A Guide to the Week’s Viewing
SATURDAY APRIL 14
Rolling Thunder (Movies Extra, Sky 031, 3.05pm). To begin with, you’ll think Rolling Thunder is one of those films that tries to understand what happened to the soul of America after the Vietnam War. But it won’t be long before that illusion is shattered. Major Charles Rane (William Devane) is set upon by a group of border outlaws (played by James Best and Luke Askew, among others). He is robbed and his wife and son murdered. The true purpose of the movie is then revealed, as Rane and his war buddy, Sergeant Johnny Vohden (Tommy Lee Jones), set out to exact bloody revenge. If you need a measure of the violence, Quentin Tarantino said it was one of his favourite movies. (1977)
Despicable Me (Three, 7.00pm). Despicable Me is good, clean animated fun. Supervillain Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell) attempts to better the work of an anonymous thief who managed to steal the Great Pyramid of Giza. Gru has a plan of bigger proportions: the moon. With his vast array of gadgets and a legion of minions on his side, the task seems within his reach. But then his nemesis,
Vector (Jason Segel), appears. Even worse, a trio of orphaned girls threaten to melt Gru’s icy heart. (2010)
Magic Mike (Movies Greats, Sky 033, 8.30pm). Director Steven Soderbergh remakes a story that has been told many times, but nowhere as poignantly as in rapper T-Pain’s I’m in Love with a Stripper. However, this time, the shoe is on the other foot (or, off the other foot). Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) is a male stripper. He has dreams of starting a furniture business, but the money is too good in the short term. After taking young Adam (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing in the topless trade, and promising Adam’s sister (Cody Horn) that no harm will befall him, things spiral out of control in the way you’d expect. (2012) The Lovely Bones (Three, 8.50pm). After Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), a 14-year-old girl, is raped and murdered by a neighbour (Stanley Tucci), she becomes stuck in some sort of weird fantasy land between Heaven and Earth. She watches as her family mourns and her killer plots his next crime. The Lovely Bones is not one of Peter Jackson’s finest efforts, but Ronan, who went on to star in such movies as Brooklyn and Lady Bird, shines here, too. (2009)
SUNDAY APRIL 15
Rules of Engagement (Movies Extra, Sky 031, 2.10pm).
The concept “rules of war” has always seemed odd, as though there is a proper way to murder people. But rules are there for breaking, and movies like this, which go through the motions of ethical grappling, are here for the making. Marine Corps Colonel Terry Childers (Samuel L Jackson) oversees the evacuation of the US Ambassador to Yemen (Ben Kingsley) after a routine protest turns violent. He orders his men to fire on the possibly armed crowd, killing 83 civilians.
But is he guilty of a criminal act? Can it be proved in a military court? A spokesman for the American-Arab AntiDiscrimination Committee compared the film to The
Birth of a Nation and said it was, “probably the most racist film ever made against
Arabs by Hollywood”. (2000)
The King’s Speech (Choice, 8.30pm). Public speaking is bad enough at the best of
times. If you are the heir to the British throne and you have a speech impediment, it must be hell. But such was the lot of Prince Albert (played by Colin Firth), who, after his older brother abdicated, became King George VI. The movie focuses on the King’s mission to overcome his stammer, enlisting the help of an eccentric vocal therapist (Geoffrey Rush). An unlikely friendship blossoms between them, leading to the King’s momentous speech on the outbreak of World War II. (2010)
The Shallows (TVNZ 2, 9.00pm). Blake Lively, a bikini, a surfboard and a shark: not exactly the most promising ingredients for a good film. Yet, somehow, director Jaume Collet-Serra ( House of Wax, The Commuter) pulls off this American survival thriller off quite spectacularly. (2015)
MONDAY APRIL 16
Fracture (Prime, 8.30pm). Director Gregory Hoblit has a thing about justice – see L.A. Law, Hill Street Blues, Primal Fear and Roe vs. Wade. When wealthy engineer Ted Crawford (Anthony Hopkins) murders his adulterous wife (Embeth Davidtz), young and arrogant district attorney Willy Beachum (Ryan Gosling) believes he has an open-and-shut case. He’s wrong. A humiliated Beachum digs deeper into the circumstances of the killing and finds a part of himself he didn’t know existed. Hopkins and Gosling deliver stunning
WEDNESDAY APRIL 18
Paycheck (TVNZ Duke, 8.30pm). You can get quite exercised seeing Philip K Dick novels turned into action flicks.
When will they realise it’s the idea behind the stories that makes them worth anything? Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) is a reverse engineer. His job is to steal other companies’ designs for his clients. When he’s done, his mind is wiped. After a long and complicated job for a steely tech billionaire (Aaron Eckhart), Jennings comes to and something’s not right. What’s more, all his stuff is gone except for an envelope full of random items. Then the action kicks off big time: it is a John Woo ( Face/Off, Mission: Impossible 2) film, after all, and Jennings discovers each item can be used at certain times
to escape his pursuers. (2003)
THURSDAY APRIL 19
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Three, 8.30pm) A biotech scientist (James Franco) is testing revolutionary drugs on chimpanzees in the search for an Alzheimer’s cure when Bright Eyes, an exceptionally intelligent chimp (thanks to the drugs), goes on a rampage through the facility and is killed. The trial is shut down. Franco takes in Bright Eyes’ infant, Caesar, which shows signs of its mother’s intelligence. From there the seeds of revolution grow. Fun fact: Caesar is played by master of performance capture Andy Serkis, Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. (2011)
Despicable Me, Saturday.
The Lovely Bones, Saturday.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Thursday.
The King’s Speech, Sunday.
The Shallows, Sunday.