February 9-15: Including Mad Money and Moonrise Kingdom

by Diana Balham / 31 January, 2013
Mad casting and possibly the yellowest film you'll ever see.


Beyond Reasonable Doubt
Beyond Reasonable Doubt, Saturday

Beyond Reasonable Doubt (Maori, 8.30pm). Probably our most famous miscarriage of justice case before David Bain hit the headlines, this engrossing drama tells the now familiar story of Arthur Allan Thomas and the Crewe murders. It was scripted by David Yallop (the Joe Karam of his time), whose book on the case helped gain Thomas his freedom in 1979. Despite featuring just about every Kiwi actor on the books at the time (yes, including Bruno Lawrence), Thomas is played by Australian John Hargreaves and Inspector Hutton is Brit David Hemmings. (1980) 3/5

Carnage (Rialto, Sky 025, 8.30pm). Roman Polanski’s movies aren’t generally known for their thigh-slapping hilarity but this drama about two sets of New York parents bickering about a fight involving their sons builds to a bleakly comic crescendo. What starts off as a civilised attempt to talk about what happened turns into a car crash of epic proportions when the victim’s liberal mother Penelope (Jodie Foster) doesn’t get the fawning apology she is expecting. Then the other mother (Kate Winslet) vomits all over Penelope’s cookbooks … Also with John C Reilly and Christoph Waltz. Based on the play by Yasmina Reza, this works better onstage but it’s one hell of a catfight nonetheless. (2011) 3.5/5

Wide Sargasso Sea (Choice, 8.30pm). A twist on the current mania for remaking versions of Jane Austen novels: it’s a “prequel” to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, written by Jean Rhys in 1966. She was clearly fascinated by Mr Rochester’s mad wife in the attic and wrote a novel to give Mrs R a backstory. Key words: Jamaica, insanity, panic. With Rafe Spall (son of Timothy: better looking) and Rebecca Hall (The Town). (2006) 3.5/5

Mad Money (TV2, 9.30pm). Mad casting, more like. Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes want to convince you they can pull off a bank job. Madder still: Keaton’s character and her onscreen husband (Ted Danson) are called Bridget and Don Cardigan. Maddest of all: that this lame and overworked comedy thriller ever got made. (2008) 2/5

Silk, Saturday

Silk (TV1, 10.25pm). The story of a married silkworm merchant-turned-smuggler in 19th-century France who travels to Japan for more silkworms after a disease wipes out their African supply. Silk, possibly, but worms? Are you serious? An obscure, beautiful but utterly dreary romantic drama that features Keira Knightley as the wife cuckolded by her husband (Michael Pitt) when he falls for a concubine (Sei Ashina) while worm-smuggling. Knightley must have been promised a lifetime’s supply of scarves. Should perhaps have been called Itchy Polyester. (2007) 2.5/5

Love & Other Drugs (TV3, 8.30pm). Jake Gyllenhaal’s not really a romcom kind of guy, is he? And Anne Hathaway looks like an irish water spaniel with her big curly hair and even bigger eyes. As Maggie, she appears in rude good health (unlike her small-hair, starving-to-death Fantine in the current film version of Les Misérables), but she isn’t. This is a romcom that’s also a social snapshot (1990s Pittsburgh), a satire about the pharmaceutical industry (Jake’s Jamie is a drug company rep) and a disease-of-the-week message movie. The sum of these parts is sometimes sweet, sometimes muddled. Based on ex-Pfizer rep Jamie Reidy’s book Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman, in which Reidy left out all the love stuff and concentrated on the medical politics because he thought his mother would read the book. (2010) 3/5

A Bunch of Amateurs (Maori, 8.30pm). Can an action hero really play King Lear? Apparently not. Burt Reynolds, in an uncanny echo of real life, plays an ageing Hollywood he-man who’s desperate for work and goes to the UK to play Lear in “Stratford”. Unfortunately it turns out to be not “Stratford-upon- Avon” but Stratford St John, Suffolk – a village that seems to have more than its fair share of manure and yokels. Imelda Staunton, who plays Mary the comely landlady, reportedly got so fed up with Reynolds’s complete inability to remember his lines (Shakespearean and otherwise) she said some quite rude things that weren’t in the script. Reynolds, it’s reported, had never done Shakespeare before making this film. No kidding. (2008) 3/5

The Switch (TV2, 8.55pm). Jennifer Aniston’s character left out all the love stuff in this romcom, too, but she still finishes up giving birth to her best friend’s baby. He’s a guy, dummy. So okay, so not great. What a waste of Jason Bateman. (2010) 3/5


Life as We Know It (TV2, 8.30pm). “Sweetie, you have poo on your face.” The situation: two gorgeous singles go on a disastrous blind date then find themselves the legal guardians of a baby when her parents die in an accident. This life is about as edgy as mashed swede and carrot served on a bendy spoon: it won’t hurt you but it won’t offer any surprises, either. (2010) 2.5/5


Kindergarten Cop (Four, 8.30pm). The pre-political softening of Arnold Schwarzenegger was achieved with crossover nastiness like this action-romcom about a hard city cop who goes undercover as a kindy teacher to find a drug dealer. Arn-uld singing Old Macdonald Had a Farm and wearing a stupid hat? Right here. Arn-uld showing his gooey romantic side with a blonde teacher cutie? Here again. Kid barfing on Arn-uld? Good on that child. (1990) 2.5/5

The Fugitive
The Fugitive, Tuesday

The Fugitive (Prime, 9.30pm). Richard Kimble ran from the cops for 120 TV episodes – oodles of time to convince them he hadn’t killed his wife. Here, Harrison Ford has 130 minutes, which must be why this thriller moves so fast: so much proving; so little time. To say this expurgated version mashes up the best bits into a sort of sped-up mystery smoothie would be an understatement. Strangely, it’s a winner. (1993) 4/5


Moonrise Kingdom (Sky Box Office, Sky 026/201 from 7.35pm). Possibly the yellowest film you’ll ever see. Director and co-writer Wes Anderson loves autumn tones and this homage to the 1960s is drenched in the soft palette of gold – fields of wheat, yellow kayaks, yellow motorbikes, yellow dresses and hundreds of khaki scouts with yellow scarves and berets. It’s a weird, sweet and quite batty story about two 12-year-olds (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) who meet on an island off the coast of New England and run away together. It’s served up with 100% deadpan delivery by Bill Murray (his sixth film with Anderson), Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban and – Norton, Bob Balaban and – surprise! – Bruce Willis. But no Owen Wilson, for once. (2012) 4/5

Films are rated out of 5: 1 (abysmal) to 5 (amazing).
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