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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

N its lat­est con­tri­bu­tion to com­par­a­tive cin­ema stud­ies, Nine is show­ing both ver­sions of The Wicker Man on Satur­day night, kick­ing off at 11.40pm with the 2006 Ger­man-Amer­i­can re­make of Robin Hardy’s 1973 cult clas­sic, and fol­low­ing with the orig­i­nal at 1.40am. Nice idea. The orig­i­nal, with its fa­mously hor­rific end­ing, is one of the grimmest things I’ve seen, though it’s not without a cer­tain bit­ter hu­mour. Ac­cord­ing to Wikipedia, Hardy de­spised the re­make ( with Ni­co­las Cage) and had Warner re­move his name from the pro­mo­tional ma­te­rial. The first film ( Bri­tish) starred Ed­ward Wood­ward as a de­vout Chris­tian po­lice­man who fol­lows the trail of a miss­ing girl to a re­mote Scot­tish is­land, home of a pa­gan re­li­gious cult led by Lord Sum­merisle ( Christo­pher Lee of Drac­ula fame). Writ­ten and di­rected by Neil LaBute, the re­make went for a more com­plex plot and an even ghastlier end­ing. Most crit­ics dis­missed it as a mess, and it was cer­tainly a set­back for LaBute’s ca­reer, though he’s mak­ing a come­back this week on free-to-air tele­vi­sion. Ten is show­ing ( Satur­day, 10.35pm), his lovely com­edy with Re­nee Zell­weger, per­haps the best thing Zell­weger has done, apart from her charm­ing Miss Pot­ter. She plays Betty Size­more, a wait­ress in Fair Oaks, Kansas, who is mar­ried to slob used-car sales­man Del and finds so­lace in her favourite TV hospi­tal soap, star­ring dream­boat sur­geon Dr David Ravell. When a hit man ( Mor­gan Free­man) ar­rives at her apart­ment and blood­ily dis­poses of Del, she takes to the road in a de­luded search for her sur­geon, with whose imag­i­nary world she now iden­ti­fies. Her wait­ress’s cap — sweet touch — be­comes part of her nurse’s uni­form. Be­lieve me, it’s funny, touch­ing and very clever, a som­bre satir­i­cal ru­mi­na­tion on the power of dreams and delu­sions, hold­ing its real and imag­i­nary worlds in del­i­cate bal­ance. In the imag­i­nary world of Babe ( Satur­day, 6.30pm, Ten), our piglet hero is saved from the slaugh­ter­house and adopted by a kindly farmer. Babe dreams of com­pet­ing in a sheep­dog trial, which of course she does. Ge­orge Miller’s im­per­ish­able fan­tasy, with Chris­tine Ca­vanaugh as the voice of Babe, will se­duce even the harsh­est cynic. Planet of the Apes ( Satur­day, 11pm, Seven) is an­other re­make of a Hol­ly­wood clas­sic, and there was the prob­lem of what to do about that fa­mous end­ing. Copy it, for­get it, change it, hope peo­ple won’t re­mem­ber how the orig­i­nal

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