January 19-25: Including Cars and Ali G Indahouse

by Diana Balham / 10 January, 2013
Fun on wheels and a bit of respect!


The Grocer's Son
The Grocer's Son, Sunday

Shark Tale (Four, 6.30pm). A vegetarian shark? He clearly hasn’t seen Jaws: The Revenge (Friday, Four, 8.30pm). Both are bloodless, in different ways.(2004 and 1987), (2.5/5), (1.5/5)

Two Hands (Maori, 8.30pm). Seed-nee’s seething criminal underbelly wearing footie shorts and jandals. Heath Ledger, Bryan Brown and Rose Byrne bring a bit of class to King’s Cross in this classic crime thriller with comic touches about a 19-year-old (Ledger) who loses 10 grand that belongs to a local hoodlum (Brown). Goes faster than a Commodore at Bathurst – or should I say a Falcon? Here, the bad guys drive Fords and the good guys drive Holdens; but the purple XB Falcon driven by Acko (a baddy) is director Gregor Jordan’s own car. Strewth. (1999) (3/5)

Lovely & Amazing (Choice, 8.30pm). Neurotic self-obsession and body image in Los Angeles? You’re kidding? Someone described director Nicole Holofcener (Walking and Talking) as an American Mike Leigh, but I think the Englishman would rather eat his own children than make a film in which the lead is having liposuction. Nevertheless, it’s a character study – about a mother and her three insecure daughters – with a great cast that includes Catherine Keener, Emily Mortimer, Jake Gyllenhaal and Brenda Blethyn (doing a shocking American accent). But one Brenda Blethyn does not a Mike Leigh film make. (2001) (3.5/5)

The Strangers (Four, 8.50pm). Try to find the positives in this horror/thriller about a couple who are terrorised in a holiday home by three mask-wearing assailants and must fight to survive. Unnecessary fear speeds up your metabolism? You like to feel smug about your safe neighbourhood? You’re turned on by people wearing masks? Unless you’ve got a thing for Liv Tyler or Scott Speedman, you don’t need this sadistic nonsense. (2008) (2.5/5)

Ransom (TV1, 10.30pm). Mel Gibson sets his jaw and spits out commands – to the police, to the kidnappers, to his wife – for nearly two hours as he tries to get his stolen nine-year-old back. It’s payback time all right, and it’s not just about the money. So much easier just to stay poor. (1996) (3/5)

Proof of Life (TV2, 11.05pm). What a terrible dilemma for poor Meg Ryan. Her engineer husband (David Morse) has been kidnapped by South Americans and she finds herself falling for hostage negotiator Russell Crowe. Let’s hope they keep hubby, then, and everyone will be happy. (2000) (2.5/5)


Cars, Sunday

Cars (TV2, 7.00pm). Fun on wheels. (2006) (3.5/5)

The Grocer’s Son (Maori TV, 8.30pm). When his shop-owning father gets sick, city boy Antoine (Nicolas Cazalé) comes home to his Provence village, bringing his worldly friend Claire (Clotilde Hesme). Beautiful cinematography, languid pacing, dry but twinkly characterisation: it’s a French comedy. (The French title is Le Fils de l’Épicier.) (2007) (3.5/5)

Jesse Stone: Night Passage (Choice, 8.30pm). No 2 in a series about an LA cop who relocates to small-town Paradise (Massachusetts) only to find it full of killers and meanies. More Hot Fuzz than Midsomer Murders, but it’s giving Tom Selleck something to do in his old age, and he’s still churning them out. (2006) 2.5/5)

The Baby of Mâcon (Rialto, Sky 025, 8.30pm). The Peter Greenaway Directors’ Showcase series continues with this French baroque snuff movie, which might also be a snook-cocking exercise apparently aimed at the prurience of people who complained about a Benetton ad featuring a new born baby covered in blood and still attached to the umbilical cord. Those folk wouldn’t have got past the first scene. As reviewer David N Butterworth put it, “No other filmmaker could have made The Baby of Mâcon. And no other filmmaker would have wanted to.” Greenaway went over the top with this film, about an ugly woman who gives birth to a beautiful baby and passes it off as an immaculate conception, but he bounced back with better and more watchable movies. (1993) (3.5/5)

Me, Myself & Irene (TV3, 8.50pm). 2000 was the year Renée Zellweger was running away from whackos: she also did Nurse Betty, where her car was full of drugs stolen by her murdered husband. Immediately after, she found herself shackled to Jim Carrey in this Farrelly brothers comedy about a cop with a multiple personality disorder who tries to protect her from her bad-ass ex-boyfriend. Carrey makes the most of the many opportunities to pull faces and fall over and steals far too much screen time from Zellweger, who’s great at the funny stuff. Ultimately annoying. (2000) (3/5)

Extract (TV2, 9.20pm). Writer/director Mike Judge loves to make comedies where people snicker: Beavis and Butt-Head, Austin Powers, Jackass. There’s a testicle gag in here that fits the bill, and once he’s got that out of the way, a story does emerge. It concerns Joel, owner of a flower-extract factory, whose life is spinning out of control. This is gentle satire with a great cast who are having fun: Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, JK Simmons and Ben Affleck. Without the seasoning of good comic timing, it would be too bland to taste. (2009) (3.5/5)


Ali G Indahouse (Four, 8.30pm). Respect! (2002) (3/5)

Ali G Indahouse
Ali G Indahouse, Tuesday

The Last Starfighter (Prime, 9.30pm). A quaint relic from the days when “gaming” meant putting 20c into the Spacies. This family movie, on at a rather child-unfriendly time, follows the exploits of a boy who plays himself into his favourite video game and is then called on to save the galaxy. Hopelessly cheesy, totally harmless fun in a Spielbergy kind of way. The first film in which all the special effects (other than makeup and explosions) were computer-generated. (1984) (3/5)


Green Zone (TV3, 8.30pm). Matt Damon wades into the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, learns some uncomfortable truths and goes rogue. If this had any more testosterone, it would grow chest hair. (2010) (3/5)

Young Adult (Sky Movies, Sky 020, 8.30pm). Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody (Juno) strike again. Charlize Theron plays an alcoholic fiction-writing divorcée called Mavis who goes in search of an old boyfriend to wrest him off his wife. Sounds like Theron is having another go at Monster, right? Mavis might be a mean drunk, but she’s a functioning one and still looks fabulous, even as she frightens the undies off the residents of her Minnesota hometown. Much bleaker than Juno – in which the teens sounded like adults – this might be described as a “feel-bad” movie: immature Mavis, dripping with beautiful malice, still sees the world through the eyes of a teen. (2011) 3.5/5)

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