Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sunday, September 15

Supersized Earth

High glass: Supersized Earth.


An Accidental Soldier, ABC1, 8.30pm

Director Rachel Ward has created something spectacularly beautiful, haunting and affecting with this made-for-television film about an aspect of war not often told. From the perspective of that most reviled of soldiers, a ''deserter'', this fictional story of Harry Lambert, a Western Australian baker (the talented Dan Spielman), tells of the great paradoxes of wartime and the extreme human responses to it. Fear runs underneath every moment Harry experiences in the French countryside where he takes refuge from the battlefield with a bereaved mother (French actor Marie Bunel). The atrocities of war are made painfully plain every step of the way, but the love story at the film's heart is so visceral it lingers long after the credits have rolled. With a supporting cast including Bryan Brown and Julia Zemiro, this is a masterpiece of nuance and subtlety that evokes the unique feeling of French cinema.


Power Games, Nine, 8.30pm

The ingredients are there for a riveting retelling of the making of Australia's media dynasties - a talented cast, uncanny lookalikes in the cases of Sir Frank (Lachy Hulme) and Kerry Packer (Luke Ford) and the historic tale of high-stakes business dealings. But in the interests of conveying all the events that unfolded, and compacting the saga into a two-part mini-series, dramatic tension seems to have been unwittingly sacrificed. Pivotal scenes between Sir Frank and his sons fall short of having emotional impact. Despite the, at times, dispassionate treatment, the familiar story is compelling and the nostalgia appealing. It's a shame this concluding instalment, which covers both moguls' influence on government, was not screened prior to the federal election.

Supersized Earth, ABC1, 7.30pm

Scottish actor and presenter, Dallas Campbell (The Gadget Show), is a fearless and good-humoured guide to some of the most mind-bogglingly big constructions on the planet. As well as dispensing staggering facts about the world's tallest building in Dubai and the massive sewerage system that barely functions underneath Mexico City, Campbell gets to know the workers who risk their lives to keep the cogs of progress turning, cleans windows at 800 metres and dives into a river of human waste.



Inside Combat Rescue, National Geographic, 2.30pm

The American military helicopter medics are coming to the end of their four-month tour and are emotional at the prospect of seeing their wives and children again. But there's no time to unwind as once again they brave the threat of sniper fire and suicide bombers while rescuing horrifically wounded Americans and Afghans.

Oprah's Next Chapter: Fergie, Discovery Home & Health, 7.30pm

Hip-hop star Fergie seems to be a nice enough sort but, even so, an hour is a long time for an interview, especially when it's Oprah Winfrey asking the repetitive questions. The first half of proceedings is the two of them chatting one-on-one in the garden of the Californian vineyard Fergie bought for her father. Winfrey jumps all over the place with her questions but Fergie is patient and accommodating, speaking frankly about her crystal meth addiction and the strain she felt when her actor hubby, Josh Duhamel, was accused of having sex with a stripper. When Duhamel and Fergie's parents join them for the second part of the program, Oprah directs the conversation over all the same territory and makes some icky allusions to what might go on in the Fergie-Duhamel bedroom.



Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, (2003) ABC1, 11.30pm

For many lovers of quality cinema, the mid-1960s were the golden days. The directors' names say it all: Robert Bresson, Luis Bunuel, Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman ... All these, of course, were European. It was that continent's time in the sun. In contrast, the 1960s produced relatively few American gems, and many articles appeared stating Hollywood was dead. But a posse of young turks was forming and soon they would ride in and take over the town with their low-budget, independent approaches to cinema. Film writer Peter Biskind catalogued their successes (and setbacks) in his best-selling Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-and-Drugs-and-Rock'n'Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, published in 1998. Biskind profiled the key filmmakers, including Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, many of whom would become conservative studio figures like the old men they had noisily replaced. It was a heady time and is still the cause of nostalgia for many, which is perhaps why Kenneth Browser made this two-hour documentary. Unfortunately, many of Biskind's principals don't appear in new interviews (just old clips), but Browser does add several crucial figures, including editor Dede Allen and cameramen Gordon Willis and Vilmos Zsigmond. For anyone interested in the period, when student rebellion looked as if it would change the world, including cinema, this is a must.

Easy Rider, (1969) ABC1, 1.30am (Monday)

Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider is often credited with beginning the film revolution in Hollywood, though one could list many other contenders. This tale of two bikers (Hopper and Peter Fonda) on a search for America, but not finding it anywhere, made a fortune, outraged older generations (including Australia's censors, who banned it) and promised new and better films (a chimera, like most revolutionary promises). Still, the film is a spaced-out trip with irresistible music and a throb of undefined anger that still stirs.

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