As December rages on with its infinite fury, it’s quite possible most are burnt out with the things of life (work, shopping, and watching Cannibal Holocaust for the umpteenth time). Nothing is better than plunking yourself down and watching a film, even if you end up even more infuriated with yourself if it’s horrible.

Bombs away!

Arriving just in time to assail your most socially-awkward friends, Joss Whedon’s Serenity (read Devin’s just okay review before you bring back up these two articles here and here) is his answer (minus the alleged purple backpack) to the bile spread forth by infamous Message Board posters Barry Woodward and Anyawatchin’ Angel, two nefarious personalities that all Browncoats should be on the lookout for with their hatin’ ways. Whedon’s uniqueness might be a welcome respite for some; like those yearning for the singular voice of geek authority against those who understand his talent and were just never into him anyway (like myself). The cadre of intergalactic space travelers (lead by that dude from Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place and his crew, consisting of a Baldwin) find themselves scouring the galaxy after their short-lived television series crashed and burned. Aboard their Firefly class ship, it’s quickly discovered that two of their passengers, the brother-sister team lorded over by the mystical River, are fugitives on the Ringo Lam from the Interplanetary Alliance. Courting the desires of being evil is ass-ass-in Chiwetel Ejiofor, a character actor who I’d like to see more out of, since he knows of River’s secret past involving mighty karate chops to necks and her emotional instability. And speaking of such, it’s almost impossible to deny the Browncoats’ (the name the fans give themselves) cries of havoc before unleashing their fury onto whomever disagrees with them. I completely understand that they’ve got their own thing, but maybe next time they should be more empathetic towards the rest of the natural world.

Experience some slight turbulence, then explode – with: audio commentary with Whedon, some deleted scenes and outtakes, the feature "Future History: The Story of Earth That Was", 2 more featurettes (What’s in a Firefly and Re-Lighting the Firefly), along with Whedon’s introduction to the film with his fists of anger shaking at those who didn’t contribute to the B.O. haul.

4 Brothers John Singleton’s entertaining Four Brothers (read Devin’s review) contains enough crowd-pleasing instances of implausibility that some might be annoyed. Specifically, I’m thinking of a shot where Marky Mark walks right out into the thick of things, a trek that must have made his journey somewhere around the 100 mile mark. Miraculously, he appears to accomplish this in no less than 10 minutes, within the correct time frame to start whooping the mighty buttocks. However, the rest of the film, a sort-of mish-mash modernization of Wayne’s Sons of Katie Elder, has Wahlberg, Tyrese, Andre 3000, and newcomer Garret Hedlund as a band of adopted siblings out to destroy the bastards who gunned down their mother (The Others‘ Fionnula Flanagan) in Robert Blake’s cold blood. What remains is a lot of R&B tracks smashed up against the car chases, Terrence Howard inquisitions (he plays the barely-there cop), and Walhberg ad-libs (one of which has him throwing out the word ‘cocktologist’ while watching his brother shower). Heartily laughing that one off, Four Brothers is certainly not the greatest film you’re bound to see this week (I’m thinking of Santa’s Slay), but it is a fun romp through the busted streets of Detroit.

Poke ‘em with this – audio commentary with Director John Singleton, 9 deleted scenes, 4 behind-the-scenes and making-of featurettes (The look of Four Brothers, Crafting Four Brothers, Behind the Brotherhood, and the Mercer House shootout), and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Bruthas Grimmz Usually when Terry Gilliam is able to make another film, it’s cause for celebration (and if Lost in La Mancha clued us into anything, it’s that we should all give him a big hug and a pat on the back). Although word on my small street was that his latest – The Brothers Grimm – is downright poopy (read Devin’s review and enter to win it right here!). When Heath Ledger isn’t battling pudding, he’s off mugging with Matt "Matt Damon" Damon and being one half of the infamous duo of Wilhem and Jacob Grimm. Using their con-men status to rid the French-occupied countryside of Germany from pesky superstitions using thoroughly suspect methods, the pair find themselves caught up in a real-movie-life situation involving Monica Bellucci as the Mirror Queen, the Big Bad (Arliss Howard) Wolf, the Gingerbread Man, and a platoon of other tales brought so miraculously to life. As they battle these pesky supernatural beings, they must also contend with the onslaught of Peter Stormare, whose Italian accent brings even more frightfulness into the proceedings. In the end, it’s a combination of Ehren Kruger’s script and the wildly veering tone of the film (which goes right and left faster than you and pornography) that brings the film down to icky levels, although Gilliam fans should be sufficiently espoused with the look and feel of the film when not having heart attacks for their eternally-misfortunate director.

