Rourke's drunken triumph

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 August, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 August, 1993, 12:00am

HOLIDAY viewing is made up of the usual mish-mash of old music specials and beauty pageants that are well passed their sell-by date, and old movies - though at least among the latter there's a couple of gems.

ONE of those is Barfly (World 9.30pm, Original Running Time 97 mins), a hugely enjoyable foray into LA's low-life with Mickey Rourke giving the performance of his career as boozy, would-be macho, wreck Henry Chimaski.

He's a virtual resident of seedy bar the Golden Horn, through whose dingy, smoke-filled portals comes blousy old trout Wanda (Faye Dunaway, excellent in her most unglamorous role to date).

They pair off and try for a few days of normal life before returning gratefully to the safety of a beer glass.

Enter beautiful literary agent Tully (Alice Krige) who's convinced from Rourke's writings that this bum is a genius and that he will free her from her own gilded cage.

Cult fave Charles Bukowski wrote the script, and Barbet Schroeder's direction perfectly reflects its desperately wretched but humorous mood. Stick with it, it's a classic.

THE other gem, for viewers with STAR, is Rob Reiner's wickedly accurate parody of a rock documentary This is Spinal Tap (STAR Plus 8.30pm, ORT 82 mins).

Filmed in cinema verite, Reiner himself plays director Marty Di Bergi who's chronicling the American tour of has-been British rock band Spinal Tap.

Our ageing rockers spout every cliche from the music biz world: the trials of being on the road, personal tensions within the group - particularly when the lead singer's awful girlfriend joins the tour, groupies and over-blown egos.

Favourite moments: the stone arch that descends not so majestically to the stage and the amp that goes to 11. Watch it and laugh yourself silly.

YOUNGER viewers are not left out this holiday, Harry and the Hendersons (Pearl 9.30pm, ORT 110mins) should keep them happy, though more aged persons may find it a tad too cloying.

The Henderson family encounter a Bigfoot-type creature in the woods and take it home, believing it to be dead. It revives and proceeds to wreck their home, but turns out to be a surprisingly friendly chap. All goes well until the neighbours find out and set out to hunt Harry down.

Steven Spielberg's company produced this, and it shows (ET often comes to mind). On the down side, it's too long, but the presence of John Lithgow is a big plus factor.

THERE'S live coverage of the first day's tennis at the 1993 US Open Championships in Flushing Meadow on Prime Sports (11pm). The channel will cover the event right through to the finals. Stefan Edberg retained the Men's Singles title last year by defeating Pete Sampras in four sets. The Women's crown went to Monica Seles who beat Arantxa Sanchez.

Brian Langley will present Prime's coverage, while Vijay Amritraj provides the expert analysis.

THIS month's China Business Report (Pearl 7.20pm) investigates Brilliance China Automotive, the first mainland enterprise to defy both government and worker criticism and list its shares in New York.

It also looks at Hong Kong's unit trust industry, specifically in the light of the recent move by two mainland banks, under the Bank of China group, to distribute funds at their branches in the territory. The report asks why they became involved in an industry that in the past has lagged behind other forms of investment.