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A few movies that don’t suck

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Another bad week for film choice—it’s like cable and DirecTV expect everyone to go to Barbados for Crop Over and stay until next weekend—makes you stay up for a worthwhile film, unless you speak Persian or read Spanish subtitles (A Separation BEST FILM OF THE WEEK, 6.45 pm Max) or didn’t see a great deadpan black comedy recently chosen (*Grosse Pointe Blank, 12.30 noon MaxW). The week is bad, too, with only a contender for Stanley Kubrick’s best (A Clockwork Orange, 10 pm Tuesday, TCM) and a surprisingly good Mel Gibson—yes!—thriller (Ransom, 10p m Friday TCM) and last week’s pick for comfort (*42: The Jackie Robinson Story, 6.45 pm Monday, again Friday 6.45 pm, HBO).

Today’s best film: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola/1992/USA/Horror-Drama/128 mins/R for sexuality and horror violence), 10 pm Turner Classic Movies. Watch this if you liked The Others, The Sixth Sense or Interview with a Vampire. Deserving of the “Bram Stoker’s” prefix for reflecting the book’s sensuality, this is the film of her Daddy’s that Sophia Coppola watched to lean that film is first visual. Hugely atmospheric, downright spooky in the scary parts, the real success is the love affair between the amazing Gary Oldman and the almost-as-good Wynona Ryder; treat the Keanu Reeves scenes (and his “British” accent) as bathroom opportunities.

Rest of the week: Final Destination (James Wong/2000/USA/Horror/98 mins/R), 6.15 pm Monday HBO and again 7.45 pm Friday Max. Watch this if you liked The Butterfly Effect, Friday the 13th or Halloween. You have two chances this week to see one of the best teenagers-get-stylishly-murdered films ever (though not as good as its sequel with the bigger budget). Of course, you have to simply forget the plot setup—Death, deprived of teenagers who do not board a plane that crashes, must claw them back, as it were—and just enjoy all the loving creativity that went into the savaging of healthy young people; the triumph of style over content.

Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan/2005/USA/Crime-Fantasy-Drama-Action-Mystery/141 mins/PG-13 for intense action violence, disturbing images and some thematic elements), 5 pm Tuesday HBO. Watch this if you liked any of the other Dark Knight films, any Daniel Craig James Bond film or Sin City. The Chris Nolan Batmans are easily the best comic book-to-movie translations—or at least the smartest ones—so far made. With a first half structured a la Memento and the more familiar city-under-threat second half much more realistically presented than the claustrophobically dark earlier Tim Burton movies, and with Christian Bale leading an impeccable cast, this is a film that can please adults who love story and character as much as those who crave action. Beautifully shot and scored, this is a flawless film from a hugely talented director. Spider-Man for grownups.

Best of the rest: 
Mon: Stagecoach (1939 version) 9.05 pm Enc3; Tues: A History of Violence, midnight, MaxW; Wed: This is the End, 9 pm HBOC; Thurs: 20 Feet from Stardom, 9 pm HBOC; Fri: Broken, 6.15 pm Max; Sat: Hello, I Must Be Going, 7 am HBO. 

*Starred films have been chosen in the last three months. Scheduled Internet times often vary on the day, particularly around month-end.


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