The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

THIS week marks the 50th an­niver­sary of Bill Collins’s de­but as a tele­vi­sion movie pre­sen­ter, and he’s cel­e­brat­ing the oc­ca­sion with a sea­son of his favourite films. By happy co­in­ci­dence, th­ese in­clude many of my own, and I can think of no bet­ter trib­ute to him than to list as many as I can. For decades he has been de­light­ing us with his un­apolo­getic love of films, his ex­trav­a­gant en­thu­si­asms, his en­cy­clo­pe­dic knowl­edge. Along with Bob Rogers, still rem­i­nisc­ing on Satur­day night ra­dio at the age of 86, I rate him among our national cul­tural trea­sures.

His favourite movies (all to be seen on Fox Classics) in­clude Al­fred Hitch­cock’s Ver­tigo (Thurs­day, 10.55pm), reg­u­larly lauded in this col­umn; All About Eve (Thurs­day, 8.35pm), Hol­ly­wood’s most en­gross­ing study of back­stage Broad­way bitch­ery; Good­bye, Mr Chips (Satur­day, 8.30pm), per­haps the cin­ema’s most ac­com­plished and mov­ing tear­jerker; Brief En­counter (Tues­day, 8.35pm), David Lean’s mas­terly study of un­con­sum­mated love in a world of gen­teel Bri­tish aus­ter­ity; The Wizard of Oz (Fri­day, 8.35pm), ev­ery­one’s favourite fairy­tale; and The Pic­ture of Do­rian Gray (Tues­day, 10.05pm), a won­der­fully un­set­tling ac­count of Os­car Wilde’s supernatural moral­ity tale and one of the supreme prod­ucts of the old Hol­ly­wood stu­dio sys­tem. The golden years of Hol­ly­wood have never looked more golden than they do to­day, mired as the stu­dios are in a sur­feit of vi­o­lent ac­tion and vul­gar ex­trav­a­gance.

The stu­dio sys­tem that yielded the trea­sures listed above is caught with ironic and af­fec­tion­ate in­sight in Bar­ton Fink (Tues­day, 8.35pm, M Drama/Ro­mance), Joel and Ethan Coen’s bril­liant homage to Tin­sel­town set in the frame­work of an un­nerv­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller. Bar­ton Fink (John Tur­turro) is a promis­ing New York play­wright who sets out to make it big in Hol­ly­wood, only to find him­self holed up in a creepy ho­tel room stricken with writer’s block and plagued by hal­lu­ci­na­tory vi­sions. Tur­turro’s char­ac­ter is said to be based on play­wright Clif­ford Odets and dip­so­ma­niac writer WP May­hew (John Ma­honey) on Wil­liam Faulkner. But the scene steal­ers are John Good­man’s ami­able psy­cho and a manic stu­dio boss in the Louis B. Mayer tra­di­tion played by Jack Lip­nick.

Lars and the Real Girl (Satur­day, 8.30pm, M Drama/Ro­mance), di­rected by Aus­tralian-born Craig Gille­spie, has ac­quired a cer­tain cult sta­tus since its re­lease in 2007. Lars (Ryan Gosling) works in an of­fice in a small mid­west­ern town and is des­per­ately shy. One day he sur­prises ev­ery­one by ac­quir­ing a life-size sex doll from an in­ter­net source and falls in love with it. Bianca, as he calls her, be­comes his close com­pan­ion. Can this ill-matched pair make a happy cou­ple? With ideas as bizarre as th­ese, one des­per­ately wants this brave lit­tle film to suc­ceed, and for much of the time it does.

Critic’s choice

(M) ★★★★✩ Tues­day, 8.35pm, M Drama/Ro­mance

(PG) ★★★★★ Thurs­day, 8.35pm, Fox Classics

(PG) ★★★ ✩ Satur­day, 8.30pm, M Drama/Ro­mance

Vet­eran movie pre­sen­ter Bill Collins

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