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The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television - Ed­die Cock­rell

The ar­guable high point of Ju­lia Roberts’s ca­reer to date is her fierce, Os­car-win­ning per­for­mance as the cru­sad­ing whistle­blower at the heart of di­rec­tor Steven Soder­bergh’s 2000 drama Erin

Brock­ovich (Wed­nes­day, 10.30pm, Ten). A twice-di­vorced sin­gle mother of three, Brock­ovich — based on a real cru­sader who has a bit part as a wait­ress — stum­bles across the cor­po­rate cover-up of a chem­i­cal-laden wa­ter sup­ply in the Cal­i­for­nia desert. With the help of over-the-hill lawyer Al­bert Fin­ney and biker neigh­bour Aaron Eck­hart, Brock­ovich goes headto-head with the cor­po­rate suits, with ex­tra­or­di­nary re­sults. This was the film that cat­a­pulted Soder­bergh from the art house to the cine­plex, and he in fact won the best di­rec­tor Acad­emy Award that year — al­beit for his other high-pro­file release, Traf­fic.

Known pri­mar­ily for her im­mer­sive, cut­tingedge in­stal­la­tions that ex­plore mor­tal­ity, grief and loss, Lynette Wall­worth from Bex­ley North in Sydney has a much-de­served in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion. When she branched into film­mak­ing this year, it was only log­i­cal that her sub­ject would be an ex­ten­sion of those con­cerns.

The re­sult was the AACTA-win­ning doc­u­men­tary Ten­der (Sun­day, 10.50pm, ABC). This is per­haps the warm­est and most hu­man doc­u­men­tary made about death, as the Port Kem­bla coun­cil de­bates offering fu­neral ser­vices, only to dis­cover that one of their own has ter­mi­nal can­cer. “We won’t be keep­ing bod­ies at the com­mu­nity cen­tre,” one of­fi­cial re­as­sures an ap­pre­hen­sive con­stituent, and the re­mark is em­blem­atic of the fine line Wall­worth walks be­tween com­pas­sion, se­ri­ous­ness and the hu­mour that in­evitably sur­faces as a de­fence mech­a­nism against death.

En­ter­tain­ing, thought-pro­vok­ing and deeply re­ward­ing, Ten­der is the week’s must-see film.

An­other es­sen­tial work that deals with the loom­ing shadow of life’s end is Chilean-born di­rec­tor Ale­jan­dro Amenabar’s 2004 drama The

Sea In­side (Tues­day, 11.40pm, SBS). Javier Bar­dem shines as Spa­niard Ra­mon Sampe­dro, a for­mer sailor who has been paral­ysed from the neck down, bedrid­den for three decades and wants to per­form an as­sisted sui­cide. As poignant as drama gets, the film res­onates long af­ter the clos­ing cred­its.

Fol­low­ing his Spi­der-Man ex­pe­ri­ences with the stu­dio sys­tem, for­mer low-bud­get hor­ror film­maker Sam Raimi (the orig­i­nal Evil Dead) re­turned to his lurid roots. The re­sult was the de­fi­antly schlocky 2009 B-movie homage Drag

Me to Hell (Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, SBS Two). Be­yond the catchy ti­tle, the film is an in­ven­tive twist on the idea of un­shak­able curses, as bank loan of­fi­cer Alison Lohman must fight to save her life af­ter a reclu­sive old crone whose mort­gage ex­ten­sion she re­jects puts a grisly hex on her. For those in the right frame of mind, this is good fun.

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