April 2022: An Anniversary, Television and TCMFF
Welcome to my newsletter! Every month you’ll receive this update featuring all of my writing, and my favorite film and television watches.
April brought many firsts. First among them is this monthly newsletter compiling the highlights of my work from the previous month. In April, Marya and I signed a lease on our first apartment; I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my New York Times action streaming column, covered my fair share of television and film, and attended my first TCM Film Festival (a long held bucket list item of mine!!). Here is everything I wrote and/or appeared on last month:
April was a busy, busy month as I watched 48 films - many of them springing from my first trip to TCM Film Festival. I’ve long dream of attending the fest, and nearly made the trip a reality in 2020. That is, until the pandemic hit. The wait, however, was totally worth it. Over a four-day period, Marya and I watched 13 films, with many of them being new to me. You can see everything I watched for the month over at Letterboxd, but here are a few highlights:
A Man Called Adam - In this Sammy Davis Jr dramatic vehicle, the Rat Pack member is a talented but troubled Jazz trumpeter wrestling with regret and racism.
Days of Wine and Roses - Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick give all-time performances in Blake Edwards’ harrowing and visceral film about married alcoholics trying to kick the disease.
Evenings for Sale - Stuart Walker’s Evenings for Sale was TCMFF’s most unsuspecting gift. In his introduction, critic Leonard Maltin described stumbling on this film about a penniless Count (Herbert Marshall), now a gigolo, crossing paths with a sweet, wealthy and widowed Midwestern woman (Mary Boland) venturing through Europe, on Youtube. This pre-code comedy is an absolute delight, and Boland is a gift.
Jerrod Carmichael: Rothaniel - Possibly the rawest, most intimate stand-up I’ve ever watched, Carmichael’s Rothaniel offers a sobering journey of self-discovery and identity punctuated by hearty laughs.
Love Jones - A swooning Black romance directed by Theodore Witcher and starring Larenz Tate and Nia Long, this Chicago-set film was recently added to the Criterion Collection.
Marvelous and the Black Hole - Directed by Kate Tsang, this endearing coming-of-age story takes its cue from Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude by portraying a rebellious, grief-stricken teen (Miya Cech) and her loving friendship with an eccentric magician (Rhea Perlman).
The Pajama Game - A trippy musical concerning collective bargaining, George Abbott and Stanley Donen’s The Pajama Game feels like it came from a different universe. Centering an exceptional Doris Day, the film features early Bob Fosse choreography with “Hernando’s Hideout” and “Steam Heat” (a taste of the work he’d do with Cabaret) as stand-out numbers.
Polyester - No one ever came out of a John Waters’ film bored, and it certainly doesn’t happen here in this Divine and Tab Hunter two-hander concerning porn and unfulfillment, nestled in a quaint suburb.
The Slender Thread - Starring Sidney Poitier as a volunteer crisis hotline employee and Anne Bancroft as a spiraling suburban mom and wife, this was Sydney Pollack’s feature directorial debut and is ingenious in its call-center drama and claustrophobic set pieces.
Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash - This Indonesian action flick worships at the altar of 1980s action, yet interrogates the inherent machismo of the genre by spotlighting a hero living with erectile dysfunction (I swear, it’s actually a fun time).