Five Fabulous Flicks (Plus Two)

by Karl J. Paloucek

Start the weekend — and next week — right with these films airing June 12-18. All times ET.

tropic-thunder_webJune 12
Tropic Thunder (2008)
This one’s up in the air — depending on your sense of humor, it’s either the funniest movie of 2008 or it’s an OK comedy with Ben Stiller and Jack Black. Regardless, it still yields an Academy Award-nominated performance from Robert Downey Jr. in his controversial role as African-American action-film star Kirk Lazarus, and enough audacity to make it a pop-culture staple. Cinemax (HD), 8pm ET

June 13
The Dark Knight (2008)
Why so serious? Probably because the centerpiece of this most-unusual of Batman films, of course, is the posthumously won Academy Award-winning turn as the Joker by the late Heath Ledger. Definitely not your father’s Batman, or even the Batman of the last decade, things take a decidedly blacker turn here, as the name clearly states. Probably not for the younger Batfans. HBO (HD), 8pm ET

June 14
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Will Smith stars in this hope-filled film based on the real-life story of a man who lost his family fortune, lost his wife and his home, and found himself homeless with his son on the streets. When he takes a six-month unpaid internship at a financial firm, it’s all he can do to survive, but he remains determined to do the most he can. TNT (HD), 8pm ET

June 15
24 Hour Party People (2002)
Steve Coogan is wonderful in his portrayal of the late pop impresario and Factory Records founder Tony Wilson in this unusual biopic that covers the lives and deaths that intersected his enterprise and the music scene of Manchester, England, from the late ’70s through the ’90s. IFC, 8pm ET

June 16
Citizen Kane (1941)
Many decades on, is it “vainly attempting to sway, as it once did,” the opinions of filmgoers everywhere? Hardly. Young Orson Welles’ bittersweet triumph still excites the imagination, stirs debate and cleans the clocks of the competition in nearly every credible Best-Film-of-All-Time list. TCM, 8pm ET

June 17
Norma Rae (1979)
It made the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 Most Inspiring Movies of All Time (#16) and really put its star, Sally Field, on the map, her Academy Award-winning performance removing most of the stigma of having been a flying nun in the previous decade. A hard-biting portrayal of the struggles of organized labor. FMC, 8pm ET

June 18
Cabaret (1972)
Liza Minnelli comes to the footlights in the film version of Kander and Ebb’s musical reworking of Christopher Isherwood’s story of the irrepressible singer Sally Bowles who works the stage — and the patrons — of Weimer-era Berlin’s “Kabarett” scene. Ovation, 8pm ET