week's best films
free to air
Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (PG) Saturday, 7pm, Seven The Godfather: Part II (MA15+) Sunday, 12.40am, ABC The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (MA15+) Wednesday, 10.05, SBS Two The week leading up to Halloween offers the alert viewer chances to see many of the best, and some of the worst, horror films of the past generation. By far and away the most astute choice is director Tobe Hooper’s groundbreaking and still quite effective 1974 shocker The Texas
Chain Saw Massacre (Wednesday, 10.05pm, SBS Two).
Crewed by university students from Austin, Texas, and acted with creepy verve by locals, this independent production set the template for generations of genre films to come. The movie does what it says on the tin, following a group of travelling 20-somethings as they run afoul of a bizarre family with a taste for barbecue. Hooper’s deliberate pacing and some deft editing ensure viewers imagine more than they actually see, which is the hallmark of good horror.
The week also brings an opportunity to experience some of — but not all — the Godfather films. A surprise hit when first released in 1972,
The Godfather made instant stars of Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and James Caan. But the undeniable masterpiece of the three is
The Godfather: Part II (Sunday, 12.40pm, ABC), in which Pacino’s Michael Corleone consolidates his power in the wake of his father’s death. And spare some love for the much-maligned but admirably ambitious The Godfather: Part III (Monday, 12.20am, ABC), which finds Michael trying to go legit. With global anticipation for Star Wars: Episode
VII — The Force Awakens now at a fever pitch (a new trailer is online, the film itself arrives here on December 17), this is a good time to revisit the first film in the iconic franchise, the 1977 sci-fi hit Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (Saturday, 7pm, Seven). George Lucas had only made a handful of shorts and two relatively modest features prior to creating this audacious, ingenious and fully formed galactic ecosystem inhabited by Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo (Harrison Ford had formerly been Lucas’s carpenter) and the rest of the gang. Seen today, the practical sets and special effects are charmingly tactile, despite Lucas having massaged them years later. A much-loved must-see.
Meryl Streep’s two collaborations to date with director Phyllida Lloyd receive back-to-back airings, allowing the motivated viewer to compare and contrast their styles and approaches to material.
First comes the criminally undervalued 2008 ABBA musical adaptation Mamma Mia! (Saturday, 7pm, 7Two), followed by the more sombre yet no less ambitious 2011 Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady (Saturday, 9.20pm, 7Two). Streep is fine, in her chameleonlike way, in both of them.