Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
Good-Bye, Mr. Chips (1939): One of the only major Oscars that Gone With the Wind didn’t bag was Best Actor. As iconic as Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler was, he lost the prize to the great Robert Donat for his heartbreaking, sweet and resonant performance as a teacher at a British boys’ school. Donat ages 63 years during the course of the film. It’s sentimental and even a bit creaky, but the movie is also irresistible. Featuring a notable turn by Greer Garson as the love of his life.
Turner Classic Movies, 2:15 p.m. Monday
The Irishman (2019): Can you believe this is the first time Al Pacino and director Martin Scorsese have worked together? Pacino plays Jimmy Hoffa in this gigantic, rich epic about the famously disappeared union leader. Robert DeNiro stars as Frank Sheeran, a mafia/union tough guy who may (or may not) have killed Hoffa. Joe Pesci reluctantly came out of retirement to play a rare low-key character, mob boss Russell Bufalino. The film takes place over many years and the filmmakers employ impressive de-aging techniques to the three septuagenarian’s stars faces. The movie is long (3.5 hours!) but it’s never boring. It’s amazing to watch these three old pros tear up the screen.
Now streaming on Netflix.
Blow Out (1981): This underrated Brian DePalma thriller is an update of the more famous 1966 film Blow Up, in which a chance photograph is blown up to reveal a possible murder. This time around, John Travolta plays a movie soundman who thinks he may have captured evidence of a murder on an audiotape he was creating. Nancy Allen (the director’s then-wife) co-stars along with John Lithgow. This movie deserved more success at the box office than it enjoyed.
Now streaming on The Criterion Channel.
Cedar Rapids (2011): This mild, underrated fish-out-of-water movie stars Ed Helms as a milquetoast insurance salesman from the sticks who gets sent to the “big city” for the big industry convention. All of his assumptions about life and work are challenged as he spends a memorable weekend with other agents (John C. Reilly, Anne Heche and Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) and even meets his professional idols. This is a smart and sweet movie about actual adults (as opposed to the hormonal 20-year olds that seem to be the focus of most commercial movies these days). Heche and Whitlock are particularly appealing.
Now streaming on HBO GO / HBO NOW.
Trivia Question 821: Which of this week’s performers had a future wildly successful talk show host?
Answer to Trivia Question 819: Spike Lee’s highest-grossing film is Inside Man (2006).