Free to air
YOU’VE had quite enough of The Great Gatsby already? I know it’s hard to avoid the subject, but as an antidote to Baz Luhrmann’s extravaganza — which is actually well worth seeing — you might try Paramount’s version, directed by Jack Clayton, who is remembered for Room at the Top, another cautionary tale about social climbers. The Great Gatsby (Sunday, 12.30am, ABC1) starred Robert Redford, as charismatic a star in 1974 as Leonardo DiCaprio is today. And while Clayton’s film can’t compete with Luhrmann’s for sheer visual spectacle, it’s still a pleasure to watch. Francis Ford Coppola’s screenplay sticks faithfully to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, and Redford gives a more than adequate performance as the mysterious Jazz Age bootlegger at the centre of the story. I’ve always preferred the 1940 film with Alan Ladd, which must be due for rescreening soon.
The Tree (Saturday, 9.30pm, SBS One) is an Australian-French co-production directed by Julie Bertuccelli and shot in a bare stretch of countryside in Queensland, and for haunting beauty and strangeness is hard to beat. Dawn (Charlotte Gainsbourg) lives with her husband Peter (Aden Young) in a tumbledown farmhouse. When Peter crashes his car into a tree after a fatal heart attack, his daughter Simone (Morgana Davies) is convinced her dead father’s spirit lives on in the tree. She climbs the tree to be near him, she talks to him at night, and Dawn, somewhat reluctantly, goes along with the pretence. The tree becomes the film’s central character, a sinister presence as bizarre and inescapable as that looming piano in Jane Campion’s film. Gradually the tree’s roots and branches start invading Dawn’s house. But all can be rationally explained, which makes The Tree at once more unsettling and more moving.
It comes as a shock in Anger Management (Sunday, 6.30pm, 7Mate) when the hero, a timid, self-effacing loser called Dave (Adam Sandler), is charged with assault and riotous behaviour on an aircraft and ordered by the judge to undergo a course of anger management. Dave’s therapist turns out to be Jack Nicholson, who is just as hot-headed and dangerous as any of the oddball patients he’s treating. The best scene (you’d better believe it) has Nicholson and Sandler, their car stuck in traffic, giving a hilarious rendition of I Feel Pretty.
The first feature of writer-director Guy Ritchie, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Saturday, 9.50pm, 7Mate) is a larky, irreverent, smart-talking British crime thriller in which four nice lads get into bad company and must get themselves out before things get really ugly. A strong story-line, amusing subplots, vivid characters, strong reminders of Quentin Tarantino and a cliff-hanger ending. Who could ask for more?
(M) ★★★★✩ Saturday, 9.30pm, SBS One (MA15+) ★★★★✩ Saturday, 9.50pm, 7Mate
(M) ★★★✩✩ Sunday, 12.30am, ABC1