week's best films

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Ed­die Cock­rell

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.

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