| TV Films Fiona Rae

A Guide to the Week’s View­ing

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - By FIONA RAE


Frozen (TVNZ 2, 5.10pm). It took un­til 2013 for a woman to di­rect a Dis­ney an­i­mated fea­ture and what did she do? Only went and made the high­est-gross­ing an­i­mated film of all time. Frozen co-di­rec­tor Jen­nifer Lee (who wrote the screen­play) also be­came the first woman to di­rect a fea­ture that made more than $1 bil­lion at the box of­fice and she did it with an an­noy­ingly catchy song and a reimag­ined snow queen fairy tale about two sis­ters. Lee has sub­se­quently writ­ten the screen­play for A Wrin­kle in Time and will again di­rect, with Chris Buck, Frozen 2. (2013) Ever­est (Three, 7.00pm). Filmed in splen­did Imax, which in no way cheap­ens the true story of the 1996 Ever­est ex­pe­di­tion that went agley and re­sulted in the deaths of eight climbers, in­clud­ing New Zealan­der Rob Hall. Ja­son Clarke plays Hall and Jake Gyl­len­haal is the swag­ger­ing ri­val tour op­er­a­tor, Scott Fis­cher. The film makes the point about over­crowd­ing on Ever­est – it is a lit­tle crammed it­self, with ad­di­tional cast mem­bers Josh Brolin, Sam Wor­thing­ton, Naoko Mori, Emily Wat­son and Ing­var Sig­urðs­son as well as

Keira Knight­ley play­ing Rob’s preg­nant wife Jan, and Robin Wright as Brolin’s spouse. (2015)

Curse of the Golden Flower (Maori TV, 8.45pm). The most visu­ally stun­ning, epic and bru­tal soap opera ever com­mit­ted to film. House of Fly­ing Dag­gers di­rec­tor Zhang Yi­mou mar­ries mar­tial arts, Lord of the Rings-level bat­tle scenes and in­ternecine plot­ting in the Tang Dy­nasty: Em­peror Ping comes home from the war to his wife, Gong Li, who is sleep­ing with his step­son, Liu Ye, who’d rather be run­ning away with his se­cret lover, Li Man … and so on. Lurid, staged, spec­tac­u­lar. (2006)

A Walk Among the Tomb­stones (TVNZ Duke, 9.00pm). At this point, the Liam Nee­son Ac­tion Fig­ure is in­ter­change­able, whether it’s Taken 2

(see Sun­day) or this neo-noir pot­boiler di­rected by Scott Frank ( The Look­out). It should be a west­ern with that ti­tle (it is based on a 1992 novel by crime writer Lawrence Block), but Nee­son is on the mean streets of New York, at­tempt­ing an Amer­i­can ac­cent and work­ing as an un­li­censed pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor. His lat­est job is track­ing down the men who mur­dered a drug traf­ficker’s wife and just about the only sur­prise here is post- Down­ton

Dan Stevens as the guy. There are al­most no women, ex­cept for dis­mem­bered ones. (2014)

GI Jane (TVNZ 2, 11.40pm). Un­like Alien’s Ellen Ri­p­ley and Thelma & Louise, Ri­d­ley Scott’s GI Jane is hardly a great leap for­ward for the sis­ter­hood. A pumped-up Demi Moore is se­lected as a test case for Navy Seal train­ing; the men are against her, par­tic­u­larly the sadis­tic Mas­ter Chief (Viggo Mortensen), and there are be­hind-the-scenes po­lit­i­cal machi­na­tions will­ing her to fail. Of course she doesn’t, but is it a tri­umph? More an apolo­gia for US Army fire and fury. (1997)


The Hunger Games (TVNZ 2, 8.30pm). Tele­vi­sion is the opium of the peo­ple in this dystopian world where Amer­ica is di­vided into 12 districts of vary­ing poverty ruled by the su­per-rich 1% in the “Capi­tol”. Se­abis­cuit di­rec­tor Gary Ross treads another fine line when it comes to the ac­tual Hunger Games – a Sur­vivor- on-steroids, kids-killing-kids re­al­ity show. There’s that break­out per­for­mance from Jen­nifer Lawrence as Kat­niss Everdeen and spe­cial men­tion goes to Stan­ley Tucci as the oleagi­nous TV show host. There are great turns from Woody Har­rel­son and Lenny Kravitz too. (2012)

Taken 2 (Three, 8.30pm). To lose one fam­ily mem­ber may be re­garded as a mis­for­tune; to lose two looks like care­less­ness, Liam Nee­son. His Bryan is just try­ing to have a life, but what’s a deadly former CIA agent to do when a mob­ster (Rade Šerbedžija) tar­gets his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) and daugh­ter (Mag­gie Grace) in re­venge for killing the bad guy’s son in the first movie? (2012) The Fighter (Maori TV, 8.30pm). Mark Wahlberg’s labour of love is less about Mass­a­chu­setts boxer Micky Ward than about Ward and his brother, Dicky. Chris­tian Bale is in­cred­i­ble as the crack-ad­dicted ex-boxer and both he and the bril­liant Melissa Leo, who plays the boys’ heart­bro­ken and ma­nip­u­la­tive mother, won sup­port­ing ac­tor Os­cars. (2010)

Noc­tur­nal An­i­mals (Movies Ex­tra, Sky 031, 8.30pm). Tom Ford may have out­done him­self in this mul­ti­lay­ered psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller in which the sur­face sheen of Amy Adams’ life is dis­rupted by a man­u­script she re­ceives from her ex-hus­band, Jake Gyl­len­haal. As Adams reads, Ford de­picts the vi­o­lent, Bad­lands story within and another strand flashes back to her early life with Gyl­len­haal. Based on the 1993 novel by Austin Wright, the movie has echoes of Lynch and the Coen broth­ers, but Ford’s ob­ses­sive aes­thetic can be chok­ing. Nev­er­the­less, it was nom­i­nated for a slew of awards, in­clud­ing an Os­car nod for Michael Shan­non, the grand jury prize at Venice for Tom Ford, and a Golden Globe win for Aaron Tay­lor-John­son. (2016)

Burn Burn Burn (Rialto, Sky 039, 8.30pm). A charm­ing de­but from Bri­tish di­rec­tor Chanya But­ton (whose next project is Vita & Vir­ginia, about the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Vir­ginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West) in which two friends are sent on a road trip to scat­ter the ashes of their dead friend. It’s slightly an­noy­ing that he (Jack Farthing, Poldark’s evil Ge­orge War­leg­gan) is di­rect­ing the whole thing via record­ings, but that’s mil­len­ni­als for you. Laura Carmichael ( Down­ton Abbey) and Chloe Pir­rie are the two friends, and there are some ter­rific cameos from Ju­lian Rhind-Tutt and Ali­son Stead­man. (2015)


Speed (Three, 8.30pm). Cin­e­matog­ra­pher Jan de Bont’s first film as di­rec­tor is also still his best; it prob­a­bly helped that quip-meis­ter Joss Whe­don was an un­cred­ited script doc­tor who wrote nearly all the di­a­logue and changed Keanu Reeves’ char­ac­ter from a hot­shot to a po­lite, earnest cop. It was San­dra Bul­lock’s break-out role; Den­nis Hop­per chews the scenery; and a bus jumps a gap in the free­way. What’s not to love? (1994)

Ever­est, Satur­day.

Frozen, Satur­day.

Curse of the Golden Flower, Satur­day.

Noc­tur­nal An­i­mals, Sun­day.

The Fighter, Sun­day.

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