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Including Mulholland Drive and A History of Violence

SATURDAY OCTOBER 27


High School Musical (TV2, 7.30pm). You're probably right to feel a little sceptical about Disney's heavily promoted and self-generated tweenie hit, but words like "appealing" and "likeable" keep turning up in reviews. (2006) 5

Robots (TV3, 7.30pm). As in Toy Story, the retro-future gets retooled in Robots - here's an entire world of handmade, low-tech, 50s-era androids working through material that is both familiar and surprising. The familiar: a Wizard of Oz-like journey towards self-completion. The surprising: a few strong points about built-in obsolesence and the scrapheaps of capitalism. (2005) 7

A History of Violence


Mark II (Maori Television, 9.00pm). Three young brown guys take a drive downcountry, with both police and drug dealers in hot pursuit - naturally, this film's co-writer, Mike Walker, pitched it to New Zealand TV audiences back in the 1980s as "a Polynesian Goodbye Pork Pie", even though his idea predated that seminal Kiwi road movie. Writing in New Zealand Film 1912-1996, former Listener critic Helen Martin described this as "well scored and shot" with "excellent" performances, while "the journey is essentially aimless and the narrative episodic". (1986) 6

Drop Dead Gorgeous (TV2, 9.30pm). This one is held to be an almost unrelenting outpouring of nastiness and scorn. The target? The teen beauty pageant industry. Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Ellen Barkin and Kirstie Alley are among those vilifying our tendency to judge people on their looks. (1999) 7

The Clearing (TV3, 9.25pm).An intelligent and well-regarded thriller about a kidnapping plot against a well-off Pittsburgh couple, played by the dream team of Robert Redford and Helen Mirren (the kidnapper is the superb Willem Dafoe). Pieter Jan Brugge, producer of Michael Mann's The Insider, makes his directorial debut. (2004) 8

Mulholland Drive (TV2, 11.30pm). "I just came here from Deep River, Ontario, and now I'm in this ... dream-place," says Betty (Naomi Watts), clueing us in on the surrealism of David Lynch's sensational Mulholland Drive, which is not just the best Lynch film since Blue Velvet, but is also an impressive salvage job. The first two-thirds of this were shot for a mini-series pilot commissioned by a US network which apparently baulked at the "weirdness" of the result. Lynch bought the footage back and shot a berserk new ending that may reveal all that precedes it - now studded with red herrings and loose threads - as the darkening dream of a tragic Hollywood starlet. Lynch's theme is the use and abuse of young women in Hollywood: as in several of his other films, he reveals that the strings of the visible world are pulled by a hidden cadre of sinister men who seem to have supernatural powers - part-Mafia clan, part-occult lodge, these shadowy figures giving enigmatic instructions in secret rooms date back to Twin Peaks, at least. Other abiding Lynch concerns recur: doubles and ventriloquism, the inexplicable sadness of popular songs, odd scenes in coffee bars ... (2001) 10

SUNDAY OCTOBER 28


Boxcar Bertha (MGM, 3.55pm). Within its "Grindhouse" weekend, MGM has this early Scorsese film, made just before his talent fully blossomed into his first classic: Mean Streets. Barbara Hershey, who would later play Mary Magdalene in his Last Temptation of Christ, is Bertha Thompson, the outlaw radical, in a plot that cheapie producer Roger Corman probably intended as a version of Bonnie and Clyde (her offsider is David Carradine). Like many of the young directors that Corman gave a break to, Scorsese finds a way of working his themes into the received formula: who else would have put a crucifixion scene in it? (1972) 7

Scary Movie 3 (TV2, 8.30pm). In the first two films, the horror parody of the Scream series was itself parodied: talk about the law of diminishing returns. But this sequel is related in name only: it's a loose, broad, scarcely amusing and barely coherent send-up of whatever passed through multiplexes in the year of production, whether horror or not - from Signs to Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter to 8 Mile. (2003) 2

Rumble Fish (C4, 8.30pm). In the early 80s, Francis Ford Coppola directed adaptations of a couple of S E Hinton novels, The Outsiders and Rumble Fish. Both books could be defined as high-romantic teen pulp, all operatic emotion and James Dean-ish existentialism. As a style exercise, Coppola did this teen netherworld soap as black-and-white German expressionism. In the plot, Matt Dillon's Rusty longs for the imminent return of his legendary older brother, Mickey Rourke's Motorcycle Boy. Say what you like about these films - and "pretentious" might be it - Coppola certainly knew how to cast them. (1983) 6

A History of Violence (Sky Movies, 10.20pm). An astonishing meta-thriller from the master, David Cronenberg. On one hand, it's about Cronenberg's regular interest in identity - what are the parts of ourselves that we choose to hide and choose to display, and what happens when they splinter? - but there is also, in the implausible switch between good Tom and bad Tom (Viggo Mortensen in both cases), sharp comment about the mendaciousness of Hollywood thrillers and the vigilante impulses they celebrate: all those films in which law-abiding family men suddenly find themselves capable of out-gunning and out-thinking professional criminals while we urge them on. (2005) 10

The Exorcist (TV2, 10.10pm).Still the best horror film ever made, thanks to its terrifying and completely unfashionable central idea: evil is something actual, palpable, insatiable and unpredictable. Opening scenes in Iraq set an eerie tone; the strong performances of Jason Miller and Max Von Sydow - the exorcists - give this a deep moral dimension that most other horror films, emotionally shallow and childishly shock-obsessed, can't come close to. (1973) 10

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 2


Iris (TV3, 11.30pm). There are excellent performances from Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent as the elderly writers coping with Alzheimer's (hers) in this Iris Murdoch biopic, but the back-and-forth structure is problematic. Early scenes of Kate Winslet as the young, bold Iris set us up for a traditional author story - but although we get the beginning of the writing life, and the sad close of it, we don't get the middle. Some might come away wanting to know: what did she write and why does it matter? (2001) 7