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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

LAST year’s sur­prise in­ter­na­tional hit was The Best Ex­otic Marigold Ho­tel (Satur­day, 8.30pm, Show­case), the Bri­tish com­edy-drama set in a run-down In­dian ho­tel. It struck so many chords with ma­ture-age au­di­ences that stu­dios pre­dicted a mi­nor boom in films tar­geted at baby boomers with no par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in Iron Man 3 or Scary Movie 5. So ex­pect more chatty, calm, con­tem­pla­tive movies in the style of Quar­tet or Per­for­mance. The Marigold Ho­tel is run by Dev Pa­tel, the youngest and cheeri­est char­ac­ter in the film. Di­rected by John Mad­den and based on a novel by Deb­o­rah Mog­gach, it’s a film where the char­ac­ters count for ev­ery­thing. And what a mix: racist, gay, snob­bish, wid­owed, re­tired, all a lit­tle bit dod­dery. The charm and folksi­ness struck me as a bit too cal­cu­lated but, with an en­sem­ble cast in­clud­ing Judi Dench, Mag­gie Smith, Bill Nighy and Tom Wilkin­son, it proved a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.

Mil­lions (Sun­day, 6.30pm, M Fam­ily) was a strange film for Danny Boyle. Af­ter a long pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with themes of dark­ness and de­spair — Shal­low Grave, Trainspot­ting, 28 Days Later — he switched to a more play­ful mode in this gen­tle, hu­mor­ous and wholly be­guil­ing fa­ble about two boys who dis­cover a hoard of stolen cash and don’t know what to do with it. Nineyear-old An­thony (Lewis McGib­bon) and his younger brother Damian (Alex Etel) have moved with their fa­ther into a hous­ing es­tate in north­ern Eng­land when a bag full of ban­knotes mys­te­ri­ously drops from the sky. Should they hide it, bank it, spend it, tell the cops? It’s soon clear that Mil­lions isn’t just a com­edy but a sharp take on money and greed and our ob­ses­sion with wealth and prop­erty. In that re­spect we can call it a typ­i­cally se­ri­ous Boyle film.

One of the finest US po­lit­i­cal dra­mas, The Ides of March (Mon­day, 8.35pm, M Mas­ter­piece) fol­lows ri­val can­di­dates con­test­ing a Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial pri­mary in Ohio. Ge­orge Clooney di­rects a top cast and plays a pop­u­lar state gover­nor who looks like the fron­trun­ner. But can we trust the as­sorted liars, schemers and vote traders who run the ri­val cam­paigns? Ryan Gosling, as the gover­nor’s trust­ing aide, comes across as a naive ide­al­ist. It seems that staff mem­bers are up to their necks in bribery, il­licit sex and se­cret deals. It could hap­pen only in Amer­ica, surely?

Many rate Stan­ley Kubrick’s 1957 film Paths of Glory (Mon­day, 11.10pm, Fox Classics) the great­est of all anti-war films. It was sup­pressed in France un­til 1975 be­cause of its de­pic­tion of French mil­i­tary folly and du­plic­ity. Kirk Dou­glas plays a French of­fi­cer who de­fends three soldiers un­justly court-mar­tialled for cow­ardice af­ter a mil­i­tary de­ba­cle in World War I. Stark, un­com­pro­mis­ing and bru­tally re­al­is­tic, the film ends un­for­get­tably when a group of soldiers re­lax in a tav­ern and hear a Ger­man girl sing.

Critic’s choice

(M) ★★★★✩ Mon­day, 8.35pm, M Mas­ter­piece

(PG) ★★★ ✩ Sun­day, 6.30pm, M Fam­ily

(M) ★★★★★ Mon­day, 11.10pm, Fox Classics

The Ides of March

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