Spellers, Springsteen, Snowpiercer and (Jimmy) Stewart

Let’s hope that television executives realize that there is a huge market these days for old movies and start offering a bigger selection of classics on all platforms.

(photo credit: NETFLIX)
Spelling the Dream on Netflix is a feel-good documentary about how Indian Americans have come to dominate spelling bees in the US.
It opens in May 2019 at a historic finish of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, where eight contestants tied for first place, and of these, seven were from Indian families.
The movie alternates competition footage – which is always riveting, especially if you or someone you love has ever competed in spelling bees – and interviews with the contestants, both current and past, and their families.
The interviewees offer thoughts on why the Indian culture meshes so successfully with the spelling-bee world. Some of the answers are predictable – Indian parents place a huge value on education as a means to advancement – but there are some more intriguing theories, such as the insight that the majority of the Indian parents and contestants are multilingual, which makes the children more tuned in to the nuances of language.
Blinded by the Light tells a similarly upbeat story about a boy from a family of Pakistani immigrants to England, and it’s now showing on Cellcom TV.
It’s based on the true story of Sarfraz Manzoor, a teenager who dreamed of living a more interesting life than his factory-worker father and found his inspiration when he discovered the music of Bruce Springsteen. Becoming a huge fan of The Boss helped him start a career as a writer.
Blinded by the Light is an enjoyable movie, although at times his single-minded focus on Springsteen – he even starts dressing like his idol – rather than opening himself to other musicians and music, seems oddly limited. It was directed by Gurinder Chadha, who made Bend It Like Beckham.
Helen Mirren has played Queen Elizabeth II, so it seems only natural that she would play an empress in the acclaimed Sky/HBO miniseries Catherine the Great, which starts running on KAN 11 (Channel 11) on June 12 at 10:30 p.m. The episodes will also be available on the station’s website.
The Netflix series Snowpiercer – based on the 2013 movie of the same title by Bong Joon Ho, the director who made the Oscar-winning Parasite – starts out promisingly but devolves quickly.
It’s a dystopian drama (yes, another one) about a world that has become so cold that only a few thousand people survive, and they live on a train that moves constantly.
The rich passengers are pampered, and the poor who stormed the train at the last minute are brutally oppressed.
It stars Jennifer Connelly and features a mystery about who is murdering the wealthy travelers. But I turned it off in the second episode when the security police were putting down a rebellion among the poor and were about to hack off the arm of a six-year-old girl as punishment.
If you want to see Snowpiercer, you’ve been warned.
What is it with arms being cut off on television? Mark Ruffalo chopped off his hand in I Know This Much is True, and on The Walking Dead the hero was almost forced to cut off his son’s hand a few seasons ago. It’s a trend that I hope we’ve seen the last of.
Alfred Hitchcock’s classic slow-burn suspense drama Rope will be shown on June 14 at 10 p.m. on Yes 3.
It’s one of his darkest films, where you find yourself rooting for the bad guys from start to finish. Rope is particularly famous for the fact that it was made to look as though it had been filmed in one continuous shot.
It stars James Stewart, John Dall and Farley Granger, and it’s about two friends who try to commit the perfect crime.
Now would be a great time to watch classic old movies, but they’re hard to find. The cable networks and streaming services here rarely show any movies made before 1990.
iTunes, where you don’t have to subscribe and can pay per movie, has a decent selection – there are nine Humphrey Bogart films and nine Hitchcock films – but there are a lot of technical problems in getting their films to stream.
Let’s hope that television executives realize that there is a huge market these days for old movies and start offering a bigger selection of classics on all platforms.