Viewer Discretion Advised: 3 February, 2007

[1 February 2007]

By Bill Gibron

PopMatters Contributing Editor

A new month, a new line up on your local premium movie channels. Granted, in celebration of African American history, it would be nice to see more efforts by minority moviemakers. But Hollywood and its distribution arm being what it is, limited access for works outside the marketing mainstream are not that easy to come by. Until they get their aesthetic head screwed on right, here are the potential entertainment avenues one can explore, starting on 3 February:
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Premiere Pick

Rize

They call it krumping and it got its start when a kids party clown from South Central Los Angeles decided that urban gatherings needed something more than magic tricks and balloon animals. It wasn’t long before the fad became a phenomenon, with crews setting up and competing against each other in mesmerizing demonstrations of passion and movement. Introduced to the style by some dancers on the set of a music video, photographer and director David LaChappelle decided that someone needed to make a film about this new street theater. The result is one of the best statements on the artistry inherent in the human body ever created. While the personalities featured (including Tommy, the man who started it all) have compelling individual stories, when they start dancing, they speak a unique universal language that transcends their sobering situations. (3 February, Showtime, 7:30PM EST)

Additional Choices

King Kong (2005)

It was a personal dream of Peter Jackson to remake this Hollywood horror classic, and the New Zealand auteur did the big ape proud. This is one of the best films of 2005, grossly undervalued by critics looking to slam the man responsible for the stellar Lord of the Rings trilogy. (3 February, HBO, 8PM EST)

Running Scared

Don’t come looking for Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal. This 2006 attempted action film by South Africa’s Wayne Kramer (The Cooler, Mindhunters) centers around a drug deal gone bad, and the disposal of a dirty gun. Some may find the forced fireworks compelling. Others will simply be bored. (3 February, Cinemax, 10PM EST)

The Benchwarmers

With only Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jon Herder to recommend it, this low brow comedy (also featuring Rob Schneider and David Spade) is your typical ‘dorks against destiny’ sort of effort. If you like your humor limp and uninspired, with enough references to bodily fluids and groins to get you grinning, by all means sign up. (3 February, Starz, 9PM EST)

Indie Pick

In the Bedroom

In 2001, actor Todd Field came out of what seemed like nowhere (he had been making independent short films since the early ‘90s) to direct this devastating look at a family falling apart after an unusual tragedy strikes their home. Featuring amazing acting turns by British heavyweight Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek, and enough moral twists and turns to flesh out the suspense, what we end up with is a kind of corrupt American Gothic, a movie that expertly illustrates and then shines a glaring light on the dark side of the human condition. Unsettling and uncompromising, it’s no wonder Field went on to make one of 2006’s best efforts, the stagnancy in suburbia drama Little Children. Such a one two punch assures audiences that this is one filmmaker to watch in the future. (3 February, IFC, 9:05PM EST)

Additional Choices

All About My Mother

Spain’s Pedro Almodovar looks at all facets of womanhood in what many have frequently cited as his masterpiece. Indeed, this complex story of love and loss feels more like a summation of his brilliant career than a singular cinematic effort. (6 February, IFC, 9PM EST)

Cape Fear

Martin Scorsese tread carefully when conceiving this remake of the 1962 Gregory Peck/Robert Mitchum classic. By upping the ick factor – both physically and psychologically - he ended up equaling (and some say, surpassing) the original. (6 February, Sundance, 10PM EST)

The List of Adrian Messenger

While it’s mostly a sly whodunit, this John Huston film also employed a weird gimmick to get audiences in the theater. Five famous stars played cameo roles in heavy disguise. The results were rather odd, to say the least. (7 February, Sundance, 7:15PM EST)

Outsider Option

The Battle of Algiers

There is perhaps no better time in global history to revisit Gillo Pontecorvo’s devastating look at the chaos and corruption of war. Dealing with the near impossible task of defining what exactly is revolt, this documentary style masterwork touches on terrorism, sovereignty, individual rights and governmental rule. By employing a group of unknowns (some not even professional actors) and using a riveting cinema verite style, Pontecorvo illustrated the personal toll armed conflict takes, delivering scenes of staggering brutality and bravery. For his work, the director was nominated for an Oscar – a rarity for a non-American. Even today, the film still has a heavy emotional and political impact. As a matter of fact, rumor has it the film was screened by Pentagon officials as part of strategy sessions on Iraq. Not bad for something made 40 years ago. 

(4 February, Turner Classic Movies, 10:15PM EST)

Additional Choices

The Beguiled

Not your standard Civil War drama. Clint Eastwood is a prisoner at a Confederate All Girls School. There he learns the hard lesson that war may be Hell, but the wrath of a group of women scorned can be a whole lot worse. (4 February, Encore Western, 6:10PM EST)

Blood Simple

Like a lightning bolt shot out of a canon, the Coen Brothers announced their unique genius with this nasty post-modern noir. Believe it or not, the filmmaking duo only got BETTER after this. (5 February, Flix, 11:15PM EST)

The Madness of King George

With many of the original cast repeating their roles for the big screen adaptation, this delightful drama from playwright Alan Bennet looks at the royal who lost the American colonies, and the insanity that undermined his rule. (6 February, Movieplex, 7PM EST)

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/viewer-discretion-advised-3-february-2007/