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Boldly go back to Star Trek

Published: 
Sunday, August 24, 2014
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy & Co in the original Star Trek movie.

On an unappetising Sunday, the only Also Rans worth mentioning are a Sam Peckinpah Western (Major Dundee, 1.05 pm Enc3), a Clint Eastwood baseball thing (The Trouble with the Curve, 1.20 pm HBO) the kiddie flick and its sequel that would have got the nod (The Smurfs, 5.16 pm, The Smurfs 2, 7.05 pm HBOF) if today’s pick didn’t have its own five sequels following it immediately after! The week holds six former picks, five very good indeed (Veronica Guerin, 5.05 pm Monday Max, 360, 6.55 pm Tuesday, Max, *Dark Water, 4 pm Wednesday again 5.45 pm Friday MaxW, Dead Calm 6.45 pm Wednesday TCM, Looper, 5.55 pm Thursday HBO, and one so incredibly bad, it becomes good again, as unintentional comedy (*Glitter, 5.45 pm Tuesday HBOF). 
 
Today’s best film: Star Trek the Motion Picture (Robert Wise/ 1979/ USA / Adventure-Mystery-Sci-Fi / 132 mins/ PG for sci-fi action and mild language), 1 pm Turner Classic Movies. Watch this if you liked Dune, Close Encounters of the Third Kind or the modern Star Trek films. Though the action sequences and special effects are almost laughable compared with those of modern CGA movies—and even suffer when held up against the what-now-seem-dated Star Wars movies—the first of the original William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy & Co films were like longer, better thought out episodes of the old TV serial. It’s cheesy and inspirational in roughly equal proportions but the denouement of the revelation of the identity of Veeger, the mysterious, insatiable, all-conquering villain, makes it all not just worthwhile but, yes, rewarding. Worth investigating also from a purely historical sci-fi film perspective.
 
Rest of the week: Dirty Harry (Don Siegel / 1971/ USA / Action-Crime-Thriller/ 102 mins/ R), 10 pm Monday and again 6.30 pm Tuesday Turner Classic Movies. Watch this if you liked Scarface, Lethal Weapon or The Road Warrior. Clint Eastwood as the ultimate, if not the original, ice-cold, hard-as-nails cop. Hardly a bump (outside of only its politics, perhaps) in its runtime and many a quotable line of dialogue. A lot of fun, particularly if you don’t examine it too deeply. Bruce Surtees’ cinematography—amazing opening sequence with the woman shot in the pool—and Lalo Schifrin’s music would impress focus groups today. Half the cop flicks shot today are cut from this template.
 
Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton/ 2013/ USA / Drama / 96 mins/ R for language and brief sexuality), 9 pm Tuesday HBOC. Watch this if you liked Our Idiot Brother, All is Bright or Moonrise Kingdom. A drama that could almost have been a documentary, the performances are that good and the direction that accomplished, Short Term 12 is set in a group home for troubled teenagers in the American Midwest or Middle of Nowhere. You might think you’re watching real people, not actors. A real treat, as a film, even if the subject matter is far, far away from entertainment. 
 
Best of the rest: Mon: Horrible Bosses, 6.15 pm HBO; Tues: Face/Off, 4 pm HBOC; Wed: Flightplan, 8 pm MaxW; Thurs: Bird, 5.35 pm TCM;  Fri: Syriana, 6.45 pm HBOC; Sat: The Quick and the Dead (1995 film), 6.30 am Enc3. 

*Starred films have been chosen in the last three months. Scheduled Internet times often vary on the day, particularly around month-end.