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Spike Lee Is TCM's Guest Programmer This Thursday July 5th

by Sergio
July 1, 2012 11:09 PM
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Anyone who regularly watches the Turner Classic Movie cable channel (and if not, why aren't you?) knows that every week on a special night, they like to have some celebrity (usually an actor, director, film critic or writer) as the guest programmer, to choose and discuss the films for that evening's broadcast.

Well, this Thursday July 5, it's Spike Lee's turn; along with TCM host Robert Osborne, he will present and discuss, before and after each showing, films which he says have had a monumental impact on him and his work.

The films which he selected (in the order they will be presented) are Billy Wilder's 1951 brutally cynical Ace in the Hole; actor Charles Laughton's 1955 strange suspense thriller Night of the Nunter (the only film Laughton ever directed); two Elia Kazan classics: 1954's On the Waterfront and, for me, his far superior 1957 film A Face in the Crowd (a film more relevant today than it was when it first came out); and Matrin Ritt's 1979 David vs.Goliath union drama Norma Rae.

The film series begins at 8PM (7PM Central).

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  • Edward | July 5, 2012 10:39 PMReply

    I am greatly disappointed that TCM would showcase Spike Lee as guest programmer, a man who is clearly a racist, evident through his rhetoric and his films. A very poor choice. My TCM viewing was dark this evening.

  • James Evans from the Cabrini-Green | July 2, 2012 9:33 AMReply

    Can someone help me with my aversion to Spike? I simply am never impressed with his work. It's somewhat astonishing that he names those films as influential, as his work HARDLY emulates the sharp writing and direction he claims to admire. To me, Spike and Tyler are two sides of the same bull***t coin. But legions of 20 year old aspiring independent filmmakers and B-list actors CAN'T be wrong, can they? Help me like Spike (and Tyler Perry)!! I wanna be down!!

  • Helluva | July 3, 2012 1:10 PM

    He's DECENT...but not GOAT level CC. The 70's opened doors to a plethora of "non-traditional" leads (Dustin, Woody, Hackman, Roy Scheider, Gene Wilder, Dreyfuss) and Jack was a direct beneficiary of that affirmative re-action to '60s mind expansion. A lot o' his juice was likely due to his off-screen lifestyle, hanging wit' Brando & Beatty, moreso than his actual "acting." He's a character/a screen presence. But as an "actor,"nothing he did in the 70's can hold a candle to DeNiro's decade long DOMINANCE during that same time-frame, in my opinion. He ain't bad. Just over-rated. Now I doubt you'll convince me otherwise but rant on my brother lol...

  • CareyCarey | July 3, 2012 12:45 AM

    Now Helluva, you're just trying to get Ol'CareyCarey started - huh? Surely you're joking, right? I mean, saying Jack Nicholson is over-rated is like saying fat meat ain't greasy. And what does the 70's have to do with this? The man has been laying it down for the past 40 years... China Town, As Good as It Gets, A FEW GOOD MEN, Batman, Terms of Endearment, etc,etc, etc,... B-actor he is NOT. You gotsta come better than that.

  • Helluva | July 2, 2012 10:52 PM

    Not to mention that Nicholson is the most over-rated actor the Academy has ever drooled over. Cuckoo's Nest -- quite good. The rest o' that gahbage? He's lucky it was the 70's, otherwise he's a career B-actor, imo...

  • CareyCarey | July 2, 2012 5:37 PM

    Okay Charles, we'll agree that the film had it's moments but it's nothing that would separate it from a host of other films in that genre. Yeah man, maybe it shouldn't be classified as a "Classic". Btw, who gave it that classification? It is far from "terrible" but I would question it's status as a "Classic". Then again, what qualifies a movie as a "Classic"? And who makes that determination?

  • Charles Judson | July 2, 2012 5:12 PM

    @Carey I can't take anything away from Nicholson's performance, but beyond the diner scene, PIECES doesn't really have any strong moments that make it any different than the films that came out prior to it that cover the same ground, except that's slower and plotless. It's definitely a film I place in the film school watch for historical reasons category, but I don't find anything that engaging about the film. In fact, there's a bunch of films from that I little window that I think the same thing of. They just feel like lesser versions of what was coming out of Europe, and had been for years. If they had been released on that side of the ocean, I'm not sure we'd still be talking about some of them.

  • urbanauteur | July 2, 2012 12:36 PM

    @JAMES, Tyler Perry cant hold Spike Lee's director view finder, thatz a bad comparison and scattershot critique, it would be more appropo if WE place his output along side "protein auteurs" like _ Francios Truffault(spike's a better technician), Jean luc Godard(heavy dogma influence),Edward Yang( family dynamics),Akira Kurasawa(ethnic specific!), Igmar Bergman( like his pencent to film exclusively on Faro Island, so doe's Spike and his beloved Republic of Brooklyn), come on broh, crab apples or should i say bake apples like in that brief montage# in Do the Right Thing,. spike lee has consistantly shown both his filmmic tanacity and intestinal fortitude and shut up netflix hooligans with vanilla wafer crumbs on their grey flanel suits.

