Free to air
Minority Report (M) Saturday, 8.30pm, Ten
Twice Upon a Time (M) Sunday, 2am, SBS One
Psycho (MA15+) Wednesday, 12.30am, ABC1
REMEMBER precogs, the silent stars of Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report (Saturday, 8.30pm, Ten)? In this fine futuristic thriller, precogs are genetically mutated clairvoyants who can see a murder before it’s committed — a boon to the law-enforcement agencies in Washington, DC, headed in 2054 by none other than Tom Cruise. Murderers can be arrested before they kill their victims.
Nowadays there’d be a few issues with civil liberties advocacy groups and opponents of mandatory sentencing, but the system works well for Cruise’s character until a precog fingers Tom himself as a future killer. The screenplay (from a Philip K. Dick story) is a dark and ingenious mix of sci-fi action and dystopian fantasy, raising troubling thoughts about the value to be placed on public safety in a free society. The film was a follow-up to A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Spielberg’s joint project with Stanley Kubrick.
If precogs had been around in 1960 they might have forestalled Hollywood’s most famous murder, and in so doing denied us Psycho (Wednesday, 12.30am, ABC1), Alfred Hitchcock’s horror classic and arguably the most influential and widely imitated thriller of all time. In one stroke, Hitch rewrote the rule book for screen violence and killed the movie careers of Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, who were both so indelibly stamped with their Psycho personalities that they never looked credible in any other role.
Everyone knows the story of the office secretary who steals a bundle of her boss’s money with a view to eloping with her lover, only to meet a messy end in the run-down Bates Motel. Among many spin-offs was a notable sequel directed by Australia’s Richard Franklin (a
Hitchcock devotee), another directed by Perkins himself, and a shot-by-shot remake by Gus Van Sant. See the original.
Twice Upon a Time (Sunday, 2am, SBS One) is a charming French film about a film director, Louis Ruinard, played by the splendidly hangdog Jean Rochefort, who is about to be presented with a lifetime achievement award at ceremony in London.
Louis is the kind of director, as someone observes, who “makes films that people can understand and want to go and see” — which immediately endeared him to this column. But when he discovers the award is to be presented by his former wife (Charlotte Rampling), whom he hasn’t spoken to since their well-publicised divorce 30 years earlier, he gets cold feet.
The director, Antoine de Caunes, has professed his admiration for the English sense of humour and has great fun contrasting French and English manners and morals. Beneath its sparkling surface it’s a sad film, with the kind of sadness a happy ending cannot quite dispel. That probably makes it more French than English.