My roommate was watching Big Love last week and quickly called me down. Imagine my surprise when during a scene Chloë Sevigny asks Bill Paxton what he thinks of my first name (as a name for a child) and he quickly retorts – “I think it says kick me and take my lunch money.” Well, Paxton, you might have won this round, but consider my sternly written letter to that episode’s writers already fuming its way to their mailbox. That is, as soon as I stop hurting from being robbed and assaulted.
Go Flux Yourself
There’s that old saying – if you have nothing good to say than don’t say it at all. Aeon Flux fits perfectly into that category. So due to a slight conflict of interest, that’s all you’ll get out of me. Other than to tell you to check out Devin’s interview with Writer Phil Hay (right here), or even his set interviews (read Part One and then Part Two). If you venture down the dark path of watching the film, you do it on your own.
Come here to kill you – with:
- Audio commentary with Charlize Theron and Producer Gale Anne Hurd, plus a second commentary with Co-Writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
- Five featurettes (Creating a World, Locations, Stunts, Costume Design Workshop, and The Craft of the Set Photographer)
- Theatrical trailer
Watching a new Woody Allen film pretty much meant that you were going to get the same feeling as going to the Dentist. Except that for Match Point (read Devin’s interview with Scarlett and that dude you HATE here), Allen doesn’t pull teeth, throwing you for a loop. It certainly threw me for one, considering I’d long given up on Allen’s films, preferring to save myself the robbery that was forking over for tickets for Anything Else. Who knows what he was thinking. But Match Point is a slow return to a form for the New York genius. Allen works in a nice noir aspect, throwing the salacious Scarlett Johansson into the relationship of a Tennis Pro (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) and his wife (the stunningly talented Emily Mortimer), and even manages to clean up good afterwards. That is, without all the gargling and spitting. Now granted, that’s what Johansson and Rhys-Meyers quickly find themselves gouging in, but Allen’s quick to create a film that works well and finds itself amongst his more entertaining. It’s certainly not a crown in his filmography, rather a strong floss against those awful particles produced prior. Looking back, I’m not sure about the Dental analogy.
Have one too many G and T’s – with:
- English Dolby Digital MONO (yes, that’s correct.)
If we were still betting on Snipes, like he ordered us to do, chances are we’d be busted quite a long time ago. Did you manage to catch the piece that was Unstoppable? Snipes usually plays a CIA Agent gone rogue to find out the truth, which he inevitably does. Where does that leave The Detonator? Frigging surprise of death – he’s a goddamned undercover CIA Agent. The truth happens to revolve around some plan to disclose an Arms Dealer and bring a vivacious Russian Woman back to the US. Turns out that this Russian – Nadia – holds the location of $30 Million and Snipes’ career trajectory. Eschewing that last part, the Dealer sets his raised eyebrows on yelling at Snipes behind the wall of a nice rattling AK-47. He needs the cash to buy a nuclear bomb. Naturally, Snipes and attached female appendage have to deal with that, by blowing your mind. Movies like this require no thought other than when and where to place the beer on your mouth, so cock open a cold one (note: not a penis euphemism, unless you want it), lean back and let the over-the-top Snipesness wash right o’er you into mediocrity.
Have your nerves shake – with:
Technology still amazes me, especially when it produces such visual fury as Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children – currently fellating hardcore gamers. The story lacks in all other departments, as the convoluted narrative involves the Seikon-Shoukougun disease ravaging the planet and Cloud continuing his delivery service around a cacophony of characters (like the Orphans he oversees) and situations (like guarding the mysterious Kadaj). There’s more, of course, but I was even at a loss to describe it. Even the synopsis on Amazon is filled with too many instances of ‘meanwhile’ for my brain to comprehend. It fizzled and popped. Your eyes will most likely feast on the jaw-dropping renderings; characters are so fully-realized that humans might be out of life – even the 21st century called in sick. It’s arresting to think that we’ve progressed this far in order to tell stories, however packed and over-the-top they may be. While I don’t think Advent Children will ignite the world on fire, it’s a watershed moment in terms of what tools are available – even when it comes to engaging those who didn’t waste 2 years of their lives into the saga. Instead, I did that with Myst.
