free to air
OF the many non-English-speaking actors who have made careers in Hollywood, none has had a more spectacular rise than Spanish-born Javier Bardem. I first saw him as a would-be bullfighter in the 1992 black comedy Jamon, Jamon, opposite a teenage Penelope Cruz. In Hollywood he was the smooth seducer in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona, again appearing with Cruz (whom he married in 2010). But he will be best remembered playing charismatic villains — the drug lord in the Tom Cruise thriller Collateral and the creepiest of bad guys in the last Bond film, Skyfall. In Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men (Saturday, 9.30pm, SBS One) he won an Oscar as psychopathic assassin Anton Chiguhr, whose pursuit of his victims provides some the most chilling scenes in a recent movie. This cool, ironic and occasionally shocking adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel won the best picture Oscar in 2008.
Oliver Stone has specialised in finding topical subject matter for his films, often with memorable results. His corporate drama Wall Street, dealing with insider trading scandals in New York in the early 1980s, was followed by Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (Saturday, 8.30pm, Ten), nicely timed to exploit the global financial crisis in 2008. Once again Michael Douglas plays the high-rolling Gordon Gekko, who is released from prison at the start of the film after an eight-year sentence for shady deals portrayed in the first instalment. It’s not long before he’s up to his old tricks, working with an ambitious young trader (Shia LaBeouf) to bring down a rival.
Joseph Losey’s These are the Damned (Sunday, 2.30am, ABC1) was titled The Damned for British audiences and should not be confused with Luchino Visconti’s great film of that name about a family of German industrialists in the 1930s. Losey gives us a weird science fiction yarn about an American tourist (Macdonald Carey) who tangles with a teddy boy motorcycle gang in the English town of Weymouth. Also from the 60s is Elliot Silverstein’s spoof western Cat Ballou (Monday, 2pm, 7Two), whose characters include two gun-shy young cattle rustlers, a girl who turns train robber (Jane Fonda) and a lovable wreck of a gunfighter (Lee Marvin). Family Plot (Tuesday, 12.30am, ABC1) was Alfred Hitchcock’s last film, and there could have been no finer valedictory summation of the master’s skills than this beautifully constructed mystery thriller scripted by Ernest Lehman (who wrote North by Northwest). We get a phony medium (Barbara Harris), her fraudster boyfriend (Bruce Dern) and a kidnapping plot with a ransom to be paid in diamonds. Plenty of twists and a tone of mischievous irony. Hitch makes his usual cameo in the final moments to deliver a knowing wink at the audience. Best on show No Country for Old Men (MA15+) ★★★★✩ Saturday, 9.30pm, SBS One Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (M) ★★★✩✩ Saturday, 8.30pm, Ten Family Plot (PG) ★★★★✩ Tuesday, 12.30am, ABC1