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All three picks come from today’s programming and there are still half-a-dozen Also Rans that might have got the nod on another day, including the 75-year-old Western that changed the genre forever (Stagecoach, 10.20 am Enc3) and the Quentin Tarantino one that most recently changed it again (*Django Unchained, 5.05 pm HBO), last week’s spellbinding, multi-story, modern Indian epic (*Ship of Theseus, 10.15 pm HBO), a strong American perspective on Vietnam, even if it has Jon Voight in it (Coming Home, 1 pm TCM) and a double serving of the young, supremely confident Eddie Murphy at his best that very nearly took two of today’s three slots (48 HRS, 3.25 pm, Another 48 HRS, 5.20 pm TCM).
The week’s best bets include a not-so-often-seen-on-cable Walt Disney for grownups (Splash, 10 pm Monday TCM), the same QT himself at his best or very nearly so (Reservoir Dogs, 10 pm Wednesday TCM) and two immensely watchable bios, one feel-good (*42, 4.25 pm Wednesday HBO) and one definitely-don’t-feel-so-good (*Captain Phillips, 9 pm Tuesday and again 6.35 pm Friday HBO).
Today’s best film: The Artist (Michel Hazanaicius/ 2011/ France-Belgium-USA/ Comedy-Drama-Romance/ 100 mins/ PG-13 for a disturbing image and a crude gesture/ B&W), 12.25 pm noon Max BEST FILM OF THE WEEK.
Watch this if you liked Slumdog Millionaire, Intouchables or The Descendants. The silent French film (with English subtitles discernible even with the Spanish ones on DirecTV) that won the Best Director, Best Picture and Best Actor Oscars, Baftas, Golden Globes (nominated Best Picture) and Césars, deserves every bit of the recognition it got. Using sound as effectively as Pleasantville used colour, this is a masterpiece that no one should miss—no one who can read, and likes to do it, at any rate.
Today and rest of the week: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola / 1992/ USA/ Horror-Drama/ 128 mins/ R for sexuality and horror violence), 7.30 am today and again Thursday 6.45 pm HBOC. 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 learn 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.
Anonymous (Roland Emmerich/ 2011/ UK-Germany-USA/ Drama -History-Thriller/ 130 mins/ Rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content), 2.20 pm today Max. Watch this if you liked Coriolanus, Elizabeth or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Named the sixth-best DVD release of 2012 by BC on TV, Anonymous cuts across almost every genre classification—adventure, action, biography, drama, history, mystery and more—and does so magnificently with the exception of only the genre of “Phoney Intellectual”, if there were such a one. The literature departments of universities around the world might be up in arms over the reduction of the debate over who, exactly, wrote the plays of Shakespeare to such a thrilling movie, but audiences would beg to differ. Masterful pacing makes up for whatever the film might be imagined to lack as the basis of literary doctoral theses. Kids will rarely have so much fun learning history.
Best of the rest: Mon: North by Northwest, 2.45 pm TCM; Tues: Friday the 13th, 10 pm TCM; Wed: Remember the Titans, 5.57 pm HBOF; Thurs: *What Maisie Knew, 9.05 pm HBO; Fri: The Master, 6.30 pm HBO; Sat: Comanche Station, 6.45 am Enc3.
*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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