The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television -

(M) Sun­day, 12.25am, Mas­ter­piece

(PG) Wed­nes­day, 6.40pm, Ro­mance

(M) Mon­day, 10.30pm, Mas­ter­piece


Copy­ing Beethoven

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WHAT do the fol­low­ing films have in com­mon: Sur­ro­gates, Sex and the City, Drive Me to Hell, A Clock­work Or­ange and Dis­ney’s Fan­ta­sia? An­swer: Along with about 200 oth­ers, they all have bits of Beethoven’s mu­sic on the sound­track. The com­poser him­self fea­tured in Im­mor­tal Beloved, a 1994 biopic with Gary Old­man, and was played most re­cently by Ed Har­ris in (Wed­nes­day, 6.40pm, Ro­mance), a lik­able ro­man­tic fan­tasy di­rected by Ag­nieszka Hol­land. We are asked to be­lieve that Beethoven hired a young mu­sic stu­dent (Diane Kruger) to copy out the or­ches­tral parts of his score for the Ninth Sym­pa­thy. The

Copy­ing Beethoven

mood of the pe­riod is well caught, Har­ris de­liv­ers a fine study of tor­mented ge­nius, and the film closes with a tri­umphant first per­for­mance of the Ninth, con­ducted by the com­poser with some off-stage prompt­ing from his copy­ist. It’s all rather con­trived, but full of pas­sion­ate, the­atri­cal touches. I think Beethoven would have liked it.

(Sun­day, 4.20pm, Mas­ter­piece) fa­mously con­cerns a psy­cho­pathic killer — two such killers, in fact — one who flays his fe­male vic­tims alive (and is mer­ci­fully not seen), the other who prefers to eat them. The source, Thomas Har­ris’s novel Red Dragon, was first filmed by Michael Mann in 1986 as Man­hunter. But it was Jonathan Demme’s film that caught the pub­lic imag­i­na­tion, thanks to Anthony Hop­kins’s hypnotic per­for­mance as Han­ni­bal (“The Can­ni­bal”) Lecter, one of the cin­ema’s most cel­e­brated vil­lains. His scenes with Jodie Fos­ter’s FBI agent are un­bear­ably tense. The film col­lected five Os­cars, in­clud­ing best pic­ture, and the screen­play is ad­mired for its touches of bit­ter hu­mour: “I do wish we could chat longer, but I’m hav­ing an old friend for

The Si­lence of the Lambs

din­ner.” Though beau­ti­fully crafted, Si­lence ranks among my least favourite Os­car-win­ning films, per­haps be­cause I found the sadis­tic rel­ish of the sub­ject mat­ter too much to stomach. My de­serv­ing win­ners in­clude

(Mon­day, 10.30pm, Mas­ter­piece), Clint East­wood’s fine, un­der­stated drama about a dead-beat box­ing trainer who agrees to coach a not-so-young, rough-hewn back­woods girl (Hi­lary Swank) for a ca­reer in the ring. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Mag­gie and East­wood’s Frankie Dunn might have been hope­lessly sen­ti­men­tal, but it’s ex­plored with hon­esty and depth in this brac­ingly poignant film.

Two years ago I’d have given the best pic­ture Os­car to Michael Haneke’s (Sun­day, 12.25am, Mas­ter­piece), which had to set­tle for best for­eign-lan­guage film. Jean-Louis Trintig­nant and Em­manuelle Riva play a mar­ried cou­ple in their 80s whose lives are trans­formed when she suc­cumbs to de­men­tia and her hus­band re­solves to care for her. It’s a film of shin­ing good­ness and com­pas­sion, with a dev­as­tat­ing, though not un­ex­pected, cli­max.


Mil­lion Dol­lar


May 3-4, 2014

Ed Har­ris in

Copy­ing Beethoven

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