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« Digital Dreams | Main | 1000 Words -- John La Farge »

December 03, 2002

TV Alert

Friedrich --

Forgive my tardiness in delivering this guide to some of this week's worthwhile TV viewing. I'm still groggy from Thanksgiving.

Tuesday at 2:45 pm, Cinemax: Moulin Rouge. The end of civilization as we know it -- Nicole Kidman and Ewan MacGregor in a Paris-set, postcamp musical so hyperactive itís like an animated picture. Why watch? Because movies are likely to be evolving in this direction, and it doesnít hurt to get ready for the horrors to come.

Tuesday at 8 pm, E!: The E! True Hollywood Story: Pia Zadora. The tiny blonde Polish-American singer-actress with the tycoon hubby became a national joke back in the late '70s. This documentary surprises in two ways: by winning sympathy for Pia, and by revealing her to be a thoughtful, talented woman.

Tuesday at 11 pm, also Wednesday at 6 am, IFC: Metroland. I donít remember much about this English movie, taken from a Graham Swift novel -- except that itís one of the rare chances Americans have had to watch an elegantly idiosyncratic French charmer, Elsa Zylberstein.

Wednesday at 2 pm, IFC: Night of the Living Dead. Crummy black and white zombie horror movie, the source of many of the last few decadesí most common horror tropes.

Wednesday evening, TCM: a bunch of Orson Welles movies. At 8 pm: Touch of Evil. At 10 pm: The Stranger. At midnight: Citizen Kane. At 2:15 am (Thursday morning): The Magnificent Ambersons. At 4 a.m. (Thursday morning): The Trial. All of them worth seeing, of course. My tip? Donít miss Ambersons, from a good Booth Tarkington novel: the rare Welles film that has something like real emotion in it.

Thursday at 8 am at 2:45 pm, IFC: Solaris. The Soviet version of Stanislaw Lemís sci-fi novel, not the new Steven Soderburgh/George Clooney version. Andrei Tarkovsky, who directed, was a modern master -- but of the slow-moving, intensely-spiritual kind. Imagine ď2001Ē as directed by Ingmar Bergman...

Thursday at 3:15, Cinemax: 2 Days in the Valley. Offbeat, violent, comic noir starring the enjoyably self-pleased James Spader, cherished by buffs as the movie that introduced -- and how! -- the lanky blonde bad-girl Charlize Theron.

Thursday at 8 pm, TCM: Forever Ealing, a documentary about the British film studio, known for its eccentric comedies. Followed at 9 pm by one of the best of them, Kind Hearts and Coronets, perhaps the wittiest black comedy ever made.

Friday at 7 pm, TCM: The Men Who Made the Movies -- Sam Fuller. A cigar-chomping, bang-it-out, low-budget tabloid specialist, Fuller is a hero to many hipsters and critics. Iíve never enjoyed his movies much, but Iíll watch this documentary because Fuller himself was a great character.

Saturday morning at 3:50 am, Cinemax: Mandingo. Masters, slaves, and hanky-panky on a Southern plantation. Coarse, vulgar, florid, exploitative -- and if that isnít enough, featuring a strong attraction between Ken Norton (taking a break from his boxing career) and Ď70s sex icon Susan (ďStraw DogsĒ) George.

Saturday at noon, TCM: The Naked Spur. Anthony Mann directing James Stewart in a first-rate, early-í50s western. Expressionist/Method torment, but delivered swiftly, with stinging action.

Saturday at 10 pm, Cinemax: Monsterís Ball. Predictable tale of two lost Southern souls, one black and one white, who make a desperate attempt to connect. Peculiar and pretentious: this is the South as seen through Eurotrash eyes, so it looks more like an art book than the actual south. Billy Bob Thornton isnít bad, Halle Barry is beyond terrible. So why bother watching? Because the famous fuck scene really is hot.



posted by Michael at December 3, 2002


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