Week’s best films

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Evan Wil­liams

WITH Easter and An­zac Day com­pet­ing for screen time this week, view­ers are re­warded with a gen­er­ous mix of grim war movies and sea­sonal crowd-pleasers.

Easter Pa­rade (Sun­day, 4.15pm, Gem), this col­umn’s sec­ond favourite mu­si­cal, is crammed with gor­geous cos­tumes and lovely Irv­ing Berlin songs, with Fred As­taire and Judy Gar­land sup­ply­ing the ro­man­tic bits. And yes, ev­ery­one’s all-time favourite mu­si­cal, Sin­gin’ in the Rain (Sun­day, 2pm, Gem), is show­ing as well. It has noth­ing to do with Holy Week, but with Gene Kelly and Don­ald O’Con­nor knock­ing our socks off in ev­ery sec­ond scene, who cares? Mel Gibson gives us the dark side of Easter in The Pas­sion of

the Christ (Satur­day, 9.30pm, SBS One), his graphic and deeply mov­ing ac­count of the Cru­ci­fix­ion, best seen as Gibson’s per­sonal tes­ta­ment of his faith. Jim Caviezel plays Je­sus in all his an­guish and lone­li­ness.

Pla­toon (Sun­day, 11.30pm, ABC1) is prob­a­bly the best film made about the Viet­nam War and one of the best war movies of any pe­riod. Oliver Stone de­liv­ers a shat­ter­ing in­sight into the mis­ery and ter­ror of close-range com­bat, with no hint of mo­ral­is­ing or pa­tri­otic fer­vour.

All Quiet on the Western Front (Fri­day, 11pm, 7Two) is a TV re­make of Lewis Mile­stone’s World War I clas­sic, no match for the orig­i­nal and no match for Jeremy Sims’s Be­neath Hill 60 (Fri­day, 8.30pm, 7Two). Sims’s film ranks with Peter Weir’s Gal­lipoli among the great­est of Aus­tralian war films (and con­sid­er­ing the im­por­tance of war in our his­tory, there haven’t been many of them). It’s an ac­count of an at­tack by the 1st Aus­tralian Tun­nellers — a bunch of raw, largely un­trained vol­un­teers, many of them min­ers or civil en­gi­neers at home — on a for­ti­fied Ger­man po­si­tion at Ypres. More than 700 Ger­mans died when the first ex­plo­sive charges were det­o­nated un­der their trenches. And lest we for­get, more Aus­tralians died in World War I than Amer­i­cans in Viet­nam.

For some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent, I rec­om­mend Julie Tay­mor’s The Tem­pest (Satur­day, 9pm, 7Two), star­ring He­len Mir­ren as Pros­pera, the duchess of Mi­lan. Yes, it’s Shake­speare, and Pros­pero has be­come Pros­pera — for the good rea­son (ac­cord­ing to Tay­mor) that she couldn’t find a male ac­tor who ex­cited her enough. At least we have a male ac­tor play­ing Fer­di­nand. The play has ev­ery­thing Hol­ly­wood loves — fan­tasy, magic, spec­ta­cle, a fear­some monster, tri­umphant lovers — and the film is a de­light, a ju­di­cious mix­ture of vis­ual and ver­bal plea­sures, with mag­i­cal ef­fects that are en­chant­ing but never in­tru­sive. Dji­mon Houn­sou’s Cal­iban brings rare pride and dig­nity to the monster’s role, and Reeve Car­ney (Fer­di­nand) and Felic­ity Jones (Miranda) ex­ude just the right child­like in­no­cence and in­fat­u­a­tion as the lovers.

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