Free to air
WITH Happy Feet, Ten Canoes, Kenny, Jindabyne and Candy (among others), 2006 was a memorable year for the Australian film industry. It was also the year of Suburban Mayhem (Saturday, 11.20pm, SBS One), an anarchic black comedy directed by Paul Goldman, which had its premiere screening in Cannes. New Zealand actress Emily Barclay turns in a mesmerising performance as Kat, a 19-year-old single mum who lives at home with her father. Kat’s world beyond the limits of suburban Golden Grove is one of petty crime and moral squalor. But she has a brilliant talent for manipulating others, and when her father threatens to have her child placed in care she will stop at nothing to get her way. Goldman (remembered for his local race relations drama Australian Rules) directs with corrosive insight and wit from a screenplay by Alice Bell, and there is strong support from Michael Dorman, Anthony Hayes, Genevieve Lemon and a young Mia Wasikowska. In its bitterness and daring, an iconic Australian film.
It was always going to be difficult to make a sequel to Shrek — a masterpiece of the animator’s art and pretty well perfect in its own way. But Shrek 2 (Saturday, 6.30pm, Nine) succeeded as well as one could hope — flowing naturally from the original material and picking up where the first film left off. Our lovable green ogre has married his beautiful princess and the two are summoned by the king and queen to return to the family castle, where Princess Fiona is to be welcomed home and her handsome prince presented for parental approval. The film has a richer and more intricate story than the first; certainly the pace seems brisker (and the musical numbers more intrusive). And I liked the jokes. The fabled land of Far Far Away proves to be a pastiche of Beverly Hills, with Farbucks signs and a Fat Boy’s drive-in burger outlet where Shrek orders a Medieval Meal. Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz do repeat service in the voice roles, and Puss in Boots, perhaps the most lovable character in the franchise, makes his first appearance.
There’s something mildly (if playfully) sadistic about the whole concept of the story in the computer-animated film Monsters Inc. (Saturday, 6.30pm, Seven) — the idea that monsters take pleasure in terrifying small children and that children’s screams can be harnessed as a source of energy. The film is full of over-elaborate plot contrivances, but millions of fans can’t be wrong.
And a brief mention for Ghost (Thursday, 8.40pm, 7Two), director Jerry Zucker’s sentimental supernatural charmer, in which Patrick Swayze reaches out from beyond the grave to warn his girlfriend (Demi Moore) of impending danger. It’s corny and ridiculous, but I guarantee you’ll love it.
(MA15+) ★★★★✩ Saturday, 11.20pm, SBS One
(PG) (NSW, Qld only) ★★★★✩ Saturday, 6.30pm, Nine
(PG) ★★★ ✩ Thursday, 8.40pm, 7Two