Last week I was M.I.A. with a nasty viral infection and rather preferred to rest. I appreciated everyone’s concerns, even the e-mail I got that just said “WHERE IS IT?!?” Not one to second guess anyone, but, one wonders where it is.
Nazi Bullets In Your Ass
While Devin might not fully appreciate the film, Little Miss Sunshine is damned entertaining, even if it suffers from minute characterizations. The large gorilla from the Sundance film festival has a thoroughly enjoyable series of unfortunate events that propel the wee one’s family into the confines of one dilapidated VW bug – and the rest is paradoxically amusing. Alan Arkin’s grumbly, drug addled, porn-loving grandfather is largely the reason for my supreme enjoyment. While such pursuits may have gone out of style, I couldn’t get enough of it, even with memories of my own javelining his used H-needles into my leg. For fun. Paul Dano’s mute angst represents a bit more than a blip on the developmental scale, he could be one’s own hopes and desires all rolled into one lanky bit of suckitude. There are just many clichés to furiously make out with like it was Reverend Johnson’s rectory all over again. While those moments might not become more than the some of its parts, they are all entertaining enough to warrant a viewing. Even if you yourself feel that Chevy Chase did it better.
Pretend to be normal – with:
- Audio commentary with co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris and writer Michael Arndt
- 4 Alternate Endings with optional commentary by directors Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
- "Till the End of Time" performed by DeVotchka from the soundtrack
I shied from M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village and was kicking myself that it could have been enlightening – mostly in the “stupid white people” department. Coincidentally, that could have also been the box office mantra at chez-Shyamalan (read our interview) for Lady in the Water (read the two takes: Devin’s & Russ’), which combined with the various articles written about Shyamalan’s move from Disney to Warner and his notorious “I hear voices” book, could have expanded many an 80’s cocaine shirt. But that’s more or less of a moot point, since one thing we all should do is separate the art from the artist – unless you’re Max Renn. Sprung forth and expanded from a bed time story that Shyamalan told his kids – and allow me to interject by saying I’d be frantically quivering, wetting various appendages if I’d been told this when young – the film has Ron Howard spawn Bryce Dallas as the titular sea nymph that brings light into the dull lives of Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) and those who inhabit his dwelling space. Items abound for every boy and girl: scary melodies (courtesy of James Newton Howard), angry canines, and even a modern treatise on the pseudo-unnerving state of the writer.
Hear the voice of God through a crossword puzzle – with:
- The 6-part documentary Reflections of Lady in the Water
- Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story
- Some deleted scenes
- Gag reel
Spike Lee’s documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts isn’t just one of the best documentaries of the year, on television, or even on DVD; it’s certainly one of the best I’ve ever viewed. Focusing anger, sadness, acceptance, and a curiously inquisitive eye on all things regarding the massive Hurricane Katrina blunder on state, federal, and local levels, Lee not only crafts a portrait of the innate racism on display during everyone’s bad days, but also a portrait of a city that is still not even remotely in recovery – this is America’s lost city. As sad an unequivocal fact as it is, Lee’s camera (as judgmental as inept people could erroneously say) presents the true story, the real-life struggles of those whom our government, our people turned a blind eye towards. And it’s never forgivable. Never. Chock-full of poignant and multiple repulsive moments, When the Levees Broke is must-see viewing and a sturdy necessity. It’s simply one of the greatest pieces of modern documentation we’re lucky to be privy to.
- The complete four-part documentary on three discs
- Commentary by director Spike Lee
- Next Movement: Act IV: a 105-minute epilogue featuring new interviews and insights
- Water Is Rising: A gallery of photos by David Lee with music by Terence Blanchard
Richard Linklater whips his animators one more interpolated rotoscop’ed time – with feeling in A Scanner Darkly. In case you’re a neophyte into the Dickensian world of paranoia and technological advances (here, the identity crisis forms fuller than ever), Keanu Reeves plays Bob Arctor and Agent Fred, the two men tugging at both hemispheres of the brain with more finesse than your last internet session. With the world around them crumbling and the drug war becoming the more-than-acceptable D.A.A.E. – Arctor transforms himself into Fred, infiltrating his high-powered circle of users and abusers (which oddly enough includes Winona Rider, Woody Harrelson, and the sublime Robert Downey, Jr – read his interview here) to find the curious open door behind the shadowy Substance D. If anything, envisioning the whole experience as animated allows for a drastically different take – I don’t think the scramble suit would have been quite as durable in real-life, but who the hell am I? Naturally, I’d recommend a rental (listen to the Lethem commentary) and copious quantities of an open mind.
