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What’s on TV: Friday, April 20

One has to start somewhere and dual Academy Award-winning scriptwriter Alvin Sargent (Julia, Ordinar..

One has to start somewhere and dual Academy Award-winning scriptwriter Alvin Sargent (Julia, Ordinary People) did with a 1966 crime caper, Gambit, starring Michael Caine (Cockney thief) and Shirley MacLaine (Eurasian showgirl). False identities, a priceless Chinese statue and exotic locations make for a middling pleasure, one of the many such films from the mid-1960s. Many screenwriters have dreamed of remaking it, including Joel and Ethan Coen, who worked with prospective directors Mike Nichols, Alexander Payne and Robert Altman, before the task was finally handed to Michael Hoffman (Some Girls). The results are so lacklustre – despite a cast including Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman – the film wasn't even released theatrically in America. Firth must have feared the worst because three years before making the film he denied any involvement with an emphatic, "No! It's a complete lie." He should have stuck to his first instinct. Who knows, the original may pop up soon. SM

Movie

Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)

9Gem, 8.30pm

Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine in Gambit.

There are many who put director Budd Boetticher up there with John Ford and Anthony Mann as supreme masters of the American Western. One of Boetticher's dream projects was that of a former soldier who saves a woman from being raped and takes her with him on a mission to help Mexican revolutionaries attack a French garrison. Boetticher wanted Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr, but never got to make the film. But Don Siegel did, with his Coogan's Bluff star Clint Eastwood, and Shirley MacLaine, who has great fun alternating between nun and prostitute. Siegel gets little attention for his Westerns (The Shootist is worth seeking out) and much more for his hard-edged actioners like Dirty Harry. You get both cinematic styles here, along with a laconic pace and humour, and a hint of sentimentality. It may seem underwhelming at times, but have faith and you may find yourself beguiled. SM

Pay

Grace Beside Me.

Photo: JULIAN PANETTA

Surviving Harvey: Animals After the Storm

Discovery Science, 8.30pm

When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas last year, the storm and the flooding it brought forced tens of thousands of people out of their homes and affected millions of animals – pets, livestock and wildlife. This moderately heart-warming special comprises a grab-bag of stories selected for their happy endings and arresting video footage. Things get off to an adorable start with a lovely old dog thought to be lost in the storm trudging home days later, carrying a big bag of dry dog food in his jaws. Then there's a fireman leading a horse out of floodwaters using a bridle he fashioned from a piece of nylon rope; a hawk taking refuge in a taxi; and the removal of alligators washed into residential areas. Some more facts and figures about things like livestock losses would have been interesting, but it is what it is. BN

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So, we guess this means Beyonce and Jay-Z are OK then

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last..

The first couple of pop music took the world by surprise by dropping their first album together last weekend. As you'd expect, it's a statement.

There is arguably no couple better at controlling their own press than Beyonce and Jay-Z. When a video surfaced in 2014 showing Bey's younger sister Solange attacking her brother-in-law in an elevator, rumours of a strained marriage proliferated.

Rather than battle the tabloids, the spouses used the gossip to fuel the creation of two critically beloved, commercially successful records: Beyonce's Lemonade and Jay-Z's 4:44. And, in them, they offered just as many details about their private lives as they chose.

Beyonce and Jay-Z on stage in France for the 2014 On the Run tour.

Photo: Rob Hoffman

Now the couple have continued their domination of pop music, surprising the world last Saturday by releasing their joint album Everything Is Love, which is something of a sequel to those two solo records. Though they have collaborated for at least 15 years, this marks their first joint album, which they dropped under the name The Carters.

The record is a victory lap from a couple who have mined their relationship for universal truths and then presented them as art. It's a fierce love letter to success, to family, to blackness – but, most of all, to each other.

Artwork for the album Everything is Love by The Carters, aka Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Photo: Karl Quinn

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Lyrically, it primarily focuses on two aspects of the Carters' lives: their marriage and their success. (more…)

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Rachel Griffiths: female characters are finally getting real on screen

Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, P..

Almost a year into the #MeToo era, Rachel Griffiths believes the likes of Mystery Road, Wentworth, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Top of the Lake show that female characters are finally coming of age on Australian screens.

In a spirited speech at the launch of a new state government scheme to support more women directors in television, the actor-turned-director said it was exciting to see female characters move beyond "the typical tropes of 'likable, f—able, adorable'" to "more complex depictions of female experience" recently.

Happy to see "more complex depictions of female experience": Rachel Griffiths (left) with Leah Purcell at the launch of #SheDirects.

Photo: Louie Douvis

While she acknowledged there were male directors who created fresh and compelling women characters, Griffiths said the "male gaze" often reduced them to colouring the characters of their male counterparts.

"[They are created to] make him hot, make him authentic, make him empathetic, make him fatherly, make him conflicted, make him grieve," she said. "In the male gaze, we are so often not the gatekeepers; we're not the ferryman. Sometimes the mentor but usually only ironically, like Judi Dench's M…

"Under-written and under-observed, brought into our sexual awareness precociously and prepubescent in order to accommodate the male libido.

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"Often in television we're used by lazy writers and producers who can think of nothing more interesting this week than 'let's have her have sex with X' or 'discover she's a lesbian – for an episode'."

Griffiths, who is about to begin editing the Melbourne Cup drama Ride Like A Girl after finishing the shoot, endorsed Hollywood star Sandra Bullock's recent comment that it was time for women to "stop being polite" about gender equality. (more…)

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Rachel Maddow breaks down on air over Trump immigration policy

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest development..

US television host Rachel Maddow has broken down on live air as she delivered the latest developments in the Trump administration's controversial "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

Maddow, who hosts her own show on MSNBC, was reading from a breaking news release from the Associated Press that revealed government officials have been sending babies and toddlers to what are being called "tender age" shelters in the US.

The youngsters are some of the 2,300 children who have been forcibly separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border since the White House announced a zero-tolerance policy on migrant families in May.

"The AP has just broken some new news," Maddow started.

"Um, this has just come out from the Associated Press, this is incredible. Trump administration have been sending babies and other young children – oh, hold on," she said, her voice breaking.

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Maddow attempted to get through the breaking news piece one more time before moving the show over to a guest. "To at least three – three tender age shelters in South Texas. Lawyers and medical providers… I think I'm going to have to hand this off. Sorry."

Maddow took to Twitter shortly after the segment aired to say sorry to her viewers. "Again, I apologise for losing it there for a moment," she wrote. "Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile."

She also tweeted out what she had been trying to say in her live read, writing out what was presented in the AP story. "Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the "tender age" shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis…" she wrote.

"Decades after the nations child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents." (more…)

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