HDTV Movie Highlights: June 26-July 2

Taking Woodstock: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Saturday.

Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) remembers the summer of ’69 at Yasgur’s Farm — although not quite everyone who was there would recall it this way. As the Boston Globe quipped: “This is as safe and sweet a movie as you could make about America’s sex-drugs-and-rock ’n’ roll-est event.” (2009)

Die Hard With a Vengeance: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Saturday.

The third in the series sees Bruce Willis’ likable larrikin of a cop square off against a rhyming time-bomb terrorist played with wicked, erudite relish by Jeremy Irons. It turns out he has a personal score to settle with Willis while hatching a heist that could bring down the world’s industrial economies. So unfolds an elaborate scenario that’s far-fetched but savvy enough to punctuate the overkill of explosions, car chases and shoot-outs with wit, style and inventiveness. Samuel L Jackson co-stars. (1995)

X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

Nine-year-old boys and X-Men fans will think Wolverine just the cat’s whiskers but the first in a new prequel franchise barely scratches the surface of what might have been with sharper scripting and more emphasis on mythology than mayhem. Still, it’s good fun in a “Thank God It’s Friday” kind of way, with the sensational stunts and visual effects offsetting a storyline that demands leaps of logic beyond even the mutant hero’s sprightliness. Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber and Danny Huston star. (2009)

Collateral: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Sunday.

Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese have their New York stories but no one’s stamped their signature on LA like Michael Mann. Anyone who caught his neglected TV series, Robbery Homicide Division, will recognise in Collateral the hi-def video intensity that made its moody visuals so electrifying – think film noir meets film neon. This breathtaking, ingeniously suspenseful thriller is even more mesmerising given Tom Cruise’s startling turn-against-type as a suave hit man who hijacks a taxi (driven by Jamie Foxx) to take him from the scene of one crime to another. The original screenplay concerned Russian Mafia in NYC but Mann transposed it to LA and incorporated chilling contemporary elements to make the seemingly slight story as relevant and textured as its characters. (2004)

Uptown Girls: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Monday.

Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning star in a downmarket comedy about a rock star’s daughter who hits hard times and goes from party animal to the novice nanny of a music industry executive’s pampered, precocious eight-year-old. (2003)

Underworld: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Tuesday.

Sleek, chic conspiracy thriller about a millennium-long blood feud between vampires and werewolves that’s set in a gothic netherworld. It tries to transcend horror conventions by explaining the creatures’ rise through science instead of mysticism but comes across as a clichéd, noisy, graphic-novel pastiche of Batman, Blade and The Matrix. Still, the special effects are spellbinding, Kate Beckinsale’s a belter action figure and Bill Nighy’s vampire elder would give even Grandpa Munster nightmares. (2003)

The Ugly Truth: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Wednesday.

The title merely hints at how dire the movie is – a predictable, loathsome romantic-comedy in which a modern career woman (Katherine Heigl) falls for the Neanderthal of agony aunts (Gerard Butler). It unfolds like a big-screen sitcom about a morning news show, and is as fake and crass as it is dishonest, castigating TV’s plummeting standards while lowering the bar on audience IQ to unfathomable depths. (2009)

Kinsey: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Friday.

AKA: Everything you wanted to know about Kinsey but were afraid to ask … From Bill Condon, the writer and director of Gods and Monsters and Dreamgirls, comes a masterful, brilliantly structured dramatisation of Alfred Kinsey’s heroic quest to expose all about human sexuality. Condon’s Gods and Monsters star, Ian McKellen, was his first choice for the lead but it’s hard to imagine anyone conveying the nuances of this difficult, complicated character better than Liam Neeson. Laura Linney and Chris O’Donnell co-star. (2004)

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