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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

MOST of my film guides clas­sify Stand By Me (Satur­day, 10.50pm, 7Two) as a com­edy, but for me it’s a ten­der and rue­ful con­tem­pla­tion of child­hood and among the most truth­ful stud­ies of the tan­gled emo­tions of youth. Di­rected by Rob Reiner from a semi-au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal Stephen King story, the ac­tion is framed by the rem­i­nis­cences of a writer (Richard Drey­fuss), re­call­ing events in the sum­mer of 1959. A group of boys in their early teens, and the slightly older Chris (a stand­out per­for­mance from River Phoenix), go in search of the body of a miss­ing boy. Reiner has a sharp ear for the man­ners and speech pat­terns of his young cast. What looks at first like a sen­ti­men­tal nos­tal­gia trip proved to be one of the most in­ci­sive and touch­ing films of the 1980s.

The Se­cret of the Grain (Wed­nes­day, mid­night, SBS Two) is a lovely film, shot through with hu­mour and hu­man­ity. Di­rected by Ab­del­latif Kechiche, it con­cerns an ex­tended fam­ily of French Arabs liv­ing in a port city in the south of France. The age­ing Sli­mane (Habib Bo­u­fares) has been re­trenched af­ter 35 years from his job on the docks, and re­solves to open a float­ing restau­rant on a derelict boat with the help of his fam­ily. Ev­ery­one pitches in to re­store the old tub and give it a facelift. Sli­mane’s se­cret weapon is his wife’s recipe for a fish cous­cous, which no one can re­sist. The scenes of Sli­mane with his fam­ily are ra­di­ant with warmth and ex­cite­ment, es­pe­cially at meal­times. Fight­ing off hard-headed bank man­agers and ob­struc­tive French bu­reau­crats, Sli­mane’s chief ally in his new busi­ness en­ter­prise is his step­daugh­ter Rym, beau­ti­fully played by Haf­sia Herzi. Bo­u­fares’s per­for­mance, full of quiet dig­nity and pain, owes much to his tac­i­tur­nity. He is the only char­ac­ter with lit­tle to say.

Seven’s Bond­fest con­tin­ues with You Only Live Twice (Fri­day, 8.30pm) from the Sean Con­nery era, one of the last Cold War thrillers, in­volv­ing miss­ing Soviet and Amer­i­can space­ships, and On Her Majesty’s Se­cret Ser­vice (Fri­day, 11pm, Seven), in which the un­der­rated Ge­orge Lazenby made his sole Bond ap­pear­ance. I re­mem­ber a lot of ski­ing se­quences. Anatomy of a Mur­der (Sun­day, 1.10pm, 7Two) sounds al­most like an­other Bond ti­tle. In fact it’s di­rec­tor Otto Preminger’s marathon court­room drama star­ring James Ste­wart as a gritty de­fence lawyer in a sex­ual as­sault trial, whose ca­sual ref­er­ences to rape, con­tra­cep­tion and pink panties were enough to shock au­di­ences in the 50s. De­spite its length, the story crack­les along and we are kept guess­ing to the end. Lee Remick is ex­cel­lent in a sup­port­ing role. Joseph Welch, who plays the trial judge, was a lawyer in the army-McCarthy hear­ings and went on to be­come a judge in real life. The film was nom­i­nated for best pic­ture Os­car in the year Ben-Hur swept all be­fore it.

M) ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 1.10pm, 7Two

(M) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 10.50pm, 7Two

(PG) ★★★ Wed­nes­day, mid­night, SBS Two

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