Get eaten by a Tree – with: audio commentary from Gilliam, some deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary, the features "Bringing the fairy tale to life" and "The visual magic of The Brothers Grimm" and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Cry Wolf!Can you find horror in a text message? If so, Cry_Wolf might be for you. Jeff Wadlow, the winner of the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival, marks his feature-length directorial debut based upon the strength of his pitch for this film (via a short). The generic aspects of the plot have a hoax cooked up by an elite prep school student turning into reality as an orange ski-masked Killer stalks his prey with a hunting knife. In what sounds like a fairly ho-hum narrative to me, the rest of the film most likely has our thespians (that include some unknown actors) running from the treacherous claws of such a madman, when the wacko in question continues to send our heroes threatening text messages. One can only imagine the haxorz speak on them. I think Cry_Wolf can equivocally be called bland, considering all the plot elements, although it does have its fans (like CHUD’s own George Merchan, I believe). Take that as you will! I’ll await being stalked by a orange-faced Killer with a Bowie knife, and I don’t mean those guys who got it in ‘Nam.

Two versions (Rated and Unrated) abound! The Unrated has audio commentary with Director Jeff Wadlow, Producer/Co-Writer Beau Bauman, and Editor/Associate Producer Seth Gordon, some deleted and extended scenes, an alternate scene, and a couple of features (Wolves, Sheep and Shepherds: Casting the Roles, Winning the Game: Inside the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival, and Before They Cried Wolf: The Filmmakers’ Short Films – Tower of Babble and Manual Labor). The Rated you’ll just have to look up yourself.

Exorcisms!A horror movie set primarily in a courtroom is odd enough as is without the Scolari Brothers. The Exorcism of Emily Rose presents such a case, as the first hybrid of thrilling interrogation scenes (you are the jury! Stallone is … da law!) versus the relatively jarring flashback sequences of the fateful exorcism performed on the wee lad. I’m still not quite sure what to make of it, although if our deviants on our Message Board Discussion (click here) had anything to say about it, word is still mixed like that moonshine shake you had last night (p.s. it wasn’t moonshine, but from Harry’s Henderson). Anyway, make sure to check out Nick’s set visit before subjecting yourself to his interview with the film’s Director here, in between bouts of stumping for Campbell Scott’s powerful moustache. When not overtaking a scene with facial hair ferocity, the rest of the narrative has Priest Tom Wilkinson on trial as country prosecutor Laura Linney chips away at the events that brought young supple schoolgirl Emily Rose (played by relative newcomer Jennifer Carpenter) into the land of Mr. Scowling Satan. The unfolding events are sure to present such shocking revelations and meditations on the meaning of faith, but none are so frightening as certain fans of science-fiction properties. I love being elitist!

Extras on the Unrated Special Edition (runtime: 121 mins.) includes audio commentary with Director Scott Derrickson, a deleted scene, the features Genesis of the Story – Cast and crew talk about how they first heard of the story, and discuss the writing of the script, Casting the Film – Director and Cast talk about the casting process, and Visual Design – Crew talks about the production design and special effects. Additionally, the Theatrical Version contains the exact same extras, but runs approx. 119 mins.

Great Raid The Great Raid sat on a shelf for quite some time until it was quietly shuttled out the backdoor in the Great 2005 Miramax Dump Off™. John (Last Seduction, Rounders, Red Rock West) Dahl’s film is centered around the heroic exploits of a search and rescue operation to grab 511 American POW’s from the Japanese at their Cabanatuan POW camp in the Philippines during WW2. They happen to be part of the last bastion of the bloody Bataan Death March. Focusing primarily on three tales; that of Lt. Col. Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) and his mission, the POWs at the camp, including Maj. Gibson (Joseph Fiennes), and the civilian resistance in Manila (aided in part by actress Connie Nielsen), Dahl’s film never feels too bombastic or "arty" for audiences; one wonders why Miramax, under their former leadership, chose to hold onto this one and then slip it under most dysfunctional radars. Saturation of historical war movies could have been a factor, although Dahl’s handling of the facts against the relative urgency of the mission straight from General McArthur himself leads to a sprawling narrative of men just doing their duty in the face of extreme opposition. The Great Raid isn’t a masterpiece, though, and one might find that it fits below other top rung tales of heroic Hollywood WW2 films.

