The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

WITH mem­o­ries of the dread­ful Kill Bill pic­tures, I’m wary of any­thing based on a graphic novel. And once I would have been wary of any­thing di­rected by David Cro­nen­berg, Canada’s lead­ing spe­cial­ist in over-the-top hor­ror films. A His­tory of Vi­o­lence (Satur­day, 8.30pm, M Mas­ter­piece) proves ex­cep­tional on both counts. The source is a graphic novel by John Wag­ner and Vince Locke, which Cro­nen­berg has used to ex­plore the idea that fate is pre­de­ter­mined, that no one can es­cape it, what­ever de­fences, or pre­tences, are erected to shield us from re­al­ity. Small-town busi­ness­man Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is hailed as a lo­cal hero when he dis­poses of two­gun­men threat­en­ing to rob his diner. With fine per­for­mances from Mortensen, Wil­liam Hurt and Ed Har­ris, this is a su­pe­rior thriller with trou­bling im­pli­ca­tions and abun­dant lay­ers of mean­ing.

An­other sort of film that raises warn­ing signals is any­thing de­scribed as a com­edy-drama. A good ex­am­ple is The Fam­ily Stone (Satur­day, 1.35pm, M Com­edy), writ­ten and di­rected by Thomas Bezucha, and an­other re­minder that when­ever fam­i­lies come to­gether in films things get com­pli­cated. Everett (Der­mot Mul­roney) brings his bride-to-be, up­tight ca­reer woman Mered­ith (Sarah Jessica Parker), home to meet his fam­ily. Claire Danes and Diane Keaton head an ex­cel­lent cast, and if you’re pre­pared to be pa­tient there are mo­ments of truth­ful rev­e­la­tion and a good joke or two.

Lore (Mon­day, 2.50pm, M Mas­ter­piece) is a Ger­man-Aus­tralian co-pro­duc­tion, shot in Ger­many and di­rected by Cate Short­land, who gave us the ex­cel­lent Som­er­sault in 2004. Lore is a Ger­man teenager, reared in a Nazi fam­ily, and the film is the story of her flight from her fam­ily home, in the com­pany of three younger sib­lings, to the safety of their grand­mother’s home in north­ern Ger­many af­ter their par­ents have aban­doned them at the end of World War II. Saskia Rosendahl is won­der­ful in the ti­tle role. Short­land, who speaks lit­tle Ger­man, was de­ter­mined that this sear­ing and poignant film be shot in the Ger­man lan­guage, mak­ing her achieve­ment all the more re­mark­able.

It may not be well known that Johnny Cash served with the US Army in Ger­many in the 1950s, when his hear­ing was per­ma­nently dam­aged af­ter a Ger­man girl stuck a pen­cil in his left ear. Along with much else that is bizarre in Cash’s ca­reer, the in­ci­dent is not recorded in Walk the Line (Fri­day, 12.05pm, M Drama/ Ro­mance), James Man­gold’s moody biopic. The film con­cen­trates on Cash’s ro­man­tic af­fairs, in­clud­ing his mar­riage to June Carter (Reese Wither­spoon), to whom he pro­posed on stage dur­ing a con­cert in 1968. Joaquin Phoenix brings a craggy sex­i­ness to Cash’s role, and he and Wither­spoon do their own singing in the con­cert se­quences.

Critic’s choice

(MA15+) ★★★★✩ Mon­day, 2.50pm, M Mas­ter­piece

(MA15+) ★★★ Satur­day, 8.30pm, M Mas­ter­piece

(M) ★★★ ✩ Fri­day, 12.05pm, M Drama/Ro­mance


Saskia Rosendahl in a scene from

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