  • CareyCarey | July 2, 2012 11:49 AM

    @ Charles, speaking on classics that don't hold up and/or are terrible, I personally would not put Five Easy Pieces in that category, for several reasons. First, it was early Jack Nicholson. His character wasn't over the top, but moreso a man faced with life's dilemmas which most men go through. He had a woman that he didn't believe his family would approve of. What man hasn't been there in one form or another. Then there was the internal strife within in his own family. Who hasn't been there? There was also the storyline of Jack's lovers, past and present, and their needs and positions in life. Also, like most of us, there may come a time in which we question the career and lovers/wives/companions we've choosen. And during those moments in time, we reach out to people, places and things ( promiscuous women, less responsibility, drugs & alcohol, less mentally stressful jobs, etc.) until we find our place of "comfort". All those above dynamics are in Five Easy Pieces, not to mention Nicholson's performance.

  • Charles Judson | July 2, 2012 10:55 AM

    That's like asking why people like SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER or BREATHLESS even though those films "look" nothing like the Humphrey Bogart and Noir/Gangster films that inspired them. If you can't see how NORMA RAE and ON THE WATERFRONT's focus on the working class and class conflict would inform DO THE RIGHT THING or SCHOOL DAZE. Or how ACE IN THE HOLE's cynical view of the press mirrors Spike's cynical take on both the Prison system and the college recruitment system in HE'S GOT GAME. Or how a FACE IN THE CROWD shares a lot of similarities with BAMBOOZLED. I'm not sure what the point of convincing you would be. At times Spike is emulating these works, but more often he's simply inspired by it. If you don't like Spike's films you don't like Spike's films. I can barely make it through a Terrence Malick film and have yet to finish one after multiple tries. I understand why people dig him on a intellectual level, I personally just can't get into him or his films. Maybe one day I'll finish one. Till then I don't sweat it, because there are lots of classics I think are terrible or don't hold up as much as people think they do (KLUTE and FIVE EASY PIECES being my biggest examples).

  • CareyCarey | July 2, 2012 10:42 AM

    James, only your hairdresser knows for sure. I am suggesting that only you and a few of your trusted friends know what you're looking for in the films you desire. Having said that, are you looking for an analytical discussion of the finer points of filmmaking? Or, do you desire an indepth discussion on human's emotions? Or the "relevance" of films in genral? I mean, you mentioned "sharp" writing and "direction", so what does that mean to you? I am asking because even though I enjoyed the films Spike chose, I don't know what he found admirable, and I can assume that you don't know either. Now, on the writing tip, again, what are you looking for? Are you looking for suspense, intrique, great dialog, controversy, conflict, humor, what? Listen, directors have an immense job. In many cases, it starts with the script, but it always includes picking the right actors. Then, the director has to have a defined vision which will allow him or her to steer said actors in the direction of his vision. That alone is not a job for the weak of heart. Yet Spike HAS handled it! And nobody can argue the fact that he has worked with the best. And James, do you believe the ideals of Black Consciousness put forth by Spike Lee's movies, plays into why many of his films are revered? So James, in short, do you know the duties and responsibilities of a director? And how do you define "good" and "sharp" writing? What are you looking for? Before you answer, I believe you are going to have a tough roe to hoe if your argument is primarily based on Spike's supposed inadequacies in any of the above areas of directing and writing.

  • CareyCarey | July 2, 2012 8:23 AMReply

    My favorite channel of all time! As Sergio said: (if not your's, why not?). "They" say if a person aspires to be a great writer, they should be a ferocious reader. I believe that's a given for obvious reasons. So goes the aspiring filmmaker/director/screenwriter, it would seem tantamount to their success that they watch the best movies of all time. Anyway, there's no way I'll miss Spike on Thursday night. Heck, the exchange between him and host Robert Osborne and their different viewpoints, will be worth the price of admission (and this is free). But that's only the tip of what I hope to experience. I can't wait to hear Spike's take on the movies he chose. I didn't know Charles Laughton directed "Night of the Hunter", but I want to hear what caught Spike's eye? See, that's the start of another great discussion "Great actors and how they faired as directors". There's several in that pool. But "Night of the Hunter" is a great film. And that's another discussion... Robert Mitchum roles. Huuuuummm... he's a bad man is this flick, but he was evil in Cape Fear too. Huuummm, his Cape Fear or Robert De Niro's? btw, Mitchum was in both of them. Oh, A Face In The Crowd will not be yo daddy's Sheriff Andy Griffith nor Opie Taylor, nor Matlock. Well, Andy Griffith is the star of the film, but he's not a sheriff in this one. Again, I can't wait to hear Spike's interests in that movie. Ace in the Hole... well, we'll see, maybe it's a kirk Douglas thang. But Noma Rae?! That theme has been done a million times and I don't think we're talking a great performance. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for the memories, Sergio.

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