Tag Archives: Sophie Scholl

Film on TV: February 3-8

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

Film on TV (Nov 3-9)

I went ahead and threw some films on the IFC and Sundance channels this time. Just because I don’t get them (yet) doesn’t mean other people don’t, and they show some quality stuff. (Right now, I’m mostly salivating over Sundance’s Live from Abbey Road music series, though…)

Monday, November 3

4:00am EST / 3:00am CST – IFC – Blue Velvet
I’ll be honest, this is my least favorite David Lynch film. Sacrilege, I know. 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 once, if only to say you have.

11:05am / 10:05am – IFC – The New World
I’ve said multiple times how much I love The New World. If there’s any doubt that you can put poetry on film, Terrence Malick diffuses it completely.

Tuesday, November 4

12:00pm EST / 11:00am CST – TCM – The Desperate Hours
In one of Humphrey Bogart’s last films, he plays the leader of a group of escaped convicts who takes a suburban family hostage in their home to try to preserve their freedom. Fredric March matches Bogart’s intensity as the father of the family. It’s not a total classic, but it’s a solid suspenser. (An earlier reaction is here.)

5:00pm / 4:00pm – TCM – Psycho
Hitchcock’s classic. Do I really need to say more? I didn’t think so.

3:15am / 2:15am (5th) – TCM – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Go vote, and then watch Frank Capra’s ode to a simpler, gentler political climate. Idealistic Jefferson Smith (James Stewart) is elected to Congress as a bumpkin foil for his co-senator Claude Rains. When Smith decides he really wants to accomplish something instead, he mounts an historic filibuster. And journalist Jean Arthur is right there to capture it all. It’s Capracorn, but it’s quality Capracorn.

Wednesday, November 5

3:00pm / 2:00pm – TCM – Rope
Hitchcock is well-known for his formal experimentation. In Rope, he shoots everything from a single camera position – on top of the chest containing the body of the boy that John Dall and Farley Granger killed before inviting several people over for a party. It’s also meant to appear as one take, though the ten-minute max reel length of the time forced him to fudge a bit on that. The story is based on the Leopold-Loeb murder case, where two young men killed an acquaintance just to see if they could pull it off.

Thursday, November 6

10:00am / 9:00am – Sundance – Sophie Scholl: The Final Days
Sophie Scholl was a German student who, along with her brother and some friends, distributed pamphlets against Hitler during World War II. Not a healthy activity, and the group was captured and interrogated. Even though it’s not difficult to guess the end of the story, Scholl displays such faith and strength against her interrogators that at times she seems infinitely more powerful than they. Great performances and a strong script made this one of the best films of 2005.

2:45pm / 1:45pm – TCM – The Awful Truth
One of the films that defines “screwball comedy,” The Awful Truth follows couple Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as they decide to divorce, then make each other’s lives miserable until they finally decide they can’t live without each other. All in hysterical hilarity. Grant is often remembered as a dapper, suave leading man, but truth be told, he’s much more at home in comedic roles like this one. And Dunne, who often played leads in romantic melodramas, proves herself a gifted comedienne.

5:00am / 4:00am (7th) – TCM – West Side Story
The Leonard Bernstein/Steven Sondheim all-singing, all-dancing, all-street-fighting version of Romeo and Juliet. It’s not perfect (Natalie Wood is gorgeous, but hardly Latin, and Richard Beymer might be made out of wood), yet it has remained near the top of my list of favorite films for years. I’m a sucker for heavily stylized dancing? Guilty. And Rita Moreno and George Chakiris more than make up for the lead actors’ deficiencies.

Friday, November 7

6:30pm / 5:30pm – Sundance – A Woman Under the Influence
Okay, honestly, I have no idea what this film is about. But it is directed by John Cassavetes, one of the first independent filmmakers emerging in the 1960s, and he’s currently on my short list of “people whose films I need to see.” So I thought I’d point it out.

8:30pm / 7:30pm – TCM – Annie Hall
This is usually touted as Woody Allen’s best film. I personally prefer Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen Anne Hall. Maybe this will be the time it finally reveals itself to me as his absolute masterwork. If nothing else, it gave Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn a modern-day masculine-wear counterpart in Diane Keaton’s fashion choices.

11:00pm / 10:00pm – TCM – A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the films I’m most embarrassed to say I’ve never seen. I even have it on DVD somewhere! So, yeah, I’ll probably watch that version rather than the TCM one, but still. Here’s your chance to see it before me, if you haven’t already.

