free to air
Munich (MA15+) Saturday, 8.30pm, SBS Funny People (MA15+) Saturday, 11pm, 7Mate (only NSW; QLD, 10.30pm) Drive, He Said (M) Tuesday, 12.40am, ABC Jack Nicholson made his directorial debut, from his own screenplay adaptation, in 1971 with the coming-of-age sports drama Drive, He Said (Tuesday, 12.40am, ABC).
The story of a randy high-school basketball player set against the social unrest of the late 1960s and early 70s, the film was a proving ground for a number of future talents in front of and behind the camera, including actors Robert Towne (who later wrote Chinatown for Nicholson), David Ogden Stiers (the TV version of M*A*S*H), Cindy Williams ( Laverne & Shirley) and enigmatic writer-director Terrence Malick, who did an uncredited screenplay polish.
Jokes should be short and sweet, according to the conventional wisdom. Stand-up comedian turned filmmaking franchise Judd Apatow is therefore a brave filmmaker, in that he stretches the limits of screen comedy with long running times in such hits as The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, Knocked Up and the recent Amy Schumer movie Trainwreck. His magnum opus to date, such as it is, is the almost 2½-hour Funny People (Saturday, 11pm, 7Mate). Adam Sandler plays a middle-aged stand-up comic whose movie stardom is derailed by a diagnosis of leukaemia, and Seth Rogen is his youngish protege. Featuring a raft of regulars in Apatow’s films (including his wife, Leslie Mann, and Jonah Hill), the movie also features Melbourne’s own Eric Bana as Mann’s proudly Australian husband. It is way too long for a comedy, but has interesting points to make about show business and family.
And speaking of Bana, he distinguished himself with critics as the lead character in Steven Spielberg’s underrated 2005 historical thriller Munich (Saturday, 8.30pm, SBS). He plays a Mossad agent tasked with organising the assassination of nearly a dozen Palestinians thought to be involved in the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. This is a brave, thoughtful, controversial film, which goes a long way towards explaining why it is Spielberg’s least successful outing to date.
Michael Caine has been playing cool customers at least since The Ipcress File some 40 years ago, so it was no surprise to see him cast as a pensioner with revenge on his mind in director Daniel Barber’s 2009 vigilante revenge drama Harry Brown (Saturday, 11.35pm, SBS). Nobody portrays amoral morality like Caine, who remains likable even as he battles his way through the low-lifes in his London council estate who killed his best friend.
On a much lighter note, the hit 2002 animated comedy Ice Age (Saturday, 7pm, Ten) features the voice talents of Ray Romano, Denis Leary, Jack Black and others as a clutch of prehistoric animals struggling to cope with a lost human infant and a general grumpiness about life. Improbable as it may sound, the film offers a good time for kids and adults alike.