28 Days Later (Fri 7 1115P) is a post-apocalyptic zombie horror where a mutant virus (from rogue laboratory monkeys, where else ?) is released and the whole of England is wiped out. Oh well. As in all zombie flicks, a very few are not infected and they either do or do not hold out against the flesh starved, mindless hordes. Cillian Murphy stars (currently in Cannes Palme D’Or winner The Wind that Shakes the Barley screening at MIFF). Shot in digital it gives the film a tactile and gritty effect that helps to set the tone. As much action as horror, there are some genuinely adrenaline pumping moments, for example when our survivors are changing a tire in a tunnel in record time as the mutants close in on them. But most of the horror is in way the “heroes” are forced to survive : take for example the way the two women are treated in the army camp. And to demonstrate the cynicism (and humor) that Green Guide reviewer Doug Anderson uses to introduce this movie : “Viewers concerned that this might be a sequel to the woeful Sandra Bullock film 28 Days can relax. She’s not in it – unless she plays the mystery virus at the centre of the story.”
Spy Kids (Sat 9 730P), Yes, I know it’s a kids movie but an enjoyable film is an enjoyable film, regardless of its intended audience (take Shrek for example). Directed with good humour, great gadgets and a cohesive story, adults Anotonio Banderas, Carla Gugino and Cheech Marin enjoy their roles immensely. The (eponymous) kids Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara are appropriately cute without being cloying and capable without stretching to incredulity, take on arch villains Alan Cumming and Teri Hatcher. The alternative to this is The Santa Clause 2 (Sat 7 630P) or The Sound of Music (Sat 7 840P). Catch Me If You Can (Sat 9 930P) follows Spy Kids and is a fun romp with Leo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks.
Clearly for mine, Lord of the Rings : The Return of the King (Sun 7 830P) is movie of the week however how such a modern day epic would hold up with advertisement breaks and no surround sound makes me glad I have the DVD alternative. Epic in scope, dramatic in action (the siege at the city of Gondor surpasses the siege at Helm’s Deep in LOTR 2 which was itself a new benchmark in drama and action) and emotional in its telling I can’t speak highly enough of Peter Jackson’s amazing work. I am a huge fan of this man (and his amazing team of script writers, artists, modelers etc) who last year brought us King Kong. Elijah Wood really is an astonishingly good actor, here as Frodo, the number 1 hobbit of the story and is ably supported by a fine array of international talent : John Rhys-Davies, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Christopher Lee, Miranda Otto, Ian MacKellin and even this doesn’t do the cast list justice. If you haven’t seen it then you should and if you have then you should watch it again. Yes it helps if you are a fan of the books but that is not a prerequisite to enjoying the movie. To get the full effect, both of the story and of Jackson’s accomplishment, you should start at the start and hire out the three movies : Fellowship of the Ring (still my favourite of the three, closely followed by ROTK), The Two Towers and finally Return of the King. The conclusion does take about half an hour to wrap up and this is absolutely key to elevating this film from “very good” to “excellent”.
Jarmusch’s film on SBS this week is Mystery Train (Wed 10P) starring a whole lot of people I don’t know and over on Aunty, Picnic At Hanging Rock (Wed 2 1230A) is Peter Weir’s ethereal tale of innocence lost, beautifully shot by Russell Boyd as are Gheorghe Zamfir’s Pan flutes played.
A Hong Kong Jackie Chan original on Thursday night, The Protector (Thu SBS 1030P) rounds out the week.