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From ghetto to ghetto

Sunday, July 20, 2014
Ice Cube in his breakout role as Doughboy in Boyz in the Hood.

The worst week for film choice for the year demands repeating a relatively recent lead pick today and offers up precious little in the way of Also Rans, which are limited to a decent Clint Eastwood WWII flick (Letters from Iwo Jima, 12.30 midday HBOC), an oddball Western (Alvarez Kelly, 4.15 pm Enc3) and an outstanding film that screened at last year’s T&T Film Festival, but you have to speak French or read Spanish subtitles to follow (La Pirogue, 1 pm Max). The week is even worse, offering nothing to write home or film pick features about.

Today’s best film: *42 aka 42: The Jackie Robinson Story (Brian Helgeland/2013/USA/ Biography–Drama-Sport/128 mins/PG-13 for thematic elements, including language) 10.30 am today HBO Family. Watch this if you liked The Hurricane, Invictus or The Blind Side. Looking back from the age of an American president Americans would call black, it’s hard to remember, sometimes, that the Civil Rights Movement was in near full swing a scant half-century ago. This remarkable biography of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the colour bar in US baseball, is a beautifully made reminder of how ugly the time was—and how strong the individual, Jackie Robinson, was, to stand alone against the baseball world. Touching to the point of poignancy in parts, distressing to distraction in others, excellent throughout, this is as good as real-life biography gets; even if the liberal might worry about a feelgood element threatening to creep in and pass itself off as pride.

Today and rest of the week: Boyz n the Hood (John Singleton/1991/USA/Crime-Drama/112 mins/R for language, violence and sensuality) 10 pm Saturday TCM. Watch this if you liked Menace II Society, Juice or New Jack City. Once you can get past the fact that what they call poverty in America is actually upper middle-class in the Caribbean—everybody has their own house, car and yard—John Singleton’s debut feature about life in an inner-city LA neighbourhood is strong on performances, hard on content and runs tightly all the way through. Doughboy remains Ice Cube’s best role, even if he had to take a taxi from his own middle-class area into the hood.

Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg/1993/USA/Biography-War-Drama-History-Holocaust/195 mins/R for language, some sexuality and violence) 5 pm Wednesday Turner Classic Movies BEST FILM OF THE WEEK. Watch this if you liked Downfall, The Pianist or Life is Beautiful. A contender for Steven Spielberg’s great work and near the top of most lists of Holocaust films, Schindler’s List is as lovingly made as its subject-matter is distressing. With hardly a lag in its three-hours-plus length, the film details one of humanity’s great sins—the systematic, racist murder of six million innocents, three-quarters of them women and children—with surprising restraint.  The film could hardly avoid being harrowing but remains spellbinding. The sequence in which the rooftop camera follows the child, identified by her spot-coloured coat in a sea of black and white, foreshadowed the use of the blood-splattered lens in the cinematography of Saving Private Ryan. The performances of the male leads are astonishing. Yes, he lays the sentimentality on a little thick at the end—but it at least gives you something to be gruff, instead of weepy, about.


Best of the rest: Mon: Biutiful, midnight MaxW; Tues: Forbidden Planet, 4.15 pm TCM; Wed: The Smurfs 2, 9 pm HBOF; Thurs: A Shot in the Dark, 4.40 pm TCM;  Fri: Wayne’s World, 6.45 pm TCM; Sat: Groundhog Day, 6 am TCM. 


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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