The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

A VERY un­der­rated Aus­tralian film last year was Sleep­ing Beauty (Satur­day, 9.30pm, World Movies), the bril­liant de­but fea­ture of Sydney nov­el­ist Ju­lia Leigh. An eerie fan­tasy about the outer lim­its of sex­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion in a world of wealthy geri­atrics, it won warm re­views from over­seas crit­ics af­ter its first show­ing In Cannes. It’s the story of Lucy (Emily Brown­ing), a univer­sity stu­dent who ekes out a liv­ing do­ing odd jobs in of­fices and restau­rants (and, in a shock­ing early scene, sub­mits to hav­ing a plas­tic tube thrust down her throat as part of a med­i­cal ex­per­i­ment). An­swer­ing an ad­ver­tise­ment in a cam­pus jour­nal, she is re­cruited as a sex worker, in­stalled in a grand man­sion and in­structed in her trade by the icy, aris­to­cratic Clara (Rachael Blake). As part of her du­ties, Lucy is reg­u­larly drugged while el­derly clients do as they please with her sleep­ing form — the only rule be­ing that pen­e­tra­tion is not al­lowed. Shot in supremely el­e­gant, dead­pan style, with su­perb per­for­mances from Brown­ing, Blake and Peter Car­roll, this chill­ing para­ble, with echoes of Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, is haunt­ing, beau­ti­ful and supremely sad.

For an­other weird story of ob­ses­sion, try Spike Jonze’s Adaptation (Sun­day, 8.30pm, Show­time Drama), with a script by Char­lie Kauf­man, who wrote the de­light­ful Be­ing John Malkovich. Ni­co­las Cage plays twin broth­ers — one strug­gling to write a se­ri­ous screen­play about an orchid thief (a true story), the other a glib churner-out of for­mu­laic se­rial-killer movies. Sur­real, wildly funny and im­pos­si­ble to sum­marise, Adaptation is one of the best Hol­ly­wood films about Hol­ly­wood, with a cast in­clud­ing Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper and Tilda Swin­ton. And this be­ing my week for the off-beat and odd­ball, I rec­om­mend that fine shaggy-dog story from the Coen broth­ers, O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Mon­day, 6.35pm, Show­time Com­edy), about three con­victs who flee a Mis­sis­sippi chain gang in the hope of re­cov­er­ing some stolen loot. Ge­orge Clooney heads the cast in a story loosely adapted from Homer’s Odyssey — loosely be­ing the word for it.

The Thirty-Nine Steps (Thurs­day, 8.35pm, Fox Clas­sics) is one of two remakes of Al­fred Hitch­cock’s clas­sic es­pi­onage thriller, this one star­ring Robert Pow­ell, and worth see­ing in the ab­sence of the real thing. For those want­ing authen­tic Hitch there’s Spell­bound (Satur­day, 7.30pm, Fox Clas­sics), about a psy­chi­a­trist (Gre­gory Peck) who takes over the run­ning of an asy­lum and ap­pears to be no less dis­turbed than some of his pa­tients. It takes the bril­liant but emo­tion­ally chilly Dr Petersen (In­grid Bergman) to get to the bot­tom of things. Hitch’s pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with psy­cho­anal­y­sis is re­flected in some bril­liant visual flour­ishes, in­clud­ing a two-minute dream se­quence de­signed by Sal­vador Dali.

Critic’s choice

(MA15+) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 9.30pm, World Movies

(M) ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 8.30pm, Show­time Drama

(PG) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 7.30pm, Fox Clas­sics

Sleep­ing Beauty

Rachael Blake, Emily Brown­ing and Peter Car­roll in

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