Richard Linklater: Guest Programmer on TCM Tonight!

Tonight Boyhood director Richard Linklater will serve as Guest Programmer for TCM (Turner Classic Movies). As if I didn’t love him enough! Linklater will present three of his favorite classic films as co-host with TCM’s Richard Osborne. Here’s the schedule and film descriptions from the press release:

8 p.m. (EST) – Some Came Running (1958) – Frank Sinatra stars as a disillusioned veteran who returns to his Midwestern hometown in this adaptation of James Jones’ novel. Shirley MacLaine in an Oscar®-nominated performance, and Dean Martin co-star in the film, which was directed by Vincente Minnelli and shot on location in Indiana.

10:30 p.m. (EST) – The Asphalt Jungle (1950) – John Huston’s gripping film noir follows the planning, execution and aftermath of a complex jewel robbery. Sterling Hayden stars as a down-and-out gambler hired to help with the caper. Sam Jaffe co-stars as the mastermind, with James Whitmore as the getaway driver and Louis Calhern as the financial backer. Jean Hagen also stars, and Marilyn Monroe plays a small part.

12:45 a.m. (EST) – Fanny and Alexander (1982) – Ingmar Bergman’s award-winning drama follows the lives of a brother and sister who are members of a large Swedish family full of fascinating characters. Originally intended as a four-part television drama, Fanny and Alexander was re-edited for theatrical release and went on to win four Academy Awards®, including Best Foreign Language Film.

Muruch’s Best of the Decade: Films

In addition to my usual year end lists, I’m also doing decade lists. Following are my favorite films that were released between 2000-2009…

Muruch’s Best of the Decade: Films

20. Mama Mia

I didn’t expect to include this musical on the list until my husband reminded me how much we enjoyed it. When it comes to favorite movies that I watch again and again, I tend to lean toward happy flicks. Whatever the Abba-centric Mama Mia lacked in substance, it made up for in fun and catchiness. And I just adore Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan.

Buy @ Amazon

19. Tape

Everyone always remember Robert Sean Leonard’s performance in Dead Poets Society, but I think the best role of his career was in Richard Linklater’s claustrophobic 2001 film Tape. The film co-starred Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman as high school friends who have a bitter reunion with Leonard’s character in a motel room. The acting was so authentically tense and uncomfortable that I don’t think I’d rewatch the film. But it is unquestionably brilliant.

Buy @ Amazon

18. Psycho Beach Party

This one might be higher on the list if I saw it again, but it’s been nearly a decade since a quirky friend of mine introduced me to his favorite film and I haven’t had the pleasure of watching it since then. Charles Busch’s twisted parody of 1960s surfing movies starred then unknown actors Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) and Nicholas Brendon (Buffy) as beach-lovin’ kids embroiled in a series of murders.

Buy @ Amazon

17. Starting Out in the Evening

As I said in my 2008 review, the wonderful film adaption of Brian Morton’s novelstars Six Feet Under’s Lauren Ambrose as Grad student Heather Wolfe, who is writing her thesis on Leonard Schiller (Frank Langella), the reclusive novelist whom she adores.

Buy @ Amazon

16. Vanilla Sky

I think my husband and I are in the minority in loving Cameron Crowe’s 2001 remake of Open Your Eyes. It’s a surreal fantasy and thriller about the misadventures and romances of an egotistical rich brat played by Tom Cruise.

Buy @ Amazon

15. 2 Days in Paris

Actress Julie Delpy wrote, directed, and starred in this 2007 comedy about a couple’s wacky and awkward two days in Paris. As I said in my 2008 review: “Delpy’s characters are painfully, amusingly authentic and relatable. Especially for those of us that are one half of a transatlantic couple.”

Buy @ Amazon

14. Enchanted

Disney’s 2008 romantic comedy that starred Amy Adams as a cartoon princess transported to real world Manhattan is probably a recent enough release that I don’t need to say much here about the actual movie. It was sweet, funny, and fun to sing along with.

Buy @ Amazon

13. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Charlie Kaufman wrote the script for this strange 2004 film that starred Kate Winslet and Jim Carey as a recently broken up couple who literally have their memories of each other erased from their minds.

