HDTV Movie Premieres: July 30-August 5

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: TV2, 8.30pm Saturday.

In this meticulously crafted, Oscar-winning visual effects feast, Brad Pitt reunites with Se7en director David Fincher to play a man who’s born old and regresses in age as he comes of age. It’s a tad too Forrest Gump-ish, and has pivotal plot turns that don’t bear scrutiny, but is a touching, artful take on rebirth and impermanence. Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton and Julia Ormond (who was Pitt’s love interest in Legends of the Fall) co-star in a screenplay by Eric Roth (The Good Shepherd, Munich). (2008)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Sky Movies, 8.30pm Sunday.

The star and director of National Treasure reunite for a black arts romp that pokes fun at the sorcery genre while pulling out of the hat one wizard f/x trick after another. Nicolas Cage plays a contemporary of Merlin’s who ends centuries of searching for an anointed apprentice when he recruits a physics nerd (Jay Baruchel) to help thwart foes raising an army of the dead. Jon Turtletaub directs a screenplay by the scribes behind the like-minded Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Race to Witch Mountain; Alfred Molina co-stars. (2010)

Meet the Fockers: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Sunday.

If not for the immensely likeable cast, this would be a feeble in-laws comedy indeed. But Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand, as the outrageously liberal – and Jewish — parents of Ben Stiller’s nurse, are the perfect foil for his archly conservative, ex-CIA father-in-law to be (Robert De Niro). They imbue the strained hi-jinks with boundless goodwill and help Fockers to transcend its reliance on trite kid- and pet-driven scatological gags. Owen Wilson, Teri Polo and Blythe Danner co-star. (2004)

12 Rounds: TV3, 8.30pm Monday.

It’s tempting to dismiss 12 Rounds as a movie for “dum-dums”. It may have been one of 2009’s silliest action flicks but it’s also a slick throwback to director Renny Harlin’s Cliffhanger heyday. The hero is a New Orleans cop (John Cena) desperate to outwit a fiendishly inventive thief with a grudge who’s kidnapped his girlfriend. The brain-teasing time bomb of a plot is fatally preposterous but the movie’s Hurricane Katrina energy and stunning Big Easy locales keep you going one more round. (2009)

Casanova: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Monday.

A red-hot cast you’ll love – Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Lena Olin – stars in this fluffy farce that discreetly dramatises how the legendary Lothario lost his heart to a renowned Venetian scribe. Said USA Today: “Casanova is an entertaining if silly romp, with amusing dialogue, gorgeous production design and painterly cinematography. Venice, where the movie is set, has never been so breathtaking.” Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, My Life as a Dog) directs with playful verve. (2005)

Sideways: Sky Movies Greats, 8.30pm Wednesday.

The funniest road movie since Planes, Trains & Automobiles stars Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church as odd-couple pals who thrash out their mid-life anxieties on a week-long wine trail trek: one’s a thin-skinned, temperamental, reluctant divorcee, the other a brash, womanising ex-soap opera star on the eve of marrying. Writer/director Alexander (About Schmidt) Payne’s pithy, nuanced screenplay is well matched by Giamatti and Church’s Pinot and Cabernet bonding. (2004)

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