Pay-tv films

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Pay Television -

Na­ture on TV is big busi­ness these days; in the trans­formed TV wildlife land­scape, it has many guises. Along­side the oc­ca­sional blue-chip se­ries, epit­o­mised by the BBC’s wildlife spe­cials, there are celebrity trav­el­ogues, con­ser­va­tion lec­tures, and “vets-and-pets” se­ries such as this very pop­u­lar re­al­ity show. An­i­mal Planet’s top­per­form­ing se­ries, it fol­lows Jeff Young at his mad­house Planned Pet­hood Plus clinic, where, with more than 80,000 clients, about 30 surg­eries a day, 30 staff, a bustling emer­gency room, and a far-reach­ing mo­bile clinic, Dr Jeff is un­der con­stant pres­sure to keep ev­ery­one healthy and happy. A some­what con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure — a tat­tooed and ban­dana-wear­ing self­pro­fessed “hill­billy from In­di­ana” — he treats Bri­tish broad­caster Louis Th­er­oux’s first fea­ture­length doc­u­men­tary was cre­ated in col­lab­o­ra­tion with direc­tor John Dower and two-time Academy award-win­ning pro­ducer Si­mon Chinn. For years his dream was to think he might just be the first jour­nal­ist to see an­other, more pos­i­tive, side to the Church of Sci­en­tol­ogy, in­trigued by its com­mer­cials promis­ing en­light­en­ment and tech­niques that claim to com­bine spir­i­tu­al­ity and sci­ence with the ul­ti­mate aim of a planet free from crime and war. When all his ap­proaches are turned down, he comes up with an­other method to get in­side with the aid of the church’s for­mer sec­ond-in-com­mand, Mark “Marty” Rath­bun, and a bunch of en­thu­si­as­tic ac­tors. In a sce­nario wor­thy of a Coen broth­ers com­edy — but nas­tier — it be­comes ap­par­ent that Sci­en­tol­ogy rep­re­sen­ta­tives are in fact mak­ing a film about him, a not un­fa­mil­iar tac­tic. Mur­der, She Baked Fri­day, 8.30pm, 13th Street This se­ries is based on the nov­els of Joanne Fluke, whose ti­tles in­clude Dou­ble Fudge Brownie Mur­der, Red Vel­vet Cup­cake Mur­der and Plum Pud­ding Mur­der. Ali­son Sweeney stars as a bak­ery owner who just can’t keep her hands out of the bat­ter when mur­der stirs things up in Lake Eden, Min­nesota. Not for True De­tec­tive fans. Jeff Bridges is ar­guably the most un­der­rated Amer­i­can ac­tor since Robert Ryan or maybe Richard Wid­mark. Here, in the Coen broth­ers’ True Grit (Tues­day, 8.30pm, Ac­tion), he’s the guile­ful, du­plic­i­tous Rooster Cog­burn, the hard­drink­ing ex-law­man hired by 14-year-old Mat­tie Ross (Hailee Ste­in­feld) to help her find Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who killed her fa­ther at Fort Smith, Arkansas. With great pho­tog­ra­phy by Roger Deakins, the movie re­ceived Academy Award nom­i­na­tions in a re­mark­able 10 cat­e­gories. An­other great western is Joe Kidd (Tues­day, 10.30pm, Fox Clas­sics) from 1972, di­rected by John Sturges, the ac­tion spe­cial­ist who also made Bad Day at Black Rock. It’s writ­ten by El­more Leonard with pho­tog­ra­phy by Bruce Sur­tees, and stars Clint East­wood in fine tight-lipped form as an ex-bounty hunter re­luc­tantly as­sist­ing Robert Du­vall’s evil land baron track down a Mex­i­can rev­o­lu­tion­ary leader. Maybe the best mu­si­cal ever, Sin­gin’ in the Rain (Wed­nes­day, 8.30pm, TCM), is di­rected by Gene Kelly and Stan­ley Do­nen. Star­ring Kelly, Don­ald O’Con­nor and Deb­bie Reynolds, it’s also one of the clever­est movies made about the film in­dus­try it­self.

Hailee Ste­in­feld and Jeff Bridges in True Grit

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