free to air
Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (PG) Saturday, 7pm, Seven Scanners (MA15+) Wednesday, 10.25pm, SBS Two Full Metal Jacket (MA15+) Thursday, 9.35pm, SBS
The best film to date in the Star Wars franchise is undoubtedly the second chronological movie to be released, in 1980, now titled Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (Saturday, 7pm, Seven).
Legend has it director George Lucas had to mortgage his house to calm the nervous studio, despite the galactic-sized success of the first film in the franchise. In any event, this remains to date the most emotionally satisfying work in the series, and the action set pieces are more organic and exciting than subsequent entries.
The movie world is still smarting from the loss of Stanley Kubrick, who made films with a meticulous precision rare in cinema today; nothing else looks or feels like a Kubrick film.
This is particularly true with his 1987 Vietnam war opus Full Metal Jacket (Thursday, 9.35pm, SBS). The first half follows the doomed Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio) through basic training, while the second half re-creates a ruined Vietnamese city on an English back-lot to follow Private “Joker” (Matthew Modine) and his squad as they try to ferret out a sniper. Everybody knows war is hell, but here Kubrick invites the viewer to actually visit the place.
It seemed like a good idea at the time: Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez would each direct a genre feature and they’d be released together to simulate the “grindhouse” experience of the 1970s. Problem was, they both made longer films than anticipated, so the 2007 release became as much of an endurance test as a genre tribute. Rodriguez’s film, Planet Terror (Wednesday, 8.30pm, SBS Two), is an inventive, tongue-in-cheek zombie movie, while Tarantino’s
Death Proof (Monday, 8.30pm, SBS Two) is a more laborious slasher movie with Kurt Russell that features a terrific extended car chase.
After the absurd cabaret of Moonraker, the James Bond brains trust decided to go back to the character’s roots and emphasis plausible action over space shenanigans. For Your Eyes
Only (Saturday, 9.15pm; WA, 7pm, Nine) remains one of the better of the seven films in which Roger Moore essayed the suave spy from 1973 to 1985. This is the one where Bond and Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet) retrieve a vital British transmitter from a sunken ship.
Credit legendary Hollywood make-up artist Dick Smith with creating the notorious exploding head shot in writer-director David Cronenberg’s 1981 horror film Scanners (Wednesday, 10.25pm, SBS Two). Temporarily jettisoning the psychosexual undercurrents of his previous work, Cronenberg focuses on the thriller side of things in the story of corporate espionage involving people with the title talent of reading minds. On the strength of that stunt, Scanners brought him the box office success he’d been searching for and ramped up his career significantly.