By John Seal
June 4, 2012
12:45 AM Sundance
The Joy of Singing (2008 FRA): It’s a little lightweight, but this French comedy is - despite its deeply bourgeois roots - reasonably enjoyable. Set in Paris, the story revolves around members of a singing class who find themselves mixed up with nuclear secrets on a USB key belonging to a fellow student’s late husband. The class suddenly becomes unusually popular, as French, Israeli, and Russian secret agents all enroll to try and track down the flash drive and its priceless information. That’s all well and good, but there’s a bit too much singing here to allow me to offer the film an, ahem, full-throated endorsement. If, however, your idea of a good time involves watching people belt out Amazing Grace, you’ll probably love it.
7:30 AM Turner Classic Movies
Simba (1955 GB): Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion of the early ‘50s provides the dramatic backdrop for this watchable adaptation of an Anthony Parry novel. Directed by Brian Desmond Hurst (Scrooge, Playboy of the Western World), the film stars Dirk Bogarde as Alan Howard, a young Englishman whose East African vacay is spoiled by the murder of his farmer brother at the hands of nationalist rebels. Alan decides to take over the business and marries old flame Mary (Virginia McKenna), but his burning hatred for Africans soon causes him to make some bad decisions. Co-starring Bermuda-born Earl Cameron as a Kenyan doctor and Donald Sinden as an English one, Simba offers mild criticism of British imperialism but generally plays it safe politically. Kenya, of course, would gain its independence in 1963.
1:00 PM Turner Classic Movies
Storm Over Jamaica (1958 GB): Traveling to the other side of the British Empire during the days when the sun was struggling to stay above the horizon, Storm Over Jamaica (aka Passionate Summer) stars the willowy Virginia McKenna as an airline stewardess stationed on the titular Caribbean island. She’s being wooed by newly arrived school teacher Douglas Lockwood (real-life McKenna paramour Bill Travers), but the sparks smolder rather than fly. The second of a dozen films the couple made together, Storm Over Jamaica is nothing special but hasn’t been seen on American television in years.
4:20 AM Sundance
The Pool (2007 USA): Documentarian Chris Smith took a temporary trip into fictional territory with this unusual shot in India comedy-drama. Set in the former Portuguese enclave of Goa, The Pool stars Venkatesh Chavan and Jhangir Badshah as Venkatesh and Jhangir, two Indian adolescents who work in a hotel whilst selling second-hand plastic bags on the side. The two become obsessed with a nearby mansion with its own (apparently unused) pool, and Venkatesh manages to insinuate his way into the lives of the occupants. After being hired by householder Nana (Nana Patekar) to do odd jobs, he falls for his new employer's attractive daughter (Ayesha Mohan) and learns how to halve a coconut, amongst other valuable lessons. Shot in a semi-documentary neo-realist style, The Pool is based on a short story set in Iowa, but transitions well to its South Asian setting. It's a surprisingly assured fiction effort from the director of American Movie and The Yes Men.