Let’s get up with the get-down.
Much like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Trilogy of Terror before it, this is an extremely solid Made-for-TV thriller. A mentally-challenged man is killed by angry Texas dumbfucks when they decide he was responsible for the death of a child. Of course, he was trying to save her – but who will save the
Charles Durning-led assholes when they start dying one by one?
I swear King copped the entire setup for Green Mile – but Scarecrow heads for instensity instead of sentiment. Check it out.
There is oftentimes a synergy between this bit of reportage and The B-Movie Column – I remember being able to announce that An Innocent Man hit Blu Ray just as the crew was singing its praises, for example. It is my hope here that we remain simpatico for this latest Echo Bridge mishandling of an old Touchstone Silver Screen Partners XIVIIXMVIIQIIVMII production.
Disorganized Crime is a sitcommy caper pic with an awesome cast. Dig the wattage: Rubén Blades, Lou Diamond Phillips, Daniel Roebuck, Ed O’Neill, Dean Norris, Corbin Bernsen, and FRED GWYNNE. The plot is the typical “criminals come together to pull a job” scenario dropped on its head as a baby. The characters reveal themselves to be more “quirky” than “edgy”…the job’s mastermind ends up hopelessly lost in the wilderness…like I said – it’s sitcommy, but there are some great throwaway lines/gags – and when the film knuckles-down for the heist, it’s really cool. This disc is going to be dirt cheap, and it’ll be anamorphic (the DVD wasn’t) – it’s definitely worth a look.
I probably shouldn’t have to say much about this flick. Like the aforementioned Disorganized Crime, the film feels a lot like a sitcom – right down to the cast – but it’s an uproariously vile sitcom –  like the Farrellys used to be able to pull off. Everyone in the cast totally delivers, but Bosses does the impossible – it reminded me that I used to love Jennifer Aniston. And it reminded me why. I used to have to watch Leprechaun for that.
I can finally retire my VHS. Uli Edel and a great cast bring Hubert Selby Jr’s novel to you on Blu. Not quite as terrifying as Selby’s Requiem for a Dream – but really close. Jennerfer Jason Leigh is utterly fucking heartbreaking in this.
Malick crafts a visually-delicate (and gorgeous) semi-autobiographical tone poem that also serves as a demo disc for your home theater. Why is it not the Blu Ray of the Week?
Larry Cohen teams with explo-maestro William Lustig to craft yet another lurid B-flick pulled off with A-picture grace. The premise is simple – there’s a psycho stalking the streets of NYC dressed as a cop (today we call them the NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT), and it’s up to a frantic Bruce Fucking Campbell and a stoic Tom Fucking Atkins to solve the mystery and save the city. We get strong support from Richard Fucking Roundtree and William Fucking Smith. I love this flick, and I’m sure Synapse has polished it up as much as its age will allow. Can’t wait to pick it up.
Aliens in the Attic
Alvin & the Chipmunks
Art of Revenge
Aspen Extreme
The Bad Seed
Beautiful Boy
Boccaccio ’70
Bones: The Complete Sixth Season
Camp Nowhere
Casanova ’70
Cheaper by the Dozen 2
Chuck: The Complete Fourth Season
The Comancheros
Cream: Royal Albert Hall
The Cruel Game
Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Disorganized Crime
Dragon Dynasty Triple Feature: Jet Li Collection – These will look like shit. Don’t do it.
The Family Man
Flicka 2
The Four Feathers (Criterion)
Garfield: The Movie
Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties
Ghost Hunters: Season 6, Part 2 – SPOILER ALERT: GHOSTS DON’T EXIST. And Darren Aronofsky wants the rig back.
The Greatest Story Ever Told
Halford: Live at Saitama Super Arena
Home Alone
Horrible Bosses
Horton Hears a Who!
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Ice Age: The Meltdown
Indian Summer – If you ever wanted to know what a movie starring Diane Lane AND Sam Raimi looked like – this is the answer.
Jingle All The Way
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
King Midas
Lessons for an Assassi
Maniac Cop
Mansfield Park
Master Harold and the Boys
Miracle on 34th Street
Mr. Nice
Night at the Museum
North Amercarnivores
Northanger Abbey – I’m assuming this is a sequel to Cougarton Abbey…
Planet of the Apes Collection – Here we go again…again…
The Tree of Life
Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of the Wind Shore of the Maze
Wild Africa: East African Odyssey
Wild Australia: Discover the Magnificence
Wild Oceans: Mysteries of the Deep
Wuthering Heights
WWE: The Ladder Match 2 – Crash & Burn
Zombie Diaries 2
Zookeeper – FUCK YOU.
