If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Compared to last week, this week's home release opportunities are more plentiful and of a higher quality, with some great re-issues on Blu-Ray, and two of the best foreign films of last year...and I mean the kind of foreign films YOU GUYS will like, if not outright love. So strap in for the first part of "This Just In" with our ritual beginning of the...
I SAW THE DEVIL (Blu-Ray and DVD)
Perhaps you've been living in a cave lately, so just in case, let me reaffirm to you that at the very top of the list of directors from around the world to drop everything and beat feet over to your local art house cinema to watch ANY new release from, is South Korean wunderkind, Kim Ji-woon. The man has proven that he can flawlessly handle any number of genres, although before this 2010 horror/thriller, his western comedy "The Good, The Bad, The Weird" was THE one to beat, although it's hard to argue against "I Saw the Devil" being his new masterpiece. The story follows a seriously bad-ass top cop named Soo-hyun (Lee Byung-hun), who when his fiancee is found horribly killed, the latest victim of an incredibly sadistic psychopathic killer, he takes matters into his own hands. He tracks down the killer (Choi Min-sik, who South Korean movie fans will never be able to forget from "Oldboy") and begins playing a torturous game of cat and mouse with him, playing with his victim, only to repeatedly track him again and wreak his vengeance inch by inch. "I Saw the Devil" is both frightening and massively gory, but it also features jaw-dropping cinematography, a original and surprising script, and memorable and moving performances all across the board. A new classic. Cyrus says go get it...RIGHT NOW.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY I Saw the Devil [Blu-ray]
...and then there's the rest...
BLACK DEATH (Blu-Ray and DVD)
Some films leave you baffled as to how to feel about them. This 2010 historical horror film by Christopher Smith ("Severance", "Triangle") deserves to be seen, certainly, but I'd recommend watching it with friends. There's enough ambiguity about what it's intentions are and who, if anyone, that the audience is supposed to be rooting for, that it requires a post-viewing discussion group. Eddie Redmayne plays a novice monk who is secretly having an affair with a young town girl, but who he sends away out of the area when the titular disease starts taking a heavy toll. While she names a place in the woods she'll wait for him, he thinks it never to be until church warrior Sean Bean and his gang of hired toughs ride into the monastery looking for a guide. Taking it as a sign from God, he rides out with them, to show them the way to a village that is rumored to traffic in dark magic and who remains untouched by the plague. Unfortunately, his lady looks like she may be dead, the woods are filled with violent thieves, and the town, led by the sexy and almost certainly witchy Carice van Houten, has it's own way of dealing with Christian thugs. Bean doesn't get to ride through a Tolkein-esque fantasy here; this is the medieval England of the plague times and it is not pretty, smart, or even mildly compassionate. Everybody has only their own best interests at heart, and as much as people claim divine guidance for their actions, it seems clear that God has left the building. There aren't any good guys to be found here, and Smith certainly wants to reflect on modern spiritual conflicts, but mostly I came away with not much more than a sense of general unease after watching "Black Death". That's exactly what was intended, but it's hard to fault anyone for feeling like they need a shower after its realistically dark and bitter ending.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Black Death + Digital Copy [Blu-ray]
BLUE VALENTINE (Blu-Ray and DVD)
The embattled relationship movie told in non-linear form I'm suspecting is starting to become a genre of its own. I mean, who could fault anyone for seeing reflections of their own pain in great works like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" or "500 Days of Summer" and wanting to use the technique to tell their own story? Writer/director Derek Cianfrance, whether openly influenced by those films or no, has nonetheless designed his own time-jumbled story of unsuccessful romance with his stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. The two play a married couple who, as we see, had a sex-filled (seriously...whoa) and passionate courtship, but scenes of their whirlwind romance intercut with scenes of their later marriage coming apart at the seams. The dialogue was largely improvised by Gosling and Williams, who even lived together in squalor for awhile in order to method act the parts, and certainly the two deliver convincingly on that front. The gorgeous soundtrack by "Grizzly Bear" is also a big plus, but "Blue Valentine" is hampered, for me anyway, by it's general lack of things actually happening. It's all very moody with a muffled intensity of a stumbled-upon glare from an angry ex-lover, but it seems devoid of anything much more than its surface exploration of these two people. There's just not enough depth given to either one to make them terribly interesting, and neither is it easy to feel any sympathy for them. "Blue Valentine" looks and sounds very pretty, with at atmosphere of melancholy that settles on it like a darkly azure-tinted fog, but it doesn't anything all that original to the structural technique, nor does it give us characters that we really care about much.--CLICK HERE TO BUY Blue Valentine [Blu-ray]