There wasn’t anything on Monday, so being one day late wasn’t a big issue. However, then my computer started misbehaving and I didn’t get it posted Monday night, either, which means this’ll post too late for the first few on Tuesday. But they’re good enough films that I let them stand. If they play again, or you see them at the library or whatever, check them out.
Tuesday, February 3
5:00am – TCM – Top Hat
Arguably the best of the ten Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers musicals. Song, dance, mistaken identities, romance…yep, we gots it.
6:45am – TCM – Gold Diggers of 1933
Warner Bros was known in the 1930s for their gritty dramas and action films, but also for their backstage musicals, which are somehow both gritty and glitzy. Gold Diggers of 1933 is one of the best, full of witty one-liners and amazing geometric Busby Berkeley choreography. Oh, and Ginger Rogers ad-libs “We’re in the Money” in pig latin. It’s worth it JUST FOR THAT.
8:00pm – TCM – The More the Merrier
A World War II housing shortage has Charles Coburn, Joel McCrea and Jean Arthur sharing an apartment; soon Coburn is matchmaking for McCrea and Arthur, and we get a wonderful, adorable romance out of it.
2:00am (4th) – TCM – Hannah and Her Sisters
Ha! I took TCM to task for playing Annie Hall too much and Hannah and Her Sisters not enough, and look what happens. (Okay, the schedule had been made for over a month, so I can’t really claim any influence. But still.) Annie and Manhattan notwithstanding, Hannah is my favorite Woody Allen film – almost certainly his most balanced.
Wednesday, February 4
3:00am (5th) – TCM – Yankee Doodle Dandy
Hollywood turned out a heap bunch of musical biopics of composers in the 1940s. This biography of WWI-era Broadway composer/performer George M. Cohan is one of the few that is actually good, even earning James Cagney an Oscar (though he’s better known now as a tough guy gangster, Cagney got his start as a hoofer, and he’s as comfortable dancing as beating things up).
Thursday, February 5
8:00am – IFC – Primer
Welcome to sci-fi at its most cerebral. You know how most science-dependent films include a non-science-type character so there’s an excuse to explain all the science to audience? Yeah, this film doesn’t have that character, so no one ever explains quite how the time travel device at the center of the film works. Or even that it is, actually, a time-travel device. This is the sci-fi version of getting thrown into the deep end when you can’t swim. Without floaties. When I first rented it a couple of years ago, I watched it twice, back to back. Good thing it’s on three times today, eh? :)
(repeats 12:15pm and 5:05pm)
9:00am – TCM – 2001: A Space Odyssey
Heh, I bet IFC and TCM didn’t even plan this, but you get a choice between watching 1960s cerebral sci-fi or 2000s cerebral sci-fi (well, you can watch Primer later, because it’s repeating). Kubrick made a lot of brilliant films, but I’ve gotta say, none of them enthrall me on repeat viewings quite as much as 2001.
Friday, February 6
4:00pm – Sundance – Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
In 1943, few Germans were willing to stand against Hitler, even if they knew about the atrocities being committed. Sophie Scholl and her brother and a few friends were among the ones who did, and this fantastic film follows the group just before and during their arrest and trial. It’s not particularly surprising how it ends, but the screen fairly crackles throughout – the Nazi interrogator who questions Sophie is no match for her quiet conviction.
9:45pm – TCM – Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Or, or, Stanley Kubrick takes on the Cold War in one of the most piercing satires ever made. Plus Peter Sellers in three roles, what’s gonna be wrong with that?
Saturday, February 7
4:00pm – TCM – Lawrence of Arabia
Most epics are over-determined and so focused on spectacle that they end up being superficial – all big sets and sweeping music with no depth. The brilliance of Lawrence of Arabia is that it looks like an epic with all the big sets and sweeping music and widescreen vistas, but at its center is an enigmatic character study of a man who lives bigger-than-life, but is as personally conflicted as any intimate drama has ever portrayed.
8:00pm – TCM – Casablanca
Just so you know it’s on, here’s another chance to catch one of the best movies Golden Age Hollywood ever produced.
