If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I got overloaded this week with stuff coming out. Seriously, a ton of stuff, although mainly in the fields of indie, foreign, and classic movie blu-ray re-releases. Which isn't to say there isn't a lot worth picking up because there more certainly is. Unfortunately, sheer quantity means I didn't get to watch everything before release day, but we'll start off with the stuff I DID get to see, beginning with the...
RED WHITE AND BLUE (DVD)
It's a very rare thing for me to name a DVD release instead of a blu-ray for the title selected to be the best home release of the week, but "Red White & Blue" is such a remarkable film, that rarest of birds, a horror film that feels like something completely new, that it deserves such high praise. This isn't director Simon Rumley's first trip to the innovative horror rodeo; his "The Living and the Dead" in 2006 turned quite a few heads from even non-genre critics. No less notable, and even more so in some ways, was this odd horror/thriller. I'm not just saying that because it was filmed in Austin and I can name every last location in the film, I swear (although I certainly dug that as well). The story follows a train wreck of a young lady, Erica (Amanda Fuller), an emotionally broken waif who goes from bar to bar each night, looking for a new guy to take her home. Despite her prickly exterior and general disinterest, she begins, despite herself, to form a friendship with a Iraq veteran named Nate (Noah Taylor), a fellow resident in the boarding house she stays in. But not all is well, as a former shack-up of hers, a musician named Franki (Mark Senter) discovers she has given him HIV and he and his friends find her, grab her, and try to decide what to do with her. Well, needless to say, you don't want to take away the only friend of an imbalanced war veteran. Almost everything works perfectly here, from the odd editing style, with the film dipping in and out of Erica's life in short bursts during the first half, to the knock-em dead performances from Fuller and Taylor. Only Senter doesn't seem to be holding his own but that's largely because of the big talent he's got to play against. Nothing is morally clear at all in "Red White and Blue" and that's likely going to throw off some viewers who like their stories told in terms of good vs evil, but that uncertainty for me only serves to make it all that much more real...and therefore much more frightening. Top notch, genre-changing stuff.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Red White & Blue
...and then there's the rest...
BEVERLY HILLS COP (Blu-Ray)
Nowadays seeing Eddie Murphy on the cover of anything is a pretty good reason to avoid it, but back in the eighties he was a comedy megastar. I'll bet some of the younger folks out there were wondering to yourselves, there has to be a reason people keep putting him in dreadful movies now, right? A series of films like "The Haunted Mansion", "The Adventures of Pluto Nash", and "I Spy" would be enough to stop dead almost anyone's film career. However, even I, whose wound from the interminable "Norbit" continues to ooze painfully, admit to still having a feeling of nostalgic warmth for the guy; it's just that his first decade of filmmaking (excluding "Best Defense", of course) had SUCH good movies. Of them all, 1984's definitive action comedy "Beverly Hills Cop" remains my favorite, with Murphy as the fast-dirty-talking Axel Foley, a detective from Detroit who shows up in Beverly Hills in his broken down old beater of a car in order to track down the thugs who murdered his friend in cold blood right in his own apartment. Murphy was never funnier than he was here, the action was (and still is) impressive, and even that trademark of the 80's action comedy film, the Harold Faltermeyer score, was among the best stuff he ever recorded. This new blu-ray edition isn't really as great a transfer as I'd have hoped for, and neither does it come with any new extras, merely porting over the DVD's halfway decent collection of bonus features, but if you're not double-dipping, BVC is essential ownership material.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Beverly Hills Cop [Blu-ray]
DAYDREAM NATION (Blu-Ray and DVD)
Two things attracted me right off the bat to this 2010 Canadian film. No, I'm not talking about star Kat Denning's impressive rack.
Ok, on second thought, I am talking about her impressive rack, but the OTHER two things that attracted me right off the bat to this 2010 Canadian film was the blurb on the front drawing comparisons to David Lynch films, "Donnie Darko", and that the title is taken from the name of the best album by formative indie noise rock pioneers, Sonic Youth. Sadly for me, none of the four things that drew my attention ever paid off. The story follows high school senior Caroline (Dennings) whose widower father has just moved them from the city to a small town, and to her horror, the stoned inhabitants of her new classes are provincial indeed. Life seems like a soap opera for seriously stupid people so it's no wonder her attention ends up focused on a young and attractive teacher, Barry (Josh Lucas), who is just fucked up enough to allow himself to be seduced by his student. Meanwhile, one of Caroline's classmates is trying as hard as he can, in his sweetly inexperienced way, to let her know of his affections for her, and there's also a serial killer running around killing teen girls. Not that the one really interesting part of this story (the killer, natch) EVER has anything to do with anything or delivers in any way other than to serve as a weak, and entirely coincidental denouement that felt like the writer was just in a hurry to wrap things up, having no idea why he put that subplot in the script in the first place. "Daydream Nation" has many different interesting elements, but ones that never really come together, either symbolically or narratively, at least not in any worthwhile fashion. Its not dark or weird enough to be either scary or to evoke a sense of mystery, there's not nearly enough Sonic Youth or Sonic Youth-era music in it, and, worst of all, Dennings dresses like she doesn't want anyone to know how gorgeous her body is. Quadruple let down.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Daydream Nation [Blu-ray]