Buy @ Amazon

12. Amélie

The 2001 French romantic comedy about shy waitress Amélie Poulain introduced the world to adorable Audrey Tautou and is one of the most beautifully directed films ever.

Buy @ Amazon

11. Up

In my review of Pixar’s animated film Up last June, I called it “Wizard of Oz awesome.” I think that says it all.

Buy @ Amazon

10. The Anniversary Party

I don’t know if any of the old readers are still around, but I raved The Anniversary party on the old Muruch site back in 2002 (the archives of which were lost when I switched domains). The indie film was written and directed by Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who starred as a troubled semi-famous couple hosting an anniversary party to celebrate their post-separation reunion. The ensemble cast included Parker Posey, John C. Reilly, Gweneth Paltrow, Kevin Kline, Jennifer Beals, and featured a hilarious cameo by Phoebe Cates.

Buy @ Amazon

9. High Fidelity

The 2000 John Cusack movie is one of the best book-to-film adaptions ever. The secret to its success was the completely American transformation of the very British characters and setting of Nick Hornby’s brilliant novel. The film made a star of Tenacious D’s Jack Black, but what I loved most about it was the authentic portrayal of a couple trying to decide if love is enough to keep them together when it seems they want different things from life. And of course I love the way music is woven throughout the story, the Top 5 lists, and the protagonist’s comical encounters with ex-girlfriends.

Buy @ Amazon

8. Elf

This adorable comedy 2003 comedy about a human (Will Ferrell) who thinks he’s an elf was funny, sweet, and also paved the way for She & Him by showcasing the beautiful voice of Zooey Deschanel.

Buy @ Amazon

7. Best in Show

Christopher Guest’s parody of a dog show is one of the funniest comedies ever, thanks to a brilliant ensemble cast that included Parker Posey, Catherine O’Hara, Fred Willard, and Glee‘s Jane Lynch.

Buy @ Amazon

6. O Brother Where Art Thou?

Only The Coen Brothers’ would think to set an adaption of Homer’s Odyssey in 1930s Mississippi, let alone transform the epic into a quirky road picture comedy centering around three chain gang escapees. This is a film that has gotten even better with each viewing over the years, and its soundtrack brought bluegrass and folk music to the mainstream.

Buy @ Amazon

5. Hedwig & The Angry Inch

John Cameron Mitchell’s outrageous 2001 musical about a transgendered punk-rocker from Berlin is not for the easily offended, but it’s hysterical if you have a good sense of humor. It also featured some of the best rock songs ever recorded.

Buy @ Amazon

4. Zoolander

If the order of this list were based solely on how many times I’ve watched and/or laughed at a movie, Ben Stiller’s bizarre 2001 flick about a dim male model would be #1. It seems to have become somewhat of a cult favorite in recent years, but I still don’t think it gets enough credit for being a great comedy. Sure, it’s silly and more quotable than respectable. But it’s hilarious and unique, and I love it.

Buy @ Amazon

3. Wonder Boys

I rewatched and reviewed this 2001 gem about an aging novelist earlier this year, and as I wrote then: “It’s a rare film in that it is equally poignant and hilarious, and impossible to compare to anything else..”

Buy @ Amazon

2. Before Sunset

Richard Linklater’s 2004 sequel to Before Sunrise is even better than the original. Not only do we finally find out if star-crossed lovers Celine and Jesse were ever reunited, but the film is lovely and intelligent in its own right. It’s beautifully directed and brilliantly acted by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, whose characters have much more substance and scars than when we first met them nine years before.

Buy @ Amazon

1. Almost Famous

I loved Cameron Crowe’s film about a young music journalist following a classic rock band on tour when it was first released in 2000, but now I absolutely adore it. Back then I enjoyed the music, humor, and Kate Hudson’s hippie-fairy “band-aid” character Penny Lane. Now I find myself relating to William’s (Patrick Fugit) evolution from wide-eyed music enthusiast to conflicted music writer. And the best part of the film is its mood and style. It has that rare quality that all great classic movies posses – atmosphere. Instead of feeling like you’re watching actors play their parts, you find yourself so completely drawn into this fictional world that you forget it’s a movie. It’s a beautiful, funny, artistic piece of cinema and has become one of my favorite films of all time.

