Monty Python and the Holy Grail, playing on IFC at 10:00pm on Monday, October 19th.
Mostly repeats this week again. Of the new stuff, check out IFC’s ongoing tribute to Monty Python, which has Holy Grail and Life of Brian playing a couple of nights each, as well as a bunch of Flying Circus episodes and other archival docs and footage of the zany comedy group. That’s going on every weeknight starting at 6pm EST, I do believe. Also watch out for Shadow of the Vampire on IFC on Saturday night and its inspiration, the original Nosferatu on TCM late Sunday night.
Monday, October 19th
5:15am – Sundance – Nights of Cairia
Nights of Cabiria, one of the films Federico Fellini made during his sorta-neo-realist phase, casts Masina as a woman of the night, following her around almost non-committally, yet with a lot of care and heart. And Masina is simply amazing in everything she does – not classically beautiful, but somehow incredibly engaging for every second she’s onscreen.
1957 Italy. Director: Federico Fellini. Starring: Giulietta Masina, François Périer, Franca Marzi.
7:35am – IFC – Jules et Jim
Jules and Jim are best friends. Then Catherine falls into their lives like a hurricane – she’s almost a force of chaotic primal nature. She marries Jules, but when Jim reconnects with the couple after WWII (in which the two friends fought on opposite sides), their relationship gets…um…complicated. This is one of the classics of the New Wave, and exemplifies the movement’s realistic style, dispassionate camera and narration, and intellectual pursuits.
1963 France. Director: François Truffaut. Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre.
(repeats at 12:35pm)
10:00pm – IFC – Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Easily one of the most absurd, random, hilarious, and quotable comedies of all time. A more hapless bunch of Round Table knights couldn’t be found, and Monty Python has never been better than they are here.
1975 UK. Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones. Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones.
(repeats at 1:00am on the 20th, 10:00pm on the 22nd, and 1:00am on the 23rd)
Tuesday, October 20th
10:00pm – IFC – Monty Python’s The Life of Brian
After demolishing the legends of Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Python troupe takes on the Bible, as early A.D. baby Brian is mistaken for the Messiah and hilarity ensues. I don’t think it’s as good as Grail myself, but there are those who would place Brian at the top of the Python foodchain.
1979 UK. Directors: Terry Jones. Starring: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones.
(repeats at 11:35pm on the 23rd and 1:00am on the 24th)
Wednesday, October 21st
11:45am – Sundance – Ran
Akira Kurosawa’s inspired transposition of King Lear into medieval Japan, mixing Shakespeare and Japanese Noh theatre tradition like nobody’s business.
1985 Japan. Director: Akira Kurosawa. Starring: Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Terao, Jinpachi Nezu, Daisuke Ryu.
(repeats at 5:45am on the 22nd)
10:00pm – TCM – The Third Man
Novelist Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) searches for his elusive, possibly murdered friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) in post-war Vienna. A little bit of American film noir, a little bit of European ambiguity, all mixed together perfectly by screenwriter Grahame Green and director Carol Reed.
1949 UK/US. Director: Carol Reed. Starring: Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles.
12:00M – TCM – Suspicion
Joan Fontaine, playing another of those mousy roles that she does so well that you can’t help but like them, is a newlywed wife who begins to fear that her husband (Cary Grant) is poisoning her. A gutsy move from Hitchcock, casting hero Grant in such an ambiguous role. The film as a whole doesn’t hold up quite as well as Hitch’s best, but it’s well worth a look.
1941 USA. Director: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Nigel Bruce.
12:00M – Sundance – Metropolitan
If Jane Austen made a movie in 1990 and set it among entitled Manhattan socialites, this would be it. The film follows a group of such entitled teens from party to party, focusing especially on the one outsider, a boy from the blue-collar class who has to rent a tux and pretend he likes to walk to avoid letting his new friends know he has to take the bus home. Though they find out soon enough, they keep him around because his intellectual nattering amuses them. In fact, it’s quite amazing that this film is interesting at all, given the amount of pseudo-intellectual nattering that goes on, from all the characters. But from start to finish, it’s both entertaining and an incisive look at the American class structure.
1990 USA. Director: Whit Stillman. Starring: Edward Clements, Chris Eigeman, Carolyn Farina, Taylor Nichols, Dylan Hundley.
(repeats at 12:00M on the 22nd)
2:45am (22nd) – Sundance – INLAND EMPIRE
David Lynch’s latest magnum opus, which pretty much can’t be understood by any use of normal narrative logic. However, it works thematically and emotionally as well as any movie I’ve seen ever. Stories weave in and out of each other, characters merge and separate, the plot you thought you had a hold of becomes elusive and it’s essentially impossible to tell what’s real. But if you let yourself go to it, you’re in for a special treat. You know those 3D images that you can only see by throwing your eyes out of focus? Do that with your mind in order to “see” INLAND EMPIRE.
2006 USA. Director: David Lynch. Starring: Laura Dern, Justin Theroux, Jeremy Irons, Jan Hencz, Karolina Gruszka, Grace Zabriski
Thursday, October 22nd
8:00pm – TCM – Gold Diggers of 1933
The story’s nothing to get excited about (and in fact, the subplot that takes over the main plot wears out its welcome fairly quickly), but the strong Depression-era songs, kaleidoscopic choreography from Busby Berkeley, and spunky supporting work from Ginger Rogers pretty much make up for it.
1933 USA. Director: Mervyn LeRoy. Starring: Joan Blondell, Warren William, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, Aline MacMahon, Ginger Rogers, Guy Kibbee.