Discrimination! – with:
- Feature film in two formats: original Japanese language with English subtitles; and dubbed in English
- "Reminiscence of "Final Fantasy VII" featurette (story digest of original game) (in English)
- The Distance – a making-of featurette
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children: Venice Film Festival footage
- Some deleted scenes
- Sneak peak of upcoming "Final Fantasy VII" games
My inner child screamed out something along the lines of ‘wickedthisisthereasonwhyDVDwasinvented’! before calming down, taking a quick cat nap and then regenerating into Beast. Inspector Gadget: The Complete Series snatched many an hour away from my impressionable gonads, even if the feature-film version operated them into a tube-tied stupor. It was only later when I learned that Don Adams’ voice was a holdover from his intensively funny Get Smart, the two characters almost being blood-brothers, or even transgender mates living together. My now-frazzled youtube’d eyes remember the softer side of life, as Gadget went against M.A.D. and Dr. Claw, himself a holdover of a more simpler time, when evil didn’t come in the form of a secondly enlargement e-mail. Good times. What strikes me upon reflection is Gadget’s ineptitude to travel into hairy situations time and again with the promise of nothing more than a realization and some nasty Go, Go Gadget know-how. Even if a Pineapple Bomb should ruin everything I’ve ever held dear, Gadget will go down as being a noble pursuit to the face of a grizzled man-child I have now become. I’m off to silently weep.
Get you next time – with:
- "Wowsers" retrospective featurette with co-creators Andy Heyward and Mike Maliani
- Original art gallery
- Inspector Gadget fan art contest winners
As far as Casanovas go, Heath Ledger ain’t got nothing on the original suave gangster John Adams. Seducing the ladies left and right, there wasn’t anything the man was capable of, even throwing down the gauntlet when it came time to form a country. Ledger has to contend with a mere secondary ribbon, as the sordid times of the period costume drama have him leaping in and out of beds – finally settling in on the monogamous one of Sienna Miller. Unsheathing his unsheathed member, Casanova has to prove all sorts of floppy circumstances warrant his misadventures as he bobs, ducks, and weaves against the oncoming bum rush from the Vatican’s Inquisitor (Jeremy Irons) and even Miller’s foppish attitude towards his nether regions, a fact that Director Lasse Hallström reigns supreme with by continuing his lighthearted period of mildly entertaining moviegoers. Chances are, though, they’ll be starved away with the wretched Cover Art, which looks like a cross between something Photoshop harked up and what my life is inevitably barreling towards.
Pigs must stay outside – with:
- Audio commentary with Hallström
- 3 featurettes (Creating an Adventure: The Making of Casanova, Dressing in Style, and Visions of Venice)
- An extended sequence – Hidden in Plain Sight
- Sneak Peeks
When Steve Martin isn’t collecting paychecks making formulaic pap like Cheaper by the Dozen, he has been known to be fairly amusing. As such, Martin’s novella Shopgirl comes to life from the maker’s graying hands, as he scripts the Douglas-Zeta Jonesian romance of himself and Mirabelle (Claire Danes), the pair becoming entwined even with Mirabelle’s unassuming shiftless boyfriend played by the great waffling Jason Schwartzman. Although I’m not quite sure what sets this love triangle apart from any other we’ve ever seen – could it be that Martin is in his Spanish Prisoner mode, seducing even the loneliest of hearts whilst melting my own? Devin pretty much summed everything up much nicer in his review, commenting that the film is a smart, small film perfect for adults, saying it’s sweet and sad and melancholic all at the same time. Much like the notes I drop in Martin’s mailbox late at night.
Read a lot of books on tape – with:
- Audio commentary with Director Anand Tucker
- The feature ‘Evolution of a Novella: The Making of Shopgirl’
- Some deleted scenes
Rob reviewed Magic (read his DVD review) well over a hounds tooth ago, and finally it arrives – but with unintended consequences. Anthony Hopkins is the doting, shy magician whose first appearance reminds me much like my own – unfulfilled and disastrous with a touch of nutty. Then along comes Fats, and the ventriloquist act of doom is born. Fats’ naughty language proves to be a hit for the circuit, and Hopkins finds himself tagging along the whirlwind ride of fame with Ann-Margret in tow. Sensing himself in love, Hopkins informs Fats of his intentions, and Fats promptly rapes everything. He’s in control now, and if Child’s Play has taught us anything, it’s that USA Up All Night surely watered down some shocking elements. As a portrait of the artist as a fragile man, Hopkins certainly relishes his moment in the sun and Fats proves that like those of us still clinging desperately to childhood ambitions of fame and fortune – we might as well continually talk to ourselves.
How was the orgy? Didja score? – with:
- Interviews with Anthony Hopkins and Cinematographer Victor J. Kemper, A.S.C.
