‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ superstars12/4/2013
The real Bonnie and Clyde were grotesque killers with no redeeming qualities. But the new TV movie “Bonnie and Clyde” (Sunday and Monday, 8 p.m., A&E, Lifetime and History) swathes them in glamour. As played by Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger, they’re Depression-era hotties who look fabulous while robbing banks and breaking out of jail. They even take time to have sex in their getaway car with the police hot on their trail.
This is no cinematic classic, like 1967’s “Bonnie and Clyde.” Director Bruce Beresford overdoes the dreamy images and the slo-mo, and the script dabbles in cheesy sociology, letting our miscreants off the hook as much as it can. (Hey, times were hard in the 1930s.) It even has the nerve to paint Bonnie as a proto-feminist heroine.
But I can’t get too upset. The movie passes the time, and Hirsch and Grainger just keep looking fabulous, regardless of the plot. They’re much more fun to hang out with than the real Bonnie and Clyde would have been.
“Six by Sondheim”
Monday, 8 p.m. (HBO)
This documentary profiles Stephen Sondheim, composer/lyricist of “Company, Sweeney Todd” and other innovative musicals. It’s artfully organized around six songs, which we hear in archival clips as well as new restagings. Sondheim himself provides sophisticated commentary in interviews from different periods of his life, with and without beard and cigarettes.
Along with learning about his working methods, we hear stories of his horrific childhood — a contributing factor to his sometimes dark worldview. Sondheim quotes a letter he received from his mother in his 40s: “I have only one regret in life, which is giving you birth.”
In wishing that Sondheim never existed, his mother is squarely in the minority.
Tuesday, 7 p.m. (TV Guide Network)
The TV Guide Network has stumbled on a reality-show goldmine: a wealthy Southern California family with four sexy, spoiled, sassy, TV-ready sisters. The Marin girls are blond counterparts to the Kardashians, banal and self-absorption. “Tequila Sisters” (named for the family’s tequila-importing fortune) has no trouble finding plot points, given the sisters’ nude photo shoots and $40,000 parties. Then there’s the parents’ strict Mexican value system, which clashes with the girls’ libertine lifestyles.
In a month dominated by wholesome holiday fare, I appreciate a series that’s unabashedly tawdry.
Wednesday, 8 p.m. (TNT)
This miniseries is set in 1947 Los Angeles, where a hardboiled detective (Jon Bernthal) battles fedora-wearing mobsters for the soul of the city. Clearly, writer-director Frank Darabont (“The Walking Dead”) has watched too many Humphrey Bogart movies. “Mob City” is a compendium of film noir clichés, from the jaded hero to the slinky dames to the two-bit losers. One of those losers (a miscast Simon Pegg) is even more hapless than Darabont intends. He quotes James Cagney in “White Heat,” even though nobody in 1947 would have heard of that 1949 movie.
So it goes, botching every element of the film-noir genre. Worst of all is the sub-Raymond Chandler dialogue: “This city, it’s a sky full of stars!” says our two-bit loser, grasping for tough-guy poetry. “Up close, it’s all gutter!”
At times like this, you begin to think that Darabont hasn’t watched quite enough Humphrey Bogart movies. CV
Dean Robbins is a syndicated TV columnist from Madison, Wis. See more of his work at www.thedailypage.com.