"Passage To Marseille" (Warner, 1944)
This clunky WWII propaganda flick is in many ways a rehash of the more successful Casablanca Directed by Micheal Curtiz, it also stars Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet and Claude Rains ...even singer Corinna Mura (who appreared in Rick's nightclub in the previous film...) makes an appearance here. But the returning cast doesn't translate into a repeat of the magic that Casablanca had; this film is leaden and dramatically weak, with far too much exposition, and very little action, while its political intentions -- to bolster American confidence in our "Free French" allies -- are painfully over-obvious. It's okay to watch all these character actors onscreen, going through the motions, but there's not really a lot going on to keep your attention once the ball gets rolling. A by-the-numbers "brainy" war movie that lacks spark.
"Six Feet Under: Complete Fourth Season" (HBO, 2004)
Pretty good! Weird that I knew two of the actors on this season's show, though! It's a small world, after all.
"24: Season One" (Fox, 2002)
I watched Season Three on TV, and was kind of sucked in by it's good trashy, no-brainer qualities... then various friends kept gooing and gawing over Season One, telling me how much better it was... So, I rented it, and kept renting it, and watching it until I was done. I can see how it would have been much more exciting if I'd watched it on broadcast -- but with the luxury of watching the episodes nonstop, back-to-back, you become painfully aware of how stupid the chracters and the plot are, and how much and how obviously the story was padded out. The entire Presidential race subplot is a bore; the action often doesn't make sense, and the seeming inability of the super-duper, secret agent Scooby Gang to ever call for backup (or to provide sufficient protection for anyone in their custody) is also kind of a buzzkill. It's hard to take these black-ops supercops seriously when they barely seem able to tie their shoelaces. Still, it was good bad TV, just hte thing to zone out on when you;re not in the mood for art flicks or shoot-em-ups. I'll probably check out Season 2 as well...
"Sin City" (2005)
What a wankfest. I was soooooooo bored watching this flick... The things that worked in the comic book are a drag onscreen; the production values were pretty groovy, but the cartoonishness and uber-noir tone of the Sin City series don;t really translate that well into film. Oh, well.
"Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil" (2002)
"At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul" (1963)
Although cheaply produced and cinematically clumsy, this campy, grotesque Brazilian horror film has several moments of genuine visceral revulsion. The film's centerpiece outrage -- of the sadistic, amoral Ze Do Caixa (aka Coffin Joe) eating red meat on Good Friday -- may hold less punch for modern, non-Catholic viewers than it did for Brazilian audiences in the early 'Sixties, but the depiction of a violent, bloody rape and the goring out of one man's eyes will still make many viewers recoil. Director Jose Mojica Marins played the role of Coffin Joe himself, leering madly and cursing God as he toppled over the flimsy set and knocked over the props. A Mr. Hyde story with no Dr. Jeckyl to balance things out, the film was apparently a sensation in Brazil and spawned two sequels of an equally lurid nature. Unless you're a student of low-budget camp, I'm not sure you really need to spend the time on any of these films, but if you do check them out, prepare to be shocked.
"Prime Suspect: Season 6: The Last Witness" (2003)
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