By John Seal

September 24, 2012

Oh my gosh, Lenny and Squiggy are fighting!

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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 9/25/12

1:30 AM Turner Classic Movies
Bye Bye Braverman (1968 USA): Bye bye Braverman, hello cinematic obscurity! Here’s one of those forgotten films that (if not for TCM and/or the bespoke DVD-R business) would otherwise have been lost to the sands of time. Directed by Sidney Lumet, the film is a character-driven think piece focusing on four old friends (George Segal, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Warden, and Sorrell Booke) and their ill-fated journey to the funeral of a recently deceased pal. An accident with a cab driven by Godfrey Cambridge slows their progress, as does a wrong turn, leading to 90 minutes of back-seat kvetching. Think of Bye Bye Braverman as a New York-set, Jewish version of Fred Schepisi’s Last Orders (2001), but with sharper dialogue.

8:45 AM Turner Classic Movies
Three Stripes in the Sun (1955 USA): Fair warning: this is going to be one of those weeks when TCM utterly dominates the TiVoPlex. We have to put up with these occurrences two or three times each year - such a burden, I know! As for Three Stripes in the Sun, it’s an unusual-for-the-time drama about an American soldier (Aldo Ray) stationed in Japan, where he transitions from racist asshole to tree-hugging multi-culturalist after falling for a local woman (Mitsuko Kimura) and getting involved with some sad-eyed war orphans. Sounds like this should have been written and directed by Sam Fuller, but those duties fell instead to the unheralded Richard Murphy, whose only other big screen credit is the amusing military comedy The Wackiest Ship In the Army. Shot on location in Japan, Three Stripes in the Sun co-stars Dick York, Phil Carey, and Chuck Connors.


7:05 PM Sundance
Joy Division (2006 GB): Airing immediately following an encore screening of the Ian Curtis biopic Control, this documentary allows viewers to put that fictionalized film into an historical context. Directed by Grant Gee, whose earlier Scott Walker: 30 Century Man cast much deserved light on another musical cult hero, Joy Division tells the full story of the Manchester band who evolved from punk rock to cold wave stars before imploding in the wake of Curtis’ suicide. This is essential viewing for fans and Joy Division neophytes alike, if a little on the predictable side structurally. There are only so many ways to make a rockumentary, though, and the story of Joy Division as told by Gee is certainly a step or two above your average VH-1 puff piece.

9:15 PM Turner Classic Movies
The Lords of Flatbush (1974 USA): This film made a huge impression on me when I was 12-years-old. Not because I got to see it at the time - heavens, no, it was rated PG! - but because of its ad campaign. Already an aspiring retro rocker/punk in waiting, I found The Lords of Flatbush’s greasy ‘50s imagery tremendously appealing, and intently watched its TV commercials every time they showed up on the goggle box. It wasn’t 'til years later that I actually saw the film, and of course it couldn’t possibly live up to my sky high expectations - but it’s still thoroughly enjoyable. Set in Brooklyn, the film stars Perry King (who was supposed to bloom into a superstar - what went wrong?), Henry Winkler, and Sylvester Stallone as three leather-clad cycle hogs who get into all sorts of low-key trouble in the ‘hood. The film has surprisingly little sex and violence - remember that PG rating! - but still manages to convey a suitably gritty atmosphere. While 1979’s The Wanderers offers a better overall depiction of ‘50s gang culture, The Lords of Flatbush remains good, relatively clean fun - despite what my mother thought at the time.

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