11:30pm – TCM – The Great Escape
One of the most enjoyable POW films you’ll ever see, and yes I get the irony of that statement. It may not be realistic of the POW experience, but it is one heck of a reverse heist film.
2:30pm – TCM – Das Boot
Before Wolfgang Petersen went Hollywood (Air Force One, other action films that aren’t that great), he did this German U-boat film, which has quite a good reputation – it routinely lands on lists of both best foreign films and best war films. And yeah, I haven’t seen it yet. We’ll see if I can make time for it this time.
Sunday, February 8
7:15am – TCM – Shadow of a Doubt
Said to be Hitchcock’s favorite among his own films, Shadow of a Doubt is quieter than most of his, but in terms of psychological subtlety, it’s definitely one of his best. Small-town girl Teresa Wright idolizes her uncle Charlie, but what will she do if he turns out to be the infamous Black Widow murderer?
1:30pm – TCM – Gigi
Maurice Chevalier’s “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” might come off as more pervy now than it was originally intended, but as a whole Gigi stands as one of the most well-produced and grown-up musicals made during the studio era. Director Vincente Minnelli gives it a wonderful visual richness and sophistication, while music from Lerner & Loewe (usually) stresses the right combination of innocence, exuberance, and ennui for its decadent French story.
3:30pm – TCM – The Quiet Man
John Ford directs his favorite couple John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in this lovely and understated romance of a retired boxer returning to his Irish roots and conflicting with O’Hara’s hard-headed brother Victor McLaglen over her dowry (and O’Hara’s character is plenty stubborn herself). None of the principles have been better, and the supporting cast that surrounds them is great.
5:45pm – TCM – Roman Holiday
Not Audrey Hepburn’s first film, as it’s sometimes mistakenly claimed, but her first lead and the role that propelled her to stardom and won her an Oscar. She’s a princess who wants to experience ordinary life for a change and runs off to Rome – reporter Gregory Peck senses a story and tags along incognito.
6:30pm – IFC – Elephant
I’ll be honest with you. When I first saw Gus Van Sant’s take on high school shootings, I pretty much thought it was pretentious bullcrap. And I may in fact still think so when I see the film again. But there are elements to the tone and mood that are still with me, a couple of years later, and I’m already on my way to revising my opinion, partially due to my personal shift towards a greater appreciation for slow-moving, thoughtful, well-shot films. All of which things Elephant is.
11:30pm – IFC – Trainspotting
While you’re getting ready for Danny Boyle to win multiple Oscars this year with Slumdog Millionaire, don’t forget to check out his earlier films, which are all worthwhile, especially this one which thrust Boyle, Ewan McGregor, and Kelly McDonald onto the international scene. A searing look at Scottish heroin addicts, it’s sometimes hard to watch, but it’s never less than riveting.
4:00am (9th) – TCM – The Jazz Singer
The Jazz Singer is not a good movie. But it is an important movie, as the first feature film with synchronized sound. At the time (1927), producers thought sound would only be useful for musical numbers, and The Jazz Singer is basically a silent film about a Jewish boy (Al Jolson) defying his family to go into show business with sound musical numbers. Jolson’s ad-libbed “you ain’t heard nothing yet” was, of course, prophetic. Silent pictures would be almost completely obsolete within a year.
Next Week Sneak Peek
Because I’m always late, heh.
Monday the 9th
7:35am, 1:00pm – IFC – Everyone Says I Love You
9:15am – TCM – The Apartment
9:20pm, 2:45pm – IFC – Strictly Ballroom
1:45pm – TCM – Citizen Kane
3:45pm – TCM – Mildred Pierce
Tuesday the 10th
6:00am, 10:35am, 3:15 – IFC – Waiting for Guffman
2:45pm – TCM – Henry V
Wednesday the 11th
3:45am – TCM – Rebecca
1:30pm – TCM – Mon Oncle
3:30pm – TCM – The Birds
9:00pm – Sundance – Spectacle: She & Him, Jenny Lewis (Not a movie, per se. Indulge me.)
10:00pm – TCM – Lassie Come Home
10:00pm, 4:00am – Sundance – Wristcutters: A Love Story
11:45pm – TCM – National Velvet