1:15am / 12:15am (8th) – TCM – La Jetée
Let’s throw some avant-garde in here, shall we? La Jetée is a short film (28 min.), told in a series of still photographs with narration and sound. I always forget the exact details of the plot, but basically a man is sent back in time to try to stop an apocalyptic war. Instead, he courts a girl and ends up discovering the terrible truth about an event he had witnessed from afar as a child. (The film Twelve Monkeys is based on La Jetée, so if you’ve seen that, there you go.)

Saturday, November 8

4:00pm / 3:00pm – Sundance – Avenue Montaigne
Sometimes you’re just in the mood for an unassuming, heartwarming little French film. Avenue Montaigne fits the bill well, following a waitress working on the titular Parisian avenue (an arty area with art galleries and a concert hall nearby) and the people she interacts with. There’s not a LOT of substance here, but the French can carry these slight things off with a great deal more panache than we Americans can, and Avenue Montaigne is likely to put a smile on your face. (An earlier reaction is here.)

Sunday, November 9

6:00am / 5:00am – TCM – Grand Hotel
This 1932 Best Picture Oscar-winner is honestly pretty creaky around the joints these days, but if you wanna see how they used to do ensemble pictures in the studio days, this is it. Greta Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone, etc. are all hand. Personally, as ensemble pictures go, I prefer 1933’s comedy Dinner at Eight, which has largely the same cast, minus Garbo and Crawford, plus Harlow and Marie Dressler. But we’ll get to that when TCM plays it.

10:15am / 9:15am – TCM – The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
Preston Sturges’ highly irreverent but hilarious film tells of Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton), who may or may not have married a soldier (whose name may or may not be Ignatz Ratzkywatzky) in a drunken whim before he shipped out, then finds herself pregnant with only her hapless suitor Norval Jones (Eddie Bracken) to save her reputation. Sturges uses his zany wit and superb stock cast to great effect, even if I’m in the minority in thinking Miracle a lesser film than his The Lady Eve and Sullivan’s Travels.

Best of 2006

I’m not quite finished with the December reading/watching recap, but since publishing “best of” lists is the thing to do at the end of the year, I figured I could go ahead and do that. And by “best of 2006” I mean “best that I saw or read in 2006,” because, as usual, I was not proactive enough at theatres and new release bookshelves to give any sort of a best movies or books released in 2006 list.

Top Ten Films I Watched in 2006 (none of the lists are in any particular order…most are chronological of when I saw them, because that’s the order of the records I started from)

Honorable Mentions

Ten Films You Probably Haven’t Seen But Ought To

Some Films I Really Had Gotten to St. Louis Before I Had to Go Back to Waco:

Top Ten Books I Read This Year

Top Five TV Shows (network only; I can’t keep track of cable)

Top Five Guilty Pleasure TV Shows (by this I mean either that they aren’t really GOOD, but I like them, or merely that I enjoy them, but not in a substantial, fannish way)

On the subject of TV shows, 24 will probably be joining the first set of TV shows this spring, and American Idol will certainly be joining the “guilty pleasure” set in LIKE TWO WEEKS! Just so you know, this blog will likely be taken over by American Idol fever after the premiere on January 16th.

April Reading/Watching Recap

This month, my reactions to Broken Flowers, Thank You for Smoking, Sophie Scholl, Inside Man, War of the Worlds, The Constant Gardener, Crash, Digital Fortress, If on a winter’s night a traveler, and more.
Continue reading

Sophie Scholl

Movie recommendation:

Sophie Scholl: The Last Days

My parents and I went to see this last Saturday, and we all came away very impressed. Sophie Scholl was a 21-year-old student in Munich in the early 1940s, and she and her brother were arrested in 1943 for distributing leaflets that detailed the failure of the Nazi army on the Russian front and the inability of Germany to win the war due to Hitler’s poor leadership. A large portion of the movie is taken up with Sophie’s interrogation by a Nazi police investigator, and even though it’s basically the two of them talking, it’s absolutely riveting. Sophie’s strength of character and steadfastness in her beliefs stymie the otherwise formidable investigator, and by the end it’s clear that although they will always be on opposite sides of the Nazi question, he has gained a grudging respect for her.

Julia Jentsch is incredible as Sophie, imbuing her with a quiet intensity that carries the movie along. The film itself is full of this quiet intensity…it hits all the necessary points, but doesn’t belabour any of them. There are no anvils here. It’s made clear that Sophie is a Christian, and she prays several times throughout the film. She knows the Nazis are perpetuating heinous acts against humanity, against the Jews in particular, and she doesn’t shy away from telling the investigator exactly what she thinks about that. But it’s also clear that her problems with Hitler are not only humanitarian, but also political…this girl is no bleeding heart, but clear-headed and able to see that Hitler is bad not only for Jews and other “undesirables”, but for Germany itself and the German people in general. This is a point of view that I don’t think has been terribly well-represented, certainly not in film.

Continue reading