If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Some folks might remember from way back in September of 2008 (and big bonus points to those who do) when I went off in my Fantastic Fest review about how good this South Korean action comedy was. SO good that, in fact, I'm surprised no distributor tried to prep it for an at least relatively wide Western theater release. While this is ostensibly a remake of "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", it's only in the vaguest of ways. What this IS, is laugh out loud funny and packed with cool and imaginative fighting scenes. THIS is the action film you should be celebrating this year, not the %$#&# Expendables. I'd put it up against Stallone's new film ANY day of the week without a moment's hesitation. Do yourself a favor, now that this is widely available, and see for yourself. And hey, the blu-ray even comes with a set of extras, including a 'behind the scenes' reel, footage from its showing at Cannes, two 'making of' featurettes (no CG used in the film and all the actors did their own amazing stunts...beat that, Stallone and company!), and a series of actor interviews. The most amount of bang for your buck that you're gonna get right now is, "The Good, The Bad, The Weird".
BURNING BRIGHT (DVD)
It's a shame that this horror movie will be largely ignored by even most buffs, and who can blame them? The concept doesn't sound so hot...Teenage girl (Briana Evigan, mother of Co-Host's 'ass babies') and her autistic brother are trapped in a boarded up house with a starving man-eating tiger while a deadly hurricane rages outside...that smells suspiciously of massive fail. The truth is, though, that while "Burning Bright" is certainly no masterpiece, director Carlos Brooks manages to sell you on the silly sounding premise and delivers some solid, inescapable tension and thrills to boot. At least, for those folks who don't have my problem of 'awwww'ing over the big cute kitteh every time he's on screen. That would be me. LOOK AT THE BIG KITTEH!!!
CLICK HERE TO BUY Burning Bright
Good Lawd, TWO tiny 'never heard of it before' DVD releases in a row that are worth your buck? Yep, and this one even more so. In the unfortunately titled "CA$H", Chris Hemsworth and Victoria Profeta get manna from heaven when a briefcase full of money literally falls from the sky into their lap. So, they do what I suspect most people would do...they start spending it. Unfortunately, this leads Pyke Kubic (Sean Bean) a clear trail right to their front door, as he tracks down the money his twin brother threw out the window of his van during a police chase after a botched robbery. Bean totally rules here, as the most soft spoken and polite sociopath you've ever seen, holding the rube couple essentially hostage while they figure out how to pay him back every last cent of what they spent.
CLICK HERE TO BUY Cash (2009) (Widescreen)
Ricky Gervais fans are undoubtedly all ready to embrace the latest offering written, directed and starring him (along with his apparent life-partner Stephen Merchant). But slow down there, cow-pokes, this is not your usual bag of cynical, uncomfortable, Gervais-style comedy, no no. As Gervais says himself in the 'making of' featurette, this is an attempt to adapt the American style 'period piece about kids with big dreams in a small town' into a British sensibility. As such, it's rather direct with its intentions, not beating around the bush much as far as recognizable characters and plot devices but it has its definite charms, largely due to the affable Christian Cooke, who has 'big movie star' written all over him and his love interest Felicity Jones who is appealingly innocent yet curious in a way that makes me want to violate her in ways the British have probably never even thought of. But don't look for much Gervais in it, who has a glorified cameo at best.
CLICK HERE TO BUY Cemetery Junction [Blu-ray]
DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE (Blu-Ray)
Not surprisingly, no one even gave me an offer to review this title and neither was there a press screening upon its original theatrical release for two minutes in 2006, so, I still haven't seen it. Nor did I think I'd ever have any interest in this lame looking video game adaptation starring Holly Valance, Devon Aoki and Jaime Pressly. Oh, and OF COURSE, Eric Roberts as the bad guy. Rarely the mark of quality. Still, lately folks have been telling me that even though this is just another of the 'martial arts competition to the death based on a videogame' movies, that it's silly fun-ish. I'm gonna need a few more affirmations on that front before I spend my two hours with this title, but for those of ya who are more daring than me, it's out on HD now.
