This Weekend on Cable: 4 Movies Worth Adding to Your Permanent Collection
And now, Movieline's home-viewing guru Michael Atkinson introduces a new feature dedicated to this weekend's most recordable films on a movie channel near you.
I don't much trust the "cloud" -- what if a comet hit the Earth and took out all of those data-center servers? Then where'd your "copy" of Radiohead's full catalog be? I like to have copies I can hold, and I say, movie channels are rewarding sources of movies for when that comet hits. Then, all you'd need is a generator, a DVD player and your DVD-R rip of Children of Men to have a Saturday night.*
This weekend, it's high time you lifted W.C. Fields' Never Give a Sucker an Even Break from TCM (Sat., 9:00 AM), because there may have not been a larkier, more insane film made in Hollywood in the first half of the century. You could get used to having this on hand on rainy weekend afternoons, or when you're hungover. Also on TCM (Sun., 2:00 AM) is Anna Christie, Garbo's first talkie by way of Eugene O'Neill's tragic dockside melodrama. Except no, it's the German version, made simultaneously with the English-language version, on the same sets, directed by Jacques Feyder (not studio slave Clarence Brown). Putting one up against the other is like comparing apples (Brown's version) to... apples that have been bruised, wormed and fermented into bitter applejack.
Sundance is also running the very odd Spanish thriller Intacto (Sun., 11:50 PM). Director Juan Carlos "28 Weeks Later" Fresandillo offers a very strange vision of an extreme underground of bet-it-all lunatic gamblers and their utterly bizarre rites -- running across highways at night, sitting in a dark room with treacle in their hair waiting for a monstrous firefly-mantis to choose a head to land on, bolting through a thick forest blindfolded. (Whoever doesn't break their face on a tree wins.) Survivorship and luck are equal, even down to Max Von Sydow's Holocaust-survivor master player.
But Primer (IFC, Sun., 9:05 AM) is the one to not goddamn miss. Shane Carruth's all-but-forgotten Sundance-fest-winner indie from 2004 took the basic but maddening narrative idea of time travel and created -- with only a brainiac script, some appliance parts and a public storage container -- the greatest science-fiction film of the last decade. Two young tech engineers work on an unnamed device in their garage. Once they find they can fold time with it, they start jockeying back a half-day every day, until they are too many copies of both men walking around with agendas of their own. We never know whether we're watching an "original" or a copy, or even what the hell that's supposed to mean. Conundrums bloom like dandelions, the attention bar is held high, and the science is used like a metaphor stick on our ideas of knowledge, cause and effect and even story progression. Where does it end? Does it end? What has Carruth been up to since?
- Editor's Note: Movieline does not advocate the illegal reproduction of these or any films. That said, when the comet hits, the world will have more pressing issues to attend to than where you acquired your copy of Anna Christie.