The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

JAN­UARY is a splen­did time to re­visit films that haunt the mem­ory. Last week’s col­umn men­tions one of the high­lights of 1970s Amer­i­can para­noid thrillers, Robert Red­ford in 1975 drama Three Days of the Con­dor. This week it’s War­ren Beatty’s turn, with di­rec­tor Alan J. Pakula’s The Par­al­lax View (Thurs­day, 8.30pm, M Master­piece). Beatty stars as in­ves­tiga­tive reporter Joe Frady, who be­comes in­volved with the shad­owy Par­al­lax Cor­po­ra­tion in the wake of a pres­i­den­tial as­sas­si­na­tion. It’s the cen­tre­piece of Pakula’s so-called po­lit­i­cal para­noia tril­ogy, book­ended by Klute in 1971 and All the Pres­i­dent’s Men in 1976.

There’s another mys­te­ri­ous con­glom­er­ate at the heart of Fran­cis Ford Cop­pola’s The Con­ver­sa­tion (Satur­day, 10.50pm, M Master­piece). Made be­tween Cop­pola’s first and sec­ond God­fa­ther films, it stars Gene Hack­man as a sur­veil­lance ex­pert who be­comes ob­sessed by a cou­ple he’s hired to shadow and the com­pany for whom they work. Tony Scott’s 1998 thriller Enemy of the State, star­ring Will Smith and Hack­man, is con­sid­ered an un­of­fi­cial se­quel — and even fleet­ingly uses a photo of Hack­man’s char­ac­ter from Cop­pola’s film.

Di­rec­tor David O. Rus­sell’s new film Amer­i­can Hus­tle has opened to pos­i­tive re­views and is among the fron­trun­ners for nom­i­na­tions at the up­com­ing Academy Awards. It comes on the heels of his pre­vi­ous ef­fort Sil­ver Lin­ings Play­book (Tues­day, 8.30pm, M Pre­miere), which won an Os­car last year but in my view is among the very skilled di­rec­tor’s most chaotic and grat­ing films.

Di­rec­tor Robert Ze­meckis ( Who Framed Roger Rab­bit, the Back to the Fu­ture tril­ogy, For­rest Gump and Cast Away) is adept at spe­cial ef­fects that don’t look like spe­cial ef­fects. Leg­end has it stu­dio bosses con­sid­ered the spe­cial ef­fects bud­get on For­rest Gump wasted be­cause they didn’t be­lieve the feather or ping-pong balls were com­puter-gen­er­ated. Ze­meckis does it again with Flight (Sun­day, 8.30pm, M Pre­miere), in which al­co­holic pi­lot Den­zel Wash­ing­ton per­forms an im­pos­si­ble ma­noeu­vre with his pas­sen­ger jet to min­imise loss of life dur­ing a crash.

There’s never a bad time to re­visit a James Bond movie, and the fran­chise is at a zenith of qual­ity and pop­u­lar­ity by virtue of di­rec­tor Sam Men­des’s ter­rific Sky­fall (Thurs­day, 8.30pm, M Pre­miere). Daniel Craig re­turns for his third go as the op­er­a­tive of Her Majesty’s Se­cret Ser­vice. Credit screen­writ­ers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Lo­gan for re­tool­ing Bond as a con­tem­po­rary ac­tion hero.

Gene Hack­man in The Con­ver­sa­tion

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