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No Christmas movies here
A good Sunday for film choice, unless you were hoping for Christmas movies, includes two very strong picks from two Sundays ago, both on HBO (*Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, 1 pm, *Argo, 2.42 pm), a very funny rom-com (Crazy, Stupid, Love, 6.46 pm, again HBO) and what is likely to be next week’s Sunday pick (The Impossible, 5.35 and 7.35 pm MCP). The week includes the second-newest member of the BC on TV list of the 50 Best Movies Ever Made (*A Separation BEST FILM OF THE WEEK, 6.10 pm Tuesday Max) as well as two chances to see Clint Eastwood’s best Western (Unforgiven, 10.05 pm Monday and 5.25 pm Tuesday TCM) and the best cartoon ever made using real people (Scarface, 10.05 pm Friday TCM): say hello to Al Pacino’s “little freng.”
Today’s best film:
Toy Story 3 (John Lasseter/1995/USA/Family-Animation-Adventure-Comedy/77 mins/G), 9.05 am HBO Family. Watch this if you liked Finding Nemo, Shark Tale or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Though indubitably a children’s movie, Toy Story 3 is one of those rare films that adults can enjoy just as much as their kids. The characters are more real than many non-animated movies today, the script is tight and very funny, the adventure is cracking and, unlike most adult films that cash in on the success of the first, both sequels live up to the original by finding greater depth in the characters and new ground to cover instead of repeating the formula with new set pieces. A two-bags-of-popcorn treat.
Rest of the week:
The Ballad of Cable Hogue (Sam Peckinpah/1970/USA/Western/121 mins/PG-13 for language and scenes of peril) 9 pm Thursday Encore 3 Westerns. Watch this if you liked Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, The Graduate or Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Sam Peckinpah is the man who put the realism—and the violence—in the Western, but The Ballad of Cable Hogue is his least typical film, the most un-Peckinpah Peckinpah. Aptly named, it tells the oddball story of a man, robbed and left to die in the desert, who stumbles upon a spring and makes his small fortune. A quiet, meditative character study, this lovely film is over far too quickly—and comes with a perfect end that no focus group would stand for today. Short on guns and gore but long on lyrical content and empathy, this is a forgotten gem from a fine filmmaker—and as soft as the hard-as-nails Peckinpah ever got. A Western for people who hate Westerns, a slow film for people who hate slow films, and a reminder of what cinema can be, at its best. Recommended for everyone who’s still pining for the Studio Film Club; this is a film they might have seen there.
Juno (Jason Reitman/2008/USA/Teen-Romantic Comedy/96 mins/Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, sexual content and language) 8.25 and 10.25 am Saturday Movie City Premieres. Watch this if you liked Knocked Up, Sideways or Millions. Far, far better than any film condemned to classification under “Teen” and “Rom-Com” should be. A sparkling script and a simmering performance from Ellen “Hard Candy” Page—easily the best actress of her generation—make the perennially difficult topic of teenage pregnancy as enjoyable as it is touching. Not for children at all, but very rewarding for open-minded grownups.
Best of the rest:
Mon: *The Artist, 9 pm Max; Tues: Lincoln, 4.55 and 6.55 pm MCP; Wed: The Polar Express, 6.15 pm MaxW; Thurs: Killshot, 9.15 pm MaxW; Fri: The Dark Knight Rises, 9 pm HBO; Sat: End of Watch, 10.55 pm MCP.
*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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