EVAN WILLIAMS FREE- TO- AIR FILMS
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.