13 West Street
An Affirmative Act
After Party Massacre
Alaska: The Last Frontier
Amazing Grace and Chuck
America by Rail: The Complete Collection
America’s Natural Treasures
American Madness
Angelina Ballerina: Dancing on Ice
Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1: Season 1
Art of Revenge
Aspen Extreme
Baby’s Day Out
The Bad Seed
Bamboo Blade: The Complete Series
Barney: A Very Merry Christmas The Movie
Beautiful Boy
Before I Hang
Before They Were Wrestling Stars: Rey Misterio Jr.
The Best of Green Lantern
Best of Petticoat Junction Collection
Beverly Hillbillies & Friends Collection
The Black Room
Blood Curse
Boccaccio ’70
Bonanza: The Official Second Season
Bonanza: The Official Second Season, Volume 2
Bones: The Complete Sixth Season
Brideshead Revisited
Broom Wedding
Brother Bear
Call Me Mrs. Miracle
Camp Nowhere
Canine Companions
Canine Helpers
Canine Heroes
Canine Instinct
Canine Workers
Casanova ’70
Casper the Friendly Ghost: The Complete Collection 1945-1963
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Christmas Cupid
Christmas Lodge
Chuck: The Complete Fourth Season
The Comancheros
Cook’s Country: 4th Season
Cowboy Legends
Cream: Royal Albert Hall
The Cruel Game
Cry, The Beloved Country
Dark Night of the Scarecrow
Savage City
Devil Dogs Unleashed
Devil’s Playground
Disorganized Crime
Dr. Who: Talons Of Weng-Chiang
Dr. Who: The David Tennant Years
Dragon Ball Z: Dbox Seven
Edge of Eternity
El Matavacas
Ethan Frome – they’re still inflicting all that Ethan Frome damage…
Exploring Alaska
Familia Tortuga
The Farm
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
The Four Feathers (Criterion)
Ghost Hunters: Season 6, Part 2
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Complete Series Part 1
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Complete Series Part 2
Great Italian Directors Collection
The Greatest Story Ever Told
Greatest Tank Battles
Green Lantern
Grey Skies
Gunsmoke: The Fifth Season, Volume 1
Halford: Live at Saitama Super Arena
The Harvest
Healing Canines
Hero 108: Season 1, Volume 3
The Hillside Stranglings
History Detectives: Season 9
Horrible Bosses
Horton Hears a Who!
Hot Tub Time Machine
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hustler
IMAX Movies
The Incredible Hulk Returns/The Trial of the Incredible Hulk
Indian Summer
Initial D: Stage 1
The Inner Room
Istanbul Nights: Gypsy Fusion Bellydance Choreography
It’s Christmas
Jane Eyre
Jem & The Holograms: Season 1
Jem & The Holograms: Truly Outrageous Complete Series
Jets over Korea
Jets over the Gulf & Afghanistan
Jets over Vietnam
Jingle All The Way
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
King Midas
Kobato Collection 2
Larry McMurtry Double Feature
Last Exit to Brooklyn
Leap Year
Lessons for an Assassin
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus
The Lost Boys: Three Movie Collection
Lost Horizon
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Movies Collection
Man of Her Dreams/There’s A Stranger In My House
Maniac Cop
Mansfield Park
Maria’s B-Movie Mayhem: Night of the Demon
Martha & Ethel
Master Harold and the Boys
Mientras Haya Vida
Miracle On 34th Street
Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Kids
Mr. Nice
Naruto Shippuden: Box Set 8
The Night Before the Night Before Christmas
The Night Holds Terror
No Reason
North Amercarnivores
Northanger Abbey
Oil & Empires
On the Road with Charles Kuralt: Americana Collection
Outlaws of the Old West
Paul McCartney: The Music and Animation Collection
The Pebble and The Penguin
Petra: Back to the Rock
The Pig Farm Killer
Pinching Penny
Pompeii: Back From The Dead
Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen: Season 1
The Princess of Montpensier
Princess Tutu: Complete Collection
Raw For Life: Ultimate Encyclopedia of Raw Food Lifestyle
Red 71
Root of Evil
Rowing with the Wind
Sesame Street: Elmo’s Shape Adventure
Simply Raw/Raw For Life
Simply Raw: Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days
The Slit-Mouthed Woman
Soul Man/18 Again
South of Heaven
St. Ives
Swamp Shark
The Sylvian Experiments
Tales of the Abyss Part 1
The Tango Lesson
Tapping Solution
Taylor Swift: Journey to Fearless
Terror Strikes Home
That ’70s Show: Holiday Edition
Thomas & Friends: Merry Christmas, Thomas!
