Monday, December 7:
5AM-6:45AM, TCM: THE BLACK HOLE, 98m.
Disney's failed attempt to cash in on STAR WARS still makes for a fine haunted house story. In spaaaaaaccccceee! Another movie where you can feast on the character actors feasting on the scenery.
5:55AM-8AM, Sun: NIGHTS OF CABRIA, 117m.
Fellini! Hookers! Drama!
8AM-9:40AM, Sun: CROSSING THE LINE, 94m.
Documentary about two American servicemen who defected to North Korea in 1962, and their lives since then.
12:15PM-1:15PM, Sun: GUMBY DHARMA, 72m.
Short profile of stop-motion animator Art Clokey, who's not the kind of man you would guess he is based on his Gumby and Davey & Goliath cartoons. It was a terrible idea to have Gumby narrate, especially in the more sordid middle half of Clokey's life. Imagine Charlie Brown narrating the chapters of that Charles Schulz bio that openly discuss how Schulz started to bird dog as his first marriage fell apart. Ew?
4PM-6PM, FMC: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, 92m.
The original, not the remake that disappointed thousands of cineastes who bet that Keanu Reeves could out-wooden-act the original's Michael Rennie. [I lost five bucks.] I think this is the movie that finally melted my cold, cold heart about Robert Wise, or maybe it was just Patricia Neal's performance that did it.
8PM-9:35PM, IFC: NAKED IN NEW YORK, 95m.
I make no apologies for loving this plywood piece of indy film.
Or, if you want to be all Day of Infamy for the day, TCM is showing the seven films in Frank Capra's WHY WE FIGHT series and then a related WWII Capra doc:
10:30AM-11:30AM, "Prelude to War" 52m.
11:30AM-12:20PM, "Nazis Strike" 42m
[12:20PM-12:30PM, PASSING PARADE 39: "That's Why I Left You" 9m. Not a Capra/WWII movie, just an interesting-sounding short film to fill in the programming schedule]
12:30PM-1:30PM "Divide and Conquer" 56m.
1:30PM-2:30PM "The Battle of Britain" 52m.
2:30PM-4PM "The Battle of Russia" 83m.
4PM-5:15PM "The Battle of China" 63m.
5:15PM-6:30PM "War Comes to America" 66m.
6:30PM-7:52PM, TUNISIAN VICTORY 76m.
[7:52PM-8PM, TRAVELTALK: "Colorful Islands Madagascar And Seychelles" 8m. Another short to fill time.]
Tuesday, December 8:
6AM-7:30AM, TCM: WIFE FOR A NIGHT, 82m.
I know nothing of Mario Camerini, but this sounds like a fun Italian farce and Gina Lollobrigida & Nadia Gray are always lovely to watch.
7:30AM-9AM, TCM: THE BIG HEAT, 90m.
For my time and money, I think Fritz Lang fared the worst of all of the European directors who relocated to Hollywood following Hitler's rise to power, possibly because Lang was among the most prolific. This brutal Noir potboiler is probably his best American picture, largely due to the ferocity of all of the lead actors' performances.
9:30AM-11:30AM, FMC: HEAVEN KNOWS, MR. ALLISON, 108m.
Last week, an interesting thing happened while I was being a blowhard [for a change]: After semi-dismissing the bulk of John Huston's lifetime of work in the last dVD Alert, I found myself thinking about it. A lot. So, I decided to seek out as many Hustons as I encounter to see if I was the dumbass who didn't see his work's value the first time around. This one I knew was special -- it takes a lot of skill and ego [not vanity, ego] to pull off a movie with really only two speaking roles and one setting. Some South Pacific island, WWII: Marine Sgt. Robert Mitchum washes ashore and discovers the only other inhabitant is Roman Catholic nun Deborah Kerr. Japanese troops arrive and set up a garrison. Complications and .. dare we say it? Love ensue.
11AM-1PM, TCM: SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME, 114m.
Paul Newman plays boxer Rocky Graziano all over the place and into the theatre aisles and into the …. PARKING LOT!!!! Let's do the math -3 for Newman, -1 for Robert Wise [I'm still mad at him for directing the reshoots on THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, the turncoat], +4 for Pier Angeli, +2 for being a boxing movie that doesn't wallow in all of the boxing-movie cliches = um, I think a positive number.
