HDTV Movie Highlights: March 20-26

Frozen River: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Saturday.

Until she was Oscar-nominated for Frozen River, Melissa Leo was best known for her role as the sassy, red-headed cop on TV’s finest police beat before The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Street. Here she plays a solo mum who helps to smuggle immigrants across the border, from Quebec to New York, in what Time magazine dubbed “as truthful a picture of American bleakness as it’s possible for a movie to present”. (2008)

Schindler’s List: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Saturday.

Steven Spielberg’s masterful account of how a womanising, profiteering, Nazi industrialist helped to save the lives of more than 1000 Jews at the height of the Holocaust won seven Oscars, including best picture and director. A more unlikely hero is hard to imagine than Oskar Schindler, a riddle of opportunism and philanthropy who risked his life to give Polish Jews jobs in a munitions factory that stood proud on its record of non-production. Rarely has the tragedy and horror of the Holocaust been dramatised with such nightmarish, epic intensity — or used to starkly illuminate the truth of the adage that to save one life is to save a nation. Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes star. (1993)

Thank You For Smoking: TV3, 10.40pm Saturday.

Scorching smoke-and-mirrors satire about a tobacco industry lobbyist who’s a self-proclaimed “merchant of death” with “a moral flexibility that goes beyond most people”. Although more than a decade’s passed since the novel was published, the timing of this witty and subversive poke at politicians and the PR industry couldn’t be more relevant. Juno’s Jason Reitman directs Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello and Cameron Bright. (2005)

Paul Blart: Mall Cop: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday

From Steve Carr, the director of Daddy Day Care and Are We Done Yet?, comes the kind of comedy that makes you feel ripped off. Kevin James (TV’s King of Queens, I Pronounce You Chuck & Larry) plays a mall security guard who makes a lone stand against a gang of thieves. James also wrote the juvenile screenplay with ex-Queens scriptwriter and co-star Nick Bakay. (2009)

The Thomas Crown Affair: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Sunday.

This sexy art-theft thriller may sound like an Entrapment copy but is the genuine article. A surprisingly revealing Rene Russo plays a seductive insurance investigator who gives old-masters thief Pierce Brosnan a run for his Monet. Faye Dunaway, who starred opposite Steve McQueen in the 1968 original, has a cool cameo. (1999)

Walled In: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Friday.

The OC’s Mischa Barton stars in an obscure psychological thriller about a demolition expert who unearths the victims of a killer with his sights set on her. Quipped DVD Talk of this direct-to-DVD release: “A home video fright flick whose best element is its cover art.” Thank You for Smoking’s Cameron Bright co-stars. (2009)

Bad Boys 2: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Friday.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reunite as Miami vice-versa cops in a nasty sequel that drips with as much blood as it does production values. It was made eight years after the original and tries to make up for lost time by cranking up the violence, profanity and cruel hi-jinks (including extending the running time to a merciless two-and-a-half hours). What passes for a plot has the odd-couple heroes cracking numbskull banter while nonchalantly cracking bad guys’ skulls in-between dodging bullets, car crashes and crime bosses. (2003)

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