Screen Grabs: best of the small screen

GAMES
STARLINK: BATTLE FOR ATLAS
PS4, SWITCH, XBOX ONE

Hoping to fill the void left by toys-to-life franchises like Skylanders, Starlink is a massive open-world space adventure that lets you build your own ships by physically attaching components to your controller. In the game, Mason and his crew pilot experimental transforming ships in the wild frontier star system Atlas. Flying around and engaging enemies in the air and on the ground feels great, there are plenty of quests to embark on and upgrades to earn, and, impressively, you can fly straight out of one planet, through space and into the atmosphere of another. Your rig is made up of a pilot, ship, wings and guns, all with different in-game properties, and it's fun to swap out components on the fly. Some parts even light up. But while you can play the whole game with what comes in the box, it gets more interesting as you buy additional items (either at a physical store or via download). The Switch version prominently features ships and characters from Nintendo's own Star Fox series, which makes it the definitive way to play. TB

FREE-TO-AIR
BARRENJOEY ROAD, ABC, OCTOBER 30, 8.30PM.

Starlink

Starlink

This three-part crime series (a TV version of ABC's Unravel: True Crime podcast) investigates the 40-year-old cold case of missing teenager Trudie Adams, who was last seen hitchhiking outside the Newport Surf Club in Sydney's northern beaches. The 18-year-old was just a five-minute drive from home, but she never returned – and despite the biggest missing persons search in NSW at the time, her remains have never been found. Soon after Trudie's disappearance, amid rumours of boyfriend problems, and potential involvement with drug-runners, a number of young women came forward to report being taken from the same area and brutally sexually assaulted; there were even suspects, but none were fully investigated or charged. Reporters Ruby Jones and Neil Mercer go over the original case – which has been re-opened by police (who refused ABC access to their files) three times since 1978 – in the hope of trying to uncover new facts from the mass of contradictory evidence from the original investigation. Mercer, who began investigating Sydney's underworld shortly after Trudie's disappearance, hopes some of his connections might help; more than a missing persons case, it seems Trudie's disappearance may have had links to police corruption, drug deals, multiple murders and sex assaults against women. It is grim but compelling viewing (despite lots of padding with repetitive re-enactments), that demands you stick with all three episodes. KN

FILM
HERMIA AND HELENA (KANOPY) UNRATED

A still from the film Hermia and Helena.

A still from the film Hermia and Helena.

The Argentinian writer-director Matias Pineiro makes films for a certain type of connoisseur: those who like puzzles, literary allusions, and open-ended stories about the mixed-up love lives of the over-educated. This quasi-comedy is the latest in a series of loose riffs on Shakespeare, following its heroine Camila (Agustina Munoz) from Buenos Aires to New York, where she is due to spend a year working on a translation of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Leaping between the two cities and back and forth in time, the film hinges on a series of enigmatic conversations in which characters often seem in doubt about their own motives and intentions. Answers of a kind are provided when Camila makes contact with a crucial figure from her past, played by the US critic and director Dan Sallitt, whose screen presence has some of the muted intensity of his own writing and films. But many of Pineiro's stylistic flourishes are plainly there to be enjoyed for their own sake: superimpositions, visual rhymes and wandering camera movements that suggest the many ways life can distract us from a predetermined goal. JW

STREAMING
DEUTSCHLAND 86, STAN (NEW EPISODES EVERY SATURDAY)

The follow-up to the compelling 2016 German-American Cold War spy drama Deutschland 83, this new instalment (following many of the same characters) is set in 1986, as communism is crumbling. Undercover spy Martin Rauch (Jonas Nay) has been banished for his sins to Angola to work at a German-run orphanage, while his glamorous aunt Lenora (Maria Schrader), a Stasi handler, is living in Cape Town, and has been tasked with selling weapons to apartheid-dominated South Africa, (weapons which have, ironically, been manufactured in West Germany) as the GDR government flirts with capitalism and the need for foreign currency to prop up its economy. Lenora recruits a reluctant Martin to help, bribing him with the promise of a return to Germany and a chance to see the young son he has never met. His dangerous mission to help save East Germany takes him to South Africa, Libya, Angola and Paris. Once again the beautifully shot action is played out to a pitch-perfect mid-'80s pop soundtrack (and hyper-stylised production design and clothing) and a backdrop of '80s geopolitics; this season is as much about Germany and changes behind the Iron Curtain as it is about the rise of resistance in Africa. KN

CULT
CHRISTINE (SONY) M

A still from the 1983 horror film Christine.

A still from the 1983 horror film Christine.

The idea of a disturbed teenager who falls in love with a evil vintage car might sound silly even by the standards of Stephen King, but this premise was perfectly matched to the minimalist genius of Halloween director John Carpenter, whose approach to horror entails positioning the camera as a malignant machine hunting the characters down. Carpenter's 1983 adaptation of King's novel is as stylishly streamlined as all his work, combining rock'n'roll energy with bluntness about male adolescent hang-ups. Convinced of his inability to attract girls, the downtrodden protagonist Arnie (Keith Gordon) treats his cherished Plymouth Fury as a superior alternative, shrugging off the concerns of his well-meaning best friend (John Stockwell), whose possible gayness adds an extra complication to the subtext. Lethal consequences ensue, allowing the film to be taken either as a clear-eyed portrait of arrested development or as a wilfully irresponsible fantasy of a nerd's revenge. In the end, though, there's little doubt where Carpenter's sympathies lie – especially as Arnie's antisocial impulses and mechanical gifts make him spiritual kin to many a budding filmmaker. JW

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