TiVoPlex for Tuesday September 11 2012 through Monday September 17 2012

By John Seal

September 10, 2012

After I rescue the dog I'll try to find that missing Coke bottle

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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 9/11/12

4:30 AM Fox Movie Channel
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-the-Moon Marigolds (1972 USA): A film that deeply impressed me when I was 10, The Effect of Gamma Rays is a classic ugly duckling tale of adversity overcome and love reclaimed. Based on a Paul Zindel play, the film stars Joanne Woodward as the monstrous and embittered single mother of two high school age girls, Ruth and Matilda. Ruth (Roberta Wallach) is the eldest, an increasingly self-confident young woman also starting to display some of her mother's megalomaniacal tendencies. Matilda (Nell Potts, in her second and final feature role) is the inarticulate younger daughter, whose inward drive to create the perfect science fair project is an increasing annoyance for her two housemates. Supportive teacher Mr. Goodman (David Spielberg) wants to help Matilda edge out of her shell, but finds her mother a less than willing participant at the academic cotillion. Never straying too far into predictable or sentimental terrain, Alvin Sargent's bittersweet screenplay ends on an enigmatic note, and Paul Newman's icy, detached direction coaxes a superb performance from his spouse. If you have children in the 10-14 age bracket, this is perfect family viewing.

Wednesday 9/12/12

4:00 AM HBO Signature
Gestacion (2009 CRC): I’ve lost track at this point, but I don’t think I’ve written about any Costa Rican films before now. Gestacion is a fairly routine but reasonably well acted tale of teen trauma, as a young high school couple (Adriana Alvarez and Edgar Roman) try to cope with an unwanted pregnancy. The film probably has more bite in its deeply Catholic and very conservative homeland, but it’s by no means as anodyne as an Afterschool Special and provides value to admirers of Spanish-language cinema.

1:45 PM Turner Classic Movies
Eight Iron Men (1952 USA): The testosterone is palpable in this first-rate World War II actioner helmed by Edward Dmytryk. Produced by Stanley Kramer, Eight Iron Men tells the story of a squad of American troops and their special relationship with a German machine gun nest somewhere in Italy. Amongst the terrific cast are Lee Marvin as Sergeant Mooney and Arthur Franz, Richard Kiley, and Bonar Colleano (a Yank usually seen in British films of the period) as the GIs under Mooney’s command. The film also includes the last screen performance to date by little Dickie Moore, a child actor of the ‘20s and ‘30s who’s still with us today. Based on a play, Eight Iron Men feels a bit stage-bound, but the cast are excellent and J. Roy Hunt’s cinematography exemplary.


Thursday 9/13/12

5:00 PM Showtime
Shakespeare High(2011 USA): Fans of the Immortal Bard will get a charge out of this documentary, which takes a look at California’s annual high school Shakespeare Festival and Competition. You’ll meet a wide variety of young people eager to make their mark with eight-minute excerpts of Shakespeare sans costumes or sets, which are strictly verboten. It’s a bit like American Idol, but not quite as annoying – and you’ll inevitably find yourself rooting for your favorite competitors. Also airs at 8:00 PM.

5:00 PM Turner Classic Movies
Gussie’s Day of Rest(1915 USA): Ready for a little slapstick? I’m deeply ashamed to admit that I missed last week’s Thursday night Slapstick-palooza, but there’s plenty more on offer this evening. Screening as part of a month-long salute to legendary producer Mack Sennett, TCM has your silent pratfall needs well covered tonight with an astonishing selection of 19 - yes, 19! - Sennett produced comedy short subjects. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve seen all of ‘em, and without doing a few hours research can’t tell you if all (or none) of them are available on DVD, so do yourself a favor and record the whole lot. The fun begins at 5:00 PM and wraps up at 12:30 AM the following morning, but if you choose to limit yourself to only one of the shorts on offer, let it be 1916’s Fatty and Mabel Adrift, in which Fatty Arbuckle and Mable Normand find their beach front abode swept out to sea. It’s very funny, and screens at 8:00 PM.

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