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Viewer Discretion Advised: 7 April, 2007

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Thursday, Apr 5, 2007


Well, well, well…what do you know? A weekend where the available choices range from pretty good to actually great. Isn’t that odd? Must be something in the air over at the premium pay movie channels – either that, or the crap film warehouse has run out of available made for cable dung to deliver. In either case, it’s time to feast while the banquet is bountiful. Indeed, choosing between the top three offerings on Saturday night may be quite a chore. While some would look at the titles and figure “no problem”, there is enough entertainment value in either the Sandler sob story or the Reeves/Bullock spook show to satisfy even the most discerning cinematic pallet. And with Russ Meyer and Roger Corman waiting in the wings, it’s a veritable smorgasbord of fun filmmaking to choose from. Starting with the mainstream blockbuster that redefined the career of a notoriously outspoken director, here is what SE&L will be celebrating come this Easter weekend:


Premiere Pick
Inside Man


Spike Lee spices up the heist film with his own unique brand of urban angst, and brings Tinsel Town A-teamers Denzel Washington, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe, Jodie Foster, and Clive Owen along for the ride. He ended up with the biggest box office hit of his career, and an outpouring of critical affection almost unheard of in this auteur’s 20-plus years behind the lens. While some felt the ending was unsatisfying, especially in light of all that came before it, this is still one of the most entertaining and engaging films in the director’s diverse career. Along with his definitive documentary on Hurricane Katrina (When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts), 2006 showcased a maturity and an intelligence that argues for a new phase in the filmmaker’s always contentious canon. (07 April, Cinemax, 10PM EST)

Additional Choices
The Lake House


Audiences avoided this Western remake of the Korean classic Siworae, ignoring the hype surrounding the much anticipated re-teaming of Speed co-stars Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. Now, The Lake House seems ready for redemption. There is something cathartic about a good old fashioned weeper, and while many critics seem to shutter at the thought of something emotional, Argentinian director Alejandro Agresti mostly avoids the maudlin. (07 April, HBO, 8PM EST)

Click


Starting off high concept and only rarely venturing into the low brow, Click represents a kind of career stepping-stone for the superstar Adam Sandler. Getting to the point, age wise, when his goofy fratboy foolishness stops looking hilarious and begins feeling pathetic, this family farce tried mightily to move in directions the comic never before considered. Click is more than just a remote control gimmick – it’s every man’s middle aged crisis come to life. (07 April, Starz, 9PM EST)


Jiminy Glick in Lalawood


How former SCTV star Martin Short managed to milk this mediocre Comedy Central character into a full blown mock doc motion picture is anyone’s guess. He must have some racy photos of Hollywood Execs laying around his Canadian estate. Whatever the reason, this effete fatso with a penchant for corrupting his celebrity junket interviews in about as hilarious as a hemorrhoid. This film is the perfect example of a sketch being stretched beyond its talent tolerance levels. (07 April, ShowToo, 10PM EST)

Indie Pick
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls


Working within the confines of an actual motion picture studio for the first time in his career, and wanting to see just how far he could push the typical milquetoast mainstream, exploitation master Russ Meyer teamed up with buddy Roger Ebert to craft this story of an all female rock band’s pilgrim’s progress through the entertainment biz. Required to tone down the level of smut inherent in his other work, and unable to achieve the same outrageous surrealism he often strived for, Meyer managed to make a movie that both alienated audiences and flummoxed true fans. Thanks to time, and a little retrospection on the part of critics, what was castigated back in 1970 is now seen as campy, kitschy and decidedly deranged some 37 years on. While not the best example of Meyer’s infamous ‘babes and boobs’ dynamic, what we have here is highbrow schlock, carefully crafted by an auteur always aiming for somewhere around said aesthetic. (07 April, IFC, 9PM EST)

Additional Choices
The Last Seduction


It was a cause celebre when it arrived, an argument against the Academy’s rules about release dates and allowable nomination medium. Since it made its first appearance on cable TV, star Linda Fiorentino and director John Dahl were automatically disqualified from Oscar consideration. This didn’t stop critics from campaigning for this unusual post-modern noir, or from Dahl becoming a filmmaker of note throughout the rest of the ‘80s and ‘90s. (8 April, IFC, 9PM EST)

Unborn But Forgotten


As part of the Sundance Channel’s weekly dive into Asian horror (under Tartan’s Extreme tag), we are presented with this standard Eastern spook show about a haunted website that kills you 15 days after you visit it. Does that premise “ring” a bell with anyone? Anyway, as South Korean creepfests go, this is no Two Sisters, but if you don’t mind seeing yet another example of stringy haired ghost girls doing the creature crawl, you may enjoy this overly familiar frightmare. (8 April, Sundance, 12AM EST)

Breathless


As one of French New Wave wonder Jean-Luc Godard’s certifiable masterpieces, Breathless remains a unique and undeniably original take on the crime caper. With Jean-Paul Belmondo as a car thief on the lam and Jean Seberg as his muse/moll, Godard takes the language of cinema and retranslates it through an ‘anything goes” ideal. The results are resplendent in their deconstructive power, a film that finally examines what makes movies artificial…and artful. (9 April, Sundance, 10:30AM EST)

Outsider Option
A Bucket of Blood


Though not as well loved as Roger Corman’s other horror comedies (in particular, the crackpot classic The Little Shop of Horrors), this incredibly whacked out wonder deserves more respect than it gets. Goosing bohemia and its beatnik brethren, AIP staple Dick Miller plays an artist who’s only inspired when corpses become part of his sculpting strategy. Naturally, fame and notoriety are his undoing. With that standard combination of craven terror and unsubtle satire that Corman did so well, what could have been another House of Wax turned into a crazy cult creation. Presented as part of TCM’s Underground movie series (one wonders if the deep in production Rob Zombie will make an appearance), here’s hoping that Walter Paisley and his tainted tableaus find the same accepting audiences that Seymour Krelboyne and his killer plant Audrey have enjoyed for over 40-plus years. (6 April, Turner Movie Classics, 2AM EST)

Additional Choices
Double Indemnity


Billy Wilder built his entire auteur reputation on being a filmmaker unhappy to stay stuck in one particular genre. While most remember his comedies, or his operatic dramas, this amazing film noir stands as a telling testament to his talent and tenacity. Featuring fabulous performances from Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray, and enough twists and turns to keep the plot percolating, this suspense standard bearer remains one of the director’s numerous motion picture masterworks. (10 April, Retroplex, 9:40PM EST)

Kaw


First off – big ups to that title. Nothing screams ‘cheesy b monster movie’ better than a single syllable shout out to a creature’s signature sound. Here’s hoping the rest of this knotty narrative about a “conspiracy of ravens” overrunning a small town can live up to such humongous horror hype. Since it’s making its debut on the SciFi Channel, however, there’s not much hope in that. (7 April, SciFi Channel, 9PM EST)

Deep Impact


It remains the “emotional” disaster movie from 1998, one of two competing ‘asteroids hitting Earth’ epics to come out that year. Using subtlety over bombast, director Mimi Leder proved that even the most outrageous special effect film can have a heart. While it looks a little clunky nearly a decade on (the CG destruction of New York does not hold up), it feels more fully realized than Michael Bay’s awkward Armageddon. (9 April, TNT, 11PM EST)

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