Extras include – audio commentary with director John Dahl, producer Marty Katz, technical advisor captain Dale Dye, editor Scott Chestnut and author Hampton Sides, extended deleted scenes with optional audio commentary, the 60-minute documentary "Ghosts of Bataan", the features "The Price of Freedom: Making The Great Raid", "The Veterans Remember", "History lesson with author Hampton Sides", "Captain Dale Dye’s boot camp", "War in the Pacific interactive timeline", and "Dedication to the soldiers of Bataan", some outtakes, and two interactive Great Raid mixing features with special audio options.

SLAY! When Brett Ratner and Bill Goldberg team-up, the results have to be nothing short of interesting. Hot after its premiere on Spike TV (did you catch it? I sure as hell didn’t), Santa’s Slay is arriving to smack the taste of good programming right out of your mouth. I can only imagine the pitch meeting for this film: Ratner nodding over and over his previous Assistant’s comments (who makes his directorial debut), bouncing back and forth ideas for the ways Santa’s gonna kill people before making "ka-ching!" noises with their fists raised high in the sky. But I kid with intensive relish, considering they’re making movies and most of us aren’t. All disgruntled feelings aside, Santa’s Slay has Goldberg as the son of Satan, a man who just happens to be jolly ol’ Saint Nick since he lost a bet over a thousand-years ago to an Angel. But with Bill Paxton officially yelling "Game Over, Man", Santa’s clause (oh ho ho ho, that was bad) is dust in the wind and his reign of horrific evil begins anew. And naturally, only one person can stop him, and it’s a high schooler whose Grandfather happens to be that Angel (how fortunate, plot-wise). While I don’t think this was ever intended to be a high-caliber cinematic experience, it should be a nice companion when you’re watching Silent Night, Deadly Night on the biggest Pagan Holiday of the year.

Expect Director’s audio commentary, interviews with all of the key people, and some trailers for other releases, all while satisfying your cravings for blood and Christmas in one package.

Must Love Mediocrity The people who brought you those "Sit, Ubu, Sit" ads decide to make it into a schmaltzy concept with an aging Lloyd Dobler in Must Love Dogs. I’m sure our core contingent of this site is clamoring to see Diane Lane get caught up in a series of hi-larious relationship hijinx after her recent divorce, but the reality of the situation here is that I’m they’d rather see Santa maim the hell out of people than Lane and company (which includes PLUMMER – Christopher that is, and the stunning Elizabeth Perkins) interact with those pratfalls. And luck would have it that somehow she finds herself getting caught up with both Cusack and the smiley-toothed Dermot Mulroney, the latter of which she is drawn more towards. But, I’m sure you all know where this one is going to end up (hint: it’s Cusack, fool!). Granted, I skipped out on this film, but word of mouth was positively wretched, ranging from one of the most heinous films of the year to one of the most wildly inconclusive (tone-wise). The audience is still probably there for this film, but you’re going to have to watch it with Mom if you want her to take you to Kong and pay. Such is the price for going beyond the great seal.

Have a theory about this – with: audio commentary from Director Gary David Goldberg, the pass the beef gag reel, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Rebound And in swoops Martin Lawrence and his patented brand of stinking up the joint (Big Momma’s House, anyone? – although to be fair, I enjoy Nothing To Lose) in the kiddie’s basketball comedy Rebound (you’ll find no CHUD review – so cry yourself to sleep). Not only does the plot – which has Lawrence finding himself teaching a rag-tag band of middle school kids in order to expunge his past record (killing a team’s Mascot) – sound like purely formulaic pap, but I think I had a blood vessel pop in my head when viewing the film’s trailer. Or was it jogging down the street while having a mental breakdown? I can’t remember these things. I figured that not many would want to subject themselves to this film (unless you have repugnant spawn or you’re a Patrick Warburton fan) without having to be paid some sort of recompense for doing so, but alas, everyone is shite out of luck. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, so if you go in and end up liking it, I think you’re part of an elite group. It must be really cold being all alone in such a big room.

Pay too much for these extras! – audio commentary from screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, a storyboard gallery, an alternate ending, an inside look, and the film’s theatrical trailer come coupled with THE HURT.

In preparation for Steven Spielberg’s Munich, this week has two different takes on the atrocities committed during those fateful series of hours in 1972. The first is the telefilm 21 Hours at Munich, which has William Holden as the German Police Inspector and sportscaster Jim McKay reliving his play-by-play emotions during the siege, in which Palestinians held several Israeli athletes hostage in order to demand that Israel release 234 Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails and 2 terrorists in German ones. What followed was a nightmare for all involved, ending with even more deaths and a series of state-sanctioned killings that still stirs up controversy to this day.

