Review : Keifer Sutherland’s 24 Seasons 2-5

Courtesy of Amazon Prime and Roku I’ve been able to catchup on a series that I was indifferent to when it first aired, namely Keifer Sutherland’s 24.

Season 1 was reviewed a few years back on this blog and I said of that season “sporadic and haphazard’, and that description extends to these recent seasons that for the most part suffer from those same failings.

Seasons 2 through 4 suffering from the same contrived writing and illogical (stepping over into idiotic) character decisions/choices and quite a few cliches/stereotypes. Add to that a general formula, every season sporting a traitor in CTU, and Jack Bauher distrusted and hunted by a belligerant boss and it is a recipe for annoying, ‘must miss’ television. Grade : Not worth finishing.

Season 5 I am happy to say is much tighter and better paced than previous seasons, and keeps to a minimum the soap opera family asides and diversions that is always the weakest part of any season. Each episode has a satisfying, cinematic action scope and feel, and is well directed by a rotating group of directors, to include Brad Turner.

All in all season 5 Of 24, 11 episodes in is far more entertaining than previous seasons and sofar I’m sticking with it. However with 13 episodes to go there is a lot of room there for the ball to get dropped.

Will update as I move further through the season. View the season for yourself via Amazon Prime or Dvd (I can already tell this is a season worth having and rewatching on Dvd, the commentaries alone makes it a deal).

24: Season Five

Wesley Snipes and Mel Gibson to star in EXPENDABLES III in 2014

“Yesterday the first images from the set of The EXPENDABLES 3 arrived online showing Sylvester Stallone’s Barney Ross, and now we have a look at the new bad guy and co-founder of the band of mercenaries, Conrad Stonebanks, played by a beefed up Mel Gibson… The Expendables 3 is filming in Bulgaria under director Patrick Hughes (Red Hill), with a cast that also includes returning Expendables Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Terry Crews alongside franchise newcomers Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Harrison Ford, Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, MMA star Ronda Rousey and boxer Victor Ortiz. “

Read the whole article here.

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While I was a huge fan of the first EXPENDABLES film (see my review here), the 2nd movie, EXPENDABLES 2, directed by Simon West fell more than a bit short for me. Lacking Sylvester Stallone’s passionate hand behind the camera (the Director of the original EXPENDABLES), Simon West’s EXPENDABLES 2 felt overlong, and more cartoony and lacking the gravitas and emotion Stallone was able to get out of the first film.

Considering EXPENDABLES III sounds like it has a great cast (most notably Wesley Snipes return to the big screen has me intrigued) I would like for this film to be good. However EXPENDABLES III’s slated director, Patrick Hughes, is a relatively unknown director with only one film to his name (2010′s RED HILLS), and it sports writing by relative newcomer Katrin Benedikt who only has to her credit OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN; so the film doesn’t have the pedigree of a hit. However, I’m open to being pleasantly surprised.

Director Spotlight : The Films of Kasi Lemmons

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With the perhaps unnecessarily color titled BLACK NATIVITY headed to theaters this November, I thought now was the perfect time to take a pictorial gander at the films of its director Kasi Lemmons; a director who unfortunately like too many directors, particularly directors of color, does not get a chance to work enough.

Her 1997 debut film EVE’S BAYOU remains a personal and perennial favorite, being equal parts coming of age story and southern gothic tinged horror and magical realism. In the nearly 20 years since that film’s debut she has managed to make 4 feature films and one short, which is good to have at least that much work from a unique and talented director, and is also a tragedy to only have had that much work from a talented and unique director.

I do think the economics of making a theatrically viable film in Hollywood has kept her from truly exploring the promise of her first film; as I would have loved to see a dozen movies from Kasi Lemmon’s in her unique and dangerous southern gothic magic realism vibe. In the directorial genes of Kasi Lemmons, you had the promise of a director with the unique output of a David Fincher or Nicolas Winding Refn.

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However the films we do get from her, even hampered by the constraints of producing more accessible and conventional movies, still are never completely… conventional. There are stylistic choices and decisions that in places, take your breath away. Particularly she has never shied away from strong Black protagonists, and Black male protagonists as heroes, leading men, rather than comedy relief or the sexless partner.

Kasi Lemmon’s cinematic viewpoint of Black Masculinity, even when that masculinity is dangerous or flawed, is never less than riveting and dignified and hopeful, and as such is a viewpoint that is virtually forbidden/extinct in Hollywood films. I doubt BLACK NATIVITY will be likewise blessed, but I will still support the film and go see it, in the hopes a respectable opening gets Lemmons back to making films, that transcend… convention.

