Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
Intruder in the Dust (1949): In general, I don’t really think the movies frequently captured the alchemy and spirit of William Faulkner’s fiction. But against all odds, this spare and beautiful film from 1949 really does. It’s a taut tale of a seemingly guilty black man (the wonderful Juano Hernandez) determined to prove his innocence of a crime when the entire town seems to want to lynch him. Claude Jarman, Jr. (famous for starring in The Yearling) plays his unlikely teenage ally. This movie feels like you’ve stepped into a time machine.
Turner Classic Movies, 11:30 p.m. Monday
In the Mood for Love (2000): This exquisitely beautiful film tells the story of two married neighbors (Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung) who begin to suspect that their spouses are cheating on them. This begins to create an unlikely friendship between the two. There’s not a lot more to the plot than that, but that doesn’t really matter. The reason to watch this movie is to simply let the beauty of it wash over you: Christopher Doyle’s moody cinematography and William Chang’s lush production design create a heady mood that just takes you over. Pay special attention to the use of green! This is a mysterious, unforgettable mood piece.
Now streaming on The Criterion Channel.
Dead Ringers (1988): This is one of my favorite films of the 1980s, but it is most definitely NOT for the faint of heart. Jeremy Irons gives an astonishing double performance as twin gynecologists who sink into a miasma of drug abuse and mental illness. The movie doesn’t cheat, in that it give us no easy visual hints to easily distinguish which brother is which, but Irons is so good that not only do you learn to tell which brother is which ... you can tell when one brother is pretending to be the other! The depths to which the brothers sink are bone-chilling, so don’t take my warning lightly. But director David Cronenberg creates a moody, ultimately terrifying psychological masterpiece. Genviève Bujold shines as they woman they both get involved with.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004): Sometimes a stupid movie is just what you need. This is one of my idiotic favorites. The terrific actors John Cho and Kal Penn star as the titular couple, and other than being harmless and nice, they are largely without serious merit. After getting seriously stoned, they realize they really, really want to go have White Castle burgers. The rest of the movie is a stupid series of misadventures as they try to fulfill this goal. I cannot defend this movie as great cinema, but damn if it’s not enormously funny. Cho has since become one of my favorite actors.
Now streaming on Netflix.
Trivia Question 825: Bette Davis played twins twice, once in a film called Dead Ringer. What was the name of the other film?
Answer to Trivia Question 823: The 2018 thriller Searching takes place on a single computer.