|by Peter Sobczynski
Since this is a pretty slow week for DVDs (unless you have a taste for the sleazier things), this column is going to take a few moments to celebrate what may be the most delightful non-DVD release of the year.
Faithful readers of this column may recall that in the past, I have made the occasional reference to my good friend Karen Klebbe–she was the one who had the pirate-themed wedding a couple of years ago. (If you don’t recall her and have time to spare, feel free to Google her name in conjunction with this column and see for yourself.) Anyway, on May 25, a day when most of you were presumably standing in line to see “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” she was busy giving birth to her first child, a 7-pound, 4-ounce 21-inch bundle of joy by the name of Marjorie Evelyn (Mamie to her friends and The Chosen One to everyone else). Mamie, along with Mommy and Daddy (a.k.a. Sam Vandegrift, a.k.a The Lucky Bastard), is doing well and from the photos I have seen, it is clearly evident that she is so damned adorable and angelic that even the spawn of Brangelina itself seems a little mopey and mousy by comparison. (In case you are wondering why I am only bringing this up now, there is a simple explanation–I am a dope and it slipped my mind.)
Someday you will read this, Chosen One (unless all my writings are permanently stripped and banned from the site, an event that may well occur after the release of “Resident Evil: Extinction”), so I want to take this opportunity to tell you a couple of things. First, you have been blessed with two of the coolest parents around, so you should always consider yourself lucky. Second, your mother, despite her bizarre belief that “The Pirate Movie” and “The Long Kiss Goodnight” are both great works of cinema, is one of the wisest people I know so I can assure you that if she tells you something, it is both correct and for the best (unless, of course, it has anything to do with “The Pirate Movie” or “The Long Kiss Goodnight”). Finally, when you do get to that inevitable moment when you just want to get on her nerves for whatever reason, my recommendation is to cultivate a taste for Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Trust me, once those monkeys start scratching around that monolith, it will drive her up the wall in the same way that playing The Sex Pistols once did to my mother.
The Chosen One In A Moment Of Repose
NEW AND NOTABLE
BOZO: THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS CLOWN, VOL. 1 (Infinity Entertainment Group. $39.98): Hey kids, who’s your favorite clown? Well, if you are from Chicago, you will no doubt be disappointed to learn that the 30 episodes from the long-running syndicated kiddie show included in this 4-disc collection do not feature a single one with the beloved Bob Bell, preferring instead to utilize the work of New York’s Bozo, Frank Avruch. Oh well, maybe Whizzo can work his magic and get another set out that will showcase Bell in all his glory.
CHERRY CRUSH (First Look. $26.98): In what appears to be a direct-to-video teen version of “Body Heat” (though one presumably missing the good parts), Jonathan Tucker plays a teenager with a penchant for photographing his cuter classmates in the buff and Nikki Reed, perhaps unsurprisingly, plays the bad girl who leads him into a web of blackmail, deceit and murder.
DRIVING LESSONS (Sony Home Entertainment. $24.95): If you are one of those “Harry Potter” obsessives who has to watch everything even vaguely “Potter”-related, you might want to check out Ron Weasley (a.k.a. Rupert Grint) and Mrs. Weasley (a.k.a. Julie Walters) in this dull British dramedy about a repressed teen (Grint) who begins to blossom when he goes to work as an assistant for a colorful veteran actress (Walters). Aside from that, the only other notable thing on display is Laura Linney, whose supporting performance as Grint’s overbearing mother is perhaps the worst screen performance of her entire career.
JUST THE TWO OF US/ THAT TENDER TOUCH (Wolfe Video. $19.99 each): Fans of sleazy cinema should be mighty pleased with these two examples of lesbian-themed sexploitation. In “Just The Two Of Us” (1975), a couple of frustrated housewives (Elizabeth Plumb and Alisa Courtney) indulge in the love that dares not speak its name until one falls for a man and the other is lured into the bed of a craven English seductress. Although made six years earlier, “That Tender Touch” almost sounds like a quasi-sequel: two lesbians break up when one (Sue Bernard, the co-star of the immortal “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!) runs off to get married and live in the suburbs–before long, the other (Bea Tompkins) drops by for a visit and begins seducing every female in the neighborhood.
NEVERWAS (Miramax Home Entertainment. $29.99): In what appears to be an adult-oriented riff on such fantasy fluff as “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Bridge to Terabithia,” this 2005 film deals with a hot-shot psychiatrist (Aaron Eckhart) who goes to work at the run-down institution where his father (Nick Nolte), an author of children’s fantasy books, was held before killing himself and meet a patient (Ian McKellen) who knows some secrets about the old man. Although the film went straight-to-video, the cast is certainly A-list–besides those mentioned, it also features the likes of William Hurt, Jessica Lange, Brittany Murphy and Vera Farmiga.
