week's best films
free to air
Black Hawk Down (AV15+) Saturday, 9.50pm, Seven (not VIC, TAS) Captain America: The First Avenger (M) Sunday, 8.30pm, Ten Take This Waltz (MA15+) Monday, 8.30pm, SBS Two
It’s been 14 years since Russell Crowe essayed Nobel laureate John Nash, the troubled economics whiz and paranoid schizophrenic whose life story director Ron Howard turned into the Oscar-winning dramatic hybrid A Beautiful
Mind (Saturday, 8.30pm, SBS). The word “hybrid” applies well, as the film is at once a lush period drama with a love story at its heart and a lurid B-picture in which Ed Harris’s macho government agent recruits Nash to decrypt secret Soviet messages.
Despite this often jarring clash of tones the film holds up well, yet another illustration of Crowe’s golden period of diverse, absorbing leading men. Nash himself was killed in a car crash on the New Jersey turnpike earlier this year.
Certainly a more action-filled use of time during the same slot is an airing of director Ridley Scott’s accomplished and absorbing 2001 war film Black Hawk Down (Saturday, 9.50pm, Seven). It tells of the botched 1993 US military raid in Mogadishu that resulted in a great loss of life following a messy urban battle.
The film was criticised by many for racist leanings and factual inaccuracies, but there’s no denying the Oscar-winning editing of Pietro Scalia results in an edge-of-the-seat, you-are-there experience. The film’s large and overwhelmingly male cast includes Josh Hartnett, Sam Shepard, Melbourne’s own Eric Bana and a barely glimpsed Tom Hardy.
Much has been written on the onslaught of the contemporary superhero movie, particularly the so-called Marvel Universe of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man and the lot. As with any grouping, some are good, some are bombastic and some are better than others. Critics seem to agree that among the very best of the movies to date is the 2011 entry Captain America: The First Avenger (Sunday, 8.30pm, Ten).
Chris Evans plays the eponymous patriot, a 45kg weakling bulked up to crime-fighting size via clever computer effects. Hugo Weaving has fun with the Nazi officer bad guy who turns out to be the Red Skull.
Canadian actor and director Sarah Polley has quietly assembled an impressive body of work behind the camera that includes the 2006 Julie Christie drama Away from Her and the affecting 2012 docudrama hybrid Stories We Tell.
Between those two works she wrote, produced and directed the provocative, intelligent relationship dramedy Take This
Waltz (Monday, 8.30pm, SBS Two). Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen (in a rare and successful serious turn) play a married couple whose equilibrium is upset when she meets a soulful artist on a business trip.
Comedian Sarah Silverman co-stars as Rogen’s philosophising sister.