Finnegan On Films: Adventure, Action And Canine Capers On The Box This Week

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Our movie guy, James Finnegan, looks at stories of honour, love and the pursuit of power on the box this week…

There is a wonderful story of adventure, daring do, honour and revenge in The Mask of Zorro (2.15pm Saturday RTE2) directed by Martin Campbell, that will appeal to all ages.

Don Diego de la Vega, better known as Zorro, and played with some relish by Anthony Hopkins, has been imprisoned for twenty years.

However, when he hears that his old nemesis, Don Rafael Montero (Stuart Wilson) has returned, that is the incentive he needs to escape.

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He meets up with a young thief, Alejandro, played by Antonio Banderas, who is also seeking revenge for the death of his brother.

The elder Zorro trains Alejandro to take up his cape, mask and sword to protect the citizens, take on the oppressor Montero, who not only intends to rob California of its gold, but has also taken Don Diego’s daughter Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones) and raised her as his own.

Later on comes A Dog’s Journey (6.35pm Saturday RTE1).  I feel I should warn you in advance, that this is an extraordinarily sad story involving Bailey, an old St Bernard dog approaching the end of his life.

However, Bailey is reincarnated over and over, in order to find a particular human, C.J. to protect and love.

I should also let you know that this is a film where the animals are nicer than a number of the humans.

Suffice to say, an industrial box of tissues is needed, especially if you are a dog lover who shares the belief that there is no love like that between a human and a pet.

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Possibly the greatest cops and robbers of all time is Michael Mann’s Heat (Saturday 9.05pm RTE2). A veteran LA Detective Hanna (Al Pacino) is on the trail of a high level thief McCauley (Robert De Niro).

They are two middle aged, weary opponents, more alike than they would wish, or even admit to themselves.

The effect their “jobs” have on their lives and relationships is telling, but essentially, their way of life is all they know, and it draws them back no matter what, McCauley, the meticulous mastermind, Hanna the guy who has to try and anticipate the next move.

The screenplay of complex dialogue, action scenes and character interaction is a credit to writer/director Michael Mann.  The performances are uniformly brilliant; especially the two leads but so ably backed up by Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd and Amy Brenneman among others which make this a film not to be missed.

Armando Iannucci has a unique style and view as writer, director and performer in so many mediums, but most especially as a film director notably in this political satire The Death of Stalin (Monday 9.30pm TG4).

It is Moscow 1953. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) has died after thirty years of power, somewhat inconveniently in the view of his cronies who are all making a bid for position and influence, such as Khrushchev (Steve Buscemi), Beria (Simon Russell Beale), Zhukov (Jason Isaacs) and Molotov (Michael Palin). Enjoy and stay safe.

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