Thwart the plot of those albino lizard BITCHES – with:
- Audio commentary by writer/director Richard Linklater, Keanu Reeves, producer Tommy Pallotta, author Jonathan Lethem, and Isa Hackett Dick
- 2 featurettes: One Summer in Austin: The Story of Filming A Scanner Darkly and The Weight of the Line: Animation Tales
For some reason, the basic ideal of My Super Ex-Girlfriend enthralled me like no other. Especially with reviews like the one Devin wrote. With Ivan Reitman fooling us once since his last, Evolution, should we be worried that he’d fool us – won’t get fooled again? Uma Thurman appears to have been a good choice for the leggy, neurotic-challeneged bastion of femininity, who also happens to highlight her free time as the heroic G-Girl, but that’s just me Tuesday-morning quarterbacking. Luke Wilson’s former highlights have included other high-water markers – like Homefries – so I’m positively sure his demographic is fairly excited for this release. I kind of am, since I got the smiles over the trailer-made shark tossing scene and the naughty “underneath the man-hood” feeling over ‘it’ boy Rainn Wilson, but it was just a tiny sensation. Aside from that, Reitman appears to be having fun, even if he’s not working from the most hilarity-infused script (one complaint I’ve heard is that Wanda Sykes dead-ends the movie with her unique comedienne skills) – and sometimes, it’s better to relive the crazy girlfriend/boyfriend memory with Uma and Luke, instead of the 300 quarter-pounder that lives four streets away.
Get a new bed and a penis – with:
- Five Deleted Scenes
- Extended Shark Sequence
- Music Video: Molly McQueen’s No Sleep 2nite
If you haven’t seen Jet Li’s Fearless (Devin’s review), the Cover might imply that he unleashes little Li’s from the base of his sword, the diminutive warriors kicking and punching and flying high through the air with the greatest of whupping ease. And although Li has stated sternly – this is it, one wonders if he could be coaxed back into the wuxia genre again, for a larger paycheck and the opportunity to unleash hell, on a tiny stage. The towering chiseled Li is front-and-center in Ronny Yu’s film, burrowing his hands so deep they could, hypothetically speaking, churn the poop that comes from the pummeled fighters. But this isn’t enough. Li appears to have lost the ideals from whilst he came, so in typical fashion, his family is murdered and he goes on a vision quest to find his Stella-esque groove. When it comes – and it comes through training and sportsmanship, damn it – Li’s acceptance into the one true fast being might be enough for him to reach through DSL lines and hand my own ass over to me for typing all of this.
Be a Pussy Claw – with:
- The unrated widescreen edition
- A Fearless Journey
- A deleted scene
Since I, like many hundreds of millions of moviegoers, did not see All the King’s Men, I must now fluff my obligatory boast: I have seen Robert Rossen’s well-intentioned, spectacularly-made original. Choosing Sean Penn to fill the beefy shoes of Broderick Crawford took some adjusting to – and not just because I made a fat joke. Penn’s shifty Willie Stark appears to have been cut from the same spittle-spewing, finger-pointing, eyebrow-bending cloth. Replacing the fire-tongued Mercedes McCambridge is Patricia Clarkson, and honestly, that one fits. Mere speculation on my part, but Clarkson’s got the natural charisma to make Sadie Burke part of her own creation, using her N’awlins upbringing to good use – now I will have to see this. I usually would snap right to the theatre with someone like Steven Zaillian involved (unless it was for the dour Civil Action 2: Classin’ It), so it was probably due to political burnout. Or gas prices. Or the fact that we were all not even a smidgen ready for such politically topical relevance on such a scale (this would/could have been a fascinating commentary track, but it’d be too depressing – DVD Producer: “expand on why this film isn’t loved,” Director: “well, ok, uh – damn. GODDAMN YOU.”). Or maybe we weren’t ready to see a skinny man fill a large man’s suit.
