Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
Gambling House (1950): I try to stay apolitical in this column, but as you know, I don’t always succeed. Here’s a 1950 movie about a topic that’s timely today. It deals with crime, refugees and the threat of deportation. Victor Mature plays a hood whose residency status greatly complicates his efforts to deal with a crime he’s been accused of (but didn’t commit). Will he be reformed by do-gooder Terry Moore? Or will deportation end his American dream?
Turner Classic Movies, 11 a.m. Tuesday
The Messenger (2009): This moving tale tells the story of two soldiers whose job it is to communicate tragic news to soldiers’ families. One of them is an old hand at this difficult work (Woody Harrelson, Oscar-nominated for this role) and one of them is new and thinks he’s the wrong guy for the job (the wonderful Ben Foster). Poor Foster is damaged from his recent deployment and has love problems to boot. Samantha Morton is wonderful as always, and Steve Buscemi has a brief but quite memorable role as an angry dad. I’m a huge Ben Foster fan, and if you are, too, you shouldn’t miss this one.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Julie And Julia (2009): Can you love half a movie? This confection from writer/director Nora Ephron is sort of a double-feature in one. The first story is about a young woman who decides to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes and blog about it. The second story is a sort of mini-biography of Julia Child itself. If it helps you to guess which part I like best, let me tell you that Meryl Streep plays Julia Child. And she’s — big intake of breath — fabulous playing this quirky giant from Pasadena. Child’s story is truly fascinating and entertaining, and Stanley Tucci and Jane Lynch help. The other part of the movie, with Amy Adams and Chris Messina, is fine.
Now streaming on Netflix.
The Nightingale (2019): Remember how great 2014’s The Babadook was? Well, if you have Hulu, and you missed it during its brief run in the art houses earlier this year, you can now see writer/director Jennifer Kent’s second feature, The Nightingale. However, I must stress that if ever a film should come with trigger warnings, it’s this movie. When it played at the Sydney Film Festival, 30 people walked out. It is not for the faint of heart. If you’re feeling brave, though, give it a watch and let me know what you think. It’s a revenge tale that takes place in colonial Tasmania in 1825. It’s horrific but stunning and beautifully made.
Now streaming on Hulu.
Trivia Question #826: Which of this week’s performers once claimed: “I’m not an actor — and I’ve got 64 films to prove it!”?
Answer to Trivia Question #824: Sylvia Sidney had a memorable role as an afterlife bureaucrat in Beetlejuice.