The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

Per­for­mance (M) Sun­day, 8.35pm, Mas­ter­piece

Eve­lyn (PG) Tues­day, 12.10am, Ro­mance

The Best Years of Our Lives (PG) Satur­day, 8.30pm, Fox Clas­sics

WE take mu­sic in films for granted, and this col­umn likes noth­ing bet­ter than a great mu­si­cal, but films about mu­sic it­self are rare in­deed. I mean films about the dy­nam­ics of mu­sic-mak­ing, the pas­sions and ri­val­ries to be found in a group of mu­si­cal per­form­ers. A Late Quar­tet, re­leased in Aus­tralia as

Per­for­mance (Sun­day, 8.35pm, Mas­ter­piece), and not to be con­fused with the 1970 film of that name with Mick Jag­ger, is one of the great, in­sight­ful films about the art of mu­sic-mak­ing, in which the mem­bers of a world-fa­mous string quar­tet strug­gle to stay to­gether in the face of death, lust and com­pet­ing egos. Su­perb per­for­mances all round — from Christo­pher Walken, Philip Sey­mour Hoff­man, Mark Ivanir and Cather­ine Keener, who play the mu­si­cians, and from the mem­bers of the Brentano String Quar­tet, who play the in­stru­ments heard on the sound­track.

Bruce Beres­ford once said he had been try­ing for years to have the name of one of his films scrubbed from his CV, but wouldn’t say which one. My guess at the time was King David, but I won­der now if it was Eve­lyn (Tues­day, 12.10am, Ro­mance), an odd one from the Aussie di­rec­tor and like noth­ing he had done be­fore.

It’s the story of an Ir­ish­man, Des­mond Doyle (Pierce Bros­nan), de­serted by his wife and de­prived of the cus­tody of his three chil­dren, who took on the Ir­ish min­is­ter for ed­u­ca­tion in a his­toric le­gal bat­tle in 1953 and had the chil­dren re­stored to him.

Unashamedly sen­ti­men­tal and de­vi­ously heart-tug­ging, but when a story is true, or even partly true, much con­trivance and ex­ag­ger­a­tion can be for­given. Bros­nan makes a brave and de­ter­mined hero, there’s a plucky lit­tle girl at the cen­tre of things, some nice ec­cen­tric char­ac­ters and a cli­mac­tic court­room scene. What more could one ask?

And three clas­sics this week about war and its aftermath. Apoca­lypse Now (Fri­day, 8.35pm, Fox Clas­sics) is Fran­cis Ford Coppola’s sur­real con­tem­pla­tion of the agony of Viet­nam, with Mar­lon Brando as a rene­gade of­fi­cer, some fa­mous lines (“I love the smell of na­palm in the morn­ing”) and a fa­mous Wag­ner tune.

The Bridge on the River Kwai (Thurs­day, 8.35pm, Fox Clas­sics) is the supreme war­time ad­ven­ture yarn, su­perbly filmed by David Lean with some trou­bling re­flec­tions on the moral­ity of war it­self.

And The Best Years of Our Lives (Satur­day, 8.30pm, Fox Clas­sics) is the best Hol­ly­wood film about men re­turn­ing from war to re­join civil­ian life. It was a huge hit. “I don’t care if it doesn’t make a nickel,” pro­ducer Sam Gold­wyn re­port­edly said. “I just want ev­ery man, woman and child in Amer­ica to see it.” And just about ev­ery­one did.

Martin Sheen in Apoca­lypse Now

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