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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

FOR ev­ery Jaws, E.T. or Catch Me If You Can, Steven Spiel­berg has come up with some­thing weighty and his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant — an Amis­tad or a Schindler’s List — as if de­ter­mined to se­cure his place in the pan­theon of se­ri­ous di­rec­tors. His World War II drama Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan (Satur­day, 10pm, Seven), is re­mark­able for its un­for­get­table bat­tle se­quences. The first 25 min­utes — a re­con­struc­tion of the Al­lied land­ing at Omaha beach in Nor­mandy in 1944 — is so en­gulf­ing it threat­ens to over­shadow the story of the Ryans, three broth­ers killed in ac­tion while the one sur­viv­ing Ryan (a very boy­ish Matt Da­mon) is spared from fur­ther com­bat duty for the sake of his fam­ily. But Pri­vate Ryan is miss­ing some­where in France and it falls to Cap­tain John Miller (Tom Hanks) to lead a squad of eight men to track him down and bring him back to safety. Much graphic spec­ta­cle, much hor­ror and ex­cite­ment, though we never care as deeply as we should about the char­ac­ters.

With only three films to his credit in a ca­reer span­ning 28 years, English-born Ray Lawrence is the least pro­lific of Aus­tralian di­rec­tors — with the re­sult that it’s easy to un­der­rate his achieve­ment. But each of his films — among them his mas­ter­piece Lan­tana — has of­fered some­thing rare and spe­cial. For Bliss (Mon­day, 1.10am, ABC1), he worked with Peter Carey on an adap­ta­tion of Carey’s novel — the story of Harry Joy (Barry Otto), who suf­fers a heart at­tack and is clin­i­cally dead for four min­utes. Dur­ing that time he has an out-of-body ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore re­turn­ing to life a changed man, dis­cov­er­ing that his wife (Lynette Cur­ran) has been un­faith­ful and find­ing es­cape in the com­pany of a new love (Helen Jones). But his hap­pi­ness is short-lived. When he dies a sec­ond time there is no re­turn.

Look Who’s Talk­ing (Satur­day, 1.30pm, Nine) is a flimsy com­edy saved by a clever gim­mick: the story is nar­rated by a baby, Mikey, voiced in the cutest tones by Bruce Wil­lis. Au­di­ences loved its corn and kitsch, and two se­quels fol­lowed.

Howard Hawks’s Scar­face was the first great Hol­ly­wood gang­ster film. It was the most vi­o­lent film to come out of Hol­ly­wood in its day, with many scenes fall­ing vic­tim to cen­sors around the world. Brian De Palma’s 1983 Scar­face (Satur­day, 11pm, 7Mate) is a more or less faith­ful re­make, ex­cept that the main char­ac­ter has mor­phed into Tony Mon­tana (Al Pa­cino) who, in a blood-soaked ca­reer, elim­i­nates a string of ri­vals to be­come the most pow­er­ful drug lord in Florida. Oliver Stone based his screen­play on Ben Hecht’s script for the 1932 film, and the re­sult was a homage to Hawks and a fresh mile­stone in the gang­ster genre.

(M) ★★★★✩ Mon­day, 1.10am, ABC1

(M) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 10pm (10.30pm SA, 11pm Vic,Tas), Seven

(M) ★★★★✩ Satur­day, 11pm (9.30pm SA, 10pm Tas, 10.30pm Qld, not WA), 7Mate

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