Free to air
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