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THE CAPTAINS (DVD)...Guest Review by HARRIS
You have to give Shatner credit: the man is the king of the comeback. He's had a career as a nerd icon and sex symbol, followed by years of being a living punch-line, before embracing the joke and re-launching his career as a character actor. "The Captains", a documentary directed and produced by Shatner, is an introspective look into the many Captains from the various iterations of "Star Trek" and the stars who inhabited the roles. Interestingly, as often as the conversations with the other actors turns to "Star Trek" itself, it also becomes a musing look at how they came to their craft as actors and just how being on a long-running, legendary series affected their lives. It’s an impressive reminder of just how talented a crew (pun intended) "Star Trek" has had on their hands over the decades, which have included members of the Royal Shakespeare Company, veteran Broadway actors, and scions of multi-generational families of actors. Unfortunately, very little time passes before it becomes obvious that this is at least halfway serving merely as an ego-stroke for Shatner; he keeps finding ways of injecting himself into his interviews with his co-captains and turning the conversations back to him. Whenever he’s sitting down with the other actors, it takes only minutes before he starts to find some way to insert himself into the narrative and make it about him instead. Kate Mulgrew, who has an incredible presence of her own, seems to be the only one who can shut him down when he begins to dominate the conversation, and it’s glorious to see. Shatner’s mugging for the camera can get annoying, and it’s really hard... not... to notice... that he... deliberately... slips into the famous cadence that is the subject of so many parodies. That being said, watching young Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) arm-wrestling old Captain Kirk is entertainingly hammy, and Shatner and Christopher Plummer are delightful as they take turns trying out out-chew the scenery whenever they’re in a room together. The chummy camaraderie is infectious and leaves you wishing you could have been in the room with them. For Trekkies, the glimpses behind the scenes in the actors’ own words is fascinating, and hearing them trade war stories about their respective series never gets old. But It’s still clearly a vanity project, which, to be fair, is to be expected. Shatner has made a career out of, well, being Shatner. Devoted Trekkers will enjoy the hell out of it, but for everyone else, it depends on just how much Shatner charm and cheese you can take.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The Captains - A Film By William Shatner
THE LAST CIRCUS (Blu-Ray and DVD)
It has been decided: I'm definitely going to have to plan a 'Evil Clowns' movie night. There's lots of great choices for such a viewing marathon out there already, like "Shakes the Clown", "Santa Sangre", and "Killer Klowns from Outer Space", but "The Last Circus" makes this plan a done deal. From weird Spanish filmmaking genius, Álex de la Iglesia ("Day of the Beast", "Mutant Action"), any new release is worth tracking down, but this 2010 film is at the top of his already impressive list of can't-miss films. Taking place in 1973 in Spain at the end of Franco's regime, the tale follows Javier, a 'sad clown' who has just gotten a job with a struggling circus and has to play second banana/whipping boy to the show's main attraction, 'happy clown' Sergio. Javier isn't terribly mentally stable to begin with, due to his traumatic childhood growing up during the Spanish Civil War. Sergio, and his over-the-top abusive treatment of his acrobat girlfriend, Natalia, who Javier seems to have a love-connection with, gradually pushes him off the edge. I don't really want to give away too much about this insane plot, but let me assure you that the last reel is pretty much horribly mutilated evil clown versus horribly mutilated evil clown in a showdown to the death! Roger Corman WISHES he could think up films this bizarre. There's so much going on in Iglesia's film, much of which is a bittersweet reminiscence of a former time, only transposed through the dying embers of a fatally wounded circus. Clearly, a lot of political commentary has been sandwiched in there as well, but I'm so woefully ignorant on such matters in that part of the world, an attempt to try to comment on such would only embarrass everyone involved. Regardless, taken purely as a horror-drama (I really don't know how else to qualify it), "The Last Circus" will surprise you at every turn, in terms of its unpredictable story, intense characters, and mind-numbing visuals. I only wish it had been "The Penultimate Circus" because I'd like to see more. This is the very definition of a cult film, and one that deserves much wider attention, and right this very goddamn second. But, that being said, I think I've said that about MOST of Álex de la Iglesia's filmography.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The Last Circus [Blu-ray]