ing place around him ( as in­deed was your reviewer). No Mi­nor Vices ( Thurs­day, 12.45am, ABC1) is a very mi­nor com­edy with Dana An­drews, fresh from his tri­umph in William Wyler’s The Best Years of our Lives , who is cast as a doc­tor in a ro­man­tic tri­an­gle with Lilli Palmer, proof that Lewis Mile­stone, who made All Quiet on the West­ern Front , could di­rect his share of dross. Mile­stone also di­rected the orig­i­nal Ocean’s Eleven , of which Ocean’s Twelve ( Wed­nes­day, 9.30pm, Nine) was the sec­ond Steven Soder­bergh reprise, a treat for Ge­orge Clooney

fans, not to men­tion Brad Pitt fans, Matt Da­mon fans, and the rest of the gang. All very lik­able. The Hud­sucker Proxy ( Wed­nes­day, noon, Nine) is the Coen brothers’ ami­able satire on big busi­ness, with Tim Rob­bins play­ing a mail­room clerk pro­moted to chief ex­ec­u­tive to serve the de­vi­ous pur­poses of board chair­man Paul New­man. Stylish and funny. And I rec­om­mend Up at the Villa ( Thurs­day, noon, Nine), an un­der­rated melo­drama, di­rected by Philip Haas, set among Bri­tish emi­gres in pre- war fas­cist Italy and based on a W. Som­er­set Maugham story. I saw it on its brief run dur­ing the Syd­ney Olympics, when there was no way Kristin Scott Thomas could com­pete with Cathy Free­man.

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