Free to air
THERE is no more interesting screen presence these days than Carey Mulligan, the English actress first seen in Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley in 2005. Since then she has been much in demand for darker, more serious roles. Last year saw her in Shame, playing opposite Michael Fassbender’s sex-addicted hero, and recently I praised her haunting performance in Never Let Me Go, based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel about cloned children. The Coen brothers cast her in Inside Llewyn Davis, about a Bob Dylan-style folk singer, and soon we’ll be seeing her in Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. But I doubt if she has done anything better than An Education (Saturday, 9.30pm, SBS One), a beautiful coming-of-age story based on a memoir by Lynn Barber. Mulligan is Jenny, growing up in a working-class English family in the 1960s. Her father is determined she will study at Oxford. But, while still at school, Jenny meets a man roughly twice her age, the charming and plausible David (Peter Sarsgaard), who treats her as an intelligent adult, takes her to cultural performances, broadens her knowledge of the arts and convinces her family that his intentions are entirely honourable. But can they be sure?
Of the various animated musical blockbusters produced by the Disney studios in the 90s, none was more loved or more successful than The Lion King (Saturday, 6.30pm, Seven). The usual pattern with musicals was for the film to follow the Broadway show, but in this case the film came first, spawning not only the Broadway musical but an animated TV series and two straight-to-DVD sequels. The idea for the story — a lion cub’s coming of age in the African veldt, his banishment at the hands of a scheming uncle, his near-death from starvation and eventual succession as the king of beasts — was reportedly devised by Jeffrey Katzenberg, then Disney’s head of production, and inspired (would you believe) by Shakespeare’s extended meditations on kingship in Henry V and the two parts of Henry IV. As I recall, many feminists disliked the film at the time for exalting the idea of the patriarchy, the obligation of young males to assume their natural’’ roles as leaders and allwise guarantors of the social order.
Nor, for that matter, were feminists too keen on Kramer vs Kramer (Sunday, 4.20pm, 7Two), Robert Benton’s Oscar-winning weepie about a New York couple and their battle for custody of their young son. Meryl Streep plays the independent woman who leaves her husband for no other reason than she wants to find herself’’, still a fairly progressive idea in 1979. And for much of the film Streep is cast as the villain — selfish, opportunistic, uncaring — while our sympathies are with Dustin Hoffman’s bravely coping dad. But the film is more subtle than that; a courtroom scene provides suspense and the final moments are deeply moving.
(M) ★★★★✩ Saturday, 9.30pm, SBS One
(G) ★★★ ✩ Saturday, 6.30pm, Seven
(M) ★★★★✩ Sunday, 4.20pm, 7Two