TV Films

A Guide to the Week’s View­ing

New Zealand Listener - - THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT - By FIONA RAE


T2 Trainspot­ting (Movies Pre­miere, Sky 030, 8.30pm). For­get heroin: the real de­stroyer of lives is time and dis­ap­point­ment, and when a post-heart-at­tack Ren­ton (Ewan McGre­gor) turns up in Ed­in­burgh, he finds a world of it. Nev­er­the­less, as he did with Trainspot­ting, Danny Boyle gives his char­ac­ters de­fi­ant, scabrous, mid­dle-fin­ger-up life. (2017)

La Femme Nikita (Maori TV, 8.50pm). Luc Besson may not have in­vented the fe­male as­sas­sin, but he helped ­pop­u­larise the genre with this hip noir thriller about a thief (Anne Par­il­laud) who is given a li­cence to kill. Some French crit­ics dis­missed it as “cinema du look” style over sub­stance, but Besson has con­tin­ued on his merry way with the likes of The Fifth El­e­ment and Lucy and the film is of­ten spo­ken of in the same breath as Buffy or Xena – or Kill Bill (right). (1990)

Ronin (Three, 8.55pm). A thriller throw­back to di­rec­tor John Franken­heimer’s ear­lier films The Manchurian ­Can­di­date and French Con­nec­tion II. One hell of a cast – Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Skipp Sud­duth, Stel­lan Skars­gård and Sean Bean – is as­sem­bled to steal a MacGuf­fin suit­case; ­com­pli­ca­tions and hid­den agen­das en­sue, es­pe­cially in re­gard to their mys­te­ri­ous taskmistress, Natascha McEl­hone. Gritty di­a­logue is cour­tesy of David Mamet, and the film is rightly fa­mous for its sen­sa­tional, adrenalin-pump­ing car chases. (1998)

Kill Bill: Vol­ume 1 (TVNZ Duke, 9.00pm). As is usual with ­Quentin ­Tarantino, part homage, part ­pri­vate ob­ses­sion: here, it ranges from kung-fu films to spaghetti west­erns, with ad­di­tional an­ime se­quences from the pro­ducer of Ghost in the Shell (the an­ime movie, not the re­cent live-ac­tion mess star­ring Scar­lett Jo­hans­son). Uma Thur­man, dressed in Bruce Lee’s yel­low track­suit, lays waste to those who have wronged her, cul­mi­nat­ing in the bloody slice-and-dice of Lucy Liu and her Crazy 88 posse. A clas­sic if you don’t mind buck­ets of fake blood. (2003)

The Wolf of Wall Street (TVNZ 2, 9.30pm). Martin Scors­ese’s ri­otous ex­am­i­na­tion of a Wall Street trader’s ex­cesses stretches out to three and a half hours on free-to-air telly, al­though it does romp along in a su­gar-rush of spec­ta­cle and fi­nan­cial flim­flam. Leonardo DiCaprio – never bet­ter – plays New York bro­ker Jor­dan Belfort, who swin­dles him­self a for­tune and spends the 90s par­ty­ing like it’s, well, 1999. It’s an ex­ces­sive movie (sex, drugs, strip­pers and dwarf-throw­ing), even for the di­rec­tor who brought us Good­fel­las and Casino; a

sus­tained un­re­pen­tant howl of bad taste and amoral­ity. Ex­tra­or­di­nary. (2012)

Old Boy (Three, 11.20pm). Per­haps one for Spike Lee com­pletists, as this re­make of the much-lauded Park Chan-wook thriller (which won the Grand Prix at Cannes) is mag­nif­i­cently point­less.

