Saturday, October 11, 2003
Alex Kingston ("ER") looks great when she's filthy. She played an unforgettable "Moll Flanders" a few years back, and spent most of that film covered in grime. She turns in an equally terrific and mud-spattered performance in "Warrior Queen" on "Masterpiece Theatre" (8 p.m. Sunday, PBS). Kingston brings great passion to the role as Britain's legendary first-century Queen Boudica, the raven-haired, cudgel-wielding beauty that united rival Celtic tribes to challenge Rome's mighty armies.
Lovely, if bloody, to behold, "Queen" also features a sophisticated screenplay. Screenwriter Andrew Davies mixes rousing speeches with curiously contemporary vernacular to create a slyly subversive statement about modern imperial adventures.
Fans of "Masterpiece Theatre" should also enjoy this story's overlap with "I, Claudius."
- "Misery" meets "Deathtrap" in the mystery "Footsteps" (8 p.m. Sunday, CBS), based on a play by Ira Levin ("Rosemary's Baby"). Candice Bergen stars as a fragile author of best-selling thrillers. Just when she thinks she's regained enough gumption to spend the night alone in her huge house, she finds herself face-to-face with a deranged fan (Bug Hall) and a tough-guy savior (Bryan Brown) who is not what he first seems.
It's a good thing she can reach her wimpy husband (Michael Murphy) on her cell phone. Or is it? Fans of good, old-fashioned whodunits might enjoy this claustrophobic thriller, but the "Footsteps" moved too slowly for my taste.
- A dreadful actor thinks he's gotten the leading part in the movie "Windy City Heat" (8 p.m. Sunday, Comedy Central). But the "film" and its production are really an elaborate practical joke directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. "Heat" is as unwatchable as it is unfunny.
- Deluded manager and self-described "comedian" David Brent (Ricky Gervais) gets off to a painfully awkward start with his newly merged staff as the excruciating and hilarious British comedy "The Office" (8 p.m. Sunday, BBC America) returns for a second season.
- Tom Hanks' voice stars in the 1995 Pixar cartoon fantasy "Toy Story" (7 p.m. today, ABC). He also stars in the moody, atmospheric depression-era crime-drama "Road to Perdition" (7 p.m. today, HBO). While slow and seemingly conscious of its own importance, the film is simply gorgeous to watch thanks to the Oscar-winning cinematography by the late Conrad Hall.
- Fans of visually arresting movies could do worse than "Far from Heaven" (8 p.m. today, Starz), director Todd Haynes' 2002 homage to the Technicolor melodramas of 1950s director Douglas Sirk. Julianne Moore stars as a "broad-minded" suburban housewife whose overt friendship with a black gardener (Dennis Haysbert, "24") shocks her Connecticut neighbors. Meanwhile, her hard-drinking junior executive husband (Dennis Quaid) wrestles with his latent, not-so-repressed homosexuality. Despite this potboiler plot, "Heaven" remains a curiously flat celebration of style over substance.