week’s best films
NOTHING about Winter’s Bone (Saturday, 9.30pm, SBS One) is calculated to appeal to the average movie audience. If there’s such a thing as a feel-bad movie, this could be it.
But Debra Granik’s austere, beautifully crafted drama, set in some hillbilly backwater of Missouri, is welcome proof that the intelligent, low-budget American independent feature still flourishes in the age of the digital blockbuster.
Jennifer Lawrence is marvellous as 17-year-old Ree, caring for her two small siblings in a rundown farmhouse. Everything in this extraordinary film is subdued, understated and controlled. The horrors are lightly stressed. Granik builds a mood of compelling tension and unease, creating a landscape so forlorn that we hardly remember afterwards the film has a happy ending.
Not so Black Hawk Down (Saturday, 9.30pm, Seven)(Not Vic, Tas or SA), Ridley Scott’s gruelling film about a bungled US mission in Somalia, in 1993, when an elite team of Delta Force operatives was parachuted into the streets of Mogadishu in pursuit of a ruthless warlord.
Two Black Hawk helicopters were downed by rocket-propelled grenades during the raid, leaving more than 100 US troops trapped in a deadly firefight. With a cast including Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana and Sam Shepard, this is one of the most vivid and disturbing combat movies of recent times.
The typical French film today is likely to be a refined conversation piece with two or three characters sorting out their relationships in a civilised way, and avoiding anything resembling action, spectacle, special effects or other corrupting Hollywood influences.
Christophe Barratier’s Paris 36 (Wednesday, 12.40am, SBS One) is something different — the story of three unemployed men who get together to save a failing music hall in a blue-collar district of Paris in the 1930s.
It has colour, movement, romance, crowd scenes, a vaguely left-wing flavour and a string of original songs. All is unashamedly nostalgic and sentimental, and the songs aren’t all that good. But when was the last time you saw a French musical? Catch this one if you can.
I Know Where I’m Going! (Monday, 2.55am, ABC1) is my favourite Powell and Pressburger film, and as regular readers will know, that’s saying something.
Wendy Hiller is utterly charming as a feisty young British woman stranded on the stormtossed Scottish coast with handsome naval officer Roger Livesey. Twenty-four years later Powell directed Age
of Consent (Sunday, 11.55pm, ABC1), based on the life of the artist Norman Lindsay and shot in Queensland. The feisty young star then was Helen Mirren. It was Powell’s last feature as director.