ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY
Killing Them Softly ★★★
PREMIERE 10.50pm-12.45am Film Four
Establishing his talent with raw crime biopic Chopper, New Zealand-born, Australia-raised writer/director Andrew Dominik has already cut a swathe through American cinema with meditative western The Assassination of Jesse James and this politically charged neo-noir Mafia fable. An insouciant Brad Pitt (also a co-producer), a snuffly James Gandolfini and an austere Sam Shepard are brought in after nitwits Scott McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn pull an inside-job robbery orchestrated by Ray Liotta’s gambling kingpin. Speeches by then presidential hopeful Barack Obama place the verbose, stylishly shot tale in 2008, though the source novel (Cogan’s Trade) was set in 1974. A tense and witty male crime picture, for me it just needed an ending.
A Simple Plan ★★★★
Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton and Bridget Fonda star in this deliciously dark thriller in which three men discover $4 million in a crashed plane in the snowy wilds. It seems like a gift from the Gods so they decide to take loot. Everything should be okay as long as they keep to their story. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.
America’s Sweethearts ★★★
6.45-8.50pm Film Four
Billy Crystal co-writes and stars in this romantic comedy as a beleaguered Hollywood publicist faced with the task of getting together movie golden couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and John Cusack for the press junket of their latest picture — despite the fact that they hate each other. Add in the romantic machinations of Cusack now pursuing his ex partner’s sister (Julia Roberts) and it all makes for an entertaining romp rather than biting satire.
Tall in the Saddle ★★★
No surprises that big John Wayne plays the lead in this western tale about a man who takes a job as foreman at a ranch in Arizona only to discover he’ll be taking orders from women! Feisty Ella Raines co-stars as the girl whose feelings for the Duke might well run a little deeper. But he has his mind on other things when he becomes the stooge in a plan to steal the property.
Harold & Kumar Get the Munchies ★★★
After a night on the evil weed, stoner buddies Harold and Kumar set off in search of burgers to ease the hunger. But it proves to be a far from simple task as the likeable pair lurch from one surreal adventure to the next.