Tinker Bell
Tom & Viv
The Tree of Life
Tribal Renaissance
The Trip
The Truth about Angels
TV Westerns with Robert Redford
Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of the Wind Shore of the Maze
The Venetian Affair
Video Girl
Wanted: Dead or Alive/Death Before Dishonor – fuck the bonus.
The War of 1812
Weekend at Bernie’s
Wide World of Steam
Wild Africa: East African Odyssey
Wild Australia: Discover the Magnificence
Wild Oceans: Mysteries of the Deep
Without Motive
Workaholics: Season One
Wuthering Heights
WWE: The Ladder Match 2 – Crash & Burn
WWII: Essential Collection Volume 1
WWII: Essential Collection Volume 2
Zombie Diaries 2
Not owning an iPad, I can’t speak to the overall goals of this app-centric project, which promises the opportunity for exploration, interaction, and didacticism. I’m left feeling something of a Luddite for having nothing to talk about but the darn music. Still, we are talking Bjork here, which means that the music is always going to be fascinating, and the vocals like nothing you’ll hear outside of the spheres of heaven.
And that’s more or less a propos, as what we have here is basically the creation of heaven and earth as reflected in the flesh and blood of the human body.  “Moon” opens the album with gently plucked strings, as Bjork urgently breathes “The lukewarm hands of their gods came down / And gently picked my adrenaline pearls / They paste them in their mouths / And rinse all of their fear out with their saliva.” “Cosmology” emerges out of an ascending swell of synth-and-chorus that sounds for all the world like vintage Moody Blues, and against a pulsing heartbeat, Bjork tells a few alternate versions of the big bang (“A silver fox and her cunning mate / Began to sing a song that became the world we know / And they say back then our universe was a cold black egg / Until the god inside burst out / And from its shattered shell / He made what became the world we know”).
Maybe the most fascinating track is “Virus,” with its tinkling, child-like piano and disturbing intimacy (“Like a virus needs a body / As Soft tissue feeds on blood / Some day I’ll find you / Like a mushroom on a tree trunk as the protein transmutates /  I knock on your skin and I am in“). “Sacrifice” and “Mutual Core” seem to shudder in the face of nature’s awesome power (“I shuffle around the tectonic plates in my chest“), reminding us that a woman living in a land that ranges from forbidding cold to volcanic savagery may view the beauty of nature in terrified awe, not touristy Kodak moments.
“Solstice” draws back to take it all in, wrapping up the album with a quavering vocal set against a  Japanese scale and a final benediction: “You are a light bearer / Receiving radiance from others.” A damned impressive achievement, and I think I’d better go borrow an iPad from someone.
Twenty years in the biz should, you’d imagine, have allowed Adams to finally decide if he wants to grow up to be Neil Young or Paul Westerberg; too often he seems to settle for something in the middle: Don Henley with a hangover, maybe. Oddly, it was last year’s thrown-together odds n sods collection, III / IV, that seemed to suggest that he’d managed to find an actual blend between the roughness of rock and roll and the emotional directness of country without losing himself in the process. Evidently the first all-new album from the newly-sober Adams, Ashes & Fire is about as far from III / IV as one could imagine at this point, precise and restrained, liberally dosed with alt-country clichés. It’s hardly unlistenable, but when there are guys like Ryan Bingham and the Avett Brothers out there redefining the alt-country genre and challenging its preconceptions, Ashes & Fire feels a bit too safe a retreat.
Tracks like “Dirty Rain,” “Invisible Riverside,” or “Lucky Now,” are songs of a young man’s confusion: “I feel like somebody I don’t know / Are we really who we used to be? Am I really who I was?” And while I suppose we’ve all felt that way at one time or another, 36 is perhaps a bit long in the tooth to still be convincing as emotional driftwood. Taken song by song, there’s some nice stuff here, and in tracks like “Chains of Love,” the title song, and the epic “Do I Wait” (“I been waiting here all night / If you’re not gonna show / Then we’re not gonna fight“), something resembling personality breaks through.