7:15PM-8:50PM, IFC: KISSING JESSICA STEIN, 94m.
Speaking of boxing movies: This isn't one of them, but I was impressed enough by Heather Juergensen's work on Adam Carolla's THE HAMMER a few months ago to make a note of this movie's catchy title. I'm still leery; the director's name sounds fake ["Charles Herman-Wurmfeld"], the film is based on an off-Broadway play titled LIPSCHTICK [hurts to type that], and it and STEIN were written by and star Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeldt; Jeezus, deliver us from actors who write roles for themselves. Gonna give the film a shot anyway.
Tuesday, December 8 into Wednesday, December 9:
TCM has peppered a half-dozen amusing short films throughout this overnight-programming block:
9:35PM-10:04PM, TCM: DOGVILLE: "Dogway Melody" 16m.
10:04PM-10:15PM, TCM: PETE SMITH SPECIALTY: "Cash Stashers" 9m.
12:27AM-12:51AM, TCM: DOGVILLE: "Big Dog House" 16m.
2:51AM-3:19AM, TCM: DOGVILLE: "Trader Hound" 15m.
3:19AM-3:30AM, TCM: TRAVELTALK: "Touring Northern England" 9m.
5:27AM-5:45AM, TCM: DOGVILLE: "So Quiet On The Canine Front" 15m.
I posted a DOGVILLE the other day; they're all about that crazy and clumsy. PETE SMITH is a Dave O'Brien spinoff, this one dealing with the practice of saving your money in/under your bed instead of at a bank. And I love TRAVELTALK travelogues; I would risk going to the movies now if they showed anything better than commercials and trailers [also commercials] before the feature film.
Wednesday, December 9:
1:00AM-2:51AM, TCM: THE THIRD MAN, 104m.
Carol Reed! Graham Greene! Zither music! Post-War Vienna! Murder! Corruption! Ferris Wheels! Speeches! Joseph Cotten! Alida Valli! Orson Welles! How the hell have you never seen this one?!
3:30AM-5:27AM, TCM: THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1945), 110m.
Someone told me there might be some gay subtext somewhere in this movie. I'm sure I don't know where it/they could be. The first hour is tough-going, even for a period piece -- this film somehow manages to be so stuffy you'd think it was airtight -- but it's worth it to see the actual painting at the end. [SPOILER: Ivan Albright painted a self-portrait of his dick for it, making him the inventor of the cockshot. :END SPOILER]
8AM-10AM, FMC: O. HENRY'S FULL HOUSE, 117m.
I'm not so into Fox's mid-'50s line of multi-unit anthology movies, but a cycle of short films based on O. Henry's short stories was a natural. It's weird to think that, of Jean Negulesco, Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, Henry King and Henry Koster, Hawks' segment was widely cited by critics as the weakest and was actually cut by the producers before the film received a wide release. It was restored when the film was first syndicated in the '60s, probably more to help fill a time slot than out of any aesthetic consideration. Well, I'm curious about this movie now.
10:15AM-12:05PM, IFC: MAX, 109m.
My favorite anecdote from Steven Pressfield's THE WAR OF ART is about how, as a young man, Adolf Hitler wanted desperately to be an artist. He failed to get into the Vienna School -- a big deal, but not a dealbreaker; many major artists of that period were rejected from admittance -- but Hitler couldn't push through life's roadblocks to be what he said he desired. The money quote is that it was easier for him to face the collective military-industrial fury of most of Western Civilization than it was for him to go to his studio and face down a blank piece of stretched canvas every morning.
Writer/director Menno Meyjes focuses on Hitler's post-WWI life as a failed artist and his relationship with a one-armed Jewish art dealer named Max Rothman [played by John Cusack, who presumably also produced the project.]
Thursday, December 10:
1:20AM-3:10AM, Sun: THE CIVILIZATION OF MAXWELL BRIGHT, 107m.
