Free to air
(M) Thursday, 8.30pm, 7Two
(MA15+) Sunday, 11.30pm, ABC1
(M) Friday, 11pm, Gem
Cool Hand Luke
(Sunday, 11.30pm, ABC1) is a curiously light-hearted film about boatpeople arriving on Australian shores, described by its producers as “a metaphor for the consequences of globalisation”. An Indonesian fishing boat deposits a bunch of Cambodian and Iraqi asylumseekers on an empty beach somewhere in north Australia, and we follow the adventures of three men flung together by chance in the desert. The film felt oddly dated on its release in 2007, when boat arrivals had pretty well ceased, and may well feel dated now for the same reason. Director Michael James Rowland gives us plenty to think about in this wonderfully strange and enjoyable comic escapade, which manages to put a warm, quirky spin on stories of betrayal, exploitation, cultural prejudice and attempted murder. How you react may depend on how seriously you react to boatpeople, and the efforts of governments to stop them.
M. Night Shyamalan is remembered for his hugely popular supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense, which he followed a year later with
(Thursday, 8.30pm, 7Two), a much darker, more troubling film. Bruce Willis is David Dunn, a passenger on a New York commuter train that runs off the rails, killing everyone on board save one. Dunn walks away unscathed, convinced by this and other experiences that he’s impervious to injury or disease — an “unbreakable”. He’s tracked down by Elijah (Samuel L. Jackson), a dealer in old comic strips, who believes Dunn may explain the origins of comic book superheroes, caped crusaders and the like. A loopy plot, to be sure, but it got me in. Is it possible that Dunn inspired Marvel Comics’ X-Man franchise, whose latest instalment, X-Men: Days of Future Past, is coming
soon to cinemas? Meanwhile you can see the third film in the series,
(Saturday, 8.30pm, Ten), the usual slick blend of violence, creepiness and spectacular effects, with Hugh Jackman keeping a straight face throughout.
For those, like me, who can’t get enough of them, there’s a couple of Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals — (Monday, 2am, ABC1), followed by (3.25am) — so set the recorder or prepare for a long night. Both are crammed with great Irving Berlin songs, among them (in Follow the Fleet) Fred and Ginger’s out-of-sync comic routine, I’m Putting All My Eggs in One Basket. This song would have played well beneath the end-credits of
(Friday, 11pm, Gem), the Stuart Rosenberg prison drama famous for its eggeating contest, when Paul Newman puts all his eggs down one throat — his own — in one of the yuckiest comic scenes in movies. Not much else is funny. This grim, often brutal film has Luke serving in a chain gang while rallying fellow crims. It was one of Newman’s great performances.
X-Men Origins: Carefree Follow the Fleet