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« Artfight Update | Main | Tacit Knowledge -- Noise, age, fiction, pop »

January 20, 2003

TV Alert

Friedrich --

A small pile of goodies from the giant information-and-entertainment cornucopia that is this weekís cable-TV schedule. (All times are EST.)

Taxicab Confessions 2003 (HBO, the midnight between Tuesday and Wednesday; Wednesday at 10 pm). Tiny cameras inside taxicabs tape the indiscreet chatter and misbehavior of passengers. Sleazy? You bet. Fascinating? That too, although if youíre like me youíll watch one episode and skip the others. Moral qualms can be at least partially allayed by remembering that the people onscreen, taped doing and saying embarrassing and shameful things, have signed forms allowing the footage to be used.

The Australian Tennis Open, all week long at many times on ESPN2.

The Menendez Brothers: The E! True Hollywood Story (E!, 8 pm Thursday). The case of two rich L.A. brothers who murdered their parents -- another good episode on this well-researched tabloid series.

Lantana (Cinemax, Wednesday at 8 pm). One of my favorite movies of the past few years: a thoughtful, low-key Australian examination of loss and unease thatís like a smaller and trimmer version of ďShort Cuts.Ē Grown-up, beautifully made, and every bit as satisfying as a good literary novel.

Criss Cross (TCM, 8 pm Thursday). Burt Lancaster in a first-rate film noir directed by the much-underrated Robert Siodmak. Tersely expressionistic action that achieves the status of symbolic poetry, as far as Iím concerned.

Red Dust, followed by Mogambo (TCM, noon Friday). The first, from 1932, stars Clark Gable and Jean Harlow and is a Victor-Fleming-directed boisterous rubber-plantation comedy-romance; the second, from 1953, is a remake, directed by John Ford, and starring Gable alongside Grace Kelly. Good star-vehicle movies both, and worth comparing. Grace Kelly fans wonít want to miss her in Mogambo, one of her earliest starring roles.

The Bicycle Thief (TCM, 4:15 a.m. Saturday morning). In the middle and late Ď40s, some Italian film writers and directors abandoned spectacle, found their stories among real people, and created the style that has became known as Italian neo-realism. Emphasizing simplicity, directness and respect for lives as theyíre actually lived, it has been one of the most influential movements in film history. This simple story, about a poor man, his son, and their quest to find a stolen bicycle, is one of the movementís three or four peaks. Written by Cesare Zavattini and directed by Vittorio De Sica.

Power, Privilege and Justice (Court TV, Wednesday 10 pm). This episode of the Dominick Dunne true-crime series concerns the case of Alfred Taubman, the Sothebyís CEO who was convicted (some think unfairly) of conspiracy to manipulate prices. Iím hoping for good glimpses of how the art market works.

T.R.: An American Lion (History Channel: part one, Monday 9-11 pm, repeated on Tuesday morning from 1-3 a.m.; part two, Tuesday 9-11 pm, repeated Wednesday morning from 1-3 a.m. The whole package repeated Saturday from 8 till midnight.) Hmmmmm: I want to learn about Teddy Roosevelt -- but a four-hour, heavily-advertised treatment of his life? The strength of the History Channelís documentaries is their pacing, and their straightforward unpretentiousness. But here? I foresee a slower pace than usual, and way too many celeb heads talking gaseous nonsense. Still, Iíll set the VCR.

And donít forget these reliably good true-crime series: American Justice, City Confidential and the FBI Files.



posted by Michael at January 20, 2003


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