OUR VERY OWN (Miramax Home Entertainment. $29.99): In what could be described as generation’s “Welcome Home, Roxy Carmichael,” a group of teens (including Autumn Reeser, Jason Ritter and Hilarie Burton) in the small town of Shelbyville, Tennessee, circa 1978, find their lives turned upside-down when it is announced that former resident Sondra Locke is going to be returning to attend an annual horse show and the premiere of “Every Which Way But Loose.” Despite a strong cast (which also features appearances from Keith Carradine, Allison Janney and Cheryl Hines), this well-meaning melodrama just kind of meanders around for a couple of hours without developing any sort of excitement, interest or even a point.
PUCCINI FOR BEGINNERS (Strand Releasing. $27.99): In this disappointingly tepid stab at romantic farce from Maria Maggenti (whose previous feature was the charming “The Incredibly True Adventure Of Two Girls In Love”), a writer (Elisabeth Reaser) with an inability to commit breaks up with her girlfriend (Julianne Nicholson) and begins to date both a man (Justin Kirk) and a woman (Gretchen Mol)–the joke is that her two new lovers used to be boyfriend and girlfriend and she was the reason that the former left the latter. Alas, this character, much like the film itself, is so smugly annoying and overly pleased with her self-conscious quirkiness that you can hardly believe that anyone with working brain cells would want to spend any amount of time with her, on-screen or off.
RUN SWINGER RUN/SEX CLUB INTERNATIONAL (Something Weird Video. $19.99): In their never-ending effort to expose the glory days of grindhouse cinema to new generations of film fans, the good folks at Something Weird offer up this double helping of Sixties sexploitation from prolific sleazemaster Barry Mahon. In the former, an innocent lass runs away to L.A. and goes to work as a call girl for a shadowy organization that is somehow involved in a plot to sell arms to the Vietnamese to against American troops. As for “Sex Club International,” it tells the harrowing story of a woman whose ambitious plans to run a string of international brothels is disturbed by gangsters who want to bug the place as part of a blackmail scheme and a secret agent who want to shut down both the mobsters and the business.
SLINGS AND ARROWS: SEASON THREE (Acorn Media. $29.99): This third (and final) season of the acclaimed TV series (seen in this country on the Sundance Channel) about the trials and tribulations of a Canadian theater company was arguably the best in the entire run of the show. In these episodes, the troupe attempts to stage both a production of “King Lear” (the always-reliable Sarah Polley pops up as the actress recruited to play Cordelia) and a new musical about the life of a junkie hooker and find their lives developing in unanticipated ways both on and off the stage. A must for anyone who has ever worked in the theater and highly recommended for everyone else with a taste for television that manages to be both deeply moving and absolutely hilarious in equal measure.
WELCOME TO THE GRINDHOUSE VOLUME 1/VOLUME 2 (BCI Releasing. $12.98 each): This week’s bounty of exploitation films continues with these two discs, each containing a double-feature of cheerfully unrepentant trash. The sexploitation-heavy Volume 1 contains “The Teacher,” a strange sex film/psycho thriller centering around the seduction of a high-school student (Jay North, a long ways away from his days as “Dennis the Menace”) by his hot-and-frustrated teacher (Angel Tompkins), and “Pick-Up,” an even-stranger mixture of the sleazy and the mystical in which a pair of sexy hitch-hikers (Jill Senter and Gini Eastwood) thumb a ride from a strange guy in an RV (Alan Long) and get lost, in more ways than one, in the Florida Everglades. Volume 2, on the other hand, focuses on horror and presents us with “Black Candles,” in which a woman goes to England to investigate the mysterious death of her brother and learns that her sister-in-law belongs to a satanic cult, and “Evil Eye,” a nightmare-plagued playboy tries to get to the bottom of a series of violent murders in which his close friends have been the victims.
WHAT THE PEEPER SAW (Televista. $24.98): In this creepy and fairly perverse 1971 thriller, Britt Ekland plays a blushing bride whose dream marriage turns into a nightmare when she becomes convinced that her 12-year-old stepson (Mark Lester) murdered his real mother and has plans to do the same to her. When it was first released, the film caused a stir in England because of a number of sexually-tinged scenes that involved young Lester–at one point, he even forces Ekland to perform a full striptease for him–and even today, these scenes still offer viewers a jolt or two.
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originally posted: 07/06/07 08:22:14
last updated: 07/06/07 08:54:53