AUSTRIAN-BORN actress-turned-filmmaker Feo Aladag was inspired to write and direct the powerful 2008 cross-cultural drama When We Leave (Friday, 2.55pm, World Movies) after she participated in an Amnesty International campaign spotlighting violence towards women. Lauded German-born actress Sibel Kekilli, who shot to stardom in Fatih Akin’s tumultuous 2004 love story Head-On, brings a fierce intensity and determination to Umay, who is imprisoned in a loveless marriage in Istanbul, yet determined to make a better life for herself and her five-year-old son. Fleeing with the boy to her family in Berlin, she is distressed to discover her family sides with her husband, bound to tradition when it is emancipation that she wants — and needs.
Once a whore, always a whore,’’ Umay says both philosophically and ironically, but she’s far from resigned to her fate.
It is not yet available here on DVD, which automatically renders comedian-turned-writer and director Elaine May’s legendary, over-thetop 1987 comedy Ishtar (Thursday, 6.35pm, M Comedy) the lounge-room cinema event of the week. Inspired by the old Bob Hope/Bing Crosby
road’’ pictures of the 1940s, the film stars Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman as a naive and only marginally talented pair of aspiring song-and-dance men who become embroiled in Middle East politics when their agent books them a questionable lounge gig in Morocco. The production and editing of the film were fraught with cost overruns and ego clashes, with May shooting far in excess of the coverage she needed and competing with Beatty and Hoffman for final cut. The finished film reflects that meticulousness, and though audiences who had waited five years for the stars to make new movies were initially puzzled, its scarcity and reputation have rendered it a unique and, in the end, quite funny cult item.
The eternal Kirk Douglas, who turned 97 barely a month ago, is often caricatured for the intensity of his acting. There is no more quintessential, or finer, example of this than his full-on portrayal of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh in director Vincente Minnelli’s vivid and satisfying 1956 film biography Lust for Life (Wednesday, 3.40am, TCM). In conjunction with famed cinematographer Russell Harlan, Minnelli devised a colour scheme that reflected and enhanced van Gogh’s own work (a strategy undone by the unstable film stock they selected that has rendered subsequent copies of the film progressively more muted). And then there’s Douglas himself, who attacks the role of the tortured artist with howling determination. It is among the best Hollywood pictures ever about the conflicts of the creative process, earning Anthony Quinn a supporting actor Academy Award for his relatively brief but pungent turn as van Gogh’s supporter and critic, Paul Gauguin.
(M) ★★★★✩ Thursday, 6.35pm, M Comedy
(PG) ★★★★✩ Wednesday, 3.40am, TCM
(MA15+) ★★★★✩ Friday, 2.55pm, World Movies
is an over-the-top comedy