Free to air
ISRAELI director Eran Kolirin’s 2008 dramatic comedy The Band’s Visit (Tuesday, 11.50pm, SBS One) won numerous industry and audience awards at home and abroad, and for good reason: it is a quietly funny valentine to cultural exchange that can’t quite hide its big heart beneath the knowing laughs. When a rule-bound colonel leads his eight-piece Egyptian band to the wrong Israeli town on a well-intentioned but dubious cultural exchange, it is up to the sassy owner of the town’s sole cafe to build and fortify the bridges of tolerance. Note Kolirin’s deadpan approach to pacing and camera placement, which slyly underscores his dry and benevolent humour.
There’s no American studio film quite like director Joseph Losey’s 1949 pacifist parable The Boy with the Green Hair (Saturday, 3.30pm, ABC1), and there’s no time like the holidays to reflect on its message of tolerance, cleverly told in the tale of a young boy (Dean Stockwell) orphaned in the London Blitz who wakes up one day with the eponymous affliction. New studio boss and legendary conservative Howard Hughes hated the film, and shortly after its release Losey and co-scenarist Ben Barzman found themselves on Hollywood’s notorious blacklist and so relocated to London to preserve their careers.
Imagine giving 20 of the world’s most prominent filmmakers a camera and turning each one loose, alone or in teams, on one of Paris’s distinctive neighbourhoods with the single instruction: make a short film about love. Paris, Je T’Aime (Monday, 10.20pm, SBS Two) is that mischievous, diverse collection of meditations on l’amour. Among these snapshots of a city, Joel and Ethan Coen take over the Tuileries Metro station, Wes Craven explores PereLachaise, Alexander Payne visits the 14th Arrondissement, and so on. In addition to the dazzling directorial talent on display, stars of individual segments include Marianne Faithfull, Steve Buscemi, Juliet Binoche, Nick Nolte, Gena Rowlands, Miranda Richardson and many more. As if one needed another reason to love the city of light, the fun of revisiting favourite films is the pleasure of repetition, and two New Year’s Eve offerings underscore that comforting tradition. Adventurous cineastes of a certain age recall perhaps with pride, perhaps not, attending midnight screenings of the 1975 musical comedy horror romp The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Monday, 8.30pm, 11), not so much to see the film, but to participate in the gleefully anarchic call-and-response antics of the rowdy audience. Viewed with the perspective of years, if not wisdom, director Jim Sharman’s energetic bigscreen version of the hit stage show that pioneered late-night screenings of edgy and campy fare is still a lot of fun. ★★★✩✩ Monday, 8.30pm, 11
M) ★★★★✩ Tuesday, 11.50pm, SBS One
Saturday, 3.30pm, ABC1