Which brings us to the second film, the Academy-award winning documentary One Day in September and its hard-hitting look into the events that unfolded. Most notably, the film has an interview with the last surviving terrorist "somewhere in Africa" and points a staunch finger at the Germans’ ineptness at such transpired events. Both films are notable for their eagle-eye looks into the massacre at Munich, and while one is purely reliving the events as they unfolded, the other demands that you rethink what you might have already come to the conclusion on. Therefore, it’s clear to say that these would make a great primer for Spielberg’s film and the questions it will undoubtedly bring up.

Munich TVDoc Munich

21 Hours at Munich contains no special features, as far as I could tell, although One Day in September does contain some text and photo galleries and some trailers for other films.

Yes! This Wednesday, TCM will screen a documentary called Budd Boetticher "A Man Can Do That" featuring interviews with Tarantino, Eastwood, and Robert Towne, among others. Not many are fairly familiar with Boetticher’s name, a causality of time to be certain. But you should know that Tarantino calling Madsen Budd in Kill Bill was a little bit more than a nod to the man responsible for some many tightly wound westerns. The best of which had Boetticher teaming up with Randolph Scott (a name that probably means nothing to you kids as well), although arguably one of their best films – Seven Men From Now – is seeing a resurgence courtesy of Paramount. Produced under John Wayne’s Batjac banner, the film was something of an anomaly, especially since the screenwriter (Burt Kennedy) was just a fledgling upstart, Boetticher had directed only one other film, and Scott was widely considered to be getting up there in horse riding age. Some would say that serendipity played a part in transforming the film into more than the sum of its parts, however, it’s probably because everyone was firing on high the whole time. The plot, which is almost minimalist, follows Scott tracking down seven men, who have obviously done something very, very wrong. What follows is a hunt for Lee Marvin of all people, as Scott finds himself deteriorating into something that he never knew was there. Should you choose, or have the film merely find you, you might be rewarded with the rich treasure of discovery and the great feeling of finding a gem that time has forgot.

Audio commentary from James Kitses, film historian and author of "Horizons West: Anthony Mann, Budd Boetticher, Sam Peckinpah", the feature "Budd Boetticher – An American Original" (with the segments Americano, Burt Kennedy, Writer, Duke, Randy & Budd: The Beginning of Seven Men from Now, Lovable Villains and Strong Women, Keeping It Simple, The Last Matador, and Restoring the Legend), the features The John Wayne Stock Company: Gail Russell and The Lone Pine, a photo gallery, various Batjac trailers, and the film’s theatrical trailer make up the plethora of goodies on this set.

Don’t forget about these either. Apologies for not going more in-depth on Battlestar Galactica, but unfortunately I never saw the first season (or the second for that matter), so any comments I post forth would only further enrage the fans, I’m sure. You should also know that Universal is prepping a Season 2.5 for the show for sometime in the near future, and it includes a longer episode for mid-season finale Pegasus.

NovembahGalactica 2Chicago Way
Ford goes huntin'E.R.!Mattress talk

Criterion Will Return In 2006

January, which is sadly not even that far away anymore, has the various wondrous people at the Criterion Collection gearing up to start the year off with a bang. You’ll get a troika of essentials – from Bergman, De Sica, and Kurosawa – and you’ll like it, unless you’re a hardened tyrant, that is. From our friends in the Swedish gallery, we’ll get The Virgin Spring (on 1.24.06), which has a young virgin in 14th Century Sweden being raped and murdered after her half-sister exacts a pagan curse on two sonso’bitches. The twist comes in the form of the Killers seeking shelter in her family’s house, only to have the truth be known and revenge be sweet (and best served cold … as our Klingon friends know).

Next is the Italian gallery with The Children Are Watching Us (on 1.24.06), as master filmmaker Vittoria De Sica examines what occurs when a child is a casualty of an adult’s mistake. De Sica focuses his neo-realist eye on the events that unfold, as the child’s mother leaves his father to shack up with her lover. Shuttled around from place to place begins to take its toll and the result is nothing less than a revelation in humanistic cinema that De Sica is well known for.

Finally, the Japanese bust out with Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well (on 1.10.06), as Mifune finds himself in the land of business with tragic results. It’s when his wife’s father is murdered that he vows to exact revenge on all those in the way Hamlet did centuries’ prior. Kurosawa’s film is nothing short of excellence, and a must-see if you haven’t, you poor sap, you.

