By John Seal
July 5, 2010
3:15 PM Turner Classic Movies
Five Million Years to Earth (1967 GB): This is one of the most intriguing and intelligent science fiction films ever made, and it’s a great shame it’s ultimately undone by its low budget. Directed by Roy Ward Baker and written by the greatly respected Nigel Kneale, Five Million Years to Earth features Andrew Keir as super-brain Professor Quatermass, called in by the authorities to investigate the strange rocket unearthed during a London Underground tunneling project. At first, it’s assumed to be a leftover from World War II, but Quatermass knows better: this is something of extraterrestrial origin, and not only that - it seems to still be in service! The first hour of the film is excellent, but when the film reaches its pyrotechnic denouement things do, indeed, fall apart somewhat beneath a barrage of inadequate special effects. That said, this is still very worthwhile viewing - even for those less favorably inclined towards sci-fi - and co-stars Barbara Shelley, James Donald, and Julian Glover.
5:00 PM HBO
Public Enemies (2009 USA): It’s no classic, but there’s enough good stuff in Public Enemies to make it a mild buy. Making its American television debut this evening on HBO, the film stars Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, and as usual he’s very good (we’re going to overlook his recent wretched turn as the Mad Hatter). Unfortunately, Christian Bale fairs less well as G-Man Melvin Purvis, and like most Michael Mann features, Public Enemies is a bit too long for its own good. Nevertheless, you’ll get all choked up at the end, when Dillinger meets his maker outside Chicago’s Biograph Theatre. Also airs at 8:00 PM and throughout the month.
7:00 PM Sundance
Little Children (2006 USA): This exemplary drama got a little bit of attention in 2006 - including great reviews and three Oscar nominations - but very few actually saw Little Children in theatres. Now that the film is well into its ancillary afterlife, we can only hope that many more people discover it - and can cope with the troubling subject matter. Kate Winslet stars as Sarah Pierce, an unhappy wife looking for more. She thinks she’s found it in the form of equally estranged househubby Brad (Patrick Wilson), but difficulties arise when a newly released sex offender (Jackie Earle Haley) moves into the neighborhood, setting off alarm bells for neighbor and ex-cop Larry (Noah Emmerich). Haley and Winslet both received well-deserved Academy Award nominations for their performances, whilst Todd Field and Tom Perotta’s sensitive yet pointed screenplay was also acknowledged. Also airs 7/12 at 12:30 AM.
7:00 AM IFC
Paperhouse (1988 GB): This low-key, rather gentle British fantasy will appeal to fans of 2006’s uneven but worthwhile Neil Gaiman adaptation MirrorMask. Charlotte Burke plays Anna, a bedridden youngster whose intricate artwork inextricably becomes entwined with her fever dreams. As her fever ebbs and flows, her dreams begin to collide with reality, with dangerous implications for herself and her family. This psychological fantasy is short on visceral thrills, but will pull you in with its fascinating story and eerie, off-kilter atmosphere.Also airs at 12:05 PM.
10:45 AM Showtime 2
Cabaret Balkan (1998 YUG): Produced towards the end of the civil war that destroyed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Cabaret Balkan is a brutal, honest, and brutally honest assessment of the country’s disintegration. Directed by Goran Paskaljavic, the film is a collection of stories, many of them focusing on the bloodshed and rapine then prevalent throughout the Balkans. It’s a surprising programming choice for Showtime 2, but comes highly recommended, unless you have a low tolerance for man’s inhumanity to man.