October 15, 2005

A Great Night for Art Movies on TV

The broadcast networks have conceded failure on Saturday nights. Viewer levels are so low that NBC, CBS, and ABC have chosen to play reruns (of course, Fox is airing the baseball playoffs).

As a result, the premium cable networks have been agressive, running (and often debuting) some of their newest and most attractive theatrical movies on Saturday night. For example, tonight on HBO, you can catch the lightweight but entertaining Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! (featuring a wonderful performance by Topher Grace) and Sideways; I Heart Huckabees is on Cinemax, etc.

But the basic cable channels, Independent Film Channel and the Sundance Channel, are golden tonight. With some original comedies in the middle, Sundance offers an arthouse triple play: Osama (a drama about Afghanistan through the eyes of a girl masquerading as a boy), and two movies by the great English director Mike Leigh -- one of his lesser later works, Career Girls and his breakout hit in the U.S., Life Is Sweet.

IFC has its own triple feature. For some reason, they sandwiched the confection Bend It Like Beckham, with two wrenching movies, Requiem for a Dream, and one of Pedro Almadovar's best movies, Talk To Her.

Heck, even the old-line movie channels are pitching in. If the playoffs don't provide enough baseball action for you, check out Field of Dreams and The Natural on AMC. Even better, flip over to the Turner Movie Channel and watch one of the greatest musicals ever made, Swing Time (Fred and Ginger were never better), and stick around afterwards for the delightful Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which contains a song with the immortal lyrics:

"Can't get no sleep
When you sleep with sheep."