Monday 23 October 2017

Film Highlights Sunday

Oz: The Great and Powerful (2013)

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Sky Movies Premiere, 8.00pm

Practically every single attempt to create a sequel to the joyous 1939 musical fantasy 'The Wizard of Oz' has ended in chaos and ignominy, but this classy Sam Raimi film is an entertaining exception.

It's Kansas in the early 1900s, and Oscar Diggs (James Franco) is a dodgy fairground magician with a woman in every town and a suspiciously brilliant smile. He's a trickster, and when he fools around with the wrong girl he enrages a circus strongman, and flees the fairground and his enemies in a hot air balloon.

But it's Kansas, in the storm season, and Diggs is swept into the eye of a raging tornado which flings him all over creation before finally depositing him in a blindingly colourful new land.

It's Oz, of course, but Diggs thinks he's gone to heaven when he's greeted by a beautiful young woman called Theodora (Mila Kunis). She befriends Diggs, and also tells him about a prophesy that Oz will be liberated from its suffering by a wizard from another land. And when Diggs hears there's a mountain of gold at the Emerald City that would be the wizard's for the asking, he decides to pose as the hero. Michelle Williams (above) co-stars.

Never Let Me Go (2010)

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Channel 4, 10.25pm

Based on an acclaimed novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, Mark Romanek's film stars a trio of young English actors whose beauty only heightens their characters' decidedly bleak prospects.

Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley, below) and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) are orphans who are raised in a boarding school. It's the 1970s, but a kind of alternative 1970s where most things are the same but some crucially and radically different.

At Hailsham school, the trio experience all the joys and traumas of growing up: the girls become friends, but are divided by their mutual romantic interest in Tommy, a boy with a big heart and a bigger temper.

All the while they are given hints that this is a different kind of school, and their headmistress tells them they are "special". But they can't help noticing that some visitors to the school shrink from them, and wonder what fate awaits them when they finish the term. Romanek's film is beautifully shot, and has a memorable twist for those unfamiliar with Ishiguro's novel.

Irish Independent

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