Viewer Discretion Advised: 25 August, 2006

As the summer blockbuster carnival slowly "slithers" away from your local Multiplex, the major pay cable channels think its award season circa 2005. Two of the four offerings premiering this week were considered shoe-ins for Oscar nods once the nominations hit in February. They were even bolstered by some helpful pre-Academy nods. Not surprisingly, they were left wanting when the names were finally read. This doesn't mean they're not worth checking out, though. As a matter of fact, compared to the action-oriented dreck one channel is passing off as entertainment, and the dearth of new titles elsewhere, this pair of potential prestige pictures may be your best bet for a little Saturday night small screen fun. Here's what's on tap for the weekend of 25, August:

HBOIn Her Shoes*

When is a chick flick not your typical chick flick? When it's directed by LA Confidential helmer Curtis Hanson. Sure, there are formulaic elements to this odd couple sister combo, but Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette manage to move beyond the archetype, turning what could have been a conventional comedy into more of a carefully realized character study. With the arrival of Shirley MacLaine as a disgruntle grandmother who holds some secrets of her own, this is not your typical Lifetime-like melodrama. Thanks to Hanson and his cast, the syrupy saccharine levels are kept to a manageable minimum. (Premieres Saturday 26 August, 8:00pm EST).

PopMatters Review

CinemaxThe Transporter 2

It's more bare-chested and knuckled fun for everyone's favorite UK himbo, Jason Statham. In this sequel to the famously unclothed one's previous action packed DVD hit from 2002, Statham's Frank Martin is in Miami, and implicated in a kidnapping. Naturally, this means he's must kick ass, take names, and strip down to his skivvies every now and again to clear his name. As the stunt work and set pieces practice their physics-defying magic, our only choice is to turn off our brains and enjoy the superficial thrills and antihero chills. Otherwise, the logic leaps and lapses become far too obvious to ignore. (Premieres Saturday 26 August, 10:00pm EST).

PopMatters Review


Why it took so long to bring Jonathan Larson's Tony Award winning musical to the silver screen, especially with the cinematic conceit of employing the original cast, is anyone's guest. Why it failed to fulfill the promise of this rock show remix of La Boheme is a little more self-evident. Director Chris Columbus may be a lot of things, but a filmmaker in tune with the mandates of the song and dance format he is not. Also, the narrative's AIDS oriented storyline is definitely dated, particularly in light of our current sense of empowerment over the disease. Still, the music and the performances remind us of the power inherent in the wholly American artform. Too bad the translation failed to capture it correctly. (Premieres Saturday 26 August, 9:00pm EST).

PopMatters Review

ShowtimeThe Passion of the Christ*

While he waits the frightening fall out from his undeniably Anti-Semitic remarks, here's a chance to see Mel Gibson practice what he apparently preaches. This is a gorgeous, visually stunning film, despite its splatter/snuff reputation and heavy headed religiosity. While the Jews definitely get it in the far too literal Bible belting, it's the Romans that actually come across as slobbering, sadistic animals. Carrying too much personal baggage to exist exclusively as iconography, what we have here is still an evocative and inflammatory motion picture. (Saturday 26 August, 10pm EST)

PopMatters Review

Turner Classic Movies: August: Summer Under the Stars Month

Leave it to the classic film channel to find novel ways of constantly recycling its catalog of amazing Tinsel Town artifacts. In August, the station will salute several celebrated names from Hollywood’s Golden Age upward, using each daylong promotion as an excuse to screen numerous offerings from the specific star’s catalog. A few of the highlights for the week of 25 August to 31 August are:

26 August – Cary Grant

No one, before or since, matched his delicate air of suave sophistication. Sadly, many thought such a style came naturally and never gave him the acting credit he so richly deserved. Let the performance reevaluation begin with these fine films:

6:00 AM Monkey Business (1952)*

7:45 AM She Done Him Wrong (1933)*

9:00 AM Cary Grant: A Class Apart (2004)*

10:30 AM Operation Petticoat (1959)

12:45 PM Bachelor And The Bobby-Soxer, The (1947)

2:30 PM Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)*

4:15 PM Dream Wife (1953)

6:00 PM Father Goose (1964)*

8:00 PM Gunga Din (1939)*

10:00 PM Arsenic And Old Lace (1944)*

12:15 AM North By Northwest (1959)*

2:45 AM Suspicion (1941)*

4:30 AM Every Girl Should Be Married (1949)

29 August – Ingrid Bergman

While she may always be remembered as fragile femme fatale alongside Bogart's magnificent ex-pat machismo in Casablanca, there was much more to this Swedish beauty than her ravishing looks and a scandalous affair with director Roberto Rossellini. Here's proof:

6:00 AM Rage In Heaven (1941)

8:00 AM Stromboli (1950)*

10:00 AM Europa '51 (1952)

12:00 PM Yellow Rolls-Royce, The (1964)

2:15 PM Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1941)*

4:15 PM Gaslight (1944)*

6:15 PM Casablanca (1942)*

8:00 PM For Whom The Bell Tolls (1943)*

11:00 PM Cactus Flower (1969)*

1:00 AM Adam Had Four Sons (1941)

3:00 AM Saratoga Trunk (1945)

30 August – Sidney Poitier

In an era when racial divides were unrelenting in both their cruelty and illogic, he towered above them, both in talent and tolerance. As the first performer of color ever to win the Oscar for Best Actor, here's several reasons why he's remembered as much for his acting as his activism:

6:00 AM Blackboard Jungle (1955)*

8:00 AM Patch Of Blue, A (1965) *

10:00 AM Edge of the City (1957)

11:30 AM Red Ball Express (1952)

1:00 PM Defiant Ones, The (1958) *

2:45 PM Band Of Angels (1957)

5:00 PM Sidney Poitier: One Bright Light (2000)

6:00 PM Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967) *

8:00 PM For Love of Ivy (1968)

10:00 PM In The Heat Of The Night (1967) *

12:00 AM They Call Me Mister Tibbs! (1970)

2:00 AM Wilby Conspiracy, The (1975)

4:00 AM Something Of Value (1957)

* = PopMatters Picks

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