ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY
Knocked Up ★★★★
With 28 film credits to his name as writer, director or producer, Judd Apatow had barely begun his rise to world domination in 2007, when he followed up hit slacker comedy The 40 Year Old Virgin with another refreshingly bold entry in a genre mired in facile, post-Farrelly brothers gross-out. Seth Rogen made his name here as the pothead who impregnates Katherine Heigl’s media career girl during a drunken one-night stand, after which they give the relationship a go, to hilarious rather than schmaltzy effect. It’s carried by believable chemistry between Rogen and Heigl, as well as Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as happily-ish marrieds, and the now-ubiquitous geek chorus of Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and Jay Baruchel, all of them Apatow lucky charms. Add to that some near-the-knuckle repartee, and there’s the proof that hit comedy doesn’t have to dumb down for its demographic.
True Lies ★★★★
10.35pm-1.20am Film Four
Director James Cameron rejoins his Terminator 2: Judgment Day star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a sub-Bondian espionage action caper whose set pieces are as exciting, clever and funny as you could ask for in the genre. Arnie stars as a secret agent whose family is unaware of his dangerous job – wife Jamie Lee Curtis thinks he’s a computer salesman on a convention while he and partner Tom Arnold are gatecrashing an arms dealer’s shindig – but his two worlds collide after he begins to suspect Curtis of having an affair. It’s this subplot that jars somewhat with the main thrust of the tale, but the rest of the movie sits nicely between Arnie’s out-and-out action and straight-up comedy movies.
9.00-10.50pm Horror Channel
Former storyboard artist Vincenzo Natali threw himself into directing with this ingenious and well-received low-budget sci-fi thriller. The set up is simple: six disparate people wake to find themselves trapped in a series of joined, square rooms, some of which contain lethal booby traps, and none of them knows how or why they got there. There are only two sets, but they work a treat, and having an ensemble cast helps to keep us guessing. Okay, there’s a bit of maths in the plot, but it’s also a Phillip Schofield-free zone.
The New Centurions ★★★★
This 1970s tale of everyday LA cops was based on the first novel by serving policeman Joseph Wambaugh, and has more than a whiff of the lives of the real officers who were its inspiration. Stacy Keach plays the idealistic law student rookie who is teamed with world-weary veteran George C Scott after he joins the force to help him pay his way through college. It doesn’t have the edgy power of the more recent Training Day, but the movie’s mix of violence and humour, and Wambaugh’s influence on US police shows like Hill St Blues, make this a worthy and watchable drama.
Clear and Present Danger ★★★
6.15-9.00pm Film Four
Harrison Ford’s swan song as Jack Ryan finds the do-gooding CIA analyst up against a Colombian drugs cartel and some dodgy dealings in Washington that could reach the highest level. The movie opens out from the personal, small-scale action of Patriot Games, as a couple of presidential aides implement their own idea of an anti-drugs policy in a private war against the Colombians that also puts Ryan in a very sticky situation. Ford is as solid as a rock, and returning director Phillip Noyce has the benefit of returning cast (Anne Archer, Thora Birch) and new blood (Willem Dafoe, Henry Czerny) to help him negotiate the twists and turns of the plot.
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