Asshole buys a mail-order bride, gets more than he paid for. Indy-movie clumsiness and a few laughs ensue. You have to love any movie that can pull off casting Eric Roberts, Carol Kane and Simon Callow.
8AM-10AM, FMC: UNTAMED, 111m.
I really hope this isn't really a pan & scan print -- UNTAMED was filmed in a wide Cinemascope [2.55] and in quadraphonic sound. It's a spectacle motion picture that needs its spectacle. Tyrone Power, who's once again kind of an asshole, plays a Boer leading a group of outsiders through the wilds of South Africa. I remember that he's no Bogart in THE AFRICAN QUEEN, more like the boat pilot in an all-female produced version of HEART OF DARKNESS, but not as well-written. Susan Hayward, Richard Egan, Agnes Moorehead and young Rita Moreno [co-]star.
8AM-10AM, Sun: ZEBRAMAN, 115m.
Takashi Miike's story about a teacher saddled with a crappy life and an obsession with ZEBRAMAN, a short-lived TV-superhero show. An alien crab shows up in his neighborhood, people go apeshit, so the teacher becomes Zebraman and kicks some ass.
9AM-10:30AM, TCM: BRIEF ENCOUNTER, 86m.
A lot of people say this is the greatest British movie ever made. I don't know about that, but I do know two really different variations on this theme air shortly after this showing: See QUIET CITY below.
11:25AM-12:40PM, Sun: QUIET CITY, 78m.
I'm not a fan of so-called "mumblecore" movies, but I'm a sucker for Cinema Tripartite -- see BRIEF ENCOUNTER above; BEFORE SUNRISE airs next week.
Noon-2PM, FMC: BANDOLERO!, 106m.
Another Fox Movie Channel showing that better really be in widescreen or I'm writing to my Congressman. You would think that Dean Martin would be a bad fit for Westerns, but he's often the best part of the ones he's in. Even RIO BRAVO wouldn't be as great without Dino. BANDOLERO! is no BRAVO but it can sit proudly next to THE PROFESSIONALS, which shares a lot of the same tropes and possibly a few character actors, and the better late '60s lighter Westerns. The scene where Dean and Jimmy Stewart talk about what Indians there are in Montana should be a classic, but it might rely too much on context to appreciate.
2:30PM-4:15PM, IFC: SOLARIS, 99m.
Steven Soderbergh delights and awes again, remaking Stanislaw Lem's thoughtful science-fiction novel and/or Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 mindfuck into a soulful little $60,000,000 movie about memory and regret. If Jeremy Davies' style has ever been better deployed, I'd love to know where.
4:15PM-5:50PM, IFC: CASA DE LOS BABYS, 95m.
John Sayles! Marcia Gay Harden! Lili Taylor! Maggie Gyllenhaal! Mary Steenburgen! Daryl Hannah! Old Rita Moreno! This is the ripping tale of women whose passion for children couldn't be restrained by mere biology! Geography won't stop them! Society can't slow them down! But can Latin American Bureaucracy destroy their dreams of adopting children???
5:55PM-6:25PM, Sun: ALOHA, NEW YORK, 21m.
Short documentary about the surfer community in New York City. Surf's up, you assholes! GET OUTTA MY WAY!
11PM-12:01AM, H: WEIRD WEAPONS: "The Allies" 44m.
Because we all hate finalizing our recorded DVDs with about an hour of free space left on them, right? I'm looking forward to learning about the Allies' plans for floating tanks and pigeon-guided missiles.
Friday, December 11:
2AM-3:48AM, TCM: SUSAN SLEPT HERE, 98m.
If Frank Tashlin could make Jayne Mansfield act, he can make Debbie Reynolds into Katherine Cornell. Don't let me down, Tish-Tash!
3:48AM-4AM, TCM: OUR GANG: "Little Miss Pinkerton" 11m.
Little Rascals short.
6:45AM-8:05AM, IFC: PIZZA, 80m.
It's hard to point to what part of what's claimed to be a loose homage to '80s teen comedies capsized the entire project -- Julie Hagerty as the baking-accident blinded mom or Ethan Embry playing the hunky male lead or that Kylie Sparks's lead isn't an outright band/chorus geek or what seems like a nearly total vacuum of music on the soundtrack or the curiously prudish attitudes that are reinforced -- but I still sort of like this uneven little indy movie.
