Films of the Week: Relative unease is wrapped up in family business
(David Michôd, 2010) Loosely based on the story of a real-life Melbourne crime family, this poised but tense and unnerving Australian thriller is able to transcend its lurid, true-crime source material, and develops into a complex study of guilt, fear and dysfunctional family dynamics. Jackie Weaver was deservedly Oscar-nominated for playing the family's diminutive but fearsome matriarch. James Frecheville and Guy Pearce star. *****
(Pierre Salvadori, 2006) A professional golddigger (Audrey Tautou) mistakes the barman (Gad Elmleh) at an upscale hotel for one of its millionaire guests, and easily seduces him. What follows is a classy farce about the economics of sexual transactions, which, with its French Riviera setting, designer costumes and Henry Mancini-ish score, is what Intolerable Cruelty might have been if directed by Blake Edwards. ****
(Lawrence Kasdan, 1981) After his screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Lawrence Kasdan got to direct one of his scripts himself, and made a neo-noir full of hard-boiled dialogue, plot twists and old movies. Double Indemnity in particular. Kathleen Turner made a memorable film debut as the femme fatale who seduces lawyer William Hurt into murdering her husband. ***
Waltz with Bashir
(Ari Folman, 2008) In this extraordinary autobiographical animated documentary, Ari Folman brings vividly to life the memories that he and nine other former Israeli soldiers had repressed about a 1982 massacre during the Israeli-Lebanese conflict. That the hand-drawn animation and the sound design are so sumptuous and artful almost makes the stories able to bear. ****
(Arthur Penn, 1975) Gene Hackman stars in this contemplative thriller from the director of Bonnie and Clyde, as a dogged, if not especially good, private eye who goes looking for a 16-year-old runaway (Melanie Griffith) in Hollywood and Florida, and finds out more than he expected to about the kinds of things that people run away from. It is brightly lit and sunny, but bleak and morally denatured. ***
3.55pm & 10pm Sky Movies Indie
(Jeff Nichols, 2011) Michael Shannon stars as a blue-collar Ohio family man who begins seeing portents of doom, stocks up on tinned food and gas masks, and devotes himself to constructing a storm shelter. But do his visions indicate that he's inherited his mother's schizophrenia, or is his erratic behaviour a reasonable response to the national mood of anxiety? A subtly modulated and potent paranoid drama. ****
10.15pm Sky Movies Premiere
(Alexander Payne, 2011) In his latest examination of a mid-life everyman in crisis, the Sideways and About Schmidt director Alexander Payne cast George Clooney as a Hawaiian lawyer and father of two, whose wife is in a coma. A literate film, full of subtly shifting sympathies and unexpectedly touching moments, about how life is always a little more complicated than you expect it to be. ***
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