Free to air
A WONDERFULLY strange and greatly moving film from Australian director Robert Connolly, Three Dollars (Saturday, 9.30pm, SBS One) is a disturbing parable for our times. When I first reviewed it in 2004 I compared its hero Eddie (David Wenham) to Willy Loman, both victims in a ruthless world of cost-cutting and inhumanity. Eddie is happily married to Tanya (Frances O’Connor) and they have a much-loved little daughter. Their world collapses when Eddie loses his job in a government restructure and Tanya, through no fault of her own, is sacked as well. Domestic contentment collapses in bickering, frayed nerves and a growing despair. Eddie, suddenly destitute, is redeemed by his friendship with Nick (Robert Menzies), a reformed alcoholic and drifter who shows him how to scavenge for food and takes him to an old men’s shelter. In his way, Nick represents selflessness and compassion, and the character — part nemesis, part saviour and half-deranged apparition — is beautifully achieved by Menzies.
Like Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs and Ken Russell’s The Devils, John Boorman’s Deliverance (Friday, 1.30am, Nine) was one of a handful of films that helped change Australian censorship laws in the early 1970s. The introduction of an R-certificate for films with strong violence and sexual content allowed Deliverance to be screened in 1972. It’s the story of four Atlanta businessmen (Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox) who take a holiday trip together in the Appalachian wild, partly to test their powers of survival without the comforts of civilisation. But the trip becomes a nightmare when they are attacked by a mysterious band of mountain men. Boorman brings an uncanny sense of dread to this violent and strangely beautiful film, based on a novel by James Dickey.
By my count, Superman has returned at least four times since his appearance in the original comic strip adaptation in 1978. And while we’re waiting for his next return, in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, I recommend Superman Returns (Saturday, 8.30pm, Nine) — a likable blend of action, romance and tongue-in-cheek humour and among the best superhero films to come from Hollywood. Directed by Bryan Singer ( The Usual Suspects), it follows from the events of the second film, released in 1980, and stars Christopher Reeve look-alike Brandon Routh. Returning from a five-year absence in Krypton, Superman discovers that Lois Lane has moved on and his nemesis, Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey), is plotting to destroy the world. Most of it was filmed in Sydney. Marlon Brando reprises his role as Superman’s dad, and it’s a nice touch when Clark Kent discovers Lois Lane has won a Pulitzer prize for an article, Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman’’. Who do they think they’re kidding?
(M) ★★★★✩ Saturday, 9.30pm, SBS One
(PG) ★★★ Saturday, 8.30pm, Nine
(MA15+) ★★★✩✩ Friday, 1.30am, Nine