If it's crap ... We'll tell you
BORED TO DEATH - SEASON 2 (Blu-Ray and DVD)....Guest Review by LEON
Writer Jonathan Ames’ adventures of the fictional Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman), a once successful writer who becomes an unlicensed private detective to serve as a distraction from his writer’s block, continue as Jonathan finally finishes his second novel, only to have it REJECTED. In second season of "Bored To Death", Ames’ stalwart companions, his publisher, George (Ted Danson) and best friend, Ray (Zach Galifianakis), get more involved in his offbeat cases while having bigger developments in their own subplots. George sells his magazine to bigger publishing group only to get phased out and diagnosed with prostate cancer…possibly. Meanwhile Ray has unexpected critical and financial success with his cartoon character Super Ray which ultimately only makes him unhappier. Whereas the first season of "Bored To Death" felt more like a experiment to turn a VERY indie movie into an eight-episode TV show, the second season settles more into being a more familiar HBO comedy series. Truth be told, I think I prefer the novelty of the first season, but Ted Danson (in his best role since "Cheers") still manages to steal every scene he’s in. Most surprising of all is, that despite becoming a household name in between seasons, Zach Galifianakis is surprisingly subdued…for him, anyway.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Bored to Death: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray]
THE CIDER HOUSE RULES (Blu-Ray)
Goddamn do I hate these generic, cast-totem pole, bland covers. Can't we all agree that we'd rather have original poster art on the home releases of movies...or even art posters from the likes of what Mondo offers? But this...what does this tell you about the film other than what famous people were in it, and that someone gets a piggy back ride at sunset? Wheee! It's a shame because I know that despite the "7 Academy Award Nominations" banner at the top, I suspect a lot of folks will look right past this film. This 1999 Lasse Hallström Best Picture nominee, based on a John Irving novel, is well worth anyone's time. It's the 1940's and Tobey Maguire plays Homer, an orphan taken in by an ether-addicted doctor, played to Oscar-winning acclaim by Michael Caine (although it is notably offputting hearing Caine talk all 'merican). Despite his lack of schooling, the sketchy Doc trains Homer in Obstetrics and how to perform the illegal abortions that make up part of his business. Eventually, Homer decides to leave in the company of Wally (Paul Rudd) and Candy (Charlize Theron) and goes on to 'become a man', as it were, in a variety of different ways. Touching, complicated, and rather shocking in more than a few scenes, "The Cider House Rules" isn't the bland looking drama it seems from the outside. Not one bit. A really nice transfer to HD isn't marred by the lack of inclusion of any new extras, aside from the meagre ported over DVD features. This might be Hallström's best looking film and the new release displays it in all its glory.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The Cider House Rules [Blu-ray]
CINEMA PARADISO (Blu-Ray)
I know I'll probably get in trouble for publicly admitting this, but here goes: I'm not a fan of Fellini. Sorry. I've tried all his big films and nothing left me with more than an irrepressible desire to yawn all the way through. That being said, this 1988 Italian Oscar winner of Best Foreign Language Film, despite all the Fellini-esque comparisons that were popular to make at the time of its release, really spoke to me, as I suspect it would to almost any dedicated fan of film. The story is made up largely of the nostalgic recollections of a film director, Salvatore Di Vita (Jacques Perrin), who, upon hearing an old friend Alfredo (Philippe Noiret) has died, remembers back to when he was a child (Salvatore Cascio) growing up in a small village, and how this man who worked as a film projectionist ended up being a surrogate father for him. Just after WWII, Salvatore's own father had died in the war, and his uncontrollable wild-child antics were tempered by the patient and loving Alfredo, who imparts to the tyke a passionate affection for cinema, and eventually after a terrible accident takes his vision, his job as a projectionist. Certainly the film imparts that same passionate love of film to its viewers, with Salvatore being the exact kind of dreamy movie-eyed fan who probably would have been an active part of the Spill.com community if the story took place today. There's very little not to like about "Cinema Paradiso", but Miramax's decision to put out this truncated version on Blu-Ray instead of the much longer director's cut, is ironic and terrible, considering part of the film is about the village's parish priest forcing the projectionist team to excise scenes from the prints they take in based on his own skewed moral compass. Not to mention the lack of any bonus features. As great as this film is, I'd protest with my dollar and wait for the uncut version.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Cinema Paradiso [Blu-ray]