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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

AL­FRED Hitch­cock had count­less ad­mir­ers and im­i­ta­tors in France, in­clud­ing such film­mak­ers as Claude Chabrol, an­other master of the psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller. De­nis Der­court’s The Page Turner (Tues­day, 1pm, SBS One) is a bril­liant film in the Hitch­cock-Chabrol tra­di­tion — slow-paced and de­lib­er­ately plot­ted, but deeply un­set­tling and scary. Ten-year-old Me­lanie is study­ing for ad­mis­sion to the Paris con­ser­va­to­rium but fails her pi­ano au­di­tion when her ex­am­iner, Ari­ane (Cather­ine Frot), is dis­tracted dur­ing Me­lanie’s per­for­mance. Years later, still blam­ing Ari­ane for her blighted am­bi­tion to be a con­cert pi­anist, Me­lanie (Deb­o­rah Fran­cois) man­ages to in­sin­u­ate her­self into Ari­ane’s com­fort­able house­hold and is ac­cepted as her in­dis­pens­able helper and com­pan­ion. But se­cretly she is plot­ting her re­venge and await­ing her op­por­tu­nity, which comes in un­ex­pected cir­cum­stances. Also from France is M. Ibrahim and the Flow­ers of the Ko­ran (Tues­day, 11.30pm, SBS Two), a strange and beau­ti­ful film set in the 1960s. Omar Sharif plays a Mus­lim in charge of a gro­cery store in Paris who be­friends an un­happy Jewish boy (Pierre Boulanger) liv­ing across the street. Ac­cord­ing to Sharif, it’s not a story about a Mus­lim and a Jew but a love story about an old man and a boy. And as such it’s deeply af­fect­ing. It was re­leased in Aus­tralia in 2004 as Mon­sieur Ibrahim.

In the last years of the 20th cen­tury, Ira­nian film­mak­ers en­joyed a leg­endary rep­u­ta­tion for films about chil­dren — of­ten seen as ve­hi­cles for dis­guised at­tacks on the regime. Chil­dren of Heaven (Mon­day, 1pm, SBS One) is a charm­ing fea­ture from writer-di­rec­tor Ma­jid Ma­jidi about a nine-year-old boy who loses his sis­ter’s only pair of shoes in a bustling Tehran mar­ket­place. The loss is a catas­tro­phe: with­out her shoes the girl can­not go to school. But the boy de­vises a scheme that will al­low them to share his one pair of tat­tered sneak­ers. With re­minders of the French clas­sic Bi­cy­cle Thieves, Ma­jidi’s film cel­e­brates the es­sen­tial good­ness of hu­man be­ings in the face of grind­ing poverty. The per­for­mances of the chil­dren (Amir Far­rokh Hashemian and Ba­hare Sed­diqi) are be­yond praise.

Ev­ery­one’s favourite chil­dren’s fan­tasy, The Wizard of Oz, is hav­ing an­other run (Satur­day, 7.30pm, Nine), and I can think of noth­ing new to say about it ex­cept that the role of Dorothy al­most went to Shirley Tem­ple and the stu­dio’s first choice to play the Wizard was WC Fields. The Blob (Sun­day, 9.30am, 7Two) en­joys a cer­tain cult sta­tus among hor­ror fans, mainly on the grounds of its sheer ba­nal­ity (pur­ple goop eats peo­ple in small Penn­syl­va­nia town, so it’s Steve McQueen to the res­cue). The best thing about the movie is the ti­tle song, writ­ten by Hal David and a 29-year-old Burt Bacharach.

(M) ★★★★✩ Mon­day, 1pm, SBS One

(M) ★★★★✩ Tues­day, 1pm, SBS One

(PG) ★★★✩✩ Satur­day, 7.30pm, Nine

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