Satellite Boy (PG) Saturday, 8.40am, Masterpiece (402) Freaks (PG) Sunday, 8.30pm, TCM (428) Fierce Creatures (M) Monday, 8.30pm, Comedy (407)
An indigenous boy treks across the outback to plead for the preservation of his grandfather’s home in director Catriona McKenzie’s deeply affecting 2012 generational drama Satellite Boy (Saturday, 8.40am, Masterpiece). Ten-year-old newcomer Cameron Wallaby plays young Pete, and the iconic David Gulpilil is his grandad, nurturing the youngster in the ways of Aboriginal tradition. Cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson’s wide-screen compositions offer stunning vistas of the Bungle Bungle Range, with McKenzie’s levelheaded balance of ways old and new giving the film added urgency.
It isn’t strictly a sequel to A Fish Called Wanda, but the same cast reassembled nine years after that comic triumph to tell an entirely different yet equally guffaw-provoking tale in the 1997 comedy Fierce Creatures (Monday, 8.30pm, Comedy). Kevin Kline plays the dual roles of a media mogul and his gung-ho son, and Jamie Lee Curtis is the employee who involves them in the wrongheaded running of a London zoo under the management of former cop John Cleese (who also co-wrote the script). Melbourne’s own Fred Schepisi was brought in to finish directing the film when production troubles beset British TV veteran Robert Young. Cleese’s off-kilter and offcolour sensibilities are on full view.
It is often classified as a horror film, but it may also be seen as a lurid melodrama with startling imagery. The movie in question is director Tod Browning’s one-of-a-kind 1932 production
Freaks (Sunday, 8.30pm, TCM), and it was inspired by his job as a teenager in the sideshow of a travelling circus. The story involves a conniving trapeze artist who marries a colleague with dwarfism for his money and suffers the consequences from his tight-knit band of misshapen outsiders. No matter how it’s described, there’s nothing else in movie history quite like it.
A pair of thrillers on Tuesday ais worth a mention. The retired actor Gene Hackman continues to be greatly missed as a forceful leading man. One of his last films, and among his best, is writer-director David Mamet’s clockwork 2001 crime drama Heist (Tuesday, 6.35pm, Action). Ironically, the film is about a master thief planning to retire who is drawn back into the game for one last job — robbing an aeroplane filled with gold. As is usual for a Mamet film, the dialogue is terse and the supporting cast of Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo, Sam Rockwell, Ricky Jay and Rebecca Pidgeon (Mamet’s wife) delivers it with precision.
Later in the evening comes writer-director James Mangold’s 1997 drama Cop Land (Tuesday, 10.20pm, Action). Back in the day the film was considered something of a comeback for Sylvester Stallone, who plays a stout small-town New Jersey policeman beset by corruption. He’s quite good in it.
David Gulpilil in a scene from Satellite Boy