- Archival Anthony Hopkins radio interview
- "Fats and Friends" featurette
- Ann-Margret make-up test
- Still gallery
- TV and Radio Spots
- Theatrical trailers
Michelangelo Antonioni isn’t for every bastard run ragged through our hallowed halls. His films take their time, plot their developments, and even teach you about the narrative equality of filmmaking when not enraging you with their deliberate qualities. One of his Holy Grail films – as in it’s been buried for the entire time it took Jack Nicholson to sleep with the entire 1968-2005 UCLA Women’s Basketball team – The Passenger finally wanders out of the desert. Antonioni’s tale of a burned-out journalist who swaps his identity with a deceased man has been gussied up, given a new lease at life. Nicholson’s journalist David Locke wanders throughout his life in a directionless haze and ushers in one of his most internal portrayals, even as the Terrorist group associated with the man engulfs his world in force. Arguably one of Antonioni’s most commercial films, and one of his best before going off to battle the old disease, The Passenger should properly infuriate almost everyone who agrees to do battle with its unassailable influences – pure Antonioni.
And I ride and I ride – with:
- Audio commentary with Jack Nicholson (I hear this is INCREDIBLE)
- Audio commentary with journalist Aurora Irvine and screenwriter Mark Peploe
- Theatrical trailer
More often than not we tend to overlook history in favor of whatever exciting new film happens to be burning in front of us. A lot of my friends, and people I’ve never met, have predispositions to older films – even ones that happen to be musicals. Which pains me, considering that they’ll never get to experience the euphoric joy of watching the primal urge to sing and dance, represented fully in Warner’s Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory. MGM was at the height of its powers when it produced their hits It’s Always Fair Weather (with Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly); Summer Stock (with Kelly and Judy Garland); Ziegfeld Follies (with William Powell and the original song and dance man Fred Astaire); Three Little Words (with Astaire and Red Skelton); and finally, the all-star revue Till the Clouds Roll By (with Sinatra and Garland). Each one arguably isn’t for everyone, but what you might be able to gleam out of one or the other is worth its weight in cinematic gold, even if you are horrendously biased to immediately focus your T-800 musical-hating laser on them. As it were, these titles surely shout to come with them if you want to live.
Steal moustaches – with:
- New 16x 9 widescreen transfer in 2.55:1 aspect ratio with soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 (on It’s Always Fair Weather)
- It’s Always Fair Weather: Going Out On a High Note
- MGM Parade (1955 TV Series) and MGM Cartoons (on It’s Always Fair Weather)
- Outtakes and a theatrical trailer (on It’s Always Fair Weather)
- Ziegfeld Follies: An Embarassment of Riches
- MGM Short and Cartoons (on Ziegfeld Follies)
- Audio Outtakes and Theatrical Trailers (on Ziegfeld Follies)
- Till the Clouds Roll By: Real to Reel
- MGM Short and Cartoons (on Till the Clouds Roll By)
- Audio Outtakes and Theatrical Trailers (on Till the Clouds Roll By)
- MGM Short and Cartoon (on Three Little Words)
- Paula Stone’s Hollywood USA Radio Promo (on Three Little Words)
- Theatrical Trailer (on Three Little Words)
- Summer Stock: Get Happy!
- MGM Shorts (on Summer Stock)
- Fall in Love Audio Outtake (on Summer Stock)
- Theatrical Trailer (on Summer Stock)
Tuesday also has these
amazingly titles hitting stores.
It appears as if this week Sony has dropped a massive Extended Cut DVD bomb on all our unsuspecting asses – only to cause some much-needed head scratching on the issue (except for De Palma’s Casualties of War, which is masterfully excluded). Do you really need an extra 10 minutes of The Patriot? Is that extra documentary on Crumb discussing Zwigoff’s next film worth it? What’s released in theatres is usually the final say for most filmmakers, and DVD is proving to be the result of the bloat for others in love with their footage – throwing everything together for the consumer. I’m all for that, but within reason. So here’s the question I pose to you – are these titles within reason or just more bites at the Apple?
Tuesday also has these Universal HD-DVD titles arriving (for around $24.98 a pop), but I’m curious as to who has an HD Television, Surround Sound, and just plunked down the cash for a first generation HD-DVD player and bought/is going to buy titles. E-mail me here – and let me know your thoughts, as word so-far has been decidedly positive, save for a few generational hardware glitches (like Audio crapping out when you switch menus). This should get even more interesting once Blu-Ray enters into the home theatre dance.