10:00pm – TCM – The Purple Rose of Cairo
A love letter to cinema, The Purple Rose of Cairo has Woody Allen at his most romantic. Unhappy housewife Cecilia (Mia Farrow) escapes to the cinema to see The Purple Rose of Cairo again and again, where she fantasizes over hunky character Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels). Much to her surprise (and the other characters’ consternation), Baxter steps off the screen to join her. It makes it even more complicated when Gil, the actor who played Baxter, turns up as well.
1985 USA. Director: Woody Allen. Starring: Mia Farrow, Jeff Daniels, Danny Aiello.
Friday, October 23rd
9:15am – IFC – Paranoid Park
I’ve not generally been a fan of the indie, meditative side of Gus Van Sant (I find it a big pretentious), but I quite liked this little film about a boy who may know more than he’s telling about a death on the railroad tracks near the titular skate park where he hangs out. It’s slow and oblique, but also thoughtful and moving. Might be time to give Elephant another try.
2007 USA. Director: Gus Van Sant. Starring: Gabe Nevins, Daniel Liu, Jake Miller, Taylor Momsen, Lauren McKinney.
(repeats at 2:50pm, and 5:45am on the 24th)
8:00pm – TCM – Night of the Hunter
If there’s ever a film that defined “Southern gothic,” it’s this one. Underhanded “preacher” Robert Mitchum weasels his way into a young widowed family to try to gain the money the late father hid before he died. But what starts off as a well-done but fairly standard crime thriller turns into a surreal fable somewhere in the middle, and at that moment, jumps from “good film” to “film you will be able to get out of your head NEVER.” In a good way.
1955 USA. Director: Charles Laughton. Starring: Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish.
3:30am (24th) – Fox Movie Channel – Barton Fink
One of the Coen Brothers’ most brilliant dark comedies (heh, I think I say that about all of their dark comedies, though), Barton Fink follows its title character, a New York playwright whose hit play brings him to the attention of Hollywood, where he goes to work for the movies. And it all goes downhill from there. Surreal, quirky, and offbeat, even among the Coens work. It’s based loosely on the experiences of Clifford Odets, whose heightened poetic style of writing has clearly been influential on the Coens throughout their career.
1991 USA. Director: Joel Coen. Starring: John Turturro, John Goodman, Judy Davis, Michael Lerner, Tony Shalhoub.
Saturday, October 24th
10:15am – Fox Movie Channel – The Mark of Zorro
Not perhaps one of the greatest adventure films ever made, but a perfectly servicable one, and quite enjoyable for fans of Zorro. Tyrone Power was Fox’s version of Errol Flynn, and though he doesn’t have quite the panache that Flynn does, he’s still fun.
1940 USA. Director: Rouben Mamoulian. Starring: Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard, Eugene Pallette.
11:35am – IFC – Millions
In this Danny Boyle film, a young British boy finds a bag with millions of pounds in it; the catch is that Britain is days away from switching to the euro, so the money will soon be worthless. The shifting ethical questions combined with a sometimes almost Pulp Fiction-esque style and a fascinating religious backdrop (I’m still not sure where he was going with that) at the very least means an intriguing couple of hours.
2004 UK. Director: Danny Boyle. Starring: Alex Etel, Lewis McGibbon, James Nesbitt, Daisy Donovan, Christopher Fulford.
(repeats at 5:15pm)
8:00pm – IFC – Shadow of the Vampire
What if actor Max Schreck, who played the vampire in F.W. Murnau’s 1922 Nosferatu, actually WAS a vampire and kept eating various members of the cast and crew? That’s the premise set forth by this entertaining film, with John Malkovich as Murnau and Willem Dafoe as the eccentric Schreck.
2000 USA. Director: E. Elias Merhige. Starring: John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack
(repeats at 2:30am on the 25th)
8:00pm – TCM – The Letter
In this cut-above-average melodrama, Bette Davis shoots a man in self-defense. Or was it self-defense?
1940 USA. Director: William Wyler. Starring: Bette Davis, Herbert Marshall.
Sunday, October 25th
7:30am – TCM – The Mystery of the Wax Museum
A master wax sculptor has to start from scratch with his museum when his collection is burned in a fire; unfortunately, he is injured as well, so he has to resort to…unorthodox means to replace his creations. I actually saw this at a repertory cinema recently and hope to have a full review of it up soon. In the meantime, it’s no classic for the ages, but if you enjoy 1930s film or vintage horror, it’s really enjoyable.
1933 USA. Director: Michael Curtiz. Starring: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Glenda Farrell.
10:00pm – Sundance – The Squid and the Whale
Jeff Daniels and Laura Linney are married writers/academics who finally drive each other too crazy to keep living together, bringing their two adolescent sons into their turmoil when they separate. Everything about the film works together to create one of the best films of the past few years. Writer/director Noah Baumbach has crafted a highly intelligent script which is achingly witty and bitterly funny; the acting is superb all around; the music fits beautifully, and even the setting (1980s Brooklyn) is something of a character.
2005 USA. Director: Noah Baumbach. Starring: Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline.
(repeats at 5:05am on the 26th)
12:30am (26th) – TCM – Nosferatu
Made in 1922, this is still one of the greatest vampire movies ever made, and possibly the best version of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (names are changed due to rights issues, but it’s Dracula at the core). F.W. Murnau epitomizes German Expressionism here with his use of moody light and shadow, while Max Schreck is the embodiment of the horror of Dracula, back before vampires got all sexy and stuff.
1922 Germany. Director: F.W. Murnau. Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schroeder.
2:15am (26th) – TCM – Les Diaboliques
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.