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Viewer Discretion Advised: 4 August, 2006

Ever since the mid-'80s, pay movie channels like Home Box Office, Cinemax and Showtime have offered Saturday Night premieres of first run Hollywood films -- or, at the very least, what THEY consider to be first run Hollywood films. Anyway, as part of the Short Ends and Leader Blog. PopMatters will look at these upcoming debuts, as well as point out other notes of cinematic interest available on the network schedule. For the week of 4 August, here is what’s arriving:

HBOMr. & Mrs. Smith

Okay, okay, everyone is just plain sick and tired of Angelina and Brad by now. They’re really hot. They’ve had a baby. Blah, blah, blah. While deciphering why the public is so fascinated by this couple, you can experience the film that started their fairy tale freefall into tabloid tenancy. Call it a hyperactive War of the Roses, or an overdone screwball comedy, but this he and she hitman saga is a less than perfect offering that still crackles with enough glittering superstar spark that it almost overcomes many of its missteps. (Premieres Saturday 5 August, 8:00pm EST).

PopMatters review: Click HERE

Cinemax The Island

Gee, another pair of famous faces, another high concept action movie that didn’t really live up to expectations. Godfather of the gauche epic, Michael Bay, may have thought he could fool film fans with his high tech retread of Parts: The Clonus Horror, but by casting the frequently flat Ewen McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, this sterile sci-fi film was guaranteed never to quite take off. Heck, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night than with a superficial serving of speculative silliness. Besides, no one knows action better than Bay. (Premieres Saturday 5 August, 10:00pm EST).

PopMatters review: Click HERE

STARZThe Fog (2005)

Signaling the exact moment when the ‘70s/’80s horror remake revival hit the wall, this rotten retread of John Carpenter’s already nominal scary sea shanty offered proof positive that there is nothing frightening about a murky PG-13 macabre. Directorial lightweight Rupert Wainwright can’t match the level of dread contained in the original, and frequently substitutes shoddy CGI for anything remotely terrifying. Investigate this murky mess at your own risk. (Premieres Saturday 5 August, 9:00pm EST).

PopMatters review: Click HERE

Showtime TooCrash

Six months out and people are still clamoring over this surprise Oscar victor. Did it really deserve the Best Picture trophy? Was there something political (or anti-agenda based) in its victory over a certain cowboy drama? Who actually produced this thing, and will they ever see a residual check for the efforts? If you are unfamiliar with Paul Haggis’s interlocking take on racism in America and its seemingly universal effects, perhaps it’s time to pay it a visit and consider its value – not just as an award winner, but as an overall social statement as well. (Saturday 5 August, 7pm EST)

PopMatters review: Click HERE

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 day long promotion as an excuse to screen several offerings from the specific star’s catalog. A few of the highlights for the week of 4 August to 11 August are:

5 August – Humphrey Bogart

One of the few true icons of the studio system silver screen, Bogie gets his well deserving due when TCM airs the following films (all times EST):

6:00am: The Racket Busters (1938)

7:15am: The Petrified Forest (1936)

8:45am: Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

10:30am: Action in the North Atlantic (1943)

12:45am: High Sierra (1941)

2:30pm: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

4:15pm: To Have and Have Not (1944)

6:00pm: The Big Sleep (1946)

8:00pm: Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

10:15pm: Across the Pacific (1942)

12:00am: Knock on Any Door (1949)

2:00am: They Drive By Night (1940)

4:00pm: All Through the Night (1942)

6 August– Robert Duvall

Moving up to the post-modern Method generation of actors, the quiet intensity of Duvall’s onscreen counterparts is on full display in this set of career-defining films (all times EST):

6:00am: Tomorrow (1972)

8:00am: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

10:15am:Captain Newman, .M.D. (1964)

12:30pm: Tender Mercies (1983)

2:15pm: Countdown (1968)

4:00pm: The Outfit (1973)

6:00pm: The Conversation (1974)

8:00pm: The Godfather (1972)

11:00pm: The Godfather Part II (1974)

2:30am: THX 1138 (1971)

4:15am: Lawman (1971)

11 August – Katherine Hepburn

Another one of those rare Hollywood symbols, this stubborn individualist left behind a oeuvre overflowing with amazing work, many of which TCM will air as a tribute to her talent, and tenacity (all times EST):

6:00am: Katherine Hepburn: All About Me (1993)

7:15am: Little Women (1933)

9:15am: Quality Street (1937)

10:45pm: Stage Door (1937)

12:30pm: Bringing Up Baby (1938)

2:15pm: The Philadelphia Story (1940)

4:15pm: Woman of the Year (1942)

6:15pm: Adam’s Rib (1949)

8:00pm: The African Queen (1951)

10:00pm: Rooster Cogburn (1975)

12:00am: Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962)

3:00am: Spitfire (1934)

4:30am: Christopher Strong (1933)

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