Sunday 28 December 2014

King Kong

Paul Whitington

Published 20/12/2008 | 00:00

Looks in a pretty bad mood, doesn't he. Well, so would you be if people were chucking spears at you and hell bent on abducting you from your tropical paradise to a circus in New York. A product, mainly, of the fevered imagination of aviator-turned-filmmaker Merian C. Cooper, Kong first appeared in Cooper's 1933 film. He has since made at least six further outings that invariably end in tears.

Fresh from his Lord of the Rings triumph, New Zealand director Peter Jackson brought all his clout and a huge budget (more than $200 million) to bear on this lavish 2005 remake. At almost three hours long, Jackson's film takes its own sweet time, but he knows how to make blockbusters.

Jack Black is Carl Denham, a maverick filmmaker who hires Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) to star in his latest adventure, filmed in an exotic location. He, she and screenwriter Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) pitch up on Skull Island, and there they discover an extremely large ape. The local natives are terrified of him, but Denham reckons he will make his fortune if he can spirit the beast back to New York.

V for Vendetta (2005): Futuristic film in which a post-apocalyptic Britain is in the grip of fascism, and a mysterious anarchist called 'V' incites a popular revolt. With Natalie Portman (Tonight, BBC2, 10.20pm).

Walk the Line (2005): Joaquin Phoenix stars as Johnny Cash in this excellent biopic, charting his rise to fame, struggle with drugs and alcohol and his love affair with June Carter. With Reese Witherspoon (Christmas Eve, RTE1, 8.50pm).

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005): Harry's surprise selection for the Triwizard Tournament leads to his first encounter with the dreaded Voldemort. With Ralph Fiennes (Christmas Day, RTE1, 3.35pm).

Singin' in the Rain (1952): The best musical ever made also happens to be a cutting and extremely funny satire on Hollywood's struggles to adapt to the arrival of sound. With Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, Donald O'Connor (Christmas Day, RTE2, 5.20pm).

Madagascar (2005): Four pampered New York zoo animals find the going tough when they crash-land on the tropical island. This could prove a priceless Stephen's Day nipper diversion (St Stephen's Day, BBC1, 4.10pm).

The Da Vinci Code (2006): Wonderfully daft adaptation of Dan Brown's ridiculous book about art, mad monks and the origins of Christ. With Tom Hanks (St Stephen's Day, RTE1, 9.40pm).

Your Bad Self

St Stephen's Day, RTE2, 9.40pm

Good sketch shows are as rare as hen's teeth, but this new one from writer/director John Butler is surprisingly fresh and original. A great cast includes Peter McDonald, Andrew Bennett, Justine Mitchell, Karen Egan, Hugh O'Conor, Domhnall Gleeson, Emily Fairman and Michael McElhatton, and the tone is good and dark.

A team of guards wastes time wondering what to call a swoop operation on a missing child; a kerb crawler changes his tune when he realises he's soliciting one of his mother's best friends; relatives at an aunt's bedside look forward loudly to the wake. It's actually very funny, rather edgy and very well acted.

The Sunday Night Christmas Project: Simon Pegg joins Alan Carr and Justin Lee Collins on this festive special, with music from the Kaiser Chiefs (Sunday, C4, 9pm).

Lead Balloon: Miserable at playing in an awful panto, Rick is looking forward to a peaceful Christmas break (Tuesday, BBC2, 10.15pm).

Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special: An Essex festive gathering ends in disastrous revelations (Christmas Eve, BBC1, 10pm)

Blackadder's Christmas Carol: Ebenezer Blackadder starts out decent, until his dead relatives knock some sense into him (Christmas Day, BBC2, 7pm).

An Audience with Katherine Lynch: Ms Lynch and some of the characters from her recent series (St Stephen's Day, RTE2, 10.10pm).

The Podge & Rodge Show: They have made numerous jokes at her expense, but Twink may get her own back as guest host of this Christmas show (St Stephen's Day, RTE2, 11.05pm).

Doctor Who

Christmas Day, BBC1, 6pm

Russell T. Davies has won Baftas and received deserved acclaim for his imaginative revival of the classic Sixties and Seventies science-fiction series, Doctor Who. And in this hour-long Christmas special, our own Dervla Kirwan plays the villain. It's Christmas Eve in 1851, and the idyllic, snowbound streets of Victorian London are being stalked by Cybermen.

