A Guide to the Week’s Viewing
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11
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)
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 12
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)
TUESDAY NOVEMBER 14
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)
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 17
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.
Anna Karenina, Sunday.