DAVID BIANCULLI

Founder / Editor

ERIC GOULD

Associate Editor

LINDA DONOVAN

Assistant Editor

Contributors

ALEX STRACHAN

MIKE HUGHES

GARY EDGERTON

ROGER CATLIN

KIM AKASS

GERALD JORDAN

MONIQUE NAZARETH

TOM BRINKMOELLER

NOEL HOLSTON

 
 
2012
Dec
28
 
 
Spike is working through most of the Star Wars canon this weekend, beginning tonight with the first two films in the series. Not the first two released, but the first two entries in the prequel trilogy. Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace, from 1999, begins at 6 p.m. ET, and Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones, from 2002, begins at 9:15 p.m. ET. Watch the first film, if for no other reason, to catch the then 17-year-old Natalie Portman as Queen Padme Amidala.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2012
Dec
28
 
 
Filmed in 1939 (how many great movies were made in 1939?), this Ernst Lubitsch film allowed Greta Garbo to show off her comic side, and to great effect. She plays a super-serious Russian commie, whose views of everything in the Western world are shaped by disbelief and disdain – until, at long last, she warms to the city of Paris and a charming Count, played by Melvyn Douglas. The movie still works, and Garbo’s screen presence still glows.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2012
Dec
28
 
 
Part 2 of 2: Tonight Christiane Amanpour concludes her four-hour video tour of ancient sites of importance to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2012
Dec
28
 
 
Credited as basically the first truly American dance company, the Joffrey Ballet is saluted in tonight’s new American Masters program. Bob Hercules directs the documentary, Mandy Patinkin narrates it, and vintage interviews with founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino are included – along with, of course, enough performance clips to make you want to belly up to the barre. Check local listings.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2012
Dec
28
 
 
Here’s another Ernst Lubitsch comedy presented tonight on TCM. This one, from 1942, stars one of the comedy superstars of the period – Jack Benny – and puts him in an impressively complex role. He and Carole Lombard play a couple of Polish actors (they live in Poland, they’re stage actors, and they’re a couple) who use their celebrity and acting ability to foil plots by the Nazis. In real life, the Nazis had invaded Poland in 1939, starting World War II for much of
 
 
 
  
 
 
2012
Dec
28
 
 
On this day in 1997, CBS presented a telemovie version of Neil Simon's 1972 Broadway play, The Sunshine Boys...
 
 
 
  
 
 
2012
Dec
27
 
 
After I retired from all-hours television monitoring, I decided to try to get by somehow, some way, with just basic cable. And I even have a Top 10 for the year...
 
 
 
  
 
 
2012
Dec
27
 
 
When Puppet Playhouse was unveiled on Dec. 27, 1947, giving house-bound kids something to watch before dinner, the response was immediate and amazing...
 
 
 
  
 
 
2012
Dec
27
 
 
Mindy Kaling’s Fox sitcom didn’t really click with me – though I liked its sensibility, and its comic generosity with familiar guest stars. But for those who do like it, or for those who have yet to sample it, Fox is using the “dead week” between Christmas and New Year’s to showcase it prominently. Four repeat episodes occupy all of Fox’s prime time tonight – so the network hasn’t given up on its latest Project quite yet.
 
 
 
  
 
 
2012
Dec
27
 
 
One of the most compelling examples of what I call “spider-web movies” is shown tonight – and if any of my film students from last term are watching, I hope they pay particular attention to, and get particular enjoyment from, the druggy dream sequence – or dreamy drug sequence – based on Busby Berkeley choreography from the 1930s. Jeff Bridges stars in this 1998 Coen Brothers comedy, a pop-culture touchstone for the new generation.