By All That Is Holy
Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories arrives, finally, on 7.13.06, Biblical Cover Art and all – you notice? Whether or not it holds up is another story, as many years have passed. I succinctly remember enjoying the series and at the time had no idea that Directors as diverse as Eastwood, Scorsese, Dante, Janou, and the powerhouse known as DeVito were lining up tales to tell with wonderment (that’s not to say the writers, such as Brad Bird, Menno Meyjes, and even Richard Matheson weren’t contributing rightly to its success). Amazing Stories might not be as beloved as it need be, but the combination of chutzpah and sheer talent on and off screen should have been more conclusive with connecting to a larger audience. Where else can you see Christopher Llyod reteaming with Zemeckis for a tale of schoolkids gone wild? Or even a Spielberg-written piece directed by Eastwood about paintings reanimated to life? These were the things that sparked my own imagination when I was younger and more easily perceptible to the worldly wonders encroaching my front yard. Amazing Stories is just that, although your hardened clentchholes out there are probably shrugging it off already.
- Some deleted scenes
We’re big fans of Kurt Wimmer, as his Equilibrium is fairly ingenious and his cat-and-mouse writing tactics were top notch in his adaptation of the Thomas Crown Affair. Which pains me to talk about his latest – Ultraviolet (arriving on 6.27.06), which needed a transfusion of sorts to keep it from falling into a convoluted mess. Visually, it’s an over-the-top explosion of seemingly endless imagination, but it appears as if it’s all wasted on random techno babble (from Fitchner of all people) and Milla Jovovich’s one-note deliveries as the freedom fighter-cum-Vampress who is out to enforce the day. Wimmer certainly understands the underlying dynamics of action, and like Christian Bale whooping hardcore Cleric asses like no other, Ultraviolet does have some fairly entertaining fights. They’re few and far between, however, as the stirring of elements from a virus that mutates humans into Vampires and the seeking of vengeance by Jovovich’s half-breed at all costs, transforms the entire spectacle into a deflated film that’s punctuated with hammy acting and disconnected resonance. Story is what it all boils down to, and Ultraviolet’s doesn’t gel cohesively.
You are all going to die – with:
- PG-13 and Unrated Editions
- Audio commentary with Jovovich (on both)
- UV Protection: The Making of Ultraviolet (on both)
- Never-before-seen Bonus Footage (Unrated)
Famed filmmaker John Frankenheimer strapped a camera onto the chassis of a speeding car and enticed boxer briefs into the new millennia. Except that it wasn’t in his exemplary Ronin, but rather decades previous in Grand Prix – now getting the Special Edition treatment on 7.11.06. The film is by no means a masterpiece; it is however a larger-than-life cinemascope portrait into the loonies who race for a living (something Renny Harlin didn’t quite figure out in Driven). The group of crazed thespians includes such diverse craftsmen as James Garner, Antonio Sabato, and even Toshiro Mifune (whose voice is dubbed and one fumes remembering) – each out to one-up each other with their patented brand of speed. Frankenheimer’s film is filled with tremendous amounts of visual poetry, as props are given to the technical team behind his madness. If you’ve seen the film on VHS, chances were it was cropped beyond recognition. Grand Prix’s original aspect ratio will open up the possibilities of the frame and even goad you into exposing a little more of yourself in the process. Just don’t forget that you have neighbors, and I’m one of them. With binoculars.
Hey, sayonara! – with:
- Two documentaries (Pushing the Limit: The Making of Grand Prix 40th Anniversary and Flat Out: Formula One in the Sixties)
- Two features (Style and Sound of Speed and Brands Hatch: Behind the Checkered Flag)
- Theatrical trailer
Every week I think I have titles down pat and then they go and change things on all of us. The Hills Have Eyes’ Unrated Edition gets a new make over (it’s out on 6.20.06), Syriana goes from two-discs to one-disc and gets a newly scrubbed facial (out on 6.20), and finally, Fox’s Night Watch arrives on 6.20 as well, so plan accordingly.
I kind of wish my Region Free DVD Player would make that sound every time it converts NTSC to PAL.
Everyone on our Message Boards (read it and weep!) is all over Wu Ji: The Promise: Limited Edition; both camps insist that they’re right. Gorgeousness gives way to feelings of calling the film a pile of steaming excrement, although with the recent trailer, I must give leeway to the first group of miscreants. Just in case you fell asleep or even wish to not give any money to Warner Independent (and they’ll hate me for it), The Promise is all about that mysterious Princess wishing to love, in exchange for power or some such nonsense. As such, she’s seduced by three men – each one thrusting in her general direction with power, authority, and obedience. Although word is that each one is entirely too one-dimensional and unworthy of your hard earned time pillaging local eating establishments. So let this be a lesson to all of us: never become Princesses.
- A making-of
- Photo Gallery
- TV Spots and Trailers
- Free Japan Designer Hand-script Gallery (32 pages)
- 1 Set Of Collectible Postcards (4 Styles Available)
This is an All Region NTSC DVD, capable of playing on ALL players.
