The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

RUS­SIAN film about the war in Chech­nya is un­likely to cheer any­one up, but The

( Tues­day, 11.35pm, SBS) may be the best thing go­ing this week, if we don’t count Ten’s lat­est re­peat of Jaws ( Satur­day, 8.40pm). The Rus­sians do war rather well. They made that stu­pen­dous film of War and Peace , Mikhail Kala­to­zov’s The Cranes Are Fly­ing is for me the most mov­ing of all World War II films and Elem Klimov’s Come and See , set in Nazi-oc­cu­pied Be­larus, is un­equalled for its night­mar­ish vi­sion of suf­fer­ing. In 2003, when Niko­lai Stam­bula was shoot­ing The Forced March , about the friend­ship of two Rus­sian sol­diers in Chech­nya, Vladimir Putin was do­ing his best to oblit­er­ate the place. Given the ha­treds on both sides, Stam­bula’s film is sur­pris­ingly even­handed: Rus­sians and Chech­nyans are por­trayed as equally ruth­less, treach­er­ous and vi­o­lent. The two he­roes are cap­tured by a guer­rilla com­man­der, Hasan, and a ran­som de­manded from their fam­i­lies. It’s a grip­ping and mov­ing film, and its por­trayal of mate­ship and loy­alty in bat­tle has echoes of Gal­lipoli .

( Fri­day, noon, Seven) is a tongue-incheek com­edy thriller about a Los An­ge­les den­tist ( Steve Martin) on the run from the cops. Ac­cord­ing to one char­ac­ter, ‘‘ ly­ing is a lot like tooth de­cay’’, but den­tal jokes are no more amus­ing than Rus­sian war films th­ese days, even with a cast in­clud­ing Laura Dern and He­lena Bon­ham Carter. Spi­der-Man 2 ( Satur­day, 9.15pm, Nine) may be one of those rare se­quels that im­proves on the orig­i­nal. Al­fred Molina is a mav­er­ick nu­clear physi­cist who ac­ci­den­tally mu­tates into a metal­lic crea­ture in sun­glasses, mak­ing a more con­vinc­ing bad guy than Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. If any­thing, the action is more spec­tac­u­lar, with Tobey Maguire still swing­ing around Man­hat­tan while his girl­friend ( Kirsten Dunst) yearns for do­mes­tic­ity. It may be time to give Spi­die a rest, and John Tra­volta would agree. In Be Cool ( Fri­day, 10.50pm, Nine; 11.50pm, WA) he plays a loan shark turned film pro­ducer who is sick of Hol­ly­wood’s end­less ap­petite for se­quels and em­barks on a ca­reer in mu­sic man­age­ment af­ter his buddy is gunned down by a Rus­sian mob­ster. This is a se­quel to Get Shorty , Barry Son­nen­feld’s stylish adap­ta­tion of El­more Leonard’s novel, and the fact that it sur­faced 10 years af­ter the first film sug­gests ( rightly) a cer­tain lack of in­spi­ra­tion. The pro­ducer was Danny DeVito,

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