But too often, the emotional core of the songs feels received, as if this is what Ryan imagines sobriety should sound like: surrender to the kind of easy sentiment that forms a generic patina over life’s real pain.
It’s kind of interesting that we’re now into third-generation retro-soul: while Hawthorne genuflects to Marvin and Barry and Curtis, his album is most successful when he’s paying homage to white musicians of the 70’s who took the great soul men as their models: in other words, this album is clearly the work of a man who’s worn out a few copies of Silk Degrees, Katy Lied, and Minute By Minute.
The only real misstep takes place at the beginning: the opener, “Get to Know You” is a sort of Barry-White-by-way-of Chi-LItes move that underscores Hawthorne’s biggest weakness: he’s not much more than adequate as a singer. He can hit the notes OK, even manages not to embarrass himself in falsetto, but what separated the great soul men from the hundreds you never heard of was a voice that had the power of personality behind it; whether huge like Otis or gentle like Smokey, there was command and communication in every phrase. And even as Hawthorne grows and refines as a singer, he would appear to simply lack the basic equipment for that kind of vocal control (and his spoken intro is painfully awkward). Fortunately, the man knows his classic production, can spin an instantly-memorable tune, and has an ear for the hook that just won’t quit.
“A Long Time” puts things immediately to rights, a defiant paen to the recovery of Hawthorne’s beloved Detroit, with snaky Jeff Baxter-style guitar over a silky rhythm track.  The album really hits its stride with the triptych that anchors the middle: “Finally Falling,” “Hooked”, and “The Walk” in which our hero has to decide if his inamorata’s “luxurious hair” and “cocoa butter skin” make up for her “shitty fuckin’ attitude” (Your looks had me putty in your hands / But I’ve had as much as I can stand /You can walk your long legs right out of my life“).  And none of them will leave your brain for days. He finds connections between Tyrone Davis and ELO on “Dreaming” (which wistfully paints romantic trouble as eco-disaster); there’s sly finger-snapping in “Stick Around,” sinister toy piano on “The News,” and Snoop Dogg harmonies on the majestic Gamble-Huff rip “Can’t Stop.” The bonus edition adds the club-hopping “Henny and Ginger Ale,” aka “Got To Give It Up” for the 21st century.
In the wake of Mayer Hawthorne’s successful white soul,  Erasure’s latest feels like a bit of bad timing. Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode to find a way to craft soul music for synths, and he knocked it out of the park when he ran across Alison Moyet: her voice is one of those rare instruments that genuinely deserves to be called “timeless.” After the breakup of Yaz, though Erasure seemed to thrive on cheesy 80’s clichés, rather than in any way transcending them.
Grabbing Frankmusik for production brings the lads right up to date, but songs that sound like they’re intended as floor-fillers (“Fill Us With Fire,” “A Whole Lotta Love Run Riot”) just feel limp, without the snap that’s needed to kick things into a higher gear, and the rehashed melodies don’t do much to compensate.
Lyrically, the album staggers between the self-pitying and the obvious (“Everybody seems to have their own point of view“), though I have to admit that hearing Andy Bell declare that he’s “sick of this techno” is probably funnier than it has any right to be. I’ll also admit that, if Bell’s voice works better for you than it does for me (I find him overwrought where Moyet was intense), you’ll probably get more out of this than I did. And give Frankmusik and engineer Rob Orton credit: the album sounds as plush and polished as anything Clarke and Bell have ever done.
William Shatner – Seeking Major Tom. Was it funny once? Sure it was. Is the sci-fi thematic structure a propos? Yep. Did all the guest stars probably have a good time? Seems likely. But apart from Toots Hibbert’s contribution to “Walking On The Moon” (I hope he’s adding it to his live set), if I never hear this shit again it will be too soon.
Peter Gabriel – New Blood. This collection of re-thought orchestral remakes is available in both live and studio versions, on CD, DVD, Blu-ray, and I would assume iPad app (soon, anyway). Putting the focus on the music, and not Gabriel’s thickening voice, helps. And the production sound is fucking amazing.
Radiohead – Tkol Rmx 1234567. Remixes from the 12″ vinyl single series. Spend enough time with it, and it begins to sound like its own album.
Evanescence – Evanescence. Once you’re three or four albums along, self-titled means rebirth, reinvention, leaving the past behind, right? Eh, maybe not so much…
Five Finger Death Punch – American Capitalist. In the current political and economic climate, one could probably find a lot to say about the band’s contention that “In America, Capitalism is about survival of the fittest. If you work hard, you can do anything you want in America.”  It would beat the hell out of having listen to the album again.