Nail ‘em up! – with:
- The Making of All The King’s Men
- An American Classic – featurette on Robert Penn Warren, the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel
- La. Confidential: On Location with All The King’s Men
- The Legend and Lore of Huey Long
- Shake Hands With the Devil
- Some deleted scenes
- Alternate ending
Sports movies like Invincible are like a 10 cent train-wreck (read Nick’s DVD review). You know what’s going to happen – hence why Walhberg is fixated on running like he just finally got over constipation – but you figure you might want to stick around anyway, you know, and see if there’s carnage. This being a Disney film and an Eagles’ fan dream come true, there’s going to be disappointment, son. Walhberg plays the underdog hero in the same formulaic way of past Disney hits like The Rookie, Cool Runnings, and Bend It Over Like Beckham. Whoops, Cool Runnings doesn’t deserve to be there. He’s got to claw his way up like the rest of us dregs, through the filthy conditions of training, all the while never losing sight of that golden dream, the elusive realization that Coach Greg Kinnear lords over like white on rice. This being Erickson Core’s directorial debut, he brings an affable charm to the proceedings, and while pedestrian storytelling in most corners, the film manages to still fit firmly in the sports film cannon. That’s a shame.
This is even stupider than I’m used to – with:
- Audio commentary with Vince Papale, producer Mark Ciardi, writer Brad, director Ericson Core, and editor Jerry Greenberg
- Becoming Invincible: The Story of Vince Papale
I really don’t know what to make of FANTASTIC ARGOMAN (it deserves nothing less than caps), other than the sheer lunacy of the box art. I’d never even heard of it. Chances are you haven’t either. With a synopsis like this – “No one is quite sure whether Fantastic Argoman (Roger Browne) is an arch-criminal, master thief, or a superhuman crusader battling evil in the name of peace and justice, but when self-proclaimed Queen of the World Jenabelle steals the largest diamond known to man, the mysterious Argoman leaps into action to retrieve the jewel before Jenabelle’s true power catches up with her swelling ego” – you can be confident that it nailed a guaranteed spot in my queue, even if it stinks to holy heaven. Apparently, Argoman loses his powers when he has sex – which he does. Copiously. There’s a side plot involving robots and painting Paris with stolen Francs. Sounds positively bonkers. If you’ve known about this title, which has also gone by the name of The Incredible Paris Incident or Come Rubare La Corona D’Inghilterra, please fill me in.
Your instincts are diabolic! – with:
- Nothing to speak of than my own pure, unadulterated excitement. The above images come courtesy of superstrangevideo.com.
The moment that filmmaker Neil LaBute (read the interview) was interested in adapting The Wicker Man, I thought he could be onto something. He wasn’t quite – read Devin’s negative review, and don’t forget to chant “you bitches!, you bitches!” LaBute’s infused the plot with bees – in physical droves, in feminine droves (their hive runs Summersisle, and includes Ellen Burstyn and Leelee Sobieski, on top of a gyrating James Franco) and in psychosexual droves – all of whom have come together to rid Nicolas Cage’s Edward Malus of his desire to pretty much insult everyone in this small community. Aside from the fact that this Wicker Man is oddly structured and entirely off-kilter to really qualify as a purely horrific film (although, I will say that “aw, my legs” will soon become my new causal reference drop) it’s also not quite worth it. Sheesh.
Sensing that fans haven’t shelled out enough for their beloved titles, Anchor Bay unceremoniously drops yet another Special Edition on our suspecting asses – you can’t fool us, Anchor Bay! – and this time my roommate is going to be pissed. He imported the fancy-schmansy Limited Wood Box Edition (from England), confident that this was the only time he’d get to see Christopher Lee exalt the merits of appointment keeping in the extended cut with 11 minutes of extra footage. Well, surprise? This two-disc Special Edition gives that version the mighty middle. I knew it was coming. He didn’t. The 1974 original, which by no means is a downright masterpiece, certainly is atmospheric and well-written (it was Anthony Shaffer’s fingers scribbling like mad) enough to merit a viewing. It works more spectacularly than you’d think.
HOW’D IT GET BURNT?! – with:
- Unrated version features an alternate end sequence not shown theatrically
- Audio commentary with writer-director Neil LaBute, co-stars Leelee Sobieski and Kate Beahan, editor Joel Plotch, and costume designer Lynette Meyer
- Theatrical trailer
1974 Special Edition:
- Features both original theatrical version and extended cut with 11 minutes of additional footage
- Audio commentary with Director Robin Hardy, Christoper Lee, Edward Woodward, Mark Kermode
- New commentary on the extended version by director Robin Hardy and actors Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward with moderator Mark Kermode
- The Wicker Man Enigma documentary
- Talent bios
- TV and radio spots
I try and foist Operation Crossbow onto everyone, because it’s a splendid adventure film that works many years later and also happens to have George motherfuckin’ Peppard in the center of an international intrigue story involving the British involvement blowing up Nazi V-rockets. It a rousing flick that moves like the dickens, and although it might use Sophia Loren too sparingly (and that’s also where I feel the film almost grinds to a halt, but Producer Carlo Ponti, whom she was married to, naturally felt otherwise). Michael Anderson’s direction is snappy, semi-historically accurate, and enjoyable, precisely the caveats in which a spy flick should adhere to. It will even have you teetering on anxiousness – most especially during the climatic end sequences with Tom Courtenay, Peppard, and Anthony Quayle up in arms with one another. All-in-all, this is a definite blind-buy from me to you.
