Free to air
HUNTING and Gathering (Thursday, 11.15pm, SBS Two) is a lovely French film from Claude Berri, best remembered for those two masterpieces from the 1980s, Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. This one is pure delight, with its story of four very different people brought together in love and friendship to discover new meaning in their lives. I know that makes it sound corny, but nothing I have seen in recent years has touched me more deeply.
Camille (Audrey Tautou) — lonely, timid and rather sickly — works as a cleaner in an office building. She shares an apartment with Philibert (Laurent Stocker), a shy fellow with a speech impediment, and his gloomy friend Franck (Guillaume Canet), who is looking after his ailing grandmother (Francoise Bertin). It is wonderful to watch these stunted personalities blossom and strengthen as they get to know one another. The film is beautifully crafted with some splendid performances. It is a mark of its richness and humanity that characters we begin by pitying or disliking quickly grow to capture our affection.
Now that the first series of Puberty Blues has run its course on Ten, this is a good time to catch up with Bruce Beresford’s film, released in 1981. Based on the book by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey, Puberty Blues (Saturday, 8.30pm, ABC2) was originally touted as a teen-flick surfie comedy, but looks much darker in retrospect. Teenagers Sue (Jad Capelja) and Debbie (Nell Schofield), keen to be accepted into Sydney’s most exclusive surfing clique, discover that its rituals can be sadly tedious and demeaning. In the context of its time, Beresford’s film, with its depiction of drug-taking, boozing, promiscuous sex and other male chauvinist antics, was a fine example of social realist drama. (The girls’ ages were raised from 14 to 16 for the film to avoid censorship hassles.) When Debbie and Sue finally prove their independence by mounting a surfboard — something only boys are supposed to do — it was one of the first assertions of feminist sentiment in an Australian film (after My Brilliant Career). It’s a brave film, though more intrepid surfing types may prefer one of the Jaws sequels — Jaws 2 (Sunday, 6.30pm, 7Mate) or Jaws 3 (9pm, 7Mate), the latter in 3-D. The sharks are as nasty as ever.
Heist (Saturday, 10pm, Nine), starring Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito and Delroy Lindo, is about a gold bullion robbery in Boston. It was written and directed by David Mamet, with a plot as slick, intricate and tricky as only Mamet can write. In fact, I found it all a bit too clever for its own good, with dialogue so snazzy that you wonder why the characters aren’t earning a fortune as stand-up comics or Hollywood screenwriters. Hackman plays an ageing crim inveigled into carrying out One Last Job. One day there’ll be a One Last Heist Movie. But don’t hold your breath.
(M) ★★★★✩ Thursday, 11.15pm, SBS Two
(M) ★★★ ✩ Saturday, 8.30pm, ABC2
(MA15+) ★★★✩✩ Saturday, 10pm, Nine