EVAN WIL­LIAMS

FREE- TO- AIR FILMS

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

WE should all be grate­ful to Ten, which is show­ing three re­mark­able films this week, in­clud­ing Robert Alt­man’s hi­lar­i­ously sin­is­ter Hol­ly­wood satire The Player ( Sun­day, 11.15pm). This typ­i­cally Alt­manesque show­case, a wan­der through the by­ways of Tin­sel­town in pur­suit of dirty se­crets and hollow pre­ten­sions, has scores of real- life celebri­ties pop­ping up in cameo roles. Tim Rob­bins plays a pro­duc­tion ex­ec­u­tive who mur­ders a writer, pro­vid­ing a frame­work for the film’s real busi­ness: a string of loosely con­nected char­ac­ter sketches and Hol­ly­wood in- jokes, a bit dated af­ter 18 years but still funny if you get them. Sam­ple: Buck Henry, who wrote The Grad­u­ate, is seen pitch­ing an idea for a se­quel in which a bedrid­den Mrs Robin­son moves in with Ben­jamin and Elaine. Brid­get Jones’s Diary ( Fri­day, 9.30pm, Ten) wasn’t the best ro­man­tic com­edy of 2001, but read­ers of He­len Field­ing’s book were grate­ful to Re­nee Zell­weger for putting on 10kg and an English ac­cent in or­der to look suit­ably fraught as the girl forced to choose be­tween dash­ing cad Hugh Grant and rich bar­ris­ter Colin Firth. Bri­tain’s an­swer to Sex and the City ar­rived at the height of the Jane Austen re­vival, and we were meant to no­tice that the story was a re­run of Pride and Prej­u­dice, with Firth’s char­ac­ter called Mr Darcy. Cut ( Fri­day, 1.30am, Ten) was Aus­tralia’s first teen slasher movie, our en­trant in the Scream and Hal­loween stakes, made in 2000 and look­ing a lit­tle tame now that the stan­dards in this spe­cialised field have been raised dra­mat­i­cally by the Saw and Hos­tel films. But the idea was rather good: a group of film stu­dents get to­gether in a spooky old man­sion to com­plete a hor­ror movie 14 years af­ter the di­rec­tor was mur­dered. Kylie Minogue was silly enough to get in­volved, but since she’s killed early on af­ter hav­ing her tongue cut out, her ca­reer may not have suf­fered un­duly. More scary is Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist ( Satur­day, 1.50am, Nine), pro­duced by Steven Spiel­berg. This is one of the few films best seen in the small hours on television. A happy sub­ur­ban cou­ple ( Craig Nelson and JoBeth Wil­liams) sud­denly find that their chil­dren are ter­ri­fied by some­thing nasty emerg­ing from the small screen in the liv­ing room, and it’s not Sex and the City. It seems the house was built on a sa­cred Na­tive Amer­i­can burial ground, prob­a­bly dur­ing the sub- prime mort­gage cri­sis, and the gods are

an­gry. Un­even, but ef­fec­tively creepy stuff. Frenzy ( Wed­nes­day, 1.25am, ABC), Hitch­cock’s first Bri­tish film af­ter his Hol­ly­wood years ( and the sec­ond last of his ca­reer), was widely seen as a re­turn to form af­ter Topaz and Torn Cur­tain. But try as I might, I’ve never been able to love it. The stran­gu­la­tion mur­ders have a dis­agree­ably sadis­tic flavour and the char­ac­ters are unattrac­tive. But there are still those fa­mous set- pieces, in­clud­ing the killer’s search for an in­crim­i­nat­ing tiepin clutched in the dead hand of a nude girl, and it is worth see­ing for Alec McCowen’s ha­rassed Lon­don po­lice chief, forced to en­dure his wife’s un­ap­petis­ing culi­nary ex­per­i­ments at home.

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