The Weekend Australian - Review - - Pay Television -

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

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