Still, Josh Brolin gives it his best as a man im­pris­oned in a ho­tel-like room for 20 years who goes look­ing for an­swers. De­spite the gory ac­tion, some of it a replica of the 2003 film, it lacks the in­ten­sity and sur­re­al­ity of the orig­i­nal, which fa­mously in­cluded the eat­ing of a live oc­to­pus. Sharlto Co­p­ley and Samuel L Jack­son ap­pear un­sure of what kind of film they’re in and El­iz­a­beth Olsen is rather hard done by as Brolin’s help­mate. (2013)


Point Break (TVNZ 2, 8.30pm). Po-faced, bro­tas­tic re­make of the 1991 cheese­ball clas­sic in which tat­tooed FBI agent Luke Bracey goes un­der­cover with a bunch of heist-pulling eco­war­riors who are ­look­ing for en­light­en­ment and the ­equitable dis­tri­bu­tion of in­come. Or some­thing. Lots of stunt scenes and very lit­tle else; Édgar Ramírez is cer­tainly no Patrick Swayze. They should just have joined ­Green­peace. (2015)

Whiplash (Maori TV, 8.30pm). Di­rec­tor Damien Chazelle went full-on mu­si­cal for his next movie, La La Land, but here sticks to a story in­spired by the in­struc­tor of his high school jazz band. JK Sim­mons, usu­ally a char­ac­ter ac­tor, was rightly recog­nised for his per­for­mance as the bul­ly­ing, abu­sive con­duc­tor who pushes young jazz drum­mer Miles Teller to near-break­down. For all that, Chazelle gives the movie a jazzy, crisp in­ten­sity that stops just short of ­melo­drama. (2014)

Sis­ters (Three, 8.35pm). Tina Fey and Amy Poehler back to­gether again (hur­rah) in a cheer­fully bawdy com­edy about get­ting it to­gether and just grow­ing up al­ready. Satur­day Night Live writer Paula Pell seems to be on a mis­sion to see how many va­jay­jay jokes she can squeeze into one movie, and with Fey and Poehler’s comic tim­ing, she gets away with it. Maya Ru­dolph, John Leguizamo, James Brolin and Dianne Wi­est also ap­pear. (2015)

Anna Karen­ina (Three, 11.00pm). An am­bi­tious ver­sion of ­Tol­stoy’s novel, writ­ten by Tom Stop­pard and di­rected by Joe Wright ( Atone­ment), who sets the story in an or­nate theatre where the ac­tion takes place on the stage and be­hind the scenes. He teams up again with Keira Knight­ley (Anna), Jude Law plays the but­tonedup, bald­ing Karenin and Aaron Tay­lor-John­son ( Nowhere Boy, Kick-Ass) is Count Vron­sky.

In a way, Wright has out­done him­self: the film is so ­vis­ually daz­zling (at one stage, he even races horses across the au­di­to­rium) that its lav­ish­ness dis­tracts from the story. (2012)


That Su­gar Film (Maori TV, 8.30pm). A lit­tle some­thing for World Di­a­betes Day. Da­mon Gameau goes the Mor­gan Spur­lock route by con­sum­ing the same amount of su­gar as the av­er­age Aus­tralian: 40 tea­spoons a day. This seemed a bit rad­i­cal in 2014, less so now that the dan­gers of hid­den su­gar are be­ing recog­nised. Gameau does not scarf down cakes, lol­lies and fizzy drinks; his diet con­sists of sup­pos­edly healthy food, such as break­fast ce­re­als, fruit juice, muesli bars

and smooth­ies. (2014)


Wolf (Maori TV, 10.10pm). A 90s craze for were­wolf movies saw even Mike Ni­chols have a go, with Jack Ni­chol­son and Michelle Pfeif­fer no less. Ni­chol­son’s mild-man­nered book ed­i­tor gains a lit­eral killer in­stinct when he is bit­ten, which comes in handy in his board­room fight with Christo­pher Plum­mer and James Spader, but not so much in his re­la­tion­ship with Pfeif­fer. Richard Jenk­ins, David Hyde Pierce, Prunella Scales and Om Puri also ap­pear. (1994)

The Wolf of Wall Street, Satur­day.

T2 Trainspot­ting, Satur­day.

Whiplash, Sun­day.

Anna Karen­ina, Sun­day.

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