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IN her ex­cel­lent bi­og­ra­phy of Joe Lyons, Australia’s prime min­is­ter in the 1930s, Anne Hen­der­son re­minds us that Joe and his wife Enid had no fewer than 12 chil­dren. That was a size­able brood for a PM even in the golden age of big fam­i­lies, so it’s sad to think Joe didn’t live to see the won­der­ful Clifton Webb com­edy from 1950 about the real-life Gil­breth fam­ily and their off­spring. In Shaun Levy’s re­make of the same name, Cheaper by the Dozen (Satur­day, 6.45pm, Show­time Com­edy), Steve Martin plays a school sports in­struc­tor whose wife (Bon­nie Hunt) has man­aged to raise their 12 kids while writ­ing a novel.

The films have lit­tle in com­mon. Clifton Webb’s all-pow­er­ful dad was a strict dis­ci­plinar­ian and in­dus­trial ef­fi­ciency ex­pert, and the com­edy con­sisted in his lov­ing sup­pres­sion of do­mes­tic chaos. In the later film the com­edy is in the chaos it­self: mad­cap meals, ram­pag­ing kids, or­gies of good­na­tured destruc­tion. Martin’s funny faces and voices aren’t enough to save things.

To re­turn to the Lyons fam­ily (if I may), it ap­pears Enid once per­formed in a pageant as Queen of the Public Ser­vice with a nine-yearold Er­rol Flynn as her page­boy. Er­rol’s fa­ther, Pro­fes­sor Theodore Flynn, was a long-time friend of Joe Lyons. So how ap­pro­pri­ate, I thought, that this col­umn should men­tion Edge of Dark­ness (Mon­day, 11.50pm, Show­time Pre­miere), un­til I dis­cov­ered it isn’t the fa­mous World War II ad­ven­ture with Er­rol Flynn but the 2010 con­spir­acy thriller with Mel Gib­son. Mel is back in his best old-fash­ioned form knock­ing heads to­gether as a tough Bos­ton cop who stum­bles on a vast web of cor­rup­tion while in­ves­ti­gat­ing the af­fairs of his daugh­ter, who has been bru­tally mur­dered. It’s a vi­o­lent, scary af­fair, di­rected in vis­ceral style by Martin Camp­bell, and based on a 1980s minis­eries Camp­bell made for the BBC. Aus­tralian play­wright An­drew Bovell ( Lan­tana) had a hand in the adap­ta­tion.

For a true story of cor­po­rate cor­rup­tion I rec­om­mend The In­sider (Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, Starpics), with Rus­sell Crowe as Jef­frey Wi­gand, a to­bacco com­pany ex­ec­u­tive fired af­ter rais­ing un­com­fort­able ques­tions about how much his fel­low ex­ecs knew about nico­tine ad­dic­tion and the car­cino­genic prop­er­ties of to­bacco ad­di­tives. Michael Mann’s grip­ping ac­count of cor­po­rate whis­tle-blow­ing is filmed in edgy, im­pres­sion­is­tic style.. No one comes out of this sad, sorry tale with much credit.

But at least we recog­nise a fa­mil­iar world. In Christopher Nolan’s In­cep­tion (Sun­day, 11.05am, Movie Two) Leonardo Dicaprio and his fel­low re­searchers have dis­cov­ered a new form of cor­po­rate es­pi­onage based on pen­e­trat­ing the dream states of se­lected tar­gets and ex­tract­ing their in­ner­most thoughts. This in­tri­cate tale was made with Nolan’s cus­tom­ary tech­ni­cal crafts­man­ship and in­tel­li­gence. One re­spected col­league de­clared at least three view­ings were needed to take in all its lay­ers of mean­ing. So far I’ve only seen it once, which I think is suf­fi­cient.

The big one for cli­mate-change be­liev­ers is The Day Af­ter To­mor­row (Satur­day, 3.55pm, Show­time Ac­tion) — a vi­sion of a fu­ture apoc­a­lypse from di­rec­tor Roland Em­merich. No­table for its spec­tac­u­lar spe­cial ef­fects, the film is de­spised by cli­mate scep­tics, who have rel­e­gated it to the same rub­bish bin as Al Gore’s An In­con­ve­nient Truth. A huge hail­storm has struck Ja­pan; it’s snow­ing in New Delhi; the worst cy­clone in his­tory is caus­ing havoc down un­der, and pretty soon a Rus­sian ship is sail­ing up Fifth Av­enue. Den­nis Quaid is the brave cli­ma­tol­o­gist who alone un­der­stands what’s go­ing on. We take it as an omen when the Hol­ly­wood sign above LA is blown away in a mighty storm. Shred­ding a sym­bol of US cul­tural tri­umphal­ism is a brave start for any Hol­ly­wood film. An In­con­ve­nient Truth, re­leased three years later, seems cau­tious by com­par­i­son.

Leonardo Dicaprio in the fa­mously baf­fling In­cep­tion

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