10:15 AM-12:15PM, TCM: THIS LAND IS MINE, 103M.
Jean Renoir! Charles Laughton! Maureen O'Hara! Nazi accusations!
12:15PM-2PM, TCM: THE CANTERVILLE GHOST, 96m.
Jules Dassin! Charles Laughton! Margaret O'Brien! Robert Young! A cowardly ghost struggles to inspire Our Boys to win WWII! How bad will it be?!
12:15 pm-2pm, FMC: MURDER, INC., 103m.
Another FMC movie that better be letterboxed [shot in 2.35]. Peter Falk turns in a disturbingly uneven and thus effective job as the best hitman of the infamous gang organization. Another movie chockablock with great character actors: Morey Amsterdam, Henry Morgan, Stuart Whitman and a young Vincent Gardenia.
2PM-4PM, FMC: COMPULSION, 103m.
Richard Fleischer did better work in B movies, but this one's worth your time just for Orson Welles' Clarence Darrow character's final remarks near the end of the film. I'd love to believe Welles' claim that he delivered the speech in one uninterrupted take with the aid of an off-camera prompter, but I know too much about his bullshit artistry.
5:55PM-7:40PM, IFC: ROGER DODGER, 104m.
We love rascally [assholicly] uncle movies, even ones where the uncle is a total misogynist prick. Campbell Scott doesn't get enough props.
9:30PM-11PM, IFC: I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA!, 90m.
If you haven't seen this spoof in 10 years, now's the time. Then wait another decade to watch it again.
Saturday, December 12:
Midnight-1:30AM, Sun: loudQUIETloud: A FILM ABOUT THE PIXIES, 85m.
The new gold standard in concert-tour documentaries. And I'm not even that big a Pixies fan.
2AM-3:45 AM, TCM: PERFORMANCE, 106m.
Gangsters! Rock Stars! Mick Jagger! Anita Pallenberg! Nicolas Roeg!
3:45AM-5:15AM, TCM: PERSONA, 83m.
I like my Ingmar Bergman as jagged and raw as possible. 1966 really was the greatest year ever for popular art.
5:15AM-6AM, TCM: MENTAL HOSPITAL, 20m.
An early 1950s short documentary about how the Oklahoma State Hospital treats schizophrenia. How bad could it be?
8AM-10AM, FMC: NIGHTMARE ALLEY,
Tyrone Power! Tod Browning! Joan Blondell! Circus Noir Overdrive!
8AM-10AM, IFC: THE 47 RONIN PART 2, 108m.
The second half of Kenji Mizoguchi's WWII-era retelling of Seika Mayama's classic story of vengeance and honor. This is the half where swords are used and asses are kicked, FYI.
9PM-11PM, SHO: SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING: Timothy Bradley vs. Lamont Peterson [replay at midnight on SHO2]
10:15PM-1AM, HBO: BOXING AFTER DARK: Juan Diaz vs. Paulie Malignaggi II, Vitali Klitschko vs. Kevin Johnson and Victor Ortiz vs. Antonio Diaz [replays throughout the weekend]
Another Saturday, another night of idiotic boxing counter-programming. Unless Showtime has a weak undercard to Bradley-Peterson -- at this point, I would rather they do away with undercards entirely for big fights [which this isn't, but I want to complain] rather than insult fans with tune-up fights for later PPV sales and resume-padders for not-ready-for-ESPN2 prospects -- I'll stick with it and catch the HBO show in progress and rewatch whatever I miss later. Paulie-Juan is the only fight I'm particularly eager to see. Well, and Diaz's crying mother, as always.
Sunday, December 13:
9AM-10:30AM, FMC: THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET, 88m.
Torn from the still-wet headlines! Widely cited as the first modern-style docudrama, this potboiler is about Nazi secret agents tearassing around NYC trying to steal our atomic-bomb secrets.
10AM-11AM, ESPNC: CLASSIC POOL, 44m.
