By John Seal

February 7, 2011

Not too much panic in evidence here

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From the obscure to the obscurest to the merely overlooked or underappreciated; they all have a home in the TiVoPlex! All times Pacific.

Tuesday 2/8/11

5:00 AM Sundance
Of Time and the City (2008 GB): I was born in Liverpool, England, and though I’ve lived in the United States most of my life I still feel a strong connection to the city. So does director and fellow ex-Liverpudlian Terence Davies, who made this all too brief (but brilliant, beautiful, and extremely personal) tribute to a city that is much more than the birthplace of British beat music. If you’re old enough to remember a time when coal smoke filled the air, horse-drawn wagons traversed the streets, and Britannia’s merchant navy ruled the waves, you’ll adore this heartfelt salute to the Pool. Also airs at 2:10 PM.

10:30 AM Turner Classic Movies
The Hanging Tree (1959 USA): Y’know, pardner, I ain’t got much time for westerns. My favorite cowboy character of all time is Woody from Toy Story, and I can’t believe True Grit got all those Oscar noms. That said, though, The Hanging Tree has a profile designed to catch my eye: it’s not available on home video, has a great cast, and is airing during a week when the TiVoPlex isn’t exactly bursting at the seams. It’s headlined by Gary Cooper, here cast as Doc Frail, a sawbones practicing in a Montana mining camp. Doc is new in camp and has some past indiscretions he’d prefer to forget, but acquires some new skeletons in his closet after treating wounded fugitive Rune (Ben Piazza): in exchange for keeping mum about his patient’s previous date with the hangman’s rope, he takes him on as an indentured servant. The arrival of a beautiful young woman (Maria Schell), a scuzzy prospector (Karl Malden), and a bible thumping preacherman (George C. Scott, in his film debut) further complicate matters. The Hanging Tree received an Oscar nom for its theme song, which Marty Robbins croons over both the opening and closing credits.


Wednesday 2/9/11

1:30 AM Turner Classic Movies
Red (1994 FRA): I’m a bit disappointed that the other two chapters of director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colours trilogy (Blue and White) aren’t also airing this morning, but these are the 31 Days of Oscar and thems the rules: Red was the one that got the Academy’s attention, and though I personally prefer White, it’s still definitely a must see. Irene Jacob stars as Valentine, a Swiss model who establishes a strange relationship with a retired judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who likes to spy on his neighbors. Red brings the trilogy to a fitting conclusion with a final act "meeting of the minds" involving the main characters of all three films — something that won’t make much sense when viewed in isolation from Blue and White! As with all Kieslowski films, Red is maddeningly opaque, visually stunning, and fraught with symbolism.

8:20 AM Flix
Paternity (1981 USA): No, it’s not 31 Days of Golden Raspberry on Flix, though you might get that impression thanks to this morning’s airing of this flaccid Burt Reynolds "comedy." Paternity took home the 1982 Razzie for Worst Original Song, the tune in question being a little number entitled Baby Talk. I don’t remember the song at all, but the film — which is unavailable on home video and makes its widescreen television debut today, hence its inclusion in the TiVoPlex — is pretty weak tea. Burt plays Madison Square Garden exec Buddy Evans, a single guy who wants a child but doesn’t want a wife. Buddy sets out to find a woman to impregnate in exchange for $50,000, with the understanding that this will be the beginning and end of their relationship. He finds her in the shape of waitress Maggie (Beverly D’Angelo), but as you can probably guess, the whole surrogate mother thing turns out to be a wee bit more complicated than planned. If I recall correctly, the laughs are few and far between, but I’m definitely anxious to re-acquaint myself with Baby Talk.

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