Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend:
The Gay Sisters (1942): Sometimes I recommend movies in this column not because they are great ... even good. There are many ways a movie can be fun. Here’s one that has a bit of camp value. My beloved Barbara Stanwyck heads a trio of three sisters from a rich Manhattan family. Their mother dies on the Lusitania, and they face the difficult task of coping with life in a gorgeous Fifth Avenue mansion while all alone in the world. What makes the movie even more fun is that one of the sisters is dating a man called “Gig Young,” played by, you guessed it, Gig Young. The fact is, he took his professional name from this picture. It adds a fun bit of weirdness to an already quirky curiosity of a movie.
Turner Classic Movies, 1:30 p.m. Thursday
Widows (2018): This tough-to-categorize movie really captivated me last year. Is it a crime thriller? A revisionist femme-power fantasy? A character study? A social commentary? Why yes, it’s all of those things. It’s directed by Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and features a powerhouse cast: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Brian Tyree Henry, Colin Farrell, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall and Daniel Kaluuya. Two performances stand out, however: the stunning Elizabeth Debicki and the versatile Cynthia Erivo. A group of women decide to finish a criminal caper that cost their criminal husbands their lives. What could go wrong, right?
Now streaming on HBO GO and HBO NOW.
Talk to Her (2002): Pedro Almodovar is one of the most talented writer/directors on the world cinema scene today. In this unusual film, two very different men — an effeminate hospital orderly (Javier Camara) and a gruff journalist (Marco Zuluaga) become friends because they have something bizarre in common: They are both in love with women in comas. One of the women is a young dance student (Leonor Watling); the other is an injured matador (Rosario Flores). Where the plot goes is so surprising it’s almost indescribable. Watch the movie and you’ll see why it won Almodovar the Oscar for best original screenplay.
Now streaming on the Criterion Channel.
Election (1999): Oh, it’s such a delicious feast when Sacred Cow is on the menu. Election skewers the traditionally safe, dorky and — dare I say it — boring world of high school politics. Reese Witherspoon plays a know-it-all student whom teacher Matthew Broderick secretly despises because of her chirpy and relentless positive energy. When she decides to run for student body president, he gets a thick-headed football player (Chris Klein) to run against her, and things get more and more out of control from there. Reese shows her promise as a movie star, and the screenplay crackles with naughty wit.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Trivia Question #801: Which of this week’s performers won a Tony Award for playing the lead role in a revival of The Color Purple on Broadway?
Answer to Trivia Question #799: The great director Akira Kurosawa was only nominated for an Oscar one time (for Ran in 1985).
Ray Ivey is a writer and movie fan in Hollywood, California. He would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.