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Eve’s Bayou

The Caveman’s Valentine

Talk to Me

Recommended On-Demand/Roku Channel : POPCORNFLIX

The Roku on-demand channel POPCORNFLIX currently offers 29 sci-fi films for your free viewing pleasure. That’s the good news, the bad news is most of those movies aren’t worth watching. Movies like DAY IN THE LIFE OF DOE that are poor and inept, and insults to the term film.

However the channel has two films in its sci-fi rotation that are worth your time. They are:

SHUFFLE – From the description it sounds like a poor man’s GROUND HOG’S DAY, but from the first frame announces itself as something inventive and unique. Recommended.

GHOST FROM THE MACHINE- This undeniably low budget film is surprising in its delicacy, more intimate drama about people living in the aftermath of loss. And what happens when things lost can in some semblance… be found. Recommended.

Now don’t expect Amazon Prime quality, the video quality of films on PopcornFlix is marginal, but still watchable. The plus being that unlike the travesty that is the CRACKLE channel, where the amount and frequency of ads makes watching films an awful experience, you can actually have a complete, relatively uninterrupted viewing experience on POPCORNFLIX

Try it for yourself here!

Today’s recommended FREE Roku Movies: ZOMBIE AHOLE and SCARLET WORM

Courtesy of the MIDNIGHT PULP Roku on demand channel you can view, this week, two pretty out there cult/weird/grindhouse films; namely:

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Stick with both of them, most requiring of that patience is ZOMBIE A-HOLE as it becomes by the end a far better film than the title or opening minutes would lead you believe (Quite a few times I had to almost turn the thing off for fear someone I respected would catch me watching it :), but resist that impulse, get past the first 15 minutes and you’ll find the movie actually has a plot).

And no, I am not a zombie fan, this film works by being very much a tongue in check homage to the grindhouse films of yesteryear. With a reputed budget of only $3000 the sheer amount of creativity in this injoke of a film is awe inspiring. If you’re a fan of homage films such as BLACK DYNAMITE and horror films such as the original EVIL DEAD, give ZOMBIE A-HOLE a watch.

SCARLET WORM- is also a micro-budget film, but doesn’t come across as one. It’s of that ilk of films, born out of the spaghetti western absurdities of the 70s that can best be described as the existential western, think EL TOPO meets DEAD MAN. And the film is very good, and one deserving of repeated viewings.

Sample both movies for free here!

And if as impressed with them as I am, buy them here:

Scarlet Worm, The

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ON-DEMAND Viewing Guide: The best and worst Roku

If you have a Roku Box and are looking to explore the world of ON-DEMAND viewing, the challenge is always to find quality free channels, with good content and no ads or limited and unobtrusive ads.

That is always a fluid hunt, as channel offerings vary from month to month, and in some cases week to week.

So without further ado my list of best and worst of Roku Channels this October.

If you have a Roku I do recommend supplementing free channels with at least one provider such as AMAZON PRIME or NETFLIX just because the Roku Free Channels, by themselves, you will find hard-pressed to fill your TV watching needs. However pair the free channels with AMAZON PRIME or NETFLIX and you can safely kiss your cable bill goodbye.

So what are, the free channels that are worth your time?

Well I’ll start with the disappointing, CRACKLE. When I first started using Roku this channel was great, however in a scant month their ad usage has become so excessive (you get ads before movies, you get ads if you fast forward or rewind, you get ads every 15 minutes, and you are unable to fast forward ads) and so annoying and obtrusive that it is not worth the frustration of dealing with.

So CRACKLE from a channel that was initially one of the best, has become absolutely one of the worst. (Their XBOX ads are so annoying as to be an assault) . Avoid this channel and I recommend everyone unsubscribe from it, and as their numbers drop it should spur the Sony owned CRACKLE to do the right thing and reduce the # of ads, and stop having ads any more often than once every 30 minutes, and remove the automatic ads should you fast-forward or rewind, because that’s just idiotic.

So yeah CRACKLE gets our Worst Channel mention, they should be ashamed of themselves. Okay that negative over now onto the good stuff.

Today’s channel worth your time is:

THRESHOLD+ – Has a good if not great selection of B movies, with a heavy dose of classic Horror and scifi movies. From the alien movies of the 50s to the low budget exploitation films of the 80s. The quality of the video ranges from good to mediocre, since much of this seems to be sourced from public domain or TV prints so no HD quality here. However it makes up for this in the lack of ads. Some notable films available for viewing on this channel are:

BOOGEYMAN (2005) – Not getting the IMDB derision and hate for this film as I find it stylishly and inventively directed, and better acted than most films of the genre. A film of poetical horror, which perhaps is too subtle for the blood and gore crowd. However if you are a fan of atmospheric slow burn films like the recent WOMAN IN BLACK, you may find this film a worthwhile watch.

