Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
Woman of the Year (1942): Here’s the first of the nine films that Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn starred in together. Theirs was one of the great cinematic partnerships, spanning almost 25 years. Written by Ring Lardner Jr. and Michael Kanin, it tells the story of two reporters at a New York newspaper who fall into a romance. Issues of career versus marital duty ensue, with great wit and charm. George Stevens, who later made Giant and Shane, directed.
Turner Classic Movies, Monday, 12:45 p.m.
American Animals (2018): This is an odd and entertaining caper movie based on a true story. It’s about four idiot college students who decide to steal a priceless Audubon art book from the library at Transylvania University in Kentucky. They are played by Evan Peters, Blake Jenner, Barry Keoghan and Jared Abrahamson. In an amusing twist, the real thieves they play are also in the movie, commenting on their memories of the incident. Ann Dowd does her usual terrific work as a library employee who suffers at their hands. It’s difficult to believe bright young college kids could be do something so dumb, so you watch the movie with a sort of appalled shock.
Now streaming on HBO GO / HBO NOW.
Midsommar (2019): There is something wrong with writer/director Ari Aster. He’s a sick s.o.b., and lucky for us, rather than getting the professional help he clearly needs, he’s making movies. He’s creating a new subgenre I’ve been calling feel-bad horror. These are movies that are as upsetting as they are (genuinely) scary. Midsommar is his follow-up to 2018’s grim but fascinating Hereditary. This time around, a group of American college students accept an invitation from a Swedish friend of theirs to go observe (and take part in?) a once-every 90 years rural folk festival. A month out in nature, celebrating fertility, the harvest and brotherhood. What could go wrong? Well ... a lot. Star Florence Pugh probably deserves the Oscar for Best Crying. Keep your Xanax at the ready and be prepared for the appalling events of Midsommar.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
The Stanford Prison Experiment (2015): Not for the faint of heart. Based on actual events, this is the story of the notorious “experiment” by Professor Philip Zimbardo (Billy Crudup) by having college students participate in a two-week simulation of a prison. Half of the students were guards, the other half prisoners. Let’s just say that it did not go well. The film is a real showcase for a group of excellent young actors, including Thomas Mann, Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Olivia Thirby and Michael Angarano. If you can take it, it’s an interesting and illuminating watch.
Now streaming on Netflix.
Trivia Question 828: What was the ninth and last film Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn made together?
Answer to Trivia Question 826: Victor Mature once joked, “I’m not an actor ... and I’ve got 64 films to prove it!”