By John Seal
July 2, 2012
From the obscure to the obscurest to the merely overlooked or underappreciated; they all have a home in the TiVoPlex! All times Pacific.
5:00 AM HBO Signature
Habana Eve (2010 CUB-VEN-FRA): The Cuban economic embargo continues to be one of the most pointless of U.S. government policies (and there’s plenty to choose from), but thankfully films from the island can now be seen a little more easily on American shores than in days past - 20 years ago, for example, you could only see Tomas Alea’s Oscar-nominated Strawberries and Chocolate on the festival circuit or via illegal bootleg videotapes. Now you can see such films on premium cable, and Habana Eve comes with an added bonus: it’s a co-production from three countries patriotic Americans instinctively know to be the amongst the most evil in the world - Cuba, Venezuela, and France! Too bad North Korea and Iran didn’t chip in. The end result is a pleasant romantic comedy about a Havana seamstress (Prakriti Maduro) with some rather capitalistic aspirations: to become a successful fashion designer. The film does have some political subtext - Fidel’s 2008 retirement from office looms large - but is most definitely a lighter piece of work than one might expect from the Caribbean worker’s paradise.
1:00 AM Turner Classic Movies
The Gentle Sex (1943 GB): It’s ladies first in this low-key drama about British dames doing their bit for the war effort. Directed by Leslie Howard with an uncredited assist from Maurice Elvey, The Gentle Sex tells the tale of seven lovely lasses who take off their aprons and start manning (so to speak) anti-aircraft guns. Though coming from different backgrounds, the women - including Joan Greenwood, Rosamund John, and Lilli Palmer - are all united by their opposition to Hitler and overcome whatever challenges fate, sexism, and the Third Reich put in their path. Beautifully shot by Robert Krasker, the film also features a few fellas in its cast, including John Laurie and Miles Malleson - neither of whom, you won’t be surprised to learn, is a love interest. Howard died shortly after completing this feature, shot down near Portugal by the Luftwaffe. The Gentle Sex is followed at 2:45 AM by The Lamp Still Burns (1943), in which Stewart Granger plays a wounded engineer being nursed back to health in a London hospital by Rosamund John.
7:00 PM The Movie Channel
The Howling: Reborn (2011 USA): Here’s a horror franchise we could all probably live without. The seventh film in the Howling series, Reborn relates the misadventures of high school student Will (Landon Liboiron) who discovers he’s actually a werewolf. Late puberty, I guess. Will tries to contain the beast within whilst keeping his ugly secret from affecting his relationship with gal pal Eliana (Lindsey Shaw). Needless to say, it’s a struggle, and the fur, blood, and body parts are soon flying. To be honest, The Howling: Reborn is far from terrible: as one IMDb wag put it, the film "could have been significantly worse." Faint praise be damned! It’s a classic! Also airs at 10:00 PM.