Monday, May 7
10:00pm – TCM – West Side Story
I unabashedly love musicals, Shakespeare, and stylized choreography. Hence, I love West Side Story. I wish Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood were a little more interesting as the leads, but the supporting cast is electrifying enough that it doesn’t much matter, especially with Bernstein and Sondheim music and Jerome Robbins choreography.
1961 USA. Director: Richard Wise & Jerome Robbins. Starring: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, Rita Moreno.
12:15am (8th) – IFC – From Hell
Johnny Depp takes on the role of a troubled Victorian police detective on the trail of Jack the Ripper in this adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel. Not quite as memorable as one would hope, but worth a watch.
2001 USA. Directors: Albert and Allen Hughes. Starring: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane.
Tuesday, May 8
4:15pm – TCM – An American in Paris
Expat artist Gene Kelly in Paris meets Leslie Caron and woos her away from rival Georges Guetarey, all set to Gershwin music and directed with panache by Vincente Minnelli. All that plus Kelly’s ground-breaking fifteen-plus-minute ballet to the title piece.
1951 USA. Director: Vincente Minnelli. Starring: Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron, Oscar Levant, Georges Guetarey.
8:00pm – IFC – Layer Cake
Sounds like an unusual title for a crime film, but it’s also an unusually solid crime film, with Daniel Craig in one of his breakthrough roles as a drug dealer given a couple of tough jobs just before planning to retire. Last jobs never go well, so you can kind of predict all won’t go as planned.
2004 UK. Director: Matthew Vaughn. Starring: Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy, Sally Hawkins, Burn Gorman.
1:15am (9th) – IFC – The Thin Red Line
Breaking Terrence Malick’s twenty-year filmmaking silence since 1978′s Days of Heaven, this film applies his contemplative and poetic view of the world to a WWII story. It remains a favorite among Malick fans, and an interesting counterpoint to Spielberg’s action-oriented Saving Private Ryan, released the same year.
1998 USA. Director: Terrence Malick. Starring: Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, Elias Koteas, Ben Chaplin.
2:45am (9th) – Sundance – Certified Copy
A fascinating inquiry into the ideas of originals and copies, and whether a copy can have as much (or more) value than an original – sounds like a stuffy documentary, but it’s one of the most human stories I’ve seen, as Kiarostami deftly shifts the philosophical discussions of the first half into an examination of a marriage that may or may not be real. Bolstered by an incredibly subtle and genuine performance from Juliette Binoche, this is that rare film that expanded both my mind and emotions by the end.
2010 France. Director: Abbas Kiarostami. Starring: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell.
3:15am (9th) – TCM – Spartacus
An historical epic of a Greek slave rebellion brought to the screen by the passion and personal investment of Kirk Douglas, but with some of the stylistic flair of director Stanley Kubrick (still relatively early in his career). Lots of great actors fill out the supporting parts with scenery-chewing glee, making every scene a whole lot of fun to watch – but there are a whole lot of scenes, and it does kind of drag by the end.
1960 USA. Director: Stanley Kubrick. Starring: Kirk Douglas, Jean Simmons, Laurence Olivier, Tony Curtis, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, John Gavin, Nina Foch.
Wednesday, May 9
6:00am – IFC – Caché
Very deliberate but intensely thought-provoking film from director Michael Haneke, delving into issues from privacy and surveillance to war guilt and revenge. It’s a difficult film, and one that stretches the limits of the suspense thriller, but if you’re willing to go along with it, it’s well worthwhile.
2005 France. Director: Michael Haneke. Starring: Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou.
(repeats at 12:15pm)
1:30pm – TCM – The Adventures of Robin Hood
I will state almost categorically that this is the greatest adventure film ever made. Maybe it’s a dead heat between this one and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Errol Flynn is Robin Hood, Olivia de Havilland is Maid Marion, a whole raft of fantastic character actors fill out the rest of the cast, and it’s all done in gorgeous Technicolor (it’s one of the earliest Technicolor films).
1938 USA. Directors: William Keighley & Michael Curtiz. Starring: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains, Basil Rathbone, Eugene Pallette, Alan Hale, Patric Knowles, Una O’Connor.
8:00pm – TCM – The Most Dangerous Game
A madman intentionally shipwrecks boats on his island so that he can hunt the castaways – a dangerous game of survival indeed. The classic precursor to any number of “human-hunting” and killing/survival films right up to The Hunger Games, with a Pre-Code flair to it.
1932 USA. Director: Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack. Starring: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Leslie Banks, Noble Johnson.
