Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend.
Mank (2020): Feel like a plunge into old Hollywood? Though this is a new movie, it’ll immerse you in the beautiful, black-and-white world of the Dream Factory of 80 years ago and beyond. Gary Oldman stars as Herman Mankiewicz, the man Orson Welles basically bullied into writing the screenplay for Citizen Kane. The film attempts (with medium success) to re-create legendary Gregg Toland’s cinematography, so the movie is always a treat to look at — if a bit too dark. It’s full of wonderful performances, including Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst, Arliss Howard as Louis B. Mayer and Ferdinand Kingsley as Irving Thalberg. The movie is pretty much stolen by a glittering Amanda Seyfried as Hearst’s starlet paramour, Marion Davies. It’s time to give this hard-working actress her Oscar.
Now streaming on Netflix.
The Sons of Katie Elder (1965): The 1960s served as the last era of the classic Hollywood Western. The great directors and stars who defined the genre were all mostly still working. Veteran filmmaker Henry Hathaway helmed this sturdy adventure that stars John Wayne, Dean Martin, George Kennedy, Dennis Hopper, Earl Holliman, Martha Hyer and Michael Anderson Jr. It’s about a quartet of brothers out to avenge their dead mother and to take back the ranch their father lost in a card game. Beautiful cinematography by Lucien Ballard and a rousing score by Elmer Bernstein — my favorite film composer — add luster.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime.
What Would Sophia Loren Do? (2021): This delightful new 30-minute documentary tells the story of Nancy Kulik, an American housewife who grew up steeped in the Italian culture of her parents. She became a lifelong fan of Sophia Loren and used her as a role model for her everyday life. Anyone who’s ever been obsessed with a movie star will relate to this lovely woman. And in my humble opinion, if you’re going to base your life on a celebrity, you could do a whole lot worse than a person of such legendary beauty and talent as Ms. Loren.
Now streaming on HBO MAX.
Promising Young Woman (2020): Carey Mulligan is spectacular in this breathtaking revenge thriller. Years after a grotesque sexual assault led to her dropping out of medical school, Mulligan sets out to settle scores. What could have been a lurid exploitation picture turns out to have quite a lot on its mind. Are her actions justified? Is she a monster? Is she helping or hurting? Is revenge ever worth it? Bo Burnham, Alison Brie and Laverne Cox are standouts in a large and impressive cast. It’s nice to sit through that rare movie that truly keeps you guessing as to where in the world it is heading.
Now available on Video on Demand.
Trivia Question 882: Which of this week’s performers had a memorable death in a television series: getting shot by a crossbow while on the toilet?
Answer to Trivia Question 880: Aziz Ansari wrote an excellent book about dating in the digital age called Modern Romance (2015).