Including Smash Palace and The Aristocrats

by Matt Nippert / 29 December, 2007


Bride & Prejudice (TV2, 8.30pm). Jane Austen's much-loved novel gets the Bollywood treatment, with song-and-dance interludes, kaleidoscopic art design and - in a weird congruence of cultures given Victorian prudishness - no kissing on the lips. Bollywood royalty and ex-Miss World Aishwarya Rai burns up the screen as the outspoken Lalita, while Kiwi Martin Henderson plays alluring snob Darcy. Purists might think otherwise, but Austen would likely be dancing in her grave, not spinning. (2005) 6

Smash Palace
Smash Palace (Maori TV, 9.00pm). "Roger Donaldson," wrote Roger Ebert on the release of Smash Palace, "in a sense is the New Zealand film industry." Although domestic cinema has flourished since, the success of Jackson, Tamahori et al owes a debt to the high standards set by Donaldson. Here Bruno Lawrence in his prime plays a retired Grand Prix driver whose life descends into entirely understandable rage and revenge after his wife leaves him and threatens to take their daughter - played by a young Greer Robson. The New York Times included this in their top 10 flicks of the year, and for good reason: never has the men's rights movement had such a sympathetic portrayal. (1981) 9

Kindergarten Cop (TV3, 10.30pm). Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on his toughest on-screen villain, playing a cop who goes undercover and has to deal with ... a class of unruly under-fives. Arnie has always had a knack for gentle comedy (see Twins), and with plenty of gunplay against evil drug dealers there's enough here to satisfy all ends of the gender and generational spectra. Although the contrast between the Muscleman and the kids makes the big man sound sumptuously eloquent, the role was good practice for when the Terminator became the Governator and was forced to manage California's dysfunctional legislature. (1990) 6


The Departed (Sky Movies, 8.30pm). Martin Scorsese gets back to the mean streets where he belongs, going gangland in this adaptation of Hong Kong hit Infernal Affairs. Leonardo DiCaprio is a cop who infiltrates the underworld, and Matt Damon plays a policeman who lets Jack Nicholson's mobster buy his soul. GoodFellas was superior, but Scorsese finally won his long-overdue Oscar for best direction with this effort. (2006) 9

Catwoman (TV2, 8.55pm). Soon after winning an Oscar in Monster's Ball, Halle Berry immediately burnt her newfound cred with this stinker. Catwoman swept the Razzies and is now celebrated as a master-class in trash. Berry had the grace to accept her award for Worst Actress in person and at the presentation ceremony said, "I want to thank Warner Brothers. Thank you for putting me in this piece of shit, God-awful movie ... It's just what my career needed. " (2004) 2


Clueless (TV3, 1.00pm). Emma gets a 90210 makeover, but do Cher (Alicia Silverstone) and her band of Los Angeles airheads stay true to Ms Austen's English? As if! Firmly grounded in mid-90s teenopia, the action centres on malls, schools and Beverly Hills estates as Cher and her popularly vacant buddies try to make over the homely new kid on the block. Silverstone's main gig before this flick was playing groupie in Aerosmith videos, but here she aces her first acting exam. Beneath the babble is a hoard of smart irony. (1995) 7

Pretty Woman (TV2, 9.10pm). A hooker with a heart of gold (Julia Roberts) charms a ruthless capitalist (Richard Gere). Roberts's streetwalking Cinderella meets takeover king Gere on Hollywood's Boulevard of Stars - and the chemistry between the two actors makes for bubbling champagne. Despite the gritty premise, Pretty Woman is a dreamy melodrama that leaves all but cynics giddy. (1990) 7

The Big Lebowski (TV3, 11.15pm). The outrageously talented Coen brothers (Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) make a comedy - and the result is both brilliant and bizarre. Jeff Bridges plays now-cult icon "the Dude", an extreme slacker whose lifestyle of White Russians and marijuana is crashed by a wheelchair-bound capitalist and a gang of German nihilists. The madness somehow comes together, despite the absurdity, thanks in part to some terrific supporting performances. John Goodman and Steve Buscemi play the Dude's erratic bowling partners, Julianne Moore paints feminist masterpieces with her breasts and John Turturro's cameo as "the Jesus" - a purple track-suited amateur bowler and child-molester - is one of the greatest comic creations of all time. Worth missing New Year's for, man. (1997) 10


Grease (TV3, 1.00pm). Who'd have thought the 50s were ripe for retro? Featuring Olivia Newton-John surgically attached to black stretch pants, plus buckets of Brylcreem, hot-rods and John Travolta's famed singing and dancing. (1978) 6

Armageddon (TV2, 7.30pm). Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Ben Affleck are oil rig workers shanghaied into space to stop an asteroid "the size of Texas" laying waste to mother Earth. The message is galling: humanity's only hope is patriotically obnoxious Americans and their nuclear bombs. Together producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Michael Bay could have made the perfect action-movie trailer from their $190 million budget and this setup, but Armageddon flies the flag ragged for a full 153 minutes. (1998) 2


The Neverending Story (TV2, 1.00pm). Wolfgang Petersen, fresh from directing the superior submarine thriller Das Boot, tackles an amalgam of childhood tales with an impressive special-effects budget. A lonely boy discovers a magic book that transports him to a fantastic world being destroyed by a dark force of - get this - Nothing. For kids, spellbinding. For adults, strangely existential. (1984) 7


The Aristocrats (Rialto, 8.30pm). The very definition of a one-joke film - but, oh my, what a joke. This documentary-comedy, directed by Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) and Paulo Provenza, draws back the curtain on a green-room favourite that may be the filthiest joke of all time. Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart and Sarah Silverman contribute their takes on a joke that has "The Aristocrats" as a punchline. Contains explicit language and references to incest, faeces, bestiality and necrophilia, and a turn by Bob Saget that will forever despoil memories of the wholesome father from Full House. (2005) 8


Titanic (TV3, 7.30pm). The film that almost sank the movie studio that made it, this $300m epic melodrama saw Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet cruise into the A-list. A doomed couple aboard a doomed boat, the rich girl and plucky commoner trade jewellery and nude sketches and play on the prow. Based on a true story of the eponymous ocean liner that struck an iceberg in 1912 and sank in under two and a half hours. Director James Cameron makes this film go on for more than three. (1997) 6


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