8:00pm – Sundance – Heartbeats
The second film from wunderkind Xavier Dolan isn’t quite as impressive as his debut I Killed My Mother, but it’s still a really enjoyable watch, with two best friends silently fighting over the androgynous object of both their affection. It’s stylized as all get out, but there’s a fair bit of depth beneath its New Wave-inspired superficial veneer.
2010 Canada. Director: Xavier Dolan. Starring: Xavier Dolan, Monia Chokri, Niel Schneider.
(repeats at 9:45pm)
9:30pm – TCM – Foreign Correspondent
An extremely solid if not much talked about Hitchcock film, only his second made in the United States. However, it has much in common with his 1930s British work, as Joel McCrea plays a reporter who gets embroiled in an espionage plot that far outstrips the secret treaty he was assigned to cover. Well worth a watch, especially for Hitchcock fans, but as spy thrillers in general go, it’s pretty great.
1940 USA. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring: Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders, Robert Benchley.
Thursday, May 10
7:45am – IFC – Away from Her
A very strong directing debut film from actress Sarah Polley, about an older woman (Julie Christie) suffering from Alzheimer’s and her husband’s difficulty in dealing with essentially the loss of his wife as she has more and more difficulty remembering their life together. It’s a lovely, heartbreaking film, bolstered by great understated performances.
2006 Canada. Director: Sarah Polley. Starring: Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent, Olympia Dukakis, Stacey LaBerge.
(repeats at 2:15pm)
11:30pm – TCM – I Want to Live!
Susan Hayward won an Oscar for her portrayal of Barbara Graham, who was convicted of murder and executed in 1955. The rather fictionalized film strongly suggests Graham was innocent and becomes an argument against capital punishment, but political propaganda or no, it’s still a strong performance from Hayward, and an intriguing comparison to real life and the way popular culture can spin reality for its own purposes.
1958 USA. Director: Robert Wise. Starring: Susan Hayward, Simon Oakland, Virginia Vincent, Theodore Bikel.
4:15am (11th) – Sundance – My Winnipeg
Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin is a favorite around my other haunt, Row Three, and here he brings an experimental and personal look at his hometown of Winnipeg. This is the most accessible Maddin film I’ve seen yet, and a great entry point into his style, fusing primitive cinema techniques with a fever-dream narrative drive.
2007 Canada. Director: Guy Maddin. Starring: Darcy Fehr, Ann Savage, Amy Stewart, Louis Negin.
Friday, May 11
8:00pm – TCM – Bedazzled
One of the best films of the British mod era, a comedic take on Faust with Dudley Moore a socially inept guy infatuated with the unattainable (to him) Eleanor Bron – granted seven wishes by Satan (Peter Cook), he tries to wish his way to her, but somehow fails hilariously every time.
1967 USA. Director: Stanley Donen. Starring: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron.
8:00pm – IFC – Die Hard
All John McClane wants to do is get home for Christmas. But plans change, especially when a bunch of terrorists take over his wife’s office building and McClane has to take them out almost singlehandedly. And give us one of the best action movies ever made.
1988 USA. Director: John McTiernan. Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
(repeats at 10:45pm)
Saturday, May 12
6:00am – IFC – The Others
Creepy atmospheric horror is one of my favorite things, and The Others does that extremely well, spinning its tale of a WWII mother and children left in a lonely mansion on a British island. Add in some unique elements like the fact that the children’s rare light allergy requires the house to be always blanketed in gloom and the strange hallucinations (or are they?) that the family starts experiencing, and it only gets better. Nicole Kidman is great here, doing her best Grace Kelly imitation (at least until she plays Kelly in an upcoming film).
2001 USA. Director: Alejandro Amenabar. Starring: Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston, Fionnula Flanagan.
(repeats at 3:45pm)
1:15pm – TCM – Bringing Up Baby
Poor Cary Grant just can’t get away from delightfully ditzy Katharine Hepburn, especially after her dog steals his museum’s priceless dinosaur bone. Oh, and after her pet leopard escapes (and a dangerous zoo leopard escapes at the same time). Incredible situation follows incredible situation in this zaniest of all screwball comedies.
1938 USA. Director: Howard Hawks. Starring: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, May Robson, Barry Fitzgerald.
4:15pm – TCM – Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
Interracial marriage may not be quite the hot topic now that it was in 1967, but at the time, Katharine Houghton bringing home Sidney Poitier to meet her parents Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy (in his last film) was the height of socially conscious filmmaking.
