BARRY NORMAN: FILM OF THE DAY
The Naked Gun ★★★★★
Sometimes you don’t want drama, excitement or deep emotion; sometimes all you want is something silly and this is profoundly, gloriously silly. It begins with our hero, LA police lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) gatecrashing a secret conference in Beirut, attended by, among others, Idi Amin, Yasser Arafat and Gaddafi. He overcomes them all, delivers a patriotic speech and flees to Los Angeles where, many ludicrous events later, he’s apparently making a sexual assault on the Queen — yes, our Queen. This, the work of the Zucker brothers, David and Jerry, and Jim Abrahams, makers of italAirplane!/ital, is based on their TV series italPolice Squad!/ital Like all good farces it has a kind of crazy logic and is played throughout, especially by the peerless Nielsen, with deadly seriousness. The plot has Nielsen pursuing Ricardo Montalban, a shipping magnate and heroin smuggler who, for reasons which need not detain us, plans to assassinate the Queen at a baseball game — where she is seen passing a hot dog to the man beside her. Nielsen’s accomplice and love interest is Montalban’s assistant, Priscilla Presley, a gorgeous bimbo with a gift for the innocent double entendre and an inability to pass anything without first bumping into it. It’s scatological, childish and very funny, and if you have a taste for naughty, silly jokes, do listen out for the “nice beaver” exchange.
Bad Blood ★★★★
7.55-10.00pm Talking Pictures TV
Archive and film channel Talking Pictures TV promises a mix of nostalgia and rarity, and the latter is to the fore in this barely seen New Zealand fact-based crime drama. It was an early feature for director Mike Newell, who had already forged a career in TV and was still over 20 years away from Four Weddings and a Funeral. Aussie Stalwart Jack Thompson stars as Stan Graham, the New Zealand farmer who, in 1941, murdered seven people before heading off into the bush. It’s a fascinating portrait of isolation and mistrust, and Newell avoids passing judgement.
A Perfect Getaway ★★★
9.00-11.00pm Horror Channel
Steve Zahn takes a straight dramatic role for a change, but the plot of this tense Hawaiian-honeymoon thriller is nicely twisted, right up to the no-holds barred climax. The arrival of crossbow-wielding Timothy Olyphant is no help, as he’s the sort of actor who can play it nice or nasty, so keeps you guessing, and director David Twohy (Pitch Black) keeps the pace and the tension high.
Something in the Air ★★★
12.40-3.10am Film Four Premiere
Writer/director Olivier Assayas’s affectionate coming-of-age tale is set in Paris during the early 1970s, a world in which the ripples of the radicalism of 1968 are still spreading through society. Clément Métayer plays the young student and prospective film-maker who takes up with other activists in a search for ideas and direction. It’s a thoughtful, personal movie with a great soundtrack.
Sleeping with the Enemy ★★★
11.25pm-1.20am Movie Mix
Julia Roberts had been catapulted into stardom by Pretty Woman the year before this obsessive-husband thriller was released, but she shows she can handle suspense as well as lighter drama. The plot runs along a well-worn path, as Roberts tries to break away from violently jealous Patrick Bergin, which gives plenty of time to notice the movie’s flaws. The beginning and the end are good, but the middle relies more on Roberts’s presence than it should.
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