The 1993 National Women's 9-Ball finals. ladies playing pool is like Australians playing
10:30AM-1:30PM, FMC: THE BLUE MAX, 156m.
World War I aviation epic. It's very very long, but good watching on a slow Sunday morning.
5:30PM-7:30PM, FMC: THE SEVEN-UPS, 103m.
What happened to Philip D'Antoni? He produced BULLITT, then THE FRENCH CONNECTION and then produced and directed this film, which is said to have an even more amazing car chase than the previous two, collected an Academy Award or two, produced a few things for TV and then …. nothing. Is there a story there?
10PM-Midnight, TCM: JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN, 106m.
Dalton Trumbo's film adaptation of his anti-war WWI novel is the scariest movie ever made; it's depressing to think that the vast majority of people only know it from the clips used in Metallica's "One" music video. "I'm the boss, this is champagne, MERRY CHRISTMAS!"
11pm-12am, ESPNC: CLASSIC BOXING
From 1955: Archie Moore vs. Rocky Marciano for Marciano's heavyweight championship.
Monday, December 14
[Listings for ESNPC have gone generic --- will update this when it's available.]
Midnight-2:30AM, TCM: BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST, 143m.
Fred Niblo & Co.'s silent original film version of the epic with all the cool battles and horse races.
2:30AM-4:45AM, TCM: ORDET, 125m.
A Carl Theodor Dreyer joint about faith and vanity.
2:30AM-4:15AM, FMC: DEATH HUNT, 97m.
I've very fond of Lee Marvin's informal cycle of movies where he faced off against other tough guys, GOJIRA TAI style: vs. Toshiro Mifune in HELL IN THE PACIFIC, vs. Ernest Borgnine in EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE, vs. Robert Ryan in THE ICEMAN COMETH, etc. Marvin thrived on having a foil who gave as good as he got. I don't know if Charles Bronson is in Marvin's league -- never heard of this film until recently -- but I'd eager to find out. Co-stars Angie Dickinson and Carl Weathers.
7:35AM-8:30AM, Sun: AUTISM EVERYDAY, 46m.
I'm not the audience for this sort of thing, but there's a certain "there, but for the grace of minute neurological differences, go I" impulse I get every now and then.
8:30AM-10AM, Sun: 100 FILMS AND A FUNERAL, 84m.
It's still amazing to think that Michael Kuhn really did build a movie studio from the ground up. PolyGram Filmed Entertainment didn't last long, but it was a player for longer than most indies that work at its level can manage.
9AM-1015AM, HBO: JOE LOUIS: AMERICA’S HERO … BETRAYED, 75m.
Rock-solid documentary about the Brown Bomber's rise and fall.
10AM-11:45AM, Sun: A PERFECT CANDIDATE, 105m.
Documentary on the 1994 Virginian Senatorial race between incumbent Charles Robb and his Republican challenger, doesn't-feel-a-shred-of-disgrace Oliver North. Curiously enough, I remember the fly-on-a-wall view of North's campaign machinery being no more revolting than any G.O.P. campaign I've ever closely followed.
11:45AM-1:30PM, Sun: JOIN US, 100m.
Ondi Timoner [DIG!] examines cults in America, how otherwise not-batshit people join them and how hard it is to leave them.
Noon-2PM, TCM: ALFIE, 114m.
The Michael Caine original. We all saw BEDAZZLED last week and realized Eleanor Bron was sauce, right?
5:40PM-7PM, IFC: HARLAN COUNTY, USA, 103m.
Arguably Barbara Kopple's best documentary, this recounting of a 13-month Kentucky coal-miner strike presents a tantalizing what-could-have-been: New Journalism in film. Kopple makes no bones about whose side she's on -- and, really, it's hard not to root for the workers.
7:15PM-8:50PM, Sun: CONFESSIONS OF A SUPERHERO, 93m.
I assume I'm the last nerd in North America to have seen this. I would love to see the vaguely George Clooney-looking Batman panhandler recount his entire life story in one continuous take; it would be perfect material for training in any profession that requires a person being able to tell when someone's lying.
9PM-10PM, Sun: WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY?, 60m.
Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping are gonna save your wallet's soul! Hallelujah!