1967 USA. Director: Stanley Kramer. Starring: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Katharine Houghton, Cecil Kellaway.
6:15pm – TCM – Adam’s Rib
Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn take on the battle of the sexes as married lawyers on opposite sides of an assault case involving gender politics. It’s a great movie in dialogue and acting, and still interesting for the 1949 view of women struggling for even basic equality. Some of its approach to gender may be a bit strange today, but…that’s why it’s interesting.
1949 USA. Director: George Cukor. Starring: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell, Jean Hagen, Gig Young
8:00pm – TCM – Diabolique
In Henri-Georges Clouzot’s thriller, a man’s wife and mistress plot together to murder him (gee, I wonder why?), but find it more difficult than they expected to get rid of him for good. Twisty turny gem of a thriller with a few terrifying moments.
1955 France. Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot. Starring: Simone Signoret, Vera Clouzot, Paul Meurisse.
8:00pm – Sundance – Blue Velvet
I’ll be honest, this is not one of my favorite David Lynch films. There are a lot of things I like about it. The unsettling take on suburbia, the gorgeously disturbing photography, the kids playing detective, the severed ear, you know, the normal Lynch stuff. But then it just gets to be too cruel for me. Still, it’s a Lynch classic, and you oughta see it. And I oughta see it again, see if my opinion has changed.
1986 USA. Director: David Lynch. Starring: Kyle McLachlan, Laura Dern, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper.
(repeats at 12:00M)
2:15am (13th) – TCM – Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Robert Donat won an Oscar for the title role here, over some pretty stiff competition from James Stewart, Clark Gable, and others. Time has been less kind to this film than its competitors, but it still has some charm, especially in the subcategory of memorable teacher films. Plus, a quite young Greer Garson lends her considerable charisma.
1939 UK. Director: Sam Wood. Starring: Robert Donat, Greer Garson, John Mills, Paul Henreid.
4:15am (13th) – TCM – Au revoir, les enfatns
A new boy arrives at a French school and becomes close friends with one of the French boys. But it’s the early 1940s and the new boy turns out to be Jewish, and hiding from the Nazis. Louis Malle directs this achingly lovely portrait of schoolboy friendship in an uncertain time.
1987 France. Director: Louis Malle. Starring: Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fejtö, Francine Racette.
Sunday, May 13
3:00pm – TCM – Mrs. Miniver
One of the more celebrated World War II home front films has Greer Garson in an Oscar-winning turn as the stalwart title character, holding her home together against the German Blitz. It’s the kind of movie that could only be made in 1942, and it won awards all over the place. It comes off a bit over-earnest today, though.
1942 USA. Director: William Wyler. Starring: Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright.
8:00pm – TCM – Stella Dallas
I tend to prize Barbara Stanwyck most for her sparkling comedic performances, but she did her fair share of melodramas, and Stella Dallas remains one of the best. Stanwyck is the title character, a working class girl who marries above her class, leading to various problems and heartbreak. It’s a three-hanky film, but a pretty solid one.
1937 USA. Director: King Vidor. Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Anne Shirley.
10:00pm – TCM – Mildred Pierce
In quite probably Joan Crawford’s best role (only perhaps excepting her catty “other woman” in The Women), she plays a woman trying to work her way up in the world from lowly waitress to entrepreneur, all the while dealing with her shrew of a daughter. Melodrama isn’t a particularly prized genre these days, but films like Mildred Pierce show how good melodramas can be with the right confluence of studio style, director, and star.
1945 USA. Director: Michael Curtiz. Starring: Joan Crawford, Zachary Scott, Ann Blyth, Eve Arden.
2:00am (14th) – TCM – Autumn Sonata
One of Ingmar Bergman’s most acclaimed films (and the only time he worked with his non-related name-sharer Ingrid Bergman), a chamber drama with pianist Ingrid visiting her long-neglected daughter only to discover that her other daughter, who she’d placed in a mental institution, is staying there, too. Long-pent-up feelings erupt.
1978 Sweden. Director: Ingmar Bergman. Starring: Ingrid Bergman, Liv Ullmann, Lena Nyman.
4:00am (14th) – TCM – Bergman’s Island
This documentary is basically just an extended conversation with Ingmar Bergman, taking place on his home island of Far&oring; – a place very important to him personally and to his films (the setting of Persona, for example). It’s a extraordinarily candid look at the man, illuminating the autobiographical nature of many of his films and his own often isolated existence.
2004 Sweden. Director: Marie Nyreröd.