February 25-March 2: Including ET and The Visitor

by Fiona Rae / 25 February, 2012


ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Four, 6.30pm). Steven Spielberg presents a delightfully enduring fable about courage and childhood and the loneliness of the long-distance alien. (1982) 8

The Hot Chick (TV2, 8.30pm). A carefree young woman wakes up to discover her greatest nightmare is a reality – she’s trapped in a criminally feeble comedy with Rob Schneider. Since her time in body-switching purgatory, the now A-list Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris, The Notebook) has reassessed her movie-selection process and won’t make this mistake again. Schneider will probably continue to produce movies that are each more puerile than the last. (2002) 3

ET: The Extra-Terrestrial

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits (Rialto, Sky 025, 8.30pm). We all know the wicked stepmother is a hard stereotype to overcome but young Emilia has a much greater challenge on her hands in this weepy drama. Natalie Portman delivers an intense performance and Lisa Kudrow is great as the bitchy ex-wife, but how can you care about these awful people? (Aka The Other Woman.) (2009) 6

Silent Hill (Four, 9.15pm). A horror that strikes fear into the heart with these five words: “based on the video game”. Strangely, in the macho, crotch-scratching world of the gamer, there were no male characters until director Christophe Gans added Sean Bean. (2006) 5


The Visitor (Maori, 9.30pm). Richard Jenkins was nominated for a best actor Oscar for playing a very grey US academic in this drama about a man whose world is opened up when he arrives in New York and finds two illegal immigrants squatting in his apartment – Syrian musician Tarek (Haaz Sleiman) and Senegalese street vendor Zainab (Danai Gurira). Learning happens, but if you’ve seen director Thomas McCarthy’s earlier film, The Station Agent, you’ll know to expect a light touch. (2007) 8

Wimbledon (TV3, 10.25pm). A romcom with balls. Nice Paul Bettany (A Beautiful Mind, Master and Commander) struggles to be sexy as an ageing English tennis pro who plays a round (or two) with Kirsten Dunst, an up-and-coming player. This is pleasant if not terribly convincing and the leads look as if they’d rather sit down with a plate of strawberries and cream than kiss each other. Sam Neill’s frown suggests he’d prefer to skip the strawbs altogether and be in another movie. (2004) 6

Find Me Guilty (TV2, 10.40pm). The penultimate film by Sidney Lumet, who died last year, is a courtroom drama set in the 1980s that seems to be longing for the stylish good old days when the Italian Mafia held sway in America’s cities and Sinatra was king. It’s based on the true story of Jackie DiNorscio, a mobster who defended himself during the longest Mafia trial in US history – an astounding 21 months. The greatest, and scariest, revelation is that action lunkhead Vin Diesel, as DiNorscio, is funny and charming – scary because the jury also found him funny and charming. Twelve Angry Men is still Lumet’s best law and order movie but there are a lot of pleasant surprises here. (2006) 7

How About You (TV1, 11.30pm). A strange time to schedule this primetime pleaser that ticks so many TV1 demographic boxes: gentle comedy drama, Irish accents (even better than British!), the sad, clever one from TV’s Mistresses (Orla Brady) and a handful of first-rate acting talent (Joss Ackland, Imelda Staunton, Vanessa Redgrave, Brenda Fricker). These last four make up the horrible quartet of nursing-home residents who resemble a posse of Jack Hacketts from Father Ted and it’s going to take a Pretty Young Thing (Hayley Atwell) to sort them out. It has about as much tension as the elastic in an octogenarian’s underpants – will they, won’t they turn into dear old duffers in time for Christmas? – but this is a charmer, nonetheless. Based on a short story by Maeve Binchy. (2007) 7


P.S. I Love You (TV2, 8.30pm). Hello? Is that Dial-a-Celt? Ah well, Scotland, Ireland, close enough. Colin Farrell must have been busy, so here’s Gerard Butler playing a chap from the Emerald Isle who charms the freckles off Irish-American Holly Kennedy and then croaks. Men will hate it, and Hilary Swank will stick to real drama from now on, if she’s got any sense. (2007) 5

Jurassic Park (Four, 8.30pm). There are dinosaurs everywhere and they’re particularly dangerous if you’re sitting on the dunny. More excellent Spielberg fun with Sam Neill (who would clearly choose adventuring over tennis), Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern, Richard Attenborough and Bob Peck, who plays a park warden called Robert Muldoon. He gets into trouble when he calls a snap election gets eaten by a party of voracious ­velociraptors. (1993) 8

The Necessities of Life (Maori, 8.30pm). While this week a lot of our heroes are coping with aliens, dinosaurs, immigration troubles and unauthorised body-swapping, Tivii, in this French-Canadian drama, is struggling just to find the will to breathe. It’s 1952: the Inuit hunter (Natar Ungalaaq) has tuberculosis and is packed off to a Quebec sanitorium where his broken heart threatens to kill him quicker than his ravaged lungs. A beautiful quiet film that was Canada’s nomination for the foreign language Oscar in 2009. (2008) 8

The Fighter (Sky Movies, Sky 020, 8.30pm). Another fact-based drama that presents America as a deeply tribal society (see also Find Me Guilty, Saturday). This time it’s the fightin’ Irish and the guy in trouble is a Massachusetts boxer called Micky Ward, whose main problem is his crack-addicted ex-boxer half-brother, Dicky Eklund. Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale are extraordinarily good at the people stuff as well as the hitting stuff and this is a superior sports underdog film that skips over the potholes this genre tends to wallow in. Bale and Melissa Leo won best supporting actor and actress Oscars. (2010) 8


Bedazzled (Four, 8.30pm). It’ll be a cold day in hell before Elizabeth Hurley convinces us she can act, let alone impersonate Satan. The opposite must be a hot day in heaven – what Elliot (Brendan Fraser) is fantasising about with his out-of-reach dream girl Alison (Frances O’Connor). The 1967 version is much more entertaining: it stars Dudley Moore as the hopeless dweeb and Peter Cook as the devil. Cook is funnier than Hurley, but he wouldn’t look half as good wearing a snake. (2000) 6


The Hangover Part II (Sky Box Office, Sky 202 & 207, 8.05pm and 8.35pm). “I can’t believe this is happening again,” says Phil, as unscheduled monkeys, facial tattoos and inexplicable madness break out when the gang hit Bangkok for a quiet pre-wedding brunch before Stu’s wedding. We can, and that’s the problem. Haven’t we seen this film before? (2011) 6


Elektra (Four, 8.30pm). A dreadful spin-off from Daredevil (which played last week) about a sexy action heroine who wears a red silk leotardy thing and always speaks in a whisper. Jennifer Garner, who plays her, told a reporter she thought this movie was “terrible”. Perfect for guys who can’t decide between porn or fantasy tonight. (2004) 4
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