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Tue, Dec 10


@ 12:00 AM

Tonight, I'm guest programming 4 films on Turner Classic Movies. And talking about 'em.

I could not be more excited or nervous or proud to be doing this. I still can't believe there's a 24-hour, commercial-free cable channel that does nothing but unspool classic, obscure, challenging and orphaned movies the way TCM does. They're the closest thing we have to a "National New Beverly Cinema."  

The whole thing kicks off at 8pm with Kind Hearts and Coronets, Robert Hamer's acidic, unapologetic comedy about, essentially, a serial killer. A charming, heartbroken, and well-dressed serial killer, but a non-stop murder-dog all the same. And you root for him, from the first moment you see him. Before Hannibal Lecter, before Edmund Blackadder, and before Antonio Salieri there was Dennis Price's Louis Mazzini, slicing his way through all eight members of the ghastly D'Ascoyne family, all played brilliantly by Alex Guinness. AND WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THAT MADDENING, FINAL SHOT? What choice gets made?  It's an ongoing debate amongst cinephiles. I'm sorry you're about to get dragged into it.

Then I'm showing 3:10 to Yuma -- not the excellent 2007 remake, but the flawless 1957 original. Based on an Elmore Leonard short story, it's a tense, 90-minute seduction between a silky Glenn Ford and a confused, curious (?) Van Heflin. Could YOU resist a denim-clad Glenn Ford, sprawled on a four-poster bed in the bridal suite? And how did Glenn Ford NOT get an Oscar nomination for his performance?

After that I'm premiering, for the first time on TCM, two movies from the Film Movement collection. The first is called The Wind Journeys -- and yes, it SHOULD have been titled The Devil's Accordion, but fine. Shot in Northern Columbia, I've never seen a more gorgeous, begging-to-be-video-wallpaper movie in my life. The plot is deceptively simple. A man -- a juglar, or wandering troubadour -- believes he is in possession of the devil's accordion. Now that his wife has died he must return it to its owner to be free of the curse. So off he goes. I mean, there's no way he ACTUALLY possesses the devil's accordion, right? It's just silly folk superstition, right? Watch and see. Funny, sinister, and, again, gorgeous. Eye-melting.  

And, finally, there's Aaltra. A 2004 Belgian comedy about two horrible assholes who, after a farming combine accident, become paraplegics and even BIGGER assholes. They travel across Europe to sue the farming equipment company. And you're either going to laugh your ass off watching it -- the way I did -- or scratch your head and get really angry with me. The blackest and funniest of black comedies.

I hope you tune in. I hope you watch all four, plus Robert Osbourne and I running our traps about the movies, and what they mean. And watch Turner Classic Movies every chance you get. Re-watch a classic you've seen, and discover new angles and dimensions (you always will, I promise). Or give some obscure little movie a chance. But make sure TCM never goes off the air. It's a bulwark in the infrastructure of our consciousness. I know that sounds pretentious, but it's the rock-ribbed truth.

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