The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

ONE never hears of Ju­lia Gil­lard go­ing to the movies, but I’ve made a list of what I imag­ine are her favourite films: My Fair Lady, Un­break­able, Septem­ber, The Great Es­cape and the An­nette Ben­ing pe­riod piece Be­ing Ju­lia (‘‘Ac­claimed, adored and still ra­di­antly beau­ti­ful in the right light’’ — I quote from one of my guides —‘‘Ju­lia is sur­rounded by fans and flat­ter­ers, but painfully aware . . . that her days are num­bered’’). Two of this week’s films deal with one of her favourite sub­jects — sex­ism and misog­yny — and she’d prob­a­bly hate them both. Fa­tal At­trac­tion (Fri­day, 8.30pm, M Thriller/Crime), a box-of­fice smash and cul­tural phe­nom­e­non in its day, stars Michael Dou­glas as Dan Gal­lagher, a Man­hat­tan lawyer whose ex­tra­mar­i­tal fling with Alex (Glenn Close) turns into a night­mare when she be­comes ob­sessed with their re­la­tion­ship and re­fuses to let go. Slick and ma­nip­u­la­tive, it’s a ter­rific thriller on its own terms, though fem­i­nists dis­liked the way Dou­glas’s char­ac­ter was por­trayed as the in­no­cent vic­tim and Alex as a preda­tory mon­ster.

Dou­glas has a sim­i­lar prob­lem in Dis­clo­sure (Satur­day, 8.30pm, M Thriller/Crime). This time he’s Tom San­ders, busi­ness exec beaten for pro­mo­tion by an old flame, Mered­ith John­son (Demi Moore), who tries to se­duce him in his of­fice, and when her ad­vances are spurned ac­cuses him of sex­ual ha­rass­ment. The script plays skil­fully on what is as­sumed to be the la­tent sex­ism of male au­di­ences, even though San­ders is clearly the wronged party. Co-pro­duced by Michael Crichton and di­rected by Barry Levin­son, this is a thor­oughly ab­sorb­ing drama, with some ex­cel­lent per­for­mances and a score by En­nio Mor­ri­cone.

There were sim­i­lar con­cerns ex­pressed about Stan­ley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (Fri­day, 8.30pm, M Mas­ter­piece) when it was re­leased a few weeks be­fore his death in 1999. Many crit­ics felt that Tom Cruise’s char­ac­ter, New York doc­tor Bill Har­wood, got far too much at­ten­tion at the ex­pense of Ni­cole Kid­man, who played his wife Alice and gave much the bet­ter per­for­mance. This haunting film about sex­ual ob­ses­sion was adapted by Fred­eric Raphael from Arthur Sch­nit­zler’s 1926 novella Traum­nov­elle.

The Help (Satur­day, 8.30pm, Show­case) is about the lives of af­flu­ent Mis­sis­sippi house­wives and their black maids in the 1960s. It was the fag-end of the US seg­re­ga­tion era and black do­mes­tic work­ers were still paid a pit­tance. The film’s nar­ra­tor is Ai­bileen Clark (Vi­ola Davis), whose du­ties as a maid in­cluded those of nanny and wet nurse. She has many sto­ries to tell about hard­ship and in­jus­tice. When Minny (Oc­tavia Spencer) is ar­rested for theft and bashed by a white racist cop, Minny agrees to tell her story to a young jour­nal­ism grad­u­ate (Emma Stone), who wants to write a book about the maids’ ex­pe­ri­ences.

Critic’s choice

(M) ★★★ ✩ Satur­day, 8.30pm, M Thriller/Crime

(MA15+) ★★★★ Fri­day, 8.30pm, M Mas­ter­piece

(M) ★★★ ✩ Satur­day, 8.30pm, Show­case

The Help

Vi­ola Davis in

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