PHILIP Kaufman's second excursion into literary erotica achieved some notoriety in the United States for being the first film to be released with the 17 rating, which replaced the dreaded X rating in 1990. The couplings in Henry & June (World, 9.30pm) - and there are many of them - are no more explicit than those in any film that doesn't star Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan. Pedro Almodovar, Bernardo Bertolucci and Nagisa Oshima are all raunchier, proving that while no one (except Hong Kong) can match Hollywood for gratuitous violence, when it comes to sex, the American film industry is still stuck somewhere back in the Victorian era. Henry Miller, the film's subject, would undoubtedly have been delighted with the furore. Though published in 1934, his first novel, Tropic of Cancer, could not be legally distributed in the US or in most other English-speaking countries until 1961. Henry & June is concerned partly with the writing of that book, which Miller worked on while living in Paris in 1932. Copulation aside, the film starts with Miller (Fred Ward) being sent to France by his wife (Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction ), a former dancer who has been supporting her husband's writing on her earnings as another man's mistress. The purpose of the trip is twofold: to get Miller away from distractions in New York so he can finish the novel, and to allow June, a bisexual, more time to frolic with her lady friends. The screenplay, by Kaufman and his wife, Rose, is based on the legendary diaries of Anais Nin, an aspiring literary critic given to flights of fancy. She chafes at her mundane existence and longs for a more bohemian life and a big, swarthy lover. Enter the big, swarthy Miller. Nin starts her diary the day she meets him with the simple statement: 'I've met Mr Henry Miller.' She then embarked on one of the century's most complex and liberating affairs, recording her antics with Miller in brutal detail. There is still, however, argument over her reliability as a source. In one confirmed incident, a professor stiffly kissed her and fondled her during a meeting, and in her diary she turned the indiscretion into a gruelling session of coitus of the kind even Miller might have found shocking. TOMMY Lee Jones makes a good psychopath, but not such a good child psychologist. In House of Cards (Pearl, 9.30pm), also known as Before I Wake, he is Dr Jacob Beerlander, a specialist trying to treat a child he believes is autistic. The mother (Kathleen Turner) is having none of it. When her daughter builds a five-foot-tall house of cards, she sees it as an attempt to communicate and starts a battle with Beerlander to do things her own way. This is all very worthy, but does not make particularly great entertainment. The relationship between Turner and Jones is such that it could not set a match on fire. Michael Lassac, the man behind television's Taxi and Newhart, directed. THERE are some laughs to be had from Passed Away (World, 12.55am), but you will have to pay attention. A good cast includes Bob Hoskins, Pamela Reed, Blair Brown and Tim Curry (currently starring in Earth 2 on World). They are members of a dysfunctional Irish-American family whose members meet for the first time in years when dad (Jack Warden) unexpectedly goes to his reward. FILMS on Cable Movie Channel: Backfire (7pm). Complicated plot with several surprises is best not revealed here, though it does involve screwed-up Vietnam vet Jeff Fahey, his wrong-side-of-the-tracks wife (Karen Allen) and a mysterious drifter (Keith Carradine). Familiar story, but well-acted with a fair amount of suspense. Nice Canadian locations. Come From China (9pm). Gang warfare between mainlanders and Hong Kongers. The Hong Kongers win, after much flailing of machetes and the usual high quota of martial arts. Directed in 1992 by Po Tak-hang. Chin Siu-ho stars. If you've seen one, you've seen 'em all.