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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

AT least three books have been writ­ten about him, a four-wheel drive club has been named af­ter him, and there’s a statue erected in his hon­our in Dampier, Western Aus­tralia. Within 11 days of its open­ing, Red Dog (Mon­day, 8pm, Nine) be­came Aus­tralia’s high­est gross­ing film of 2011, and the DVD re­mains a best­seller. Di­rected by Kriv Sten­ders and star­ring Koko in the ti­tle role, it tells the true story of the leg­endary hound of the Pil­bara, who roamed through much of north­ern Aus­tralia search­ing for his lost mas­ter (Josh Lu­cas) af­ter his death in a mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent. One of the best and most lovable of an­i­mal ad­ven­ture films, Red Dog of­fers a vi­brant por­trait of life in Aus­tralia’s re­mote min­ing com­mu­ni­ties, and is one of two clas­sic Aus­tralian films show­ing this week.

Muriel’s Wed­ding (Tues­day, 9pm, Nine) has lost none of its verve and charm since its tri­umphant open­ing in Cannes in 1994. Toni Col­lette’s lovable ugly duck­ling from Por­poise Spit an­chors PJ Ho­gan’s dark com­edy with a per­for­mance of touch­ing frailty and ex­u­ber­ance, prov­ing that ev­ery girl’s dream can come true in the end. All those ABBA songs are a bonus.

The pro­duc­ers of 8 Mile (Sun­day, 10.30pm, 7Mate) have stressed that the char­ac­ters are fic­tional, though I took the main story to be a more or less true im­pres­sion of the early days of Eminem, the rap star who grew up in the slums of Detroit be­fore be­com­ing fa­mous. Eminem plays Jimmy Smith jr, known as Rab­bit, who shares a trailer with his dead­beat mum (Kim Basinger) and holds down a mean job in a car plant. Among the film’s plea­sures is the de­pic­tion of rap it­self — those half-rhyming cou­plets with their frac­tured rhythms and funny, bit­ter re­flec­tions on the in­jus­tices of life that be­came the au­then­tic mode of ex­pres­sion for a des­ti­tute gen­er­a­tion. Brit­tany Mur­phy is con­vinc­ing as Rab­bit’s girl, and Cur­tis Han­son ( LA Con­fi­den­tial) di­rects with an unerring feel­ing for mood and char­ac­ter. This ex­cel­lent film left me greatly moved.

Dis­ney breathed new life into the pi­rate genre in 2003 with Pi­rates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Satur­day, 6.30pm, Seven), fa­mous for Johnny Depp’s charis­mat­i­cally larky Cap­tain Spar­row. It was the first film in the mega-dol­lar fran­chise and spawned three se­quels, none quite as good as the orig­i­nal.

The screen­play by Ted El­liott and Terry Ros­sio (the writ­ers of Shrek) is said to be based on a Dis­ney theme park ride — which brings us to West­world (Satur­day, 2am, Nine), set in the scari­est theme park of all, where com­put­ers mal­func­tion and Yul Bryn­ner’s ro­bot gun­slinger turns his not-so-friendly fire on a cou­ple of vis­it­ing busi­ness­men (Richard Ben­jamin and James Brolin). Michael Crichton di­rected this truly dis­turb­ing sci-fi fan­tasy from his own screen­play.

(MA15+) ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 10.30pm, 7Mate

(M) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 2am (1.15am SA, WA) Nine

(PG) ★★★★✩ Mon­day, 8pm, Nine

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