Entertainment

Screen grabs: The best of the small screen

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GAMES
BATTLE CHASERS NIGHTWAR
SWITCH
Based on a popular '90s comic book and taking inspiration from Japanese role-playing games of a similar era, Battle Chasers Nightwar has the potential to be incredibly esoteric and niche. But instead, thanks to brilliant art and some very smart tweaks to the turn-based formula, it's one of the most refreshing and accessible modern RPGs around. Having released late last year for PC and other consoles, Nightwar's generic-sounding name has seen it sadly overlooked, but its arrival on Switch offers a second chance, and the portability of the console serves the game very well. The western comic style of the characters and narrative makes for a grittier, less convoluted game than is common for Final Fantasy-style affairs, and innovations in the battling and crafting systems keep things feeling active despite the need to grind occasionally to power up. Interesting randomised dungeon designs are perfect for playing multiple times (you can up the difficulty level for greater rewards), and the gorgeous animation, painterly world and excellent music set this game apart on a system rapidly amassing quality RPGs. TB

FREE-TO-AIR
CAN A SCIENTIST BELIEVE?
ABC, MAY 19, 6PM

New Danish series The Rain.

Photo: Supplied

Ahead of next week's Guinness World Record attempt for the most people stargazing during the Stargazing Live event, ABC has a line-up of related programming this month, including this Compass special exploring the relationship between science and religion. Host Kumi Taguchi meets some of the world's leading scientists (recently in Brisbane for the World Science Festival), to discuss whether scientists can also have a religious faith. The interviews are surprising, for those who adhere to both sides of the debate. While the more militant atheists (hello Richard Dawkins) are completely dismissive of religion and science being in any way complementary, some of the interviewees here, like US astronomer Dr Jennifer Wiseman, reconcile deep faith with science. Wiseman, a senior project scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope, sees science as "a tool to understand nature, for which, I believe, God is responsible for". And she's not alone – even as our understanding of astronomy, genetics and neuroscience evolves, the scientific community at the forefront of these advancements has many members who believe the two are complementary. KN

DVD
THE 15:17 TO PARIS (Roadshow) M

Compass host Kumi Taguchi with scientist Brian Greene, Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University.

Photo: Supplied

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One of the most remarkable films to come out of Hollywood in years, Clint Eastwood's latest docudrama is both a unique experiment and a restatement of a question that has long obsessed him: what does it mean to call someone a hero? The heroes, in this case, are Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, three young guys from Sacramento who successfully halted a terrorist attack while on holiday in Europe. In a radical move, Eastwood has them play themselves, achieving a documentary authenticity that goes beyond conventional notions of good and bad acting. On the surface, these dudes couldn't be more ordinary – so where did they find the uncommon strength and courage that allowed them to save the day? The film's answer doubles as Eastwood's own declaration of principles, presented in a wilfully no-frills style that stresses contemplation as much as action. Every scene is shaped to teach a specific moral lesson, including the touristic vignettes in which these innocents abroad – blithe invaders armed with selfie sticks – are confronted with the weight of European history from the Colosseum to Hitler. JW

STREAMING
THE RAIN, NETFLIX, SEASON ONE AVAILABLE NOW

A novel take on the post-apocalyptic/zombie genre, this Danish series posits the concept that what would normally save human life is now lethal – in this case, water. A brutal virus carried by rain has wiped out almost all civilisation throughout Scandinavia. Danish siblings Simone (Alba August) and Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen) were safe in a state-of-the-art bunker their father (Lars Simonsen) had built for reasons that remain unclear – he didn't have enough time to reveal much before he headed out into The Rain himself, after dragging his kids out of school in a wild panic as storms approached. He did leave one tantalising clue behind though – that Rasmus holds a clue to the mysterious virus. Six years after his and their mother's (quite harrowing) death, Simone and Rasmus emerge from the bunker to find very little human life left – aside, it seems, from teenagers. They join a group of other young survivors and at this point things take a decidedly YA turn – young survivors free of societal rules, coming-of-age in a new world – but it's still an entertaining premise, and a nice twist on the well-worn zombie theme. And being Scandi, even post-civilisation remains effortlessly stylish. KN

CULT
RAISING CAIN (Shock) M

Battle Chasers Nightwar.

Photo: Supplied

One of Brian de Palma's zaniest films, this 1992 thriller holds out the promise of a total escape from reality into another, giddier world. Trauma and abuse may figure heavily in the plot, but nothing need be taken too seriously – not with John Lithgow at his most joyously hammy in the dual role of family man Dr Carter Nix and his chain-smoking shadow self Cain, whose crimes seem to compensate for the torments inflicted by Carter's own crazed father (Lithgow again). The premise owes more than a little to Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, but the show-off tracking shots and narrative fake-outs are pure De Palma. So too is the reliance on distancing devices, in a double sense: absurdist touches that challenge our belief in the fiction, and literal machines, like a baby monitor hooked up to a TV set, that allow the characters maximum opportunity for voyeurism. As always with De Palma, the ultimate distancing device is the movie camera itself: while the silliness is unrelenting, a suspicion remains that the hijinks might give way to genuine horror if he let himself get too close. JW

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