Buy @ Amazon

Loving Takes This Course: A Tribute To Kath Bloom

Loving Takes This Course: A Tribute To The Songs Of Kath Bloom is a beautiful two-disc set featuring new covers of Kath Bloom songs by Devendra Banhart, Scout Niblett, Josephine Foster, Corrina Repp, and The Concretes among others. The second disc in the set contains the original recordings by Kath Bloom, an excellent bonus feature that I wish other tributes would include.

This review has unfortunately been gathering dust in my draft folder since April, forgotten until I began writing about the new Judee Sill tribute. Strange how changing trends bring such brilliant, but obscure artists to light. I’m sure I’m one of many who was introduced to the music of Kath Bloom through her work with Loren MazzaCane Connors and the use of “Come Here” in Richard Linklater’s film Before Sunrise. But when I posted about Bloom’s music years ago (relevant posts here and here), I don’t recall seeing any mention of her elsewhere. Yet this tribute album has been all over the place in recent months – I would be remiss if I did not direct readers to the wonderful reviews of this album to be found at Cover Lay Down and My Old Kentucky Blog.

The covers selected for Loving Takes This Course are much stronger than those on the Judee Sill tribute. Whether this is due to the quality of Blooms’ songs or the talent of the artists covering them varies from track to track.

“Come Here”, for example, is such a pretty and uplifting love song that it would be difficult to ruin. But I definitely prefer the version by Marble Sounds that opens the album to the one by The Concretes that closes it. Both bands make some interesting, though vastly different, changes to the arrangement that give the song a fresh perspective. But Marble Sounds manage to do this while staying true to the delicate sweetness of the original.

I’m so thrilled this tribute includes “When I See You” (originally titled “When I Feel You Coming”), which is my absolute favorite Kath Bloom song and one of her collaborations with Loren MazzaCane Connors. There’s really no way to improve on Kath’s haunting original, but Laura Jean’s cover is still very good.

Devendra Banhart livens up the music of “Forget About Him”, and the song also seems to give the freak-folk singer’s voice new life. I love Scout Niblett’s voice, but miss the mandolin in her sparse rendition of “I Wanna Love”.

There are three covers on this album that I might like even more than Kath’s originals. Bill Callahan transforms “The Breeze/My Baby Cries” into a forelorn country tearjerker, Mark Kozelek paints “Finally” with an eerie shade of Nick Drake, and Corinna Repp’s fragile wail carves new shivers into “Fall Again”.

Track list for Loving Takes This Course: A Tribute To The Songs Of Kath Bloom:

Disc One: The Covers:

1. Come Here – Marble Sounds
2. The Breeze/My Baby Cries – Bill Callahan
3. When I See You – Laura Jean
4. Finally – Mark Kozelek
5. Window – Mick Turner (Dirty Three) & Peggy Frew
6. Forget About Him – Devendra Banhart
7. I Wanna Love – Scout Niblett
8. Biggest Light Of All – The Dodos
9. Look At Me – Josephine Foster
10. Ready Or Not – Mia Doi Todd
11. Fall Again – Corrina Repp
12. It’s So Hard To Come Home – Marianne Dissard & Joey Burns (Calexico)
13. In Your School – Amy Rude
14. If This Journey – Tom Hanford
15. There Was A Boy – Meg Baird (Espers)
16. Come Here – The Concretes

Disc Two: The Kath Bloom originals:

1. Come Here
2. The Breeze/My Baby Cries
3. When I See You
4. Finally
5. Window
6. Forget About Him
7. I Wanna Love
8. Biggest Light Of All
9. Look At Me
10. Ready Or Not
11. Fall Again
12. It’s So Hard To Come Home
13. In Your School
14. If This Journey
15. There Was A Boy
16. Come Here

Bill Callahan – The Breeze/My Baby Cries (mp3) *
Kath Bloom – Come Here (mp3) *

*mp3s posted w/ permission of Forcefield PR

Buy @ Amazon