The Abyss (M) Tuesday, 8.35pm, Fox Classics (113) It’s a Wonderful World (G) Thursday, 8.30pm, TCM (428) The Drop (MA15+) Friday, 12.05pm, Masterpiece (402)
Infusing a heist thriller with strong social justice implications, British director Sean Ellis has deftly grafted two disparate genres in the 2013 British-Filipino co-production Metro Manila (Saturday, 5.30pm, World Movies). When a married couple abandons its failing rice farm to make a go of it in the city, the husband’s dream job as an armoured-car driver nearly derails their dream when he stumbles across a sinister insider plot. The film won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival and a British Independent Film directing prize for Ellis.
They may be in the same genre, but the approach to criminal activity is vastly different in director Michael R. Roskam’s low-key and provocative 2014 character study The Drop (Friday, 12.05pm, Masterpiece). Tom Hardy plays a lonely, subdued Brooklyn publican who works for the shifty James Gandolfini and develops a hesitant bond with neighbour Noomi Rapace. But the bar isn’t what it seems — and neither is Hardy’s complex character. The knowing screenplay is by novelist Dennis Lehane, the literary talent behind the source novels for Mystic
River and Shutter Island. How about a little Claudette Colbert to lighten the mood? Sassy, bright-eyed and smart onscreen and off, she built a dazzling and confident career playing capable, wisecracking women in dozens of vintage studio films. Among her more unsung performances is opposite James Stewart in the, wait for it, romantic screwball comedy-mystery It’s a Wonderful World (Thursday, 8.30pm, TCM). Stewart’s a private eye framed for murder, and Colbert the poet he kidnaps during his escape from a prison train. This is 1939 Hollywood, so of course they bicker but fall in love anyway. The top-tier supporting cast, for those of a certain age, includes Guy Kibbee, Edgar “slow burn” Kennedy, Sidney Blackmer and Hans Conried.
Just as beloved but of much more recent vintage is Steven Spielberg’s immensely successful tribute to golden-age Hollywood serials, the 1980 adventure Raiders of the Lost
Ark (Monday, 8.30pm, Action). Supposedly dreamed up by the director as he relaxed beachside with producer George Lucas, the film stars Harrison Ford as the bullwhip-cracking archeologist and globetrotting adventurer who becomes involved with nasty Nazis while in search of a priceless treasure. The film holds up extraordinarily well today, shorn as it is of any 80s-era narrative or musical influences.
Another action film that has aged well is James Cameron’s tremendously ambitious 1989 undersea thriller The Abyss (Tuesday, 8.35pm, Fox Classics). Nicknamed “The Abuse” for the arduous conditions under which the crew worked, that nail-biting tension and claustrophobia are readily apparent even on the small screen.
James Gandolfini in The Drop