CLICK HERE TO BUY DOA: Dead or Alive [Blu-ray]
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S HAMLET (Blu-Ray)
The jury is WAY out for me about whether or not Kenneth Branagh is gonna deliver the goods in 2011's "Thor" movie, but there's no doubt that he delivers on the Shakespeare adaptations like nobody's business. One of his most well-received was his 1996 adaptation of "Hamlet" that was rare in that it was the first unabridged film version of it ever made. Which means, of course, four long hours of The Bard. Be ready. But hell, this cast features Branagh himself as the Prince, Derek Jacobi as King Claudius, Julie Christie as Queen Gertrude, Kate Winslet as Ophelia and smaller roles by Jack Lemmon, Gerard Depardieu, Brian Blessed, Charlton Heston, John Gielgud, Judi Dench, Billy Crystal, Robin Williams and Richard Attenborough. That's an impressive line-up and it's made with no small amount of scope; it's gorgeous. Hell, if you gotta have ONE 'speare film for art cred, if nothing else, on your shelf, this is a helluva good choice.
CLICK HERE TO BUY Hamlet (Blu-ray Book)
L'ENFANCE NUE: THE CRITERION COLLECTION (DVD)
This 1968 French film follows the day-to-day life of a kid that even for a neglected orphan is a selfish, screwed up, little brat that needs a good kick in the keister. It was the debut for director Maurice Pialat and he won the Prix Jean Vigo for it, kicking off a career that lasted for 35 years but only produced ten films. Ten well-received films, but only ten films nonetheless. Often compared to John Cassavetes for his unsentimental (at all) realism, "L'Enfance Nue"s story of an unwanted and troublesome child who can't seem to help himself from always doing the wrong thing, puts the viewer in the helpless position of watching a sad tale of a child whose future is almost certainly bleak set in the normal working-class life of France in the sixties. It's certainly similar to Truffaut's much lauded "The 400 Blows" (and Truffaut indeed produced Pialat's film) but even darker and, to some critics, actually the better film, despite the lesser fame. So, it's a balance between, 'Hey, it's a Criterion release of an important, albeit lesser known, work of cinema, which is, of course, packed with amazing extra features and looks fantastic' and 'Oh, it's a slow-ass French movie.' You know which camp you fall into.
CLICK HERE TO BUY L'enfance Nue (Criterion Collection)
THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN/DARK AND STORMY NIGHT (DVD)
I don't know if anyone remembers the 2004 spoof of 1950's B-movies, "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra". I wasn't particularly a fan, its humor being a bit too broad for my tastes, as I'm unsure why I wouldn't just watch one of the terrible 1950's films it's channeling and laugh instead of watching a new and intentionally bad film. Maybe I'm missing the point, because it must have had some sort of following to spawn this sequel, "The Lost Skeleton Returns Again" and another ensemble spoof by writer/director Larry Blamire, "Dark and Stormy Night". The latter film casts its parody lens at more of a Marx Brothers (or, at the very least, Abbott and Costello) set in the same sort of films that "Clue" or "Murder by Death" sent up (better) as well. I'm glad there are folks who adore this sort of thing, as some of the well-written and emphatic reviews for both films on IMDB would seem to indicate, I'm just not one of them.
CLICK HERE TO BUY The Lost Skeleton Returns Again
CLICK HERE TO BUY Dark And Stormy Night
NANNY MCPHEE (Blu-Ray)
Lined up with the upcoming Friday release of "Nanny McPhee Returns" is the Blu-Ray version of this 2005 film which Emma Thompson not only starred in but wrote the adapted screenplay for. Colin Firth plays a widower who can't control his unruly kids, so in blows the hideous looking poor man's Mary Poppins, ready to slam down the rod so as not to spoil the child. But hey, I never even saw the thing. I think Leon in his review right here can tell you about this sucka' better than I can.
CLICK HERE TO BUY Nanny McPhee [Blu-ray]