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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

THIS week brings two largely for­got­ten supernatural thrillers, though some would in­sist the mys­te­ri­ous events in Shut­ter (Satur­day, 12.45am, Nine) have a per­fectly ra­tio­nal ex­pla­na­tion, mak­ing them all the more fright­en­ing. Ben (Joshua Jack­son) is a pho­tog­ra­pher, newly mar­ried to the beau­ti­ful Jane (Rachael Tay­lor). One night, driv­ing though a for­est, their car runs over a woman on the road. But no one can find a body. Soon the new­ly­weds are in Tokyo, where Ben is do­ing a fash­ion shoot. But when his pic­tures are de­vel­oped, blurred out­lines can be seen in the back­ground and sim­i­lar shapes are vis­i­ble on the cou­ple’s wed­ding pho­tos. Di­rec­tor Masayuki Ochiai times his scary mo­ments with great skill.

Ac­cord­ing to chaos the­ory, a but­ter­fly flut­ter­ing its wings in the Ama­zon jun­gle could cause a tor­nado on the other side of the world. This ques­tion­able propo­si­tion is put for­ward in an open­ing ti­tle for The But­ter­fly Ef­fect (Sun­day, 9.45pm, 7Mate), whose young hero (Ash­ton Kutcher) ex­ists in a black hole of mem­ory loss, bugged by trau­matic events in his child­hood. He dis­cov­ers that by read­ing from a diary of his ex­pe­ri­ences he can re­turn to the past and change it. But this leads to more dire con­se­quences in the present. An in­trigu­ing look at the time travel co­nun­drum, though much of the film is grotesquely vi­o­lent and the plot fre­quently in­com­pre­hen­si­ble. It was fol­lowed by two se­quels on DVD.

Jack Ni­chol­son won a best sup­port­ing ac­tor nom­i­na­tion for his role in Easy Rider (Sun­day, 1.30am, ABC1), Hol­ly­wood’s first, and quin­tes­sen­tial, take on the drugs-and-dropout youth cul­ture of the 1960s. He plays a boozy civil rights lawyer, Ge­orge Han­son, who teams up with a pair of hip­pie bik­ers (Peter Fonda and Dennis Hop­per) on a jaunt through the Amer­i­can mid­west. Hop­per di­rected and wrote the screen­play with Fonda and Terry South­ern, and while much of it feels dated there are mem­o­rable mo­ments: en­coun­ters with red­necks, a visit to a ceme­tery, a fa­mously shat­ter­ing fi­nal scene. Can this be the same Ni­chol­son who starred, 28 years later, in As Good As It Gets (Fri­day, 8.30pm, Seven), play­ing a bigot who writes ro­man­tic fic­tion and falls for a waitress (Helen Hunt)? James L. Brooks ( Terms of En­dear­ment) di­rected this promis­ing but im­prob­a­ble ro­man­tic com­edy, whose ill-cho­sen ti­tle in­vites ironic ob­ser­va­tions.

My pick of the week would be Midnight Cow­boy (Tues­day, 12.35am, ABC1), made in the same year (1969) as Easy Rider, an­other sweet, sad and of­ten hi­lar­i­ous story of dead­beats on a jour­ney to nowhere. Jon Voight’s char­ac­ter fan­cies him­self a su­per-stud and joins an un­likely buddy, tu­ber­cu­lar street hustler Ratso’’ Rizzo (Dustin Hoff­man), to dream of mak­ing the big time in Florida. It was one of the first and best ex­am­ples of the mod­ern Hol­ly­wood road movie.

(M) ★★★★✩ Sun­day, 1.30am, ABC1

(MA15+) ★★★★ Tues­day, 12.35am, ABC1

(MA15+) ★★★ ✩ Satur­day, 12.45am, Nine

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