By John Seal
June 18, 2012
From the obscure to the obscurest to the merely overlooked or underappreciated; they all have a home in the TiVoPlex! All times Pacific.
2:00 AM Turner Classic Movies
The King of Marvin Gardens (1972 USA): Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern are brothers who make an unwise investment decision in this solid but not quite as good as it could have been Bob Rafelson-helmed drama. Jack plays David Staebler, a late night radio host who gets pulled into brother Jason’s (Dern) orbit when his Atlantic City sibling offers him a chance of a lifetime: a can’t miss investment opportunity in a Hawaiian resort. Of course, the truth is not quite as rosy as Jason suggests, and his involvement with a crooked money man (Scatman Crothers!) and charges of auto theft further complicate the deal. Co-starring Ellen Burstyn as Jason’s love interest, The King of Marvin Gardens has always left me a little disappointed, but it’s airing in widescreen this morning and is definitely worth a look.
1:30 PM Turner Classic Movies
Amazons of Rome (1963 ITA-FRA): It’s not often that pepla show up on TCM, so it’s time to break out the swords, sandals, and devoured Christians and celebrate accordingly! Released in Italy with the slightly more salacious title Le vergini di Roma, the film depicts the Etruscan threat looming beyond Rome’s borders in the year 486 B.C. Wicked chieftain Porcenna (Jean Chevrier) is eager to conquer The Eternal City, but first he must get past its defenses, which consist of a joint Greek-French (?!?) army commanded by Drusco (Louis Jourdan) and the deadly lady warriors of Clelia (Sylvia Syms). Sadly but predictably airing this afternoon in pan and scan, Amazons of Rome also features an early performance by French screen legend Michel Piccoli.
2:30 AM Encore Suspense
Frozen (1998 USA): This is really confusing. There are a ton of movies called Frozen, but if you try and find this one on IMDb you’ll be out of luck. You will, however, find it listed as Sometimes They Come Back Again...for More, with Frozen listed as an "also known as" title and the word "undefined" after it in parentheses. Undefined? Try this definition on for size: this is truly one of the worst films I’ve ever seen - and if you don’t believe me, just check out a few of its IMDb reviews. Starring Faith Ford and Max Perlich and set on an Arctic research station where some sort of Lovecraftian evil unconvincingly dwells, the film has no thrills, no acting, and not enough t&a to compensate for its other shortcomings. Bottom line: I was hoping this was going to be a screening of the great 1997 Chinese tragedy Frozen. I define that as "disappointment."
1:00 AM Sundance
Quiet Chaos (2008 ITA): A successful businessman must contend with the unexpected death of his wife in this excellent Italian drama. Directed by Antonello Grimaldi, Quiet Chaos stars Nanni Moretti (We Have a Pope) as Pietro, who returns home after saving the lives of two drowning women only to discover that wifey has popped her clogs while he was sunning himself at the beach. Numb to his loss, Pietro decides to take extra special care of ten-year old daughter Claudia (the curiously named Blu Yoshimi, presumably not doing battle with any pink robots) to the exclusion of all else - at least until he can finally begin the grieving process, which seems a most elusive goal. The winner of the Silver Plaque at the Chicago International Film Festival, Quiet Chaos is superbly acted across the board, with especial kudos to Hippolyte Girardot (Sleeping Sickness) as Pietro’s pal Jean-Claude.