There are those that can do, those that can teach, and those who ream bodies into the afterlife with reckless abandon – the latter the focus of the Czech New Wave film The Cremator. Already your inquisitive dirty minds should be salivating to check this out, considering it combines elements of Polanski (with its psychological caveats) and everything else from surrealism to barebones kitchen sink creativity. Karl Kopfrkingl (Gesundheit!) is the young death-obsessed owner of a Crematorium during the rising years of the Czech Nazi occupation. Sensing an opportunity to work with the Devil hand-in-hand, Karl quickly justifies all sorts of evil misdeeds – from his control problems to his wife, alleging to himself that she is ‘unpure.’ What follows is a twisted time through the halls of a thoroughly disturbed conscience; a man run amok in the madhouse of human insanity. While the subject matter might be a tad bit prickly for some, those willing to submit will not only be judged accordingly when there time comes to slow roast, but also will be rewarded with nightmares for eternity, not unlike any other night regular night.
- Filmed introduction by the Quay Brothers
This is a Region 2 PAL DVD, requiring the use of a Region Free DVD Player.
Read these reviews!
on Pluto, Event Horizon: Special Edition, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Cross
of Iron: Special Edition, Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis,
Altman Collection (pushed back to 4.25
and contains A Wedding, A Perfect Couple, Quintet,
and a single-disc M*A*S*H), Thundercats: Season Two Volume One, Last
Drop, Americano, Moonstruck: DE, Remington Steele: Season Three,
Howser: Season Four, Sentinel: Season One, Visiting
Hours, Love Happy, Titus: Special Edition, A
Bigger Splash, Killing Time, Million Dollar Baby HD-DVD,
Samurai HD-DVD, Phantom of the Opera HD-DVD, Serenity
HD-DVD, and The Complete Mr. Arkadin: Criterion Collection. Read last
weeks’ Special Edition before
cramming crap down your throat right here.
with Dick and Jane, Wolf Creek (Nick’s DVD review),
Dark, Greatest Game Ever Played (Wade’s DVD review),
Fish, An Unfinished Life, Spymate, Attack of the Sabretooth,
Thou Art Loosed: Special Edition, Escape, In Living Color: Season Five,
and Hardy Collection, and Grizzly. Make sure to poke at the old Special Edition right here.
DVD Reviews Forum
General DVD Discussion Forum
Clash of the Tartans!
When there’s the need to save money (i.e. like when gas goes over $3.25/gallon near my humble abode), bargains sometimes go the way of Eileen May. If you are still rich and able to purchase without thinking twice, this part of the column is for you. Also, if you happen to have any extra cash lying around, I have a nifty little timeshare called my wallet. Inquiries appreciated.
Check out THIS MESSAGE BOARD THREAD for other Region Free DVD options.
Aeon Flux is $20.29
Final Fantasy: Advent Children is $20.81
Inspector Gadget is $20.93
Match Point is $21.77
Casanova is $21.77
Shopgirl is $21.77
Magic is $13.36
The Passenger is $19.50
Tristan & Isolde is $21.88
American Dad is $27.96
Crumb is $15.41
Guys and Dolls: DE is $18.36
Casualties of War: Extended is $14.02
Patriot: Extended is $14.02
Replacement Killers: Extended is $15.41
Windtalkers: DC is $14.02
Wedding Singer: SE is $15.86
Duane Hopwood is $20.99
Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory is $37.75
Fists in the Pocket: Criterion is $23.90
Elevator to the Gallows: Criterion is $31.88
12 Monkeys, Blues Brothers are both $9.35
Star Trek: The Motion Pictures Collection is $83.97
Sex and Lucia is $14.95
Aeon Flux is $14.99
Aeon Flux is $16.99
Final Fantasy: Advent Children is $19.99
Inspector Gadget is $26.19
Dr. Dolittle 3 is $16.99
Match Point is $19.99
Casanova is $16.99
Shopgirl is $19.99
Magic is $13.99
The Passenger is $16.99
Tristan & Isolde is $19.99
American Dad is $27.99
Detonator is $17.99
Crumb is $13.99
Guys and Dolls: DE is $16.99
Casualties of War: Extended is $13.99
Patriot: Extended is $13.99
Replacement Killers: Extended is $13.99
Windtalkers: DC is $14.99
Wedding Singer: SE is $12.99
Duane Hopwood is $20.99
Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory is $41.89
Fists in the Pocket: Criterion is $20.99 (most likely not available in store!)
Elevator to the Gallows: Criterion is $27.99 (most likely not available in store!)
Veronica Mars: Season One is $22.99