Film on TV: 2-7 December

Sorry I missed the first couple of days of this week. I’m finally learning what it’s like to take work home over the weekends. And can you believe it’s already December?!

Tuesday, December 2

4:00pm / 3:00pm – IFC – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Or, Tom Stoppard turns Shakespeare on its ear and comes up with a fantastic play that’s equal parts absurdity, humor, existential philosophy, and pathos. I don’t think the movie version is quite as good as the play, but it’s a good start. Then go read and see the play.

4:00pm / 3:00pm – Sundance – Fahrenheit 451
Francois Truffaut’s first (only?) English-language film is this adaptation of Bradbury’s classic dystopian novel. Interestingly, it sort of takes a similar interperative tack as Bradbury himself recently has, emphasizing the omnipresent screen’s threat to written culture rather than censorship.
(repeats 12:00 NOON EST on the 6th)

Wednesday, December 3

6:00pm / 5:00pm – TCM – Captain Blood
The first of eight films Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland made together, and it remains one of the best adventure movies of all time. A doctor gets forced into the life of a pirate after being wrongfully exiled from England. “Blood” happens to be his name rather than a descriptor of his ways, but hey.

8:00pm / 7:00pm – TCM – Great Expectations (1946)
I haven’t seen David Lean’s highly respected version of Dickens’ novel. Neither have I read the novel. Dickens and me are not a particularly happy combination. But the film has a great reputation, and I may have to overcome my Dickens apathy at some point and watch it.

1:45am / 12:45am (4th) – Sundance – Oldboy
Oldboy is about to be remade by Steven Spielberg and Will Smith. This is a huge mistake, so see the original Korean film before that happens. A man is inexplicably locked up in a room for several years then just as inexplicably released, at which point he seeks revenge. A bloody and at times disturbing film, but with an underlying thoughtfulness that sets it apart.

Thursday, December 4

10:00am / 9:00am – TCM – Rio Grande
The last in John Ford’s series of John Wayne-starring Cavalry trilogy, and possibly the best. Not least of which because it also stars Wayne’s most capable costar, Maureen O’Hara.

10:15am / 9:15am – IFC – The Princess and the Warrior
Tom Tykwer’s follow-up to Run Lola Run also stars Franka Potente, and is just as mesmerizing, but in a far less frenetic way. Run Lola Run holds you with its techno-inspired energy, while The Princess and the Warrior entrances with its slower, dreamlike tempo. It never gained the traction that Lola did, which is a shame.
(repeats at 4:15pm and 5:45am on the 5th EST)

Friday, December 5

8:00am / 7:00am – IFC – The Pianist
I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t make it all the way through this Holocaust film – nothing against the film itself, I just wasn’t at a time in my life that I could do Holocaust films. I might give it another go at this point, as the film that brought Roman Polanksi back into America’s good graces, earning Oscars for him and Adrian Brody.

1:45pm / 12:45pm – TCM – Anatomy of a Murder
Classic courtroom drama has Jimmy Stewart facing off with George C. Scott in a case of rape/murder/self-defense that may not be quite what it seems. The jazz score is a special highlight.

5:05pm / 4:05pm – IFC – Gosford Park
Robert Altman moves his signature ensemble films to England, detailing a murder case at an aristocratic estate, complete with a penetrating investigation of class relations. Lots of great roles in here, as you expect from Altman.

8:00pm / 7:00pm – TCM – Meet Me in St. Louis
It’s the 1903 World’s Fair. It’s Judy Garland. It’s Vincente Minnelli. It’s nostalgic Americana at its best. What more do you want?

9:30pm / 8:30pm – IFC – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
The film that started the influx of Chinese action films into the United States. I honestly like some of Zhang Yimou’s later lyric actioners more than Ang Lee’s film, but this is a good place to start.
(repeats 5:50am EST on the 6th)

Saturday, December 6

8:00pm / 7:00pm – TCM – Swing Time
Many people call Swing Time the best of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals, and it’s certainly up there. Frothy story? Check. Jerome Kern music? Check. Fantastic dances? Check. Of course.

11:15pm / 10:15pm – TCM – Kitty Foyle
Ginger Rogers won an Oscar for this film, which sounds like a good sign. It’s not necessarily, because honestly? This is not Ginger’s style, and today the film is more a curio of now-passe Hollywood cliches.

1:15am / 12:15am (7th) – TCM – Bachelor Mother
THIS is Ginger’s style. I don’t know who gave her the idea that she should be a dramatic actress, because comedy is where she shines. Specifically 1930s comedy, like this one of a wisecracking department store employee who comforts a baby on some orphanage steps and can’t convince the orphanage workers (and soon, her boss David Niven) that it’s not hers and ends up stuck with it. I love this movie, and more people need to see it.

4:30am / 3:30am (7th) – TCM – Paper Moon
Peter Bogdanovich did 1950s tragic nostalgia in The Last Picture Show, and here he takes on depression-era comic nostalgia. Real-life father-daughter actors Ryan and Tatum O’Neal play a con man and the kid he picks up to help him with his hits. Throw in the brilliant Madeline Kahn, and you have a film I want to watch again right now.

Sunday, December 7

10:00am / 9:00am – TCM – Little Women (1933)
TCM’s really hitting the nostalgia hard this week – Sunday is all about the movies I loved as a kid. This first sound version of Little Women has a young Katharine Hepburn in the lead, along with a roll-call of great 1930s starlets and character actors. It’s a bit wooden compared to the 1994 version, but it’s got a lot of charm nonetheless, and it’s a personal favorite of mine.

11:00am / 10:00am – IFC – The New World
IFC has been playing this like twice a week, so if you haven’t seen Terrence Malick’s gorgeous cinematic tone poem disguised as an adventure epic, it’s your own fault. Because I’m going to stop pointing it out every week.
(repeats 5:45am EST 8th)

1:45pm / 12:45pm – TCM – Swiss Family Robinson
I’m sure I saw this as a kid (who didn’t), but I don’t remember it very well, except for the awesome tree house, which I may be remembering from Disney World. So I’m looking foward to revisiting it.

6:15pm / 5:15pm – TCM – Old Yeller
I wore my tape of Old Yeller out, I swear.

8:00pm / 7:00pm – TCM – The Parent Trap
Aw, Hayley Mills. Yeah, I have nothing intelligent to say about any of these films. You all know them, I’m sure, but here’s a chance to introduce your kids to them if you haven’t already.

10:15pm / 9:15pm – TCM – Pollyanna
Ditto above.

12:30am / 11:30pm – IFC – Trainspotting
Wow, from Pollyanna to Trainspotting. I think my brain might explode on that one. Danny Boyle’s film about a group of Scottish heroin addicts (including a breakout role for Ewan McGregor) is about as far from cheerful Pollyanna-land as you can get, but it’s nonetheless brilliant. Hard to watch, maybe. But brilliant.