The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

BE­FORE he at­tained su­per­star sta­tus in Glad­i­a­tor and A Beau­ti­ful Mind, Rus­sell Crowe starred in LA Con­fi­den­tial (Fri­day, 10.20pm, M Thriller/Crime), a daz­zlingly ac­com­plished noir po­lice thriller based on a James Ell­roy novel. I don’t think I’ve seen him in bet­ter form. Cur­tis Han­son’s film is about cor­rup­tion and be­trayal in the up­per reaches of the Los An­ge­les Po­lice Depart­ment, where the de­tec­tives are all scoundrels, hard­ened cyn­ics or mis­guided ide­al­ists. Bud White (Crowe) is a loner, em­bit­tered by a harsh child­hood, who tan­gles with Guy Pearce’s am­bi­tious and sanc­ti­mo­nious Ed Ex­ley. Ev­ery imag­in­able racket — drugs, pornog­ra­phy, prostitution — is al­lot­ted its share of at­ten­tion. But the star of the film is LA it­self, lov­ingly re-cre­ated in all its 1950s sleaze and charm. One char­ac­ter runs an es­cort ser­vice spe­cial­is­ing in girls who have been worked over by plas­tic sur­geons to re­sem­ble fa­mous movie stars. Rita Hay­worth’s look-alike is bumped off early on and Veron­ica Lake be­comes the ro­man­tic lead. When de­tec­tives spot a sus­pi­cious cou­ple in a bar and threaten to ar­rest the girl, she turns out to be the real Lana Turner.

Also show­ing this week are two fine films by French di­rec­tors about English char­ac­ters. Fran­cois Ozon, who scored a hit in Cannes this year with Young and Beau­ti­ful, and whose 2012 film, In the House, opens here later this month, di­rected Swim­ming Pool (Mon­day, 9.30pm, World Movies) in 2003. Many con­sider it his mas­ter­piece. Char­lotte Ram­pling plays Sarah Mor­ton, an English writer of crime fic­tion. At its deep­est level the film is about the springs of creative writ­ing, but it is also an en­gross­ing mys­tery story by turns harsh, ten­der and fright­en­ing. Louis Malle’s Dam­age (Tues­day, 9.30pm, World Movies) is among the most pow­er­ful erotic dra­mas the cin­ema has given us. With a screen­play by David Hare from Josephine Hart’s novel, a plot that comes per­ilously close to melo­dra­matic soap is made un­for­get­table by the clin­i­cal in­ten­sity of Malle’s di­rec­tion. Jeremy Irons is a re­spected Bri­tish mem­ber of par­lia­ment who be­comes in­fat­u­ated with his son’s girl­friend (Juli­ette Binoche) and be­gins a pas­sion­ate af­fair with tragic con­se­quences.

Re­leased in the US as The In­vaders, 49th Par­al­lel (Tues­day, 11.45pm, Fox Classics) is a clas­sic wartime drama from those leg­endary col­lab­o­ra­tors, Michael Pow­ell and Emeric Press­burger, filmed mainly in Canada. Con­ceal­ing their iden­ti­ties, six sur­vivors from a dis­abled Ger­man U-boat set out on a per­ilous trek from the Gulf of St Lawrence to a trad­ing post in Hud­son Bay, meet­ing some strange char­ac­ters (Lau­rence Olivier, Les­lie Howard, Ray­mond Massey) along the way. There is a pow­er­ful and elo­quent anti-fas­cist mes­sage, and a truly scary per­for­mance from Eric Port­man as a Nazi loy­al­ist.

Critic’s choice

(M) ★★★★✩ Mon­day, 9.30pm, World Movies

(MA15+) ★★★★✩ Fri­day, 10.20pm, M Thriller/Crime

(M) ★★★★✩ Tues­day, 11.45pm, Fox Classics

LA Con­fi­den­tial

Rus­sell Crowe in

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