If it's crap ... We'll tell you
WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS: A MAN WITHIN (DVD)
I can't imagine having gone through my rebellious teenage years without the influence of the great post-modernist Burroughs. Despite not having much in common with the man (I was never gay, a heroin user, a gun nut, etc, etc, etc), his singularly recognizable voice, whether spoken aloud or written down, in such seminal books as "Junkie" or "Naked Lunch", educated and directed my own anger at society's various and sundry list of offenses against the youthfully plausible future utopia I believed in. Or that was my own take on it. Absurdly surreal at points, his writings often could be a lens to pleasurably refocus one's own interpretations, as long as they were angry at establishment. The good news is, Burroughs, whether despite or because of the joy he took in being singular, being a man incomparable even with his peers and the various cultural movements he influenced, remains one of the most fascinating and timeless iconoclasts in literary history. The bad news is, as this documentary that takes a close look at the man himself, rather than his works, he was an enormously difficult guy to like as a person. Even so, "A Man Within" is enjoyably illustrative of the more personal sides of the great writer that isn't often explored. It's not really for noobs; familiarity with his works is assumed by the tone of the material, but for fans, this is essential. Add in the sizable array of bonus features, and "A Man Within" gets elevated to 'essential' shelf material for fans of the Beat Generation, or really of rebellion just in general.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
DOCTOR WHO: A CHRISTMAS CAROL (Blu-Ray and DVD)
I'm asked often by folks inundated by the relatively recent upsurge in popularity for the BBC's relaunch of their seminal science fiction character, The Doctor, where a good starting point is. With two actors (Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant) already down for the count and regenerated since the show's 2005 enormously successful semi-reboot, and a third, the goofy bow-tied Matt Smith currently driving the police box shaped time machine, there's a lot to catch up on. Perhaps the 2010 special, easily the best of the annual Who Christmas episodes, is as good a place as any to start for those who don't have a few weeks to get up to speed. Taking Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" as its starting point, Smith's Doctor, along with his sexy side-kick Amy Pond (Karen Gillan, who I'd like to take this moment to publicly propose marriage to) find themselves in a race against time to convince the Scrooge analogue on an alien planet (Michael Gambon) to save the passengers of a doomed space liner by appealing to his humanity. For the Doctor, that means not so much three ghosts, but by using his time travelling abilities to appear at moments of pseudo-Scrooge's past to direct his personality more towards being compassionate in the present day. "A Christmas Carol" is a wonderful, charming, funny, and wildly inventive take on the seasonal classic as well as a fresh start to the Doctor's upcoming new season of adventures.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol [Blu-ray]
THE STORM WARRIORS (DVD)
Fans of Chinese 'superhuman' cinema, and you know who you are, still hold up as a prime example of excellence in the mini-genre, the 1998 Andrew Lau film, "The Storm Riders", starring Ekin Chung and Aaron Kwok as martial sword mage brothers Wind and Cloud. The two fight evil, and sometimes each other, using insane combinations between impressively represented fighting skills, wire-fu, and their varied and dangerous magical abilities. In short: it was kind of bad-ass (and, for the manga fans out there, was based on the popular wuxia manhua series, "Fung Wan"). Eleven years later, now under the auspices of the popular (at least in China) Pang Brothers, we finally get to see the next chapter in the story. Both actors (miraculously) return in the lead roles, now up against an invulnerable warlord from Japan, Lord Godless (Simon Yam) who has decided that the most effective root to conquering China is to first take out all of its heroes. Only Wind, Cloud, and a few others are left, which calls for desperate measures. Wind starts studying an 'evil' path in order to gain enough power to challenge Lord Godless (which won't come back to bite him in the ass later, right?) and Cloud gets some pretty impressive new sword abilities by training under another hero, Nameless. Do I have to tell you they end up fighting each other as well? Hey, as long as it all looks this cool, who cares if it makes much sense. These are the summer blockbusters of Chinese cinema, the X-Men films of period-piece marital arts films, and as such, are all flash and not much substance. But oh, what pretty flash!
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Storm Warriors