Do you enjoy revisiting movie icons? Those bigger-than-life stars who know how to fill a screen? This weekend, broadcast and cable television feature movies that star some of the biggest names we remember. Check out these offerings.
The Prince of Tides (1991)
Yes, we know Barbra Streisand can sing, act and direct. And, if we begin to forget, she reminds us. This film, an Oscar nominee for Best Picture adapted from a novel by Pat Conroy, reveals how Streisand can entertain and frustrate at the same time. As a director, she finds a visual language to bring Conroy’s story about a dysfunctional family to life. She inspires Nick Nolte to give his best screen performance (for which he was Oscar nominated) as well as uses Kate Nelligan (also a nominee) and Blythe Danner to strong advantage. But the film weakens when Streisand-the-director focuses on Streisand-the-actress. Her role as Nolte’s therapist, which is secondary in the novel, suddenly becomes central to the film. And as Streisand-the-star overplays her scenes, we wish Streisand-the-director would tone her down. Still the film is lovely to look at, Conroy’s story remains moving, and Nolte is superb.
Friday, May 30, 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 31, 6 p.m.; TV Guide Network
The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)
As if Streisand learned from The Prince of Tides, she brings her performance in her next film to a reasonable level that connects with the rest of the cast. While this film was not as commercially successful as The Prince of Tides — and received minimal Oscar attention — it feels more relaxed. Streisand is in her element as a Columbia professor who believes relationships should involve more than physical attraction. She thinks of a clever way to prove that friendship should, actually, be the foundation for lasting love. And if her approach seems unconventional, and occasionally creates the havoc that a comedy needs, the integrity of Streisand’s work makes it feel reasonable. This time Streisand the director enables Streisand the actress to share the screen with her cast. And she brings out a lovely performance from the legendary Lauren Bacall who paints a layered picture as the star’s mother. How wonderful to see this iconic actress in a role that showcases her magic. She was a deserving Oscar nominee for Best Supporting Actress.
Saturday, May 31, 3:30 p.m.; 8:30 p.m.; TV Guide Network
My Fair Lady (1964)
When I introduced the films of Audrey Hepburn to my sons, I started with her Oscar-winning Roman Holiday — where she delights as royalty looking for reality — followed by Sabrina — where she mesmerizes as reality who captivates royalty — followed by My Fair Lady — where she captivates as reality who transforms into royalty. Despite the way George Cukor shoots the film to emphasize its stage origins, and how Warner Brothers refused to let Hepburn do her own singing in the musical numbers, the actress radiates as a flower girl who works hard to be seen as a lady. Her entrance at the Embassy Ball is as dazzling a movie moment as any actress achieved. Thanks to the permanence of film, Hepburn delights today as when the film was made some 50 years ago.
Saturday, May 31, 8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies (TCM)
The Color of Money (1986)
For years, no one could understand why Paul Newman never won an Oscar. He could have been victorious, in 1958, when first nominated for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. But he lost to David Niven. A few years later, Maximillian Schell took away the Oscar that Newman could have won for The Hustler just as, a couple of years after that, Sidney Poitier took away the Oscar Newman could have won for Hud. By the time he lost for Cool Hand Luke in 1968, he was a perennial Oscar bridesmaid, a role he continued when nominated in 1981 for Absence of Malice. But when he lost in 1982, for his commanding role as an alcoholic lawyer in The Verdict, the “good loser” narrative wore out its welcome. While his work was original and unforgettable, the Academy tossed its support to Gandhi and Ben Kingsley. So when Newman finally won an Academy Award for The Color of Money, his trip to the winner’s circle felt anti-climactic, another case of the right actor winning the right award for the wrong film. While there’s nothing wrong with his work, or the film, it doesn’t have the magic to endure as some of his other performances. Newman would go on to deliver two more outstanding performances that were, again, Oscar-nominated, in Nobody’s Fool and Road to Perdition. But somebody else won those Oscars, too.
Sunday, June 1, 4:30 p.m., Flix
Sharing worthwhile movies can be as easy as turning on the television or going online. And, when you watch together, take the time to chat about what you’re seeing. That makes it even more fun.