Virgins!Watching Kiddies!Mifune!

February has Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana, Jean Renoir’s La bête humaine, Robert Hamer’s Kind Hearts and Coronets (a classic in its own right), Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan (high time!), and of course John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln. We’ll see you in four weeks when we discuss those, unless I’ve been blown to smithereens or axed in the process.

Naughty And Nice

Summing up the parade of titles about to be unloaded onto you in January 2006, it’s easy to realize you’ll get titles both near and far. But let’s get down to it, and here’s your Kong-sized list of upcoming DVDs.

Ghostbustin' ass Murray

Alien Nation: The Complete Series

All in the Family: The Complete Fifth Season
Broken Flowers
Cartoon Adventures Starring Gerald McBoing Boing
The Cave
Cloud 9
Dumb and Dumber: Unrated Edition
Football Box Set (Jerry Maguire, Radio and Rudy)
Gospel: Special Edition
Green River Killer
Hunter: The Complete Third Season
Mob Box Set (The American Gangster, Bugsy, Donnie Brasco and Snatch)
My Date With Drew
School of Life
Secuestro Express

Silk Stalkings: The Complete Fourth Season
Snatch: Deluxe Edition
Soldiers in the Army of God
Stuart Little: Deluxe Edition – with Stuart Little 3 Sneak Peek
Valachi Papers
Walt Disney’s Timeless Tales Volume Three
Wedding Crashers: New Line Platinum Series – Uncorked (also comes in Rated edition)

Constantly gardening
American Women
Ballad of Cable Hogue
Boy Meets World: The Complete Fourth Season
Constant Gardener
Dead Poets Society: Special Edition
Dirty Deeds
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Bueller… Bueller… Edition
Five Heartbeats – Widescreen Anniversary Edition
Flash: The Complete Series
Good Morning Vietnam: Special Edition
Gunsmoke: 50th Anniversary Edition Giftset

Have Gun – Will Travel: The Complete Third Season
Hustle & Flow
Island in the Sun

Mad Max (Superbit)
The Magnificent Seven: Collector’s Edition
Once and Again: The Complete Third Season
Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid Two Disc Special Edition
Peckinpah Collection
The Rampage: Hillside Strangler Murders
Red Dwarf VII
Red Eye
Return of the Pink Panther

Ride The High Country
Rollerball (’02) Superbit
Samuel L. Jackson Ultimate Collection

Sean Connery Collection
Strong Medicine – The Complete First Season
Transporter 2
Trouble Man
Underworld: Limited Edition
Viva la Bam: Complete Seasons 4 and 5 – Uncensored
Wild Bunch Two-Disc Special Edition
Wild Things Collection

Junebug Adventures of Superman – Season Two
Benji the Hunted
Classic Comedies Collection (Ghostbusters, Stripes (Extended Cut), Groundhog Day)
The Devil and Max Devlin
Doogie Howser, M.D.: Season Three
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
The Escapist
Final Destination Scared 2 Death Pack
Half Light
Hunt For Eagle One
En-RON Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman – The Complete Second Season
Lord of War: Special Edition (also comes in single disc edition)
The Man
Mary Tyler Moore Show: The Complete Third Season
My Dog, The Thief
Old Grey Whistle Test: Volume Two
Titus: Season Three
Two for the Money
Walking with Monsters: Before the Dinosaurs
Walt Disney’s Funny Factory With Mickey
Walt Disney’s Funny Factory With Donald
Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

have some more Address Unknown
‘Allo ‘Allo!: The Complete Series Four
The Aristocrats
Avatar: Book 1, Volume 1
Berenstain Bears – Always Look on the Bright Side
Cisco Pike
Dallas: The Complete Fourth Season
Down and Derby
Dragon Tales – Say Hola to Enrique
Educating Rita
The Fog (Unrated)
Initial D: Collector’s Edition

Modern Romance
My Big Fat Independent Movie: Special Edition
National Lampoon’s Barely Legal
Oliver Twist
Repo Man: Collector’s Edition
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Alec Baldwin
Saturday Night Live: The Best of David Spade
Streets of Legend
Time Tunnel: Volume One

HELLS YES The Adventures of Mark Twain
Archie Bunker’s Place – The Complete First Season
The A-Team: Season Three
Billy Graham Presents Last Flight Out
Billy Graham Presents Gift Set
Steven Soderbergh’s Bubble
Captains Courageous