Free to air
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