And thanks to THRESHOLD+ you can view it for free and decide for yourself.

And other notable films available on THRESHOLD+ are:

MESSIAH OF EVIL
I MONSTER
SCARECROWS (1988)
THE BELL OF HELL (1973)
ASYLUM
THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF
SHE
4D MAN
X: THE UNKNOWN

More recommended on-demand channels next installment!

365 Days of Roku: Day 2 – Crackle’s GODZILLA

the earth remembers
the stones remember
If the earth and stones could only speak
they would tell us many things
—Native American Proverb

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Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2003) – This movie is generally considered the best Godzilla film (ignoring as it does every other Godzilla film except the first one) and by the 25th minute mark, when the central conceit of this film is revealed, I begin to believe that.

Never a Godzilla fan I’ve seen other Godzilla films and they generally do not transcend the campy concept of watching rubber suits attack each other, with no real story.

This movie however has a story, only gingerly touched on, of Godzilla as some interpretation of the vengeance of God, a punishment for the attrocities of the War in the Pacific; an engine of destruction powered by the restless dead. It is a movie that has an unexpected conscience, calling to memory Japan’s (in many way’s overlooked) attrocities during the pacific campaign.

From rape and concentration caps, to ethnic cleansing and wholesale genocide, the Godzilla of this film is the personification of all the wrath for those wrongs, married to the mindless, unthinking attrocities of the atomic bomb, of true holocaust.

Godzilla is very much Japan’s antagonist in this film, and the antagonist of all the industialized world, a howling tirade against all that creulty and science that went into his creation.

And if Godzilla is the film’s heavy, the trio of other monsters he squares off against in this film are the protectors of Japan, the souls of earth and air and glade and all that should endure in the flora and fauna and hope of Japan. However it’s hard to, while not condoning Godzilla’s destruction, not root for him against all adversaries, Man or Monster. Given Man’s history it is hard not to root for the King of Monsters and the spirit of vengeance, and see man as some particularly virulent termite deserving of the heel.

This dichotomy makes it a far more complex film then its cheesy and campy origins should allow, as this particular Godzilla film becomes a film about war by walking acts of god, and as such beyond the judgement of men; can at best only be endured and hopefully survived by men.

Or for those seeking to read less into their rubber monster movies, it is also just a good monster throw-down. Either way it grades a solid B+.

365 Days of Roku: Day 1 – Amazon Prime’s HEADSHOT

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HEADSHOT-Needlessly convoluted with a purposely fragmented and confusing structure, no doubt aping such films as MEMENTO, there’s room for frustration and dislike when watching director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s HEADSHOT. However it is, for much of its running time, done and played well; and the central conceit such an intriguing idea, that it transcends mimicry and suspect storytelling, to be an involving film in spite of itself.

Stylish and existential, this is a very different crime thriller, that has a voice over (a film noir trope for this new age film noir) that is compelling.

The movie does lose momentum mid-way through, forgetting to use in any meaningful way or examine the interesting idea of the title character’s affiction, and becomes a rather ordinary and plodding man on the run film.

So a film not without its failings but one that has enough intriguing moments to transcend those failings, and have you interested in the end. Grade: C+.

Today’s Recommended Roku Channel: VIEWSTER


Today’s Recommended Roku Channel: VIEWSTER

Recently added to the Roku platform, VIEWSTER is a Swedish run on-demand channel that presents a surprising variety of free on-demand films. With a nice helping of Indie and Documentary films you are unlikely to find on other on-demand channels, as well as classic and current films.

Some that may be of interest this week are:

CROPSEY
THE THIRD MAN
WHEELS ON MEALS
LOVE COMES SOFTLY

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EVIDENCE OF A HAUNTING- the word on this movie is the only thing interesting is the poster, but you can see it for free here and decide for yourself

CLAY
SHADOW PEOPLE
DARK WOODS
THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME
HE WALKED BY NIGHT
THE STRANGER
THE AMAZING MR. X
THE RED HOUSE
THE CEREMONY

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SUBHYSTERIA

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THE FRAGILITY OF SECONDS
SO YOU’VE DOWNLOADED A DEMON
BLOODMYTH
UNDER OUR SKIN

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THE SISTERS FOUR
THE MYSTERY OF SINTRA
THE BIG COMBO

Take a gander and let me know what ones you recommend.