TV Films

A Guide to the Week’s View­ing



Alice in Won­der­land (Movies Dis­ney, Sky 037, 6.30pm). It was panned by crit­ics, par­tic­u­larly Bri­tish lit­er­ary crit­ics, when it was re­leased in 1951, but Alice in Won­der­land has proved to be the most en­dur­ing Lewis Carroll adap­ta­tion. It will hope­fully re­main so in spite of Tim Bur­ton and Johnny Depp’s re­peated ef­forts. Had things gone dif­fer­ently in the film’s post-war pro­duc­tion, an early live-ac­tion/an­i­ma­tion ver­sion writ­ten by Al­dous Hux­ley, the au­thor of Brave New World, could have been the stan­dard bearer, but it was ap­par­ently aban­doned by Walt Dis­ney for be­ing “too lit­er­ary”. (1951)

Wad­jda (Māori TV, 8.30pm). In 2012, Wad­jda be­came the first fea­ture film ever made in Saudi Ara­bia. Read that sen­tence again. It’s all the more shock­ing when you con­sider the feat was done by fe­male wri­ter­di­rec­tor Haifaa al-Man­sour ( Mary Shel­ley). The plot it­self is sim­ple: a free-spir­ited 10-yearold girl wants a bike that she can’t af­ford and isn’t per­mit­ted to ride. But the movie is rich in de­tail. You sense the misog­yny, the piety and the re­pres­sion of Saudi women, with­out feel­ing shouted at. Af­ter Wad­jda, al-Man­sour moved on to Amer­i­can­ised ro­mance. We can only hope she does more like this. Her rom­com Nap­pily Ever Af­ter comes to Net­flix this month. (2012)

Fron­tera (Choice TV, 8.30pm). Miguel Ramirez (Michael Peña) leaves Paulina (Eva Lon­go­ria) and his fam­ily in Mex­ico to il­le­gally cross the US bor­der in search of bet­ter work and a bet­ter life. Things go bad fast. Ramirez stands ac­cused of mur­der­ing the wife (Amy Madi­gan) of a for­mer sher­iff (Ed Har­ris). But the case is more com­pli­cated and the per­pe­tra­tor more pale­skinned. In Trump’s world, the “im­mi­gra­tion is­sue” seems more rel­e­vant than ever – a symp­tom of our chronic

short-term mem­ory. Fron­tera is a re­minder that it’s been this way, un­treated, for some time now. (2014)

Django Un­chained (TVNZ 2, 10.50pm). A bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) teams up with a slave (Jamie Foxx) to hunt down a trio of out­laws. For this, the hunter prom­ises to help the slave find his wife and to give him his free­dom. It could be that sim­ple. But this is the Quentin Tarantino show, so it isn’t. In­stead, a com­plex sub­ject goes through a spaghetti-western grinder and is then sprin­kled with large amounts of ex­treme vi­o­lence, dark hu­mour and un­ceas­ing di­a­logue. Critic Roger Ebert called it an ex­am­ple of the “quasi-ex­ploita­tion genre”. But he still gave it four out of four stars. (2012)


The Mup­pets (Movies Dis­ney, Sky 037, 6.30pm). The songs of The Mup­pets have more than a touch of the Flight of the Con­chords in them, which is just as well be­cause Bret McKen­zie wrote many of them and won an Acad­emy Award for Best Orig­i­nal Song for Man or Mup­pet. Star­ring Ja­son Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, Jack Black, Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis, Jim Par­sons and many, many more. (2011)

Salmon Fish­ing in the Ye­men (Choice TV, 8.30pm). A wealthy sheikh (Amr Waked) de­cides he wants to fish for salmon in Ye­men. Bri­tish fish­eries ex­pert Al­fred Jones (Ewan McGregor) takes on the scheme, re­luc­tantly, and in no small part due to the sheikh’s per­sua­sive fi­nan­cial ad­viser Har­riet Chet­wode-Tal­bot (Emily Blunt). A ro­mance emerges. Comedy doesn’t. It was called a “fan­tas­tic feel-good charmer”. But a story about salmon farms in a bar­ren land of op­u­lence and poverty re­ally ought to have a satir­i­cal – or at least po­lit­i­cal – edge. (2011)

Tanna (Māori TV, 8.30pm). To set­tle a long-stand­ing feud be­tween two tribes on the small is­land of Tanna in Van­u­atu, vil­lage el­ders ar­range for the mar­riage of Wawa (Marie Wawa) to a man from the neigh­bour­ing Imedin tribe. But as Wawa is al­ready deeply in love with Dain (Mun­gau Dain), she rebels against her tribe and tra­di­tion. The story, fa­mil­iar to any star-crossed lover, hap­pens to be a true one. More in­cred­i­ble still, the char­ac­ters are played by first-time ac­tors from the Yakel vil­lage, who have re­tained their an­ces­tors’ cul­ture and cus­toms. Aus­tralian co-di­rec­tors Bent­ley Dean and Martin But­ler have worked in sim­i­lar ter­ri­tory be­fore ( Con­tact), but, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the

Yakel peo­ple, they’ve cre­ated a beau­ti­ful piece of cin­ema. (2015)


At­lantis Ris­ing (Choice TV, 8.30pm). We al­ready know di­rec­tor James Cameron ( Ti­tanic, Avatar) has a thing for the deep sea. He pi­loted a sub­mersible to the ocean’s deep­est known point in 2012. What re­mains a mys­tery is why he, along with film­maker Sim­cha Ja­cobovici ( The Lost Tomb of Je­sus, The Ex­o­dus De­coded), de­cided now to go look­ing for a myth­i­cal un­der­wa­ter city. (2017) Last Call at the Oa­sis (Māori TV, 8.30pm). “It’s not a ques­tion of if; it’s a ques­tion of when.” That’s the cen­tral mes­sage in Jessica Yu’s doc­u­men­tary (from the pro­duc­ers of An In­con­ve­nient Truth) about the world’s com­ing – or ar­rived – water cri­sis. The ques­tion is what hap­pens when it runs out, and the an­swer is: we’re screwed. An ar­ray of sci­en­tists and ac­tivists (in­clud­ing Jay Famigli­etti, Peter Gle­ick, Ty­rone Hayes and Erin Brock­ovich) ap­pear on screen to say this, in other words. (2011)

The Fast and the Fu­ri­ous (Prime, 8.30pm). This is the first of the Fast and the Fu­ri­ous fran­chise that will see its ninth in­stal­ment be­gin pro­duc­tion in 2019. A spin-off, Hobbs and Shaw, is al­ready un­der way. You can al­ready hear the crush of ex­cite­ment. (2001)


In­grid Goes West (Movies Ex­tra, Sky 031, 8.30pm). In­grid Goes West is a black comedy about the In­sta­gram age – and it is very black in­deed. In­grid (Aubrey Plaza), who is fresh out of men­tal hos­pi­tal, hav­ing crashed a wed­ding and maced the bride, moves to Los An­ge­les to find and be­friend her new favourite In­sta­gram “in­flu­encer” Tay­lor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). (2017)


Déjà Vu (Movies Greats, Sky 033, 8.30pm). A ridicu­lous plot in­volv­ing a do­mes­tic terrorist at­tack and a crime­solv­ing time-travel ma­chine is some­how warped into a de­cent movie. Di­rec­tor Tony Scott ( Man on Fire, Un­stop­pable) and Den­zel Wash­ing­ton are get­ting quite good at this. (2006)

Alice in Won­der­land,Satur­day.

Tanna, Sun­day.

The Mup­pets, Sun­day.

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