Johnny Cash – Bootleg lll: LIVE Around the World. As if this collection of rare and/or unreleased live recordings wasn’t self-recommending, one of the shows features an introduction from Richard Nixon. It don’t get much more rock and roll than that.
B-52’s – With the Wild Crowd: Live in Athens GA. Punchy live recording, and it’s nice that a few tracks are included from 2008’s criminally overlooked Funplex. But the voices sure ain’t what they used to be, and that’s saying something in Fred Schneider’s case.
The Smiths – Complete: Super Deluxe Collector’s Box. Individually numbered and strictly limited to 3000 copies only. This Super Deluxe box set includes all eight digitally remastered Smiths albums on both CD and vinyl LP, 25 seven-inch singles, rare and deleted artwork, a DVD of the band’s music videos and eight high-quality twelve inch prints of the album sleeves as well as a large poster. This is the most comprehensive and exciting Smiths collection EVER!  Nothing I could possibly add to that, kids.
John Fahey – Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You (The Fonotone Years 1958-1965). As Glenn Jones’ excellent notes remind us, when these sides were first issued, it was nearly impossible for the average music listener to be exposed to the work of artists like Charlie Patton or Blind Willie Johnson, so Fahey’s guitar sound was a revelation. Even more so when you finally had the chance to hear someone like Patton, and realized just what an amazing weirdo Fahey was.
FORZA 4 (360)
They are selling this game as sort of a catch all for gear heads. Maybe hoping to catch some of the fallout from last years disappointing GT5. It’s going to be a huge game, with everything you’d expect from the genre. And Jeremy Clarkson. Since my (mild) love of cars comes from racing games and Top Gear, I plan to be all over this shit. A solid racing game can be one of the most visceral experiences the medium can cook up and Forza has always had a damn good engine. It’s the playground aspect that 3 got so right (and GT5 got so wrong) that is really the selling point here. Auto-Vista mode sounds like it could be a catalyst for a racing game fan to turn into a car fan. And it has Jeremy fucking Clarkson narrating. I want to talk about how acing a corner on Forza, because of the realistic feel and reaction of the tires, is about as rewarding as any game can be, but what’s the point? It has the reasonably priced car as a challenge. And Jeremy Clarkson talking about cars.
This is weird. Dead Rising worked because of it’s incredibly obtuse nature and rouge like design, not because Frank West took pictures and acted like an asshole. But they decided Dead Rising 2 didn’t have the right asshole the first time and he didn’t take nearly enough pictures. Asshole A and Asshole B are interchangeable in video games. Replace Chuck Greene with the stupid mask guys from Army of Two for all I care. Video games an industry that churns out new asshole protagonists year after year. And I get it, we want douchebags in our games. Games usually involve the player committing some sort of genocide, be it goomba or generic soldier genocide, and Dead Rising is no different. We don’t want to mass murder mutated humans with someone likable, but why Frank West? Chuck Greene may have had an annoying Mega Man loving child to protect, but he was still a giant cock with the face of an ape. He sucked, just like we want our characters to suck. I didn’t enjoy my time with Dead Rising 2 less because I was bashing in zombies with that particular asshole instead of the one I was used to, I enjoyed Dead Rising 2 less because it wasn’t as well-designed as the first. Simple as that. If you really want to spend more time with (the seriously insufferable when you get down to it) Frank West, here ya’ go. You’re the one person in the world who plays Dead Rising for the characters.
Wayforward. Aliens. Metroidvania. If either of those things gives you the boner they give me, put on the baggy pants and buy this shit.
Double Fine do kids with Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster. If you can Kinect hug Grover, it may be the greatest game ever made. Also coming out for Kinect is Hulk Hogan’s Main Event, which, judging from the title, is a Kinect pooping simulation. The last Kinect title for the week is Michael Phelps: Push the Limit. Consider that limit moved a half foot, Phelps. Ace Combat: Assault Horizon is not a Kinect game, but is titled like one. Also, looks boring. Red Dead Redemption finally gets an overpriced Game of the Year edition. Someone might be excited about that. Finally, Skylanders: Spryo’s Adventure is hitting every console in an attempt to rope in the entire economic scale. It’s a game that makes you buy toys. Thanks Activision. I love you Pit Pat!
And…I’m spent. And so’s yer cash!