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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

THE 1990s saw a sud­den boom in Jane Austen adap­ta­tions. A suc­cess­ful tele­vi­sion se­rial of Pride and Prej­u­dice was fol­lowed by two no­table films — Roger Michell’s Per­sua­sion and a sump­tu­ous ver­sion of Sense and Sen­si­bil­ity (Sun­day, 3.45pm, 7Two) from Tai­wanese di­rec­tor Ang Lee (who gave us the re­cent Life of Pi). To Hol­ly­wood’s great sur­prise, Sense and Sen­si­bil­ity came close to be­ing a block­buster hit. Emma Thompson, who plays the hero­ine, Eli­nor Dash­wood, also wrote the screen­play and won an Os­car for her adap­ta­tion.

She in­vented new scenes, ditched su­per­flu­ous characters (Lady Mid­dle­ton) and pro­moted mi­nor characters to cen­tre stage. And if the re­sult is more like a su­pe­rior soap it nev­er­the­less has great charm. One of the film’s most ap­peal­ing scenes — the en­counter be­tween Ed­ward (Hugh Grant) and the child hid­ing un­der the ta­ble in the li­brary — we owe to Emma rather than Jane.

Pretty Woman (Fri­day, 9pm, Seven), Garry Mar­shall’s street-smart ver­sion of Pyg­malion, is bound to look more pre­dictable and for­mu­la­rised in ret­ro­spect, but it was the mak­ing of Ju­lia Roberts’s ca­reer and she’s pretty much ir­re­sistible. Richard Gere, you’ll re­mem­ber, is the free-spend­ing cor­po­rate takeover spe­cial­ist ea­ger to trans­form Roberts’s goofy Hol­ly­wood hooker into a classy dame — at least for a few days. A bet­ter bet is is Juan Jose Cam­panella’s Ar­gen­tine crime thriller The Se­cret in Their Eyes (Satur­day, 10.30pm, SBS Two), in which a fed­eral agent (Ri­cardo Darin) in­ves­ti­gates the rape and mur­der of a mar­ried woman. This strange, in­tri­cate story of de­tec­tion and psy­cho­log­i­cal in­trigue won the Os­car for best for­eign lan­guage film in 2010.

I don’t as a rule men­tion made-for-TV movies, es­pe­cially ones I haven’t seen, but view­ers should be cau­tioned that Flight 93 (Fri­day, noon, Seven) is not United 93, the ex­cel­lent film by Paul Green­grass about the last of the four planes hi­jacked by 9/11 ter­ror­ists and that crashed in a field in Penn­syl­va­nia. Flight 93, di­rected by Peter Markle, also re­leased in 2006, is worth men­tion­ing be­cause of the well-pub­li­cised con­tro­versy it pro­voked in the US. No one really knows what hap­pened on Flight 93, since all on board were killed, but there is enough ev­i­dence from mo­bile phone calls and cock­pit record­ings to sup­port a the­ory that pas­sen­gers and crew put up a heroic re­sis­tance to the hi­jack­ers and di­verted the plane from its deadly course.

But Markle’s film, by all ac­counts, goes far be­yond any­thing deemed cred­i­ble by the US com­mis­sion of in­quiry in its de­pic­tion of on­board fights and thrills. The whole sub­ject is be­dev­illed by con­spir­acy the­o­ries, in­clud­ing a well-pub­li­cised sus­pi­cion that the plane was downed by a US rocket.

Make of it what you will.

(PG) ★★★ Sun­day, 3.45pm, 7Two

(M) ★★★ Satur­day, 10.30pm, SBS Two

(PG) ★★★✩✩ Fri­day, 9pm, Seven

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