When the Doctor arrives to investigate, he's surprised to meet another time lord, and the two join forces to defeat the ruthless Miss Hartigan. But will the Doctors be able to prevent the rise of the CyberKing? David Tennant stars as the Doctor, and David Morrissey plays his time-travelling colleague.

Lark Rise to Candleford: In a feature-length Christmas episode, the arrival of a mysterious, barefoot stranger disrupts the festive celebrations. With Dawn French, Julia Sawalha (Sunday, BBC1, 7.45pm).

Survivors: In the concluding episode of the post-apocalyptic drama, Abby and her friends are on the run from the treacherous Amanda (Tuesday, BBC1, 8pm).

Shameless Christmas Special: The Gallaghers celebrate Christmas in their own uniquely classy way. With David Threlfall (Wednesday, C4, 9pm).

Fair City: The Carrickstown nativity play dissolves into chaos when Sarah walks on drunk and a sheep is let loose (Christmas Eve, RTE1, 7.30pm).

Eastenders: Albert Square has witnessed more than its fair share of yuletide misery, but the Mitchells are anticipating a perfect holiday (Christmas Eve, BBC1, 8pm).

Caught in a Trap: Connie Fisher stars in this one-off drama as a lonely traffic warden who starts stealing from parking meters in order to feed her hunger for Elvis memorabilia (St Stephen's Day, UTV, 9pm).

A Bit of Fillum: Ryan's Daughter in Dingle

Christmas Day, RTE1, 7pm

The filmmakers and stars who arrived in Dingle in 1969 to begin shooting a David Lean epic might as well have been Martians, as far as the locals were concerned. Dingle at that time was still a relatively poor place, and the movie people were understandably seen by many natives as a God-sent moneymaking opportunity. The protracted shoot would be dogged by bad luck, worse weather and bitter disagreements, and the resulting film, Ryan's Daughter, was so savaged by the critics that David Lean would not make another for 13 years. But the making of it certainly makes a good story, which is what this documentary sets out to tell.

David Lean did battle with the mercurial Irish climate. A notorious perfectionist, he drove his cast mad, and Ryan's Daughter was slated. But the huge influx of money helped revive the Dingle economy.

Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine: An account of Andrew Irvine and George Mallory's fatal 1924 attempt to climb Everest (Sunday, RTE2, 6pm).

Capital D: Anne Cassin presents a special episode devoted to Christmas in Dublin City (Monday, RTE1, 7.30pm).

The Ascent of Money: Niall Ferguson examines the relationship between the US and China (Monday, C4, 8pm).

Corrigan's Family Christmas: The chef shows you how to get the big meal exactly right (Tuesday, RTE1, 8.30pm).

The Nativity Decoded: Robert Beckford attempts to uncover the real meaning of the Christmas story (Christmas Day, C4, 7.30pm).

Blackadder Rises Again: Rowan Atkinson talks in-depth about the series (Christmas Day, BBC1, 10.30pm).

Apres Match and All That

St Stephen's Day, RTE2, 8.40pm

Perhaps it's fitting in a year that contained more lows than highs from an Irish perspective that the Apres Match team should devote an hour-long special to a football tournament in which we didn't even take part. In fairness, the Republic of Ireland failing to reach the European Championships is hardly unprecedented -- the last time we made it was 1988. And, it has to be said, Euro 2008 was an outstanding tournament; one of the best Euros ever and way better than most World Cups.

In this show, the highlights of Euro 2008 will come from Billy O'Herlihy, John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Graeme Souness, who will savour all the action of a closely-fought tournament that was finally won by the excellent Spanish. And the Apres Match boys will intersperse the action with their own assessments. I hope they show the bits after their Euro skits, when Graeme Souness, in particular, was often speechless with laughter.

Racing: The Channel 4 team presents races from Haydock Park, Lingfield Park and Newcastle (Today, C4, 1.55pm).

Soccer: Highlights of Premier League games including Manchester United v Wigan, Hull v Sunderland and West Ham v Aston Villa (Tonight, RTE2, 9pm).

The RTE Sports Awards: Michael Lyster, Darragh Maloney and Joanne Cantwell introduce a review of the Irish sporting year (Sunday, RTE1, 9.30pm).

Soccer: Arsenal will be desperate to end a rocky first half of the season on a high note with a home win over Liverpool (Sunday, Sky Sports 1, 4pm).

Hanging with Hector: Hector hangs out with celebrated horse trainer Aidan O'Brien (Monday, RTE1, 9.35pm).

Racing: Live coverage of the opening day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival (St Stephen's Day, RTE2, 1.15pm).

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