Free to air
IN the year 2110, a giant corporation, Buy n Large, having colonised the world’s retail markets and buried the landscape in junk, has led a mass exodus from the planet. Millions of earthlings now live in an orbiting space resort, while back on Earth a plucky little robot called Wall.E — Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earthclass — has been working alone for 700 years, cleaning up the rubbish left by profligate humans. Wall.E (Sunday, 6.30pm, 7Mate) is like no other animated film I have seen, an eerily beautiful fable from the Disney-Pixar people. It taps into a host of prevailing fears: environmental disaster, rampant consumption, a sense of futility and loss even in the midst of plenty. Conservative voices in the US branded it left-wing propaganda. But its themes of cosmic loneliness and vulnerability have been explored before in science-fiction classics. Writer-director Andrew Stanton’s achievement has been to weld the conventions of animated storytelling to ideas of great daring and some importance. The result is a rich and provocative work of art that also manages to be fun.
With his air of sleazy intelligence, Nicolas Cage is a natural in obsessive and delusional roles. David Lynch once called him the jazz musician of actors. In Matchstick Men (Saturday, 11.30pm, Nine) he plays a conman, Roy, who works with his partner Frank (Sam Rockwell) to bring off small-time swindles — tricking gullible housewives out of a little cash, sometimes aiming for bigger pickings, but playing it safe. His fatherly instincts are awakened when he meets 14-year-old Angela (Alison Lohman), who is equally pleased to be reunited with her long-lost dad. How much does she know about Roy’s real activities? There’s a bitter little sequence when he instructs her in the ways of swindling and pulls off a scam with her collaboration. But when Roy sets his sights on a foreign currency swindle, he finds himself involved in the biggest scam of his career. The intricate and beautifully tailored screenplay never signals its punches or labours its points.
I was never as keen on Arthur (Saturday, 1pm, Nine) as some people, despite Dudley Moore’s charismatic turn as a dissolute playboy and John Gielgud’s Oscar-winning performance as a supercilious butler. In the fumbling lover department, give me Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (Sunday, 12.55am, ABC1), made in 1977 when Diane Keaton was as big a star as Cate Blanchett is today. Keaton’s Annie is an aspiring singer who wins the heart of Woody’s neurotic and insecure Alvy Singer, a typical Allen creation loosely based on his own experiences. The film is crammed with trademark Allen touches: abundant one-liners, lovely New York locations, childhood flashbacks and plenty of asides to camera. This charming portrait of a hopeless love affair is as fresh and funny as ever.
(G) ★★★★✩ Sunday, 6.30pm, 7Mate
(M) ★★★★✩ Sunday, 12.55am, ABC1
(M) ★★★ Saturday, 11.30pm, Nine