In addition, Warner also releases Ray Bradbury’s interesting Illustrated Man, which I have always found to be more of a showcase for Rod Steiger’s abilities than for the flimsy filmmaking on display.
Semi-related (since it’s the WB), is Up Periscope, which has James Garner using his charms to photograph and steal a secret Japanese radio code. The film’s rather slight, but modestly enjoyable – look out for Warren Oates in one of his early roles.
Extras on all include:
- Theatrical trailers
- Tattooed Steiger (on Illustrated Man)
- A Look Back at Crossbow (on Operation Crossbow)
And you thought we might be done. Not quite. Tuesday will see these additional titles perk their nasty little cases through towards confusing your purchasing power. The Simpsons celebrates Season 9, and you should know by now whether or not it’s for you. Take a gander at all the other things joshing for your attention:
Being that Janus films has a joint stake in Criterion, January is a month which holds dual meaning for them. It also holds a lot of promise for the fledgling collector or enthusiast out there too, since it also has more titles that I can ever remember. For starters, Mouchette is a masterpiece. It’s an unflinching look at humanity from the adept eye of Robert Bresson that is as depressing as it is enlightening. It is not for the faint of heart. It is for anyone seriously interested in movies and their imprint, their lasting value upon which it speaks. Let’s take a look at the rest:
It should be noted that the bottom titles are all part of the Monsters & Madmen Collection, arriving on 1.23.07 – excited? Border Radio is out on 1.16.07, while the recent upgrades (anamorphic, more extras) of Yojimbo/Sanjuro slice and dice on 1.23 – and hopefully, will lead you to one of the best DVDs of 2006 (hint, hint) – their upgrade of Seven Samurai. Finally, Mouchette, which I highly recommend, arrives on 1.16.
February, yet another great month for the Collection, has De Sica’s seminal Bicycle Thieves, Sidney Gilliat’s thrilling Green for Danger, a Paul Robeson multi-disc retrospective called Portrait of the Artist (and features the wonderful Body and Soul), Mikio Naruse’s When a Woman ascends the Stairs, and Powell/Pressburger’s exemplary David Lean-edited 49th Parallel. Good, great stuff.
January’s not necessarily packed, but it will take a swing at you after a couple of drinks.
Artie Lange’s Beer League
Glory (repackaged edition)
Love’s Abiding Joy
Martin: The Complete First Season
My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Special Edition
Snakes on a Plane
Conversations with Other Women
Extras: The Complete First Season
I Trust You to Kill Me
MI-5: Volume 4
The Night Listener
Pup Named Scooby Doo: Volume 5
Romantic Favorites Collection
The Snow Queen
SpongeBob SquarePants: Season 4, Volume 2
24: Season 6 Premiere
The Animation Show: Volumes 1 & 2
Doctor Who: The Complete Second Series
Employee of the Month
Her Minor Thing
In Her Line of Fire
King of Queens – The Complete Seventh Season
The Queen’s Sister
Royle Family: The Complete First Season
Space Academy: The Complete Series
Street: The Complete First Season
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
Undisputed II: Last Man Standing
World’s Most Dangerous Gang
Brokeback Mountain: Collector’s Edition
Cowboy del Amor
Don’t Knock the Rock/Rock Around the Clock
Fiddler on the Roof: 2-Disc Collector’s Edition
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys
Home From the Hill
The Invincible Iron Ma
Marvel Animated Features Gift Set
One Night with the King
The Puffy Chair
Robert Mitchum: The Signature Collection
This Film is Not Yet Rated
Walker, Texas Ranger: The Complete Second Season
Waltons: The Complete Fourth Season
Band of Angels
Benny Hill: The Hill’s Angels Years, Complete & Unadulterated – Set 6 (1986 – 1989)
The Big Valley: Season Two, Volume 1
Catch a Fire
Dallas: The Complete Sixth Season
Facing the Giants
Farce of the Penguins
I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Third Season
Journalist in the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – The Third Year
Lucky Louie: The Complete First Season
Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Fifth Season
The Passion of The Christ: Definitive Edition
The Pedro Almodovar Classics Collection
The Silence of the Lambs: Collector’s Edition
Triple Cross: Bin Laden’s Spy in America
Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman – Volume Six
The Prestige happened to be one of those well-made movies that imploded upon itself, causing quite a load of division amongst the better-intentioned moviegoer. It also confused the hell out of them, but I don’t really see why. It’s quite easy to see the events as they unfold, with Christopher Nolan’s sturdy accomplished hand, the film becomes a fairly interesting amalgamation of plot turning in on itself – and if you pay attention (which many are preconditioned not to), it works. While the inner machinations of the dueling magician plot (Bale versus Jackman) might cause you to become like some – angry, festering, and completely at odds with the end results – it clicked for me in a way that would probably cause you to vomit. Within its shaky connections, I found it to be technically proficient, and maybe the inner jerk inside of me won that day over more reasoned attentions. On 2.20.07, give it another shot.
