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A miserable Sunday for film choice (though the Movie City programming was unavailable at time of picking) sends you out to the cinema—Digicel IMAX, if you can—and leaves only a Brando-fan Western (The Missouri Breaks, 9 pm Enc3) making the also ran cut! The week offers more, including two far better Westerns, the greatest of the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood works (*The Good, the Bad & the Ugly, 3 pm tomorrow, TCM) and John Wayne’s only critically good movie (The Searchers, 3.20 pm Wednesday TCM), a great Robert De Niro/Christopher Walken/Michael Cimino antiwar movie that would have been picked if it screened an hour later (The Deer Hunter, 3 pm Tuesday TCM) and a member of the BC on TV list of the 50 Best Movies Ever Made (*A Separation BEST FILM OF THE WEEK, 9 pm Thursday Max). Last week’s blood-boiling pick (*Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, 3.30 pm Friday HBO) should not be missed by anyone who prefers God to religion.
Today’s best film:
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (AKA Hunger Games 2) (Francis Lawrence/ 2013/USA/Sci-Fi-Thriller-Action-Adventure/146 mins/Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some frightening images, thematic elements, a suggestive situation and language) 3-D at 7.35 pm, Digicel IMAX; 2.15, 5.30, 7.30 (POS only) and 8.45 pm MovieTowne Port-of-Spain and Chaguanas; 4.30 and 7.30 pm Tobago. Watch this if you liked Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Flies or the first Hunger Games movie. If the first film was not quite as good as the first book, the second instalment surpasses the second book with style. Though you need to watch the first one again—this is not a stand-alone sequel—Catching Fire is far better than its predecessor. Jennifer Lawrence is as close to perfect as an action role allows, but the real star of the second film is modern technology. There are scenes, such as Katniss’ archery practice, or virtually any of the games sequences themselves, that take the breath away, in the manner of the first moving pictures in France, a century ago. In IMAX 3-D, this would be mind-blowing, justifying the label of “experience.” A movie to remind you why you love to go to the movies.
Rest of the week:
The Illusionist (Neil Burger/2006/Czech Republic-USA/Thriller-Mystery-Drama/ 110 mins/PG-13 for some sexuality and violence), 7 pm Thursday Max West. Watch this if you liked The Prestige, The Usual Suspects or The Magician of Lublin. Neil Burger’s stirring adaptation of the Steven Millhauser short story is a rare treat from an even rarer source: Hollywood. Based on a sharp script and solid direction of immaculate performances, The Illusionist happens also to be a thoroughly watchable mystery thriller. Some might wish for a little more grunge but that would be pedantry. An exceptional Phillip Glass soundtrack renders the whole thing all but flawless. Not a literary worthy, to be sure, but, as a lovely blend of period piece and well-paced whodunit, it delivers in spades. Think of it as The Usual Suspects meets Pride & Prejudice.
Friday the 13th (Sean S Cunningham/1980/USA/ Horror/95 mins/R), 10.05 pm Friday—the 13th—Turner Classic Movies. Watch this if you liked Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street or The Shining. As with the Halloween and Nightmare films, the slew of dreadful sequels shame the groundbreaking original. Though not as menacing as Halloween, this was the film that, in tandem with it, set up the genre known as “splatter.” Far better than the sequels would have you suspect. This is the first time since BC on TV began almost 15 years ago, that a cable channel has had the sense to screen it on a Black Friday.
Best of the rest: Mon: Stuart Little, 5.45 pm HBOF; Tues: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 4.10 pm HBO; Wed: *Field of Dreams, 10.05 pm TCM; Thurs: A Lonely Place to Die, 6.45 pm HBOC; Fri: Forbidden Planet, 4.40 pm TCM; Sat: Dark Water, 7 am LMN.
*Starred films have been chosen in the last three months. Scheduled Internet times often vary on the day, particularly around month-end.
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