Films on TV column

fs_fargo_800Fargo (Star Movies 18:15)
*****

Just Friends (ShowMovies Family 23:00)
***

Beverly Hills Cop ( ShowMovies Action, 21:00)
***

Life and Death of Peter Sellers (Super Movies 20:00)
***

Sometimes, everything in a film just comes together perfectly to make a great cinema and Fargo (Star Movies 18:15) is a true modern classic and arguably the best film from the Coen Brothers. A struggling car salesman (William H. Macy) hires two lowlifes (a fantastic Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife for a ransom of US$1million. The plan goes wrong as the protagonists try to lie and kill their way out of the situation, which is being investigated by pregnant policewoman Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand). The combination of the bleak and snowy landscape, sharp script and a wonderful cast at the peak of their powers – McDormand won the best actress Oscar for her performance – make this mordant, macabre murder-tale one of the best films of the Nineties. It won the best original screenplay award at the Oscars (which is often a better indicator of quality than the best picture category) and despite the bloodshed, it is at turns witty and endearing with a dark morality tale about the things that desperate people will do just for ‘a little bit of money’.

It seems like romantic comedies have been churned out as fast as and hack writer can pen them of late, all for a little bit of money, but occasionally a few decent ones slip through the cracks. Just Friends (Show Movies Family 23:00) is as formulaic as they come but the jokes (especially in the first third) save the predictability of the plot. Chris (Ryan Reynolds) is in love with his best friend Jamie (Amy Smart), but when he makes a move for her at the end of high school she publicly rejects him, wanting to remain just friends.

He leaves town, loses weight and becomes a successful music producer and years later chance throws them together again and he realises he still wants her. Of course you already know the ending, but the jokes, as daft as some of them are, make it one of the funnier romantic comedies as actual laughs in romantic comedies are becoming increasingly thin on the ground these days.

Also in short supply are decent Eddie Murphy films. ‘So what?’ you may say, but Murphy’s films have grossed a totally of over US3.4billion in America alone and he’s one of the most bankable actors of all time. Tonight you can see one of his classic performances in Beverly Hills Cop ( ShowMovies Action, 21:00). Coming off the success of Trading Places a year earlier, Murphy seemingly plays himself once again, but this time in the guise of a tough Detroit cop causing mayhem as he works a murder case in affluent Los Angeles. As cop-buddy films go, his teaming up with Judge Reinhold’s bumbling Beverly Hills detective is one of the more memorable, as the streetwise and foul-mouthed Murphy elevates what is a standard action film into a huge hit. It was so successful they wanted to turn it into a series but Murphy declined, instead making more films. Those two Beverly Hills Cop sequels are shown concurrently after this but the quality drops off rapidly (especially in the last outing) so you might want to remember him how he was in the original.

Remembering how Peter Sellers was is the whole point of Life and Death of Peter Sellers (Super Movies 20:00), but the biopic, based on the book of the same name, attracted criticism from Seller’s son who claimed it made his father appear insane. Debatable, but what Geoffrey Rush’s fine impersonation does show is a flawed comic genius whose off-screen persona was increasingly made up of a composition of his on-screen ones. Mad or not, he was never less than entertaining.

NEWS

Michael Rapaport is set to join the cast of Prison Break for series four. The Hollywood Reporter, has claimed he is to play ‘a government agent who has an interesting offer for Michael Scofield and his brother’. Rapaport, who is best known for his recurring role in Friends as Phoebe’s police officer boyfriend Gary has recently had recurring roles in My Name Is Earl. The next series also has a huge twist (leaked on the internet this week) which has split fans’ opinion, with many claiming it’s left the series devoid of what remaining credibility it had. Ouch.

James Corden, creator and star of British comedy Gavin And Stacey, has said he wants Philip Seymour Hoffman to play his character in the US version of the series. The comedian picked Hoffman as his dream choice to play the character of Smithy in an American reworking of the BBC Three show, currently being screened here on ShowComedy. ‘I can’t wait to see the US show,’ Corden told a British tabloid. ‘Getting it started was delayed by their writers who went on strike but it’s back on course now.’ Hoffman won the best actor Academy Award in 2005 for his role in Capote.

Actress Dana Delany has confirmed that she will continue her role in Desperate Housewives into the next season. The extended season four finale was broadcast last night in America, but has been renewed after ratings were up in the previous season and it’s set to return in late September. The 52-year-old joined the show in season four as Katherine Mayfair, a housewife who may or may not have been responsible for her ex-husband’s death. She told Entertainment Tonight: ‘Yes, I am coming back. My whole mystery story will be wrapped up and everything will be revealed, and it’s all rather dramatic.’

For The National newspaper

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