TV Films

A Guide to Hol­i­day Sea­son View­ing

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - Ryan Holder


The Trial (Movies Vin­tage, Sky 035, 8.30pm). Based on Franz Kafka’s clas­sic novel, The

Trial tells the tra­vails of Josef K (An­thony Perkins), a man ar­rested by uniden­ti­fied agents and charged with an uniden­ti­fied crime. His case goes to a court whose rules are … you get the point. Direc­tor Or­son Welles called it “the best movie I have ever made” – though some crit­ics dis­agreed. He does, how­ever, cap­ture the dis­ori­en­tat­ing bu­reau­cracy with cin­e­mato­graph­i­cal skill and in­ven­tive­ness. (1962)

SUN­DAY DE­CEM­BER 23 Moana (TVNZ 2, 7.00pm). Flight of the Con­chords star

Je­maine Cle­ment voices a gi­ant, singing, danc­ing crab in this an­i­ma­tion about Princess Moana (voiced by Auli’i Cravalho), who searches for demigod Maui (Dwayne John­son) so that she can bring life back to the dy­ing oceans around her home is­land, Mo­tunui. A dozen or so Pa­cific cul­tures are rolled into one Dis­ney­fied ver­sion that kids will love. (2016)

Sully (TVNZ 1, 8.15pm). A weighty drama that cuts be­tween the emer­gency-land­ing of a US Air­ways flight on the Hud­son River and the sub­se­quent for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the pi­lots’ ac­tions. The pi­lots (Tom Hanks and Aaron Eck­hart) are easy he­roes, while the men and women of the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board are noth­ing but nosey nit­pick­ers. It’s an­other clas­sic Clint East­wood mid­dlefin­ger to the man – what else? (2016)

A Quiet Place (Movies Premiere, Sky 030, 8.30pm). A hor­ror movie made more ter­ri­fy­ing by the near si­lence main­tained through­out as a young fam­ily tries to hide in the wilder­ness from mys­te­ri­ous crea­tures that hunt by sound. (2017)


Frozen (TVNZ 2, 7.00am). The Dis­ney an­i­mated kids’ film that launched the name of hero­ine Elsa into the 100 most-used baby names in 2014. As chil­dren started learn­ing all the catchy songs by heart, to sing on any and all oc­ca­sions, par­ents be­gan to com­plain of what Time colum­nist Joel Stein called “cul­tural as­sault”. For­get the rab­ble-rousers, the film is just good, clean fun. On Christ­mas Eve, it could even pro­vide you with a well-timed es­cape from your kids. (2013)

The Po­lar Ex­press (TVNZ 2, 5.10pm). One for Santa ag­nos­tics. On the night be­fore Christ­mas, Hero Boy (a mo­tion-cap­tured Tom Hanks, voiced by Daryl Sabara) is be­gin­ning to doubt the big man’s ex­is­tence un­til a train sud­denly ar­rives out­side his bed­room win­dow. It’s the Po­lar

Ex­press and it’s head­ing for the North Pole. What fol­lows is an en­chant­ing and time­less story told in quasi-an­i­ma­tion and per­for­mance-cap­ture be­fore it was cool. (2004)

Home Alone (Three, 7.00pm). Just as you dust off the box of dec­o­ra­tions from the cup­board un­der the stairs, TV pro­gram­mers around the coun­try do the same with Christ­mas clas­sics such as this one from John Hughes ( Fer­ris Bueller’s Day Off) and Chris Colum­bus ( Mrs Doubt­fire). Home Alone 2: Lost in New York plays on the same chan­nel on Christ­mas Day at 7.00pm, but be warned, Don­ald Trump makes an ap­pear­ance. (1990)


You’ve Got Mail (TVNZ 1, 10.35am). As the in­ter­net gets older and crankier, You’ve

Got Mail comes off worse and worse. Meg Ryan and

Tom Hanks play the own­ers of two book­stores – one fam­ily-owned, the other a mega­s­tore – who anony­mously be­friend each other on the web. When they de­cide to meet up, Hanks’ char­ac­ter dis­cov­ers who it is he’s fallen in love with (he’s the cor­po­rate guy) so, out of fear, stands her up. Then he con­tin­ues to mes­sage her … It’s re­ally quite a charm­ing story. Just don’t think about it too much. (1998)

