Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend.
The Dictator (2012): This guilty pleasure is totally up my alley. I’m a big Sacha Baron Cohen fan, so I saw this one in the theater. It’s a portrait of the very, uh, problematic dictator of the fictitious country Wadiya. Cohen’s brand of humor dictates that he goes over the top with the gags, which suits me just fine. The idea of him competing in a track and field event, carrying a handgun to deal with his competition, is irresistible. It’s naughty, it’s dumb, and I found it all very funny.
Now streaming on Hulu.
The Dark Corner (1946): More “confused noir” from YouTube! This one is confused from the get-go, because my beloved Lucille Ball gets top billing, but the story isn’t even close to being about her character. She plays a helpful secretary to a private detective who’s having all sorts of big noir problems, involving being framed for a crime and having the bad guys tailing him. I reiterate my claim that pre-sitcom Lucille Ball could do anything, and she makes this movie — confused as it is — still worth watching. And if you want to watch a truly bonkers Ball noir, check out Lured.
Now available on YouTube.
What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (2018): My hero Roger Ebert was supported and encouraged by Pauline Kael. He was the first movie critic to win a Pulitzer, but she’s probably the first movie critic to make people take movie critics seriously. This smart, difficult woman put movie criticism on the map, and man, did she do it the hard way. She reviewed movies for years for no pay. Her famous first collection, I Lost It at the Movies, was published before she ever got a paid gig reviewing films. This fascinating documentary tells her remarkable story, and I recommend it to any fellow movie enthusiast.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
2001: The Making of a Myth (2001): I’m a documentary junkie, and I’m also a big fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey. So this little doc I found on HBO was a natural fit for me. It’s not terribly in-depth or ground breaking, but I still enjoyed it and I still learned new things about this movie. It’s fun to listen to star Keir Dullea discuss how his flat, emotion-free delivery came about. Several of the visual effects leads offer some entertaining insights. What I enjoyed the most, however, was finally getting to hear from the performers who played the early humans in the “Dawn of Man” sequence. Very good stuff if you love the original movie.
Now streaming on HBO MAX.
Trivia Question 872: Did you know Sacha Baron Cohen can also sing? Do you remember what film musical he had a featured role in?
Answer to Trivia Question 870: David Byrne shared the Oscar for best original score for The Last Emperor (1987).