Just thought y’all might like to know that Robert Flaherty’s “Nanook of the North” (1922), a seemingly unavoidable and persistent point of reference in most discussions of film history, will be on TCM tonight at 7. “Nanook” will be followed by Kent Mackenzie’s “The Exiles” (1961) at 8:15. “The Exiles” screened at the Cinematheque during the ’08-’09 school year, if I’m not mistaken. It’s a stumbling, drunken, magnetic slab of verité, one that has often been compared to Charles Burnett’s “Killer of Sheep” (1977). I tend to disagree with the sentiment behind the comparison of “The Exiles” with “Killer of Sheep,” but, then again, I’ve only seen “The Exiles” once; perhaps I’m just blind to something in it or about it that others see every time they watch either of those two remarkable films. Either way, a pair of solid (and, at 65 and 73 minutes long, concise) movies on TCM tonight.
Posts Tagged ‘TCM’
Quite a schedule TCM’s got lined up for this afternoon and evening. First, a quartet of B-westerns starring John Wayne (this is already underway so forgive me if I decline to provide titles and times), leading up to the Duke’s breakthrough role in John Ford’s “Stagecoach” (1939), which will be on at 5. (If you can’t wait until then or if you anticipate getting stuck in traffic on your way home from work, you might want to rent or otherwise procure Criterion’s new “Stagecoach” two-disc set, which is now available at Four Star Video Heaven. All signs point to it being seriously great.)
Following “Stagecoach” at 7 is Fred Zinneman’s “From Here to Eternity” (1953), which I’ve never seen but you probably have. The synopsis on TCM’s website makes the film sound kinda bloated, overly star-powered and facilely sentimental—but again, I haven’t seen it.
What I’d be more inclined to watch is Ford’s “They Were Expendable” (1945), starring Wayne alongside Robert Montgomery and Donna Reed (who’s also in “From Here to Eternity”). “They Were Expendable” begins at 9:15. I’m sure it’ll be all kinds of macho, patriotic and poetic.
Two Ford films in such a short span of time is hardly anything to be mad at.
To whom it may interest: Tonight at 11 TCM will be showing King Vidor’s “The Big Parade” (1925), which I’ve never seen but which looks to be worth at least a gander, that is, if its Wikipedia article is any indication. TCM’s got an especially strong week ahead of it so expect regular notices from yours truly. Until then, it seems to me that it’d be in our collective best-interest to get outside and take advantage of this deliriously good weather.
The New Yorker’s Richard Brody already beat me to the punch, but I’ll say it anyway: Tonight at 9 TCM is showing Orson Welles’s second feature, “The Magnificent Ambersons” (1942), a film that’s notoriously unavailable on DVD here in the U.S. of A. This unavailability is, of course, an utter shame; as its title suggests, “Ambersons” is a magnificent achievement, one that boasts some of the most striking mise en scène and most awe-inspiring cinematography (courtesy of Stanley Cortez) in Welles’s singular oeuvre. While I haven’t seen the film since last summer, I recall thinking at the time that it features Joseph Cotten’s strongest, busiest performance. At a concise 88 minutes long, it also won’t interfere too severely with your Saturday night plans. It practically goes without seeing saying that this one is worth a watch, so tune in.
If you don’t have any more glaringly important obligations tonight, you could definitely do worse than to park yourself on the futon and tune in to TCM. Ted Turner’s personal repertory theater will be showing four attention-worthy films: Powell & Pressburger’s recently restored “The Red Shoes” (1948; here’s Manohla Dargis’s take on the restoration, which attracted quite a bit of buzz late last year when it ran at my old stomping grounds, NYC’s Film Forum) at 7, Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1969) at 9:30, Jean Renoir’s “The River” (1951) at 12:30 and, last but certainly not least, Otto Preminger’s Françoise Sagan adaptation and Jean Seberg showcase “Bonjour Tristesse” (1957) at 2:30. Again, I scarcely think you’d go wrong with any of these four; “Tristesse” is particularly fun, an oddly satisfying blend of the sweet and the ecliptic.
Few directors from Hollywood’s historical heyday attract as much critical attention (usually in the form of admiration) as Douglas Sirk; for this reason alone you might want to set your DVR for 3AM tomorrow morning, as that’s when TCM will be showing his presumably under-seen—I’ve never even heard of it—“Slightly French” (1949). The film’s plot is described on IMDB as follows:
A cinema director who is in an emotional and professional crisis thinks that he has discovered a French star when he meets an ordinary dancer.
Sirk’s paradigmatic melodramas are notoriously funny (they greatly informed the self-consciously camp filmmakers of the 1960s and 70s) and suggestive (they served as inspiration for international iconoclasts like Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Pedro Almodóvar); a comedy directed by him—an apparently rare one at that—is surely a must-see.
Tonight (or rather, tomorrow morning) at 12:30 TCM will be showing Vincente Minnelli’s “The Pirate” (1948), which was one of the highlights of last semester’s Minnelli retrospective at the Cinematheque. “The Pirate” is nothing if not silly, flashy and unapologetically frivolous—and therein lies both its charm and its potency.
By now many are familiar with Andrew Sarris’ summation of Minnelli and his singular body of work (“Minnelli believes more in beauty than art”), but unlike his more ostentatiously self-serious works (“The Bad and the Beautiful,” “Lust for Life”), “The Pirate” suggests that cinema as a medium always relies upon an erasure of the dividing line between the sensual and the contemplative. Even if the implications of its aesthetics weren’t so stimulating and significant, the movie’s just a load of fun; very highly recommended.
TCM is showing 5 films by Akira Kurosawa tonight, beginning at 7 with “Ikiru” (1952), followed by “Throne of Blood” (1957) at 9:30 (my heart’s set on catching this one), “The Hidden Fortress” (1958) at 11:30, “Hakuchi” (1951) at 2 and “The Lower Depths” (1957) at 5. This strikes me as being a much finer excuse to pull an all-nighter than schoolwork.
By tonight this radiant sun will be long gone, meaning there won’t be much to distract you from watching Howard Hawks’ 1944 masterpiece “To Have and Have Not” on TCM at 8.
It’s common knowledge that Hawks’ filmography is loaded with very fine work, but for me none is finer than this romantic thriller, adapted from the Hemingway novel of the same name by Jules Furthman and William Faulkner (one of Hawks’ two collaborations with Faulkner). The performances by Bogart and Bacall refuse to age; Bogart plays his role with virility and an aura of cool control, moving from one tense, perilous situation to the next, as well as from one enigmatic, calculating broad to the next. Hawks’ compositions are just as to-the-point, his cuts just as logical and his material just as gripping as in any of his other acknowledged classics. Essential viewing, to be sure.
Neither I nor my family has anything to do with Lloyd Bacon’s “The Fighting Sullivans” (1944), which TCM is showing tonight at 8:45; but who knows, maybe it’s kind of good in its own right. It almost goes without saying that Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night” (1934), which TCM is showing at 10:45, is worth a gander if you’ve never seen it before. Watch for the sneakily striking compositions at the very beginning of the film, before Clark Gable’s and Claudette Colbert’s characters meet. “It Happened One Night” isn’t often referred to as a pictorial masterpiece, but the images in question are unquestionably strong stuff.