Lion (TVNZ 1, 7.00pm). Decades af­ter get­ting lost in In­dia at a young age and adopted by an Aus­tralian cou­ple (Ni­cole Kid­man and David Wen­ham), Sa­roo (Dev Pa­tel) em­barks on a long and per­sonal jour­ney to his home­town to re­u­nite with his fam­ily. It’s a true story only slightly palled by emo­tional ma­nip­u­la­tion. (2016)

What We Do in the Shad­ows (Māori

TV, 8.40pm). If Taika Waititi and Je­maine Cle­ment’s odd­ball com­edy isn’t al­ready a Kiwi Christ­mas tra­di­tion, then it should be. The mock­u­men­tary fol­lows four vam­pires who live to­gether in cen­tral Welling­ton as they nav­i­gate the mine­field of flat­ting, par­ty­ing and feed­ing on the blood of lo­cal night­club­bers. A TV spinoff by Waititi and Cle­ment is com­ing to US chan­nel FX in 2019. (2014)

Michael Jack­son: This Is It (Prime, 9.25pm). See Michael Jack­son strut his stuff in what proved to be his fi­nal per­for­mance. (2009)


The Pur­suit of Hap­py­ness (TVNZ 1, 7.00pm). In this bio­graph­i­cal drama, sales­man Chris Gard­ner (Will Smith) goes in search of the Amer­i­can dream – and has more of a chase on his hands than most. While sell­ing the last of his ill­bought bone-den­sity scan­ners and study­ing for an un­paid in­tern­ship, Gard­ner sur­vives a year of home­less­ness with his son (Jaden Smith), sleep­ing rough in dosshouses and train sta­tions. His wife (Thandie New­ton) has al­ready left him. But it’s Box­ing Day, so ex­pect a happy end­ing. (2006)

Boy (Māori TV, 9.00pm). The movie that put Taika Waititi on the map. (He has since di­rected such be­he­moths as Thor: Rag­narok.) It’s a

small-town New Zea­land com­ing-of-age com­edy about an 11-year-old boy (James Rolle­ston) who idolises Michael Jack­son, and his ab­sent father (Waititi). His dad is busy “do­ing some pretty im­por­tant stuff”, aka a stint for rob­bery, and when he re­turns, isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. It’s a real charmer – and funny, too. (2010)


Life of Pi (Three, 7.00pm). Here’s a les­son in how to film the un­filmable. Based on Yann Mar­tel’s 2001 fan­tasy-ad­ven­ture novel, direc­tor Ang Lee cre­ates a world of his own in telling the story of Pi Pa­tel, who sur­vives 227 days on a lifeboat with a Ben­gal tiger as his only com­pan­ion. Life of Pi is a mov­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially for the more

spir­i­tual among us. (2012)

Valkyrie (Three, 9.30pm). A fic­tion­alised ac­count of the the July 20, 1944 at­tempt to as­sas­si­nate Adolf Hitler and trig­ger the takeover of the Ger­man state by the Re­serve Army. Tom Cruise plays Claus von Stauf­fen­berg, a Wer­ma­cht colonel who per­son­ally car­ried the bomb that nar­rowly missed its tar­get. Pro­duc­tion of the film was al­most scut­tled due to con­tro­versy over Cruise’s Sci­en­tol­ogy be­liefs. (2008)


The King’s Speech (Choice, 8.30pm) Pub­lic speak­ing is bad enough at the best of times. If you’re heir to the Bri­tish throne and you’ve got a speech im­ped­i­ment, it must be hell. Such was the lot of Prince Al­bert, Duke of York (Colin Firth), who, af­ter his older brother ab­di­cated, be­came King Ge­orge VI. The movie fo­cuses on his mis­sion to over­come his stam­mer with the help of an ec­cen­tric Aus­tralian vo­cal ther­a­pist (Ge­of­frey Rush) – an un­likely friend­ship blos­soms be­tween them – and the King’s prepa­ra­tion for his mo­men­tous speech on the out­break of World War II. (2010)

One Thou­sand Ropes (Māori TV, 8.30pm). Fol­low­ing on from his well-re­ceived O Le Tu­lafale (The Or­a­tor), the first Samoan-lan­guage fea­ture film writ­ten and di­rected by a Samoan, direc­tor Tusi Ta­masese de­liv­ers again, this time with the story of a father (Ue­lese Pe­taia) try­ing to re­con­nect with his daugh­ter (Frankie Adams) while strug­gling with de­mons in his past. (2016)


Cloudy with a Chance of Meat­balls (Prime, 7.30pm)

