Turner Classic Movies: great channel, or greatest channel? For the next three months, we're tempted to say the latter. Through early December, TCM is devoting a lavish block of its programming to Mark Cousins' excellent 15-part series The Story of Film. That in itself is momentous: Cousins' artfully arranged attempt to survey the entirety of cinema, across continents, genres and disciplines, left audiences thunderstruck when The Belcourt showed the whole thing last year. If that's all TCM were doing, the channel would still be doing movie lovers a favor (as usual).
But it's not. "Beginning this month and continuing through early December, one new episode will be introduced each Monday on TCM, with a lineup of feature films and shorts related to that episode," the channel announced on its website. "Tuesday evenings the thematic programming continues, and includes a re-airing of the previous night's episode. By December, the entire festival will include 119 movies from 29 countries, many of them TCM premieres."
That means starting 7 p.m. Monday, along with the second hour of The Story of Film spanning the years 1918-1928 ("The Triumph of American Film and the First of Its Rebels"), you can see Buster Keaton's The General, Charlie Chaplin's The Kid and City Lights, and Harold Lloyd dangling for eternity from that distended clock face in Safety Last. The programming resumes 7 p.m. Tuesday with Robert Flaherty's Nanook of the North, Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, King Vidor's The Crowd, and the original (mangled) release version of Erich von Stroheim's Greed.
We've been sneaking peeks at the lineup well into November, goggle-eyed. How about a two-day '70s salute featuring Mean Streets, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Cabaret, Chinatown, Killer of Sheep and The Last Picture Show? Kid stuff, you say, stifling a yawn. OK — how about one November night consisting of Wim Wenders' Alice in the Cities, Ousmane Sembene's Xala and Patricio Guzman's The Battle of Chile, Part 1 (Nov. 4)? Or Prakash Mehra's Amitabh Bachchan actioner Zanjeer, followed by Enter the Dragon (Nov. 11)? There are movies in this lineup we've never even heard of, such as Tengiz Abuladze's 1984 Soviet film Repentance.
We leave you with the lineup for Monday, Nov. 25: Wong Kar-Wai's Days of Being Wild, Abbas Kiarostami's Where Is the Friend's House?, Claire Denis' Beau travail, Michael Haneke's Funny Games — the German-language original (need you ask?) — and Djibril Diop Mambety's Touki-Bouki. And the clincher? That same month, the awesome Saturday cult-movie block TCM Underground is showing the memorable '70s drive-in roughie The Candy Snatchers and Rudy Ray Moore as Disco Godfather. Check out the full schedule at tcm.com.
• We're still encouraging people to catch Wong Kar-Wai's big-screen marvel The Grandmaster, now playing at The Belcourt, while it's still in theaters. But we're happy to see word of mouth turning Lake Bell's romantic comedy In a World ... into a summer sleeper at the Hillsboro Village arthouse. Its second weekend did even better than the first, and judging by the response on Twitter, it's turning into a solid date-night standby. It's been held over for another week at The Belcourt, where your options this Saturday include Napoleon Dynamite in the morning (as a 10 a.m. kids' show), Woody Allen's Manhattan in all its black-and-white glory at 12:15 p.m., and Tommy Wiseau's incitement to mass cutlery bombardment The Room at midnight.
• The September calendar is up at East Nashville's basement Cult Fiction Underground grindhouse at 2915 Gallatin Pike. This weekend's creature feature is the Clive Barker-scripted Gaelic demon opus Rawhead Rex, projected from DVD at 8 and 10 p.m. this Friday and Saturday. Coming weeks bring the 20th anniversary version of Ted Nicolaou's Subspecies (Sept. 13-14), David Cronenberg's early shocker They Came From Within (Sept. 20-21), and a "Naschy Night" double bill of Paul Naschy's Count Dracula's Great Love and Hunchback of the Morgue, hosted by NaschyCast podcasters Troy Guinn and Rod Barnett (Sept. 27-28). See cultfictionunderground.com for more info.
• Opening Friday at Green Hills: Keri Russell as the Pride and Prejudice obsessive who scopes out a Jane Austen theme park looking for her own Mr. Darcy in Napoleon Dynamite co-author Jerusha Hess' comedy Austenland. Opening at Hollywood 27: the inspirational drama The Ultimate Life, directed by Michael Landon Jr. Also opening wide: Vin Diesel IS Riddick.