Get your remotes ready! It's time to start hitting the REC button.
Tonight (Monday, June 25)
Sundance Channel - 2:00 AM Eastern, 1:00 AM Central
This Russian charmer (and how often can you say that?) won Best Director in World Cinema at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. I was fortunate enough to get a screener of it way back when (in Indianapolis). If you liked Amelie, you'll like this story of a young girl who grows up believing she has the power to make wishes come true.
Tuesday, June 26
Sundance Channel - 4:00 PM Eastern, 3:00 PM Central
This extremely well-made short film had its World Premiere at the 2009 NaFF and went on to garner an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action short.
Turner Classic Movies - 6:00 PM Eastern, 5:00 PM Central
East of Eden
Do I really need to explain why you should see this if you already haven't? It's James Dean, for crap's sake. Is this Cain & Able fable redux a little over-the-top? Sure. But it's James Dean. Oh, and despite the black & white photo, it's in Technicolor.
Wednesday, June 27
Sundance Channel - 5:35 PM Eastern, 4:35 PM Central
Instead of Abracadabra
Yet another short from the 2009 festival that went on to garner an Oscar nomination, Instead of Abracadabra is one of the funniest shorts I've seen in ages. Chimay!
(You'll have to watch the film to get that).
Sundance Channel - 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central
Paris Je T'Aime
Paris Je T'Aime is an omnibus film - a collection of several shorts from the likes of Gus Van Zant, the Coen Brothers, and tons of world-renowned filmmakers from all over the world. Like any collection, it's uneven. If you get impatient with the film as a whole, do yourself a favor and fast-forward to the final segment starring Margo Martindale as a Denver postal worker on vacation in Paris. In seven minutes, she delivers one of the most moving performances I've ever seen. I can't see it to this day without tearing up. Truly amazing work.
Thursday, June 28
Sundance Channel - 11:00 PM Eastern, 10:00 PM Central
24 Hour Party People
I'm glad to write this blog when it offers me the opportunity to encourage you to check out a film that nearly everyone missed. Steve Coogan plays Tony Wilson, the British music writer who would go on to found Factory Records, signing Joy Division (who would become New Order after the death of Ian Curtis) and essentially creating the club scene of 1980s and onward. The film has style, panache, and is a lot funnier than you're probably thinking it will be. If the names Joy Division, New Order and the Happy Mondays make you a little giddy, then you better not miss this one.
Friday, June 29
Sundance Channel - 4:15 PM Eastern, 3:15 PM Central
You may remember this one from the 2009 festival (a lot of 2009 love goin' out in this post), but if you missed it, you may also know it from headlines. This is the film that got Joe Berlinger sued for his unused footage so Chevron could see what people were saying about them behind their backs. Nevertheless, the film stands on its merits as a depiction of corporate avoidance of responsibility and what happens when a people fight back.
Saturday, June 30
Turner Classic Movies - 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central
Preston Sturges is probably one of the best directors that more mainstream movie fans have never heard of (or, if they've heard the name, they likely haven't seen any or many of his movies). Well, now is a great chance for you to hop on the bandwagon if you're not there already. Sullivan's Travels is about a comedy filmmaker who, during the Great Depression, decides that he needs to make a serious picture about the suffering of the people (he's going to call it O Brother, Where Art Thou?- I know you've heard that title before). Along the way he learns what really matters to the people who are suffering and valuable life lessons are learned, but what you'll get to see is a genius filmmaker whose movies still hold strong today. I can't wait to add The Palm Beach Story to this list - the funniest comedy you've never seen!
Turner Class Movies - 2:00 AM Eastern, 1:00 AM Central
We have a tendency to believe that old people are crotchety comedic relief (like real life Abe Simpsons) - at least that what movies usually tell us. Rarely is there a film that actually examines what old age actually is. Michael Haneke's Amour just won the Palme D'Or at Cannes in doing so. Back in 1952, Italian neo-realist Vittorio di Sica was in competition at Cannes with this wonderfully simple portrait of an old man whose pension is not enough for him and his dog to get by. There is nothing grand about this film. Indeed, neo-realism is the opposite of grandiose. But that is what makes the scenes all the more affecting. Umberto isn't a man who is trying to change the world. He just wants a safe space for him and his beloved dog to exist in it. I recommend tissues.
Yes, I know. It sounds so horribly depressing and sad. But beauty isn't always pretty and if everything was funny, you'd never laugh again because funny would be boring. So, watch Umberto D and then do a repeat viewing of Instead of Abracadabra for some laughs! Chimay!