If you’re look­ing for some­where to park your young­sters in the count­down to the New Year, in front of an­i­mated sci­encefic­tion com­edy Cloudy with a Chance of Meat­balls might just be the spot. As­pir­ing in­ven­tor Flint (voiced by Bill Hader) fi­nally solves the prob­lem of the town’s food short­age with his

Flint Lock­wood Di­a­tonic Su­per Mu­tat­ing Dy­namic Food Repli­ca­tor – though he some­what over­cooks it. (2009)

Cast Away (Three, 8.35pm). In For­rest Gump, direc­tor Robert Ze­meckis had Tom Hanks near-sin­gle-hand­edly en­ter­tain an au­di­ence

for over two hours. So why not put him on an is­land alone (well, ex­cept for Wil­son) and see what he can do? (2000)

In the Fade (Rialto, Sky 039, 8.30pm). A Ger­man-lan­guage film ( Aus dem Nichts), which won the 2018 Golden Globe for Best For­eign Lan­guage Film, cen­tres on a theme that is sadly more rel­e­vant by the day. Diane Kruger plays Katja, a Ger­man na­tive, who, af­ter drop­ping her Turk­ish im­mi­grant hus­band (Nu­man Acar) and son (Rafael San­tana) at work, re­turns to a crime scene ripped by a nail bomb. The ter­ror­ists are neo-Nazis and jus­tice doesn’t come eas­ily. (2017)


An­chor­man: The Leg­end of

Ron Bur­gundy (Bravo, 8.30pm). With al­most-sur­pris­ing skill, Will Fer­rell holds to­gether this bizarre com­edy about a lead an­chor and his news team of mis­fits (Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and David Koech­ner) as they deal with the spec­tre of the first-ever fe­male news an­chor (Christina Ap­ple­gate). The se­quel was a bit of a flop, but a Ron Bur­gundy pod­cast is com­ing in 2019. (2004)

Col­lat­eral (Movies Greats, Sky 033, 8.30pm). A taut thriller in which Los An­ge­lese cab driver Max (Jamie Foxx) is forced to drive hit­man Vin­cent (Tom Cruise) from job to job. Michael Mann ( Heat, Pub­lic En­e­mies) is no fool. He makes the char­ac­ters and their con­ver­sa­tions as in­ter­est­ing as the mur­ders and chase scenes. When the mur­ders start to take on a pat­tern, Max re­alises who’s next. (2004) Man on Wire (TVNZ Duke, 10.55pm). Even be­fore the twin tow­ers of the World

Trade Cen­tre stood tall on the Man­hat­tan sky­line, French­man Philippe Pe­tit de­cided that he would walk a tightrope be­tween them. Af­ter years of plan­ning, de­tailed metic­u­lously in James Marsh’s doc­u­men­tary in real and reen­acted footage, Pe­tit achieved his in­sane goal in 1974. He walked and waltzed across the wire, sus­pended 411m above ground, with cheer­ing and dis­be­liev­ing crowds be­low. The au­thor­i­ties were not amused. Marsh deals with the ten­sion of the build-up deftly, lend­ing the feel of a heist film to the per­for­mance. (2008)


Casino Royale (Three, 7.00pm). Come for Daniel Craig’s first Bond out­ing, stay for Mads

Mikkel­son’s evil ge­nius. (2006)

The Tru­man Show (Movies Clas­sics, Sky 034, 8.30pm) With a re­al­ity TV star in the White House, chances that we’re liv­ing in The Tru­man Show are on the up. The premise, if you some­how missed it, is that Tru­man Bur­bank (Jim Car­rey) lives a com­pletely scripted life, only he doesn’t know it. Ev­ery­one he’s ever met is an ac­tor: his neigh­bours, co-work­ers, best friend (Noah Em­merich) and wife (Laura Lin­ney). His life is one of the most pop­u­lar shows on the box. And it’s all con­trolled by the dev­il­ishly in­ge­nious show pro­ducer Christof (Ed Har­ris), un­til a se­ries of mishaps threaten to tear a hole in Tru­man’s world. (1998)

Films are rated out of 5: (abysmal) to (amaz­ing).

Sully, De­cem­ber 23.

Boy, Box­ing Day.

Life of Pi, De­cem­ber 29.

Valkyrie, De­cem­ber 29.

An­chor­man, New Year’s Day.

The Tru­man Show, Jan­uary 3.

In the Fade, New Year’s Eve.

Casino Royale, Jan­uary 3.

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