Enjoy taking your bows under the stage – with:
Extras that are still to be revealed.
Because I haven’t overloaded one’s eyeballs enough, here’s the Cover Art for The Grudge 2 (out on 2.6.07). Plus there’s Final Fantasy: Advent Children’s recent Limited Edition (arriving on 2.20.07) and finally, MGM continues to ransack their vaults remastering and repackaging everything; this time it’s with Fiddler on the Roof, arriving on 1.23.07.
I heard about Red Road during its screening at Cannes. It won a jury prize and was hailed as being a direct descendant of Lynne Ramsey’s stylistic choices. Apparently, it’s very interesting. But is it good? I don’t know – America I suppose isn’t ready for it (NYC is, on 3.9.07!). Expanding her short film into feature-length, filmmaker Andrea Arnold mines the depths of audience expectations quite adroitly, or so I’ve heard – her previous short, Wasp, was stunning. The plot has a young downtrodden woman whose family has been killed, working a CCTV in North Glasgow and summarily intertwining herself into an outside relationship with an ex-prisoner named Clyde. Becoming instantly familiar with his routines, a relationships sparks, and neither is the wiser for it. I have my suspicions about their developing attraction to one another – check out the trailer – but I hear it’s in the way Ms. Arnold plays these situations out that’s worth a viewing.
There have been no extras announced. This is a Region 2 PAL DVD.
I think Danny Huston is innately fascinating. He makes good choices – Constant Gardner, Birth, his par-excellence turn in The Proposition – and continually makes me seek out his upcoming films. If at all, he’ll be effortlessly watchable in a sea of adequacy, although that has yet to occur. Apparently, in Alpha Male, that situation pops up; the film’s been called “assured,” but lacking in some departments. Huston has been lumped in with the cast and its work in the film, which is centered around children coming to grips with the death of Huston’s character and the reintegration of another surrogate father. Most of the movie allegedly seems to be too reliant upon silences coupled with atmospheric cinematography and a lyrical score. Or so says the myriad of reviews. Nevertheless, I’m such a sucker for Huston that I might be able to gloss over such transgressions from filmmaker Dan Wilde – who, as word has, walked away over squabbles with the producer at the end. Maybe we’ll see a Director’s Cut?
There are no extras. This is a Region 2 PAL DVD.
12/5: Miami Vice, Beerfest, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Nick’s DVD review), Pulse, Idlewild, OH in Ohio, Rocky: Collector’s Edition, Saturday Night Live: Complete First Season, The Conformist, 1900: Special Edition, My Geisha, Attack Force, How to Eat Fried Worms, Holiday, Richard Burton/Elizabeth Taylor Collection, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Criterion, Beals of Grey Gardens: Criterion, Animaniacs: Season 2, Pinky & the Brain: Season 2, 24: Season 5, Forbidden Hollywood, and The Premiere Frank Capra Collection. Read the old Special Edition right here.
Clash of the Tartans
For last-minute holiday gifts, pagan.
Little Miss Sunshine is $21.96
Lady in the Water is $21.56
A Scanner Darkly is $20.99
My Super-Ex Girlfriend is $21.45
When the Levees Broke is $22.02
Wicker Man (’06