|by Peter Sobczynski
Among the titles to be found in the latest round-up of title new to DVD and Blu-Ray, we have a pair of obscurities from one of the all-time great filmmakers, another pair of curiosities from one of the best American directors working today, a couple of oddball titles that you may have missed, several candidates for the title of Worst Film of 2012, one candidate for the tile of Most Offensive Movie Ever Made (LGBT Division) and a quiet little project that emerged from obscurity to charm audiences around the world.
NEW AND NOTABLE
AND EVERYTHING IS GOING FINE/GRAY'S ANATOMY (The Criterion Collection. $29.95 each): No doubt being released to tie in with the interest surrounding his latest film, "Magic Mike," Criterion offers up the fascinating 2010 documentary from Steven Soderbergh examining the life and work of the late monologuist Spalding Gray and the interesting, if sometimes over-directed, 1997 performance film that he made out of Gray's 1993 piece inspired by his being diagnosed with a rare eye disorder. To sweeten the deal, each title includes a full performance video of one of Gray's monologues among the bonus features--"Sex and Death to the Age 14" and "A Personal History of the American Theater," respectively.
THE ARTIST (Sony Home Entertainment. $30.99):
A BAG OF HAMMERS (MPI Home Entertainment. $24.98): In this aggressively almost painfully quirky comedy, a pair of slackers (Jason Ritter and Jake Sandvig) are frittering their lives away with a silly valet parking scam until the arrival of a single mom (Carrie Preston) and her son and the meddling of the sister of one of them (Rebecca Hall) force them to begin to change their ways. There is some potential here, I suppose, but it is almost entirely squandered by the lame execution and outside of another chance to gawk at Rebecca Hall, there is virtually nothing about it to recommend.
CAT RUN (Universal Home Entertainment. $19.98): In this high-speed, low-intelligence thriller, Paz Vega plays a sexy hooker who witnesses a brutal mass killing at an orgy-like party she was attending and goes on the run while being pursued by cops, gangsters and a dangerous assassin played, perhaps inevitably, by Janet McTeer. My guess is that many of you have already sprung up, some to get their own copies, based on the combination of such key phrases as "Paz Vega," "sexy hooker" and "orgy" and man, won't you be disappointed to eventually discover that she is perhaps the only person at the opening bacchanal to keep her clothes on and that is only one of the problems with this slab of sub-Tarantino silliness.
DAMAGES: THE COMPLETE 4th SEASON (Sony Home Entertainment. $45.99): After three years on FX, this legal drama centering on brilliant but morally ambiguous attorney Glenn Close and former protege Rose Byrne moved to DirecTV for its fourth season, in which the two team up in order to uncover a possible conspiracy involving a private security firm in Afghanistan that is run by John Goodman and which presumably has absolutely nothing to do with Blackwater, which means that you most likely never saw a single episode of it. Well, with the premiere of the fifth (and final) season happening later this month, that seemingly lost fourth season is now available for your enjoyment along with deleted scenes, outtakes and behind-the-scenes featurette. Other TV-related titles now available include "Casablanca: The Complete Series" (Olive Films. $29.95), "Franklin & Bash: The Complete 1st Season" (Sony Home Entertainment. $45.99), "Law & Order: Criminal Intent--The 7th Year" (Shout! Factory. $49.97), "Louie: Season 2" (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.98), "Web Therapy: The Complete 1st Season" (E1 Entertainment. $29.98) and "Wilfred: The Complete 1st Season" (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.98).
THE DECOY BRIDE (MPI Home Entertainment. $24.98): When the upcoming nuptials of a world-famous actress (Alice Eve) and author (David Tennant) are threatened by invading paparazzi, the couple decide to relocate the festivities to a remote Scottish village and hire a local girl (Kelly MacDonald, currently heard as the voice of the heroine of "Brave") to pose as the bride-to-be in order to further throw off the press. But then, in a startling and wholly unexpected turn, the real groom meets the fake bride and sparks, such as they are, begin to fly in this bland British rom-com that squanders the considerable appeal of MacDonald on a featherweight and feather-brained plot.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (Paramount Home Video. $29.99): The latest feature from the Duplass Brothers stars Jason Segel as a genial, pot-smoking goof who is inspired one morning to get up off the couch in his mother's basement and go off in search of his destiny. Whether he finds it is something I will leave for you to decide but his stumblings do wind up having an affect on the lives of his conventionally successful brother (Ed Helms), his harried mother (Susan Sarandon) and his frustrated sister-in-law (Judy Greer). Since the entire narrative turns out to be a shaggy dog story in the end, some viewers may find themselves curiously unsatisfied by the manner in which the story is resolved but if you are able to look beyond that in order to see the good points that the Duplasses have to offer--chiefly the strong performances from the four lead actors--you may wind up succumbing to its slight but notable charms.
KEYHOLE (Monterey Video. $26.95): Based on a cursory description of the plot--a Thirties-era gangster, with his mob and a couple of hostages in tow, holes up at his family home as the police surround the place--one might expect a standard genre drama. In the hands of surrealist Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin, there is nothing standard about what happens as criminal mastermind Ulysses (Jason Patric) roams the house looking for his estranged wife (Isabella Rossellini) and encounter ghosts of his past around every corner. For those who have yet to experience one of Maddin's cheerfully demented pastiches of dark humor, bizarre imagery, formal daring and the literally indescribable, this film may not be the best introduction to his unique cinematic style. For everyone else, the film is not quite up there with such masterpieces as "Twilight of the Ice Nymphs," "The Heart of the World" or "The Saddest Music in the World" but even second-tier Maddin makes for a richer and more rewarding cinematic experience than the finest works of most filmmakers that you or I could mention.
MIRROR MIRROR (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.98): Now known as the better cinematic revision of "Snow White" to hit theaters in 2012, this one features Lily Collins as Snow and Julia Roberts (in fine scenery-chewing form) as her evil stepmother in a visually audacious retelling of the legendary fable from the mind of the ever-inventive Tarsem. Sure, it isn't a patch on the classic Disney rendition but it is bright and colorful enough for the kids and flashy and amusing enough to keep audiences entertained as well.
NUMERO DEUX/ICI ET AILLEURS (Olive Films. $24.95 each): In between making his initial swan song to commercial filmmaking with 1968's "Weekend" and returning, however glancingly, to the world of conventional narrative with 1980's "Every Man for Himself," the great Jean-Luc Godard spent the Seventies making a series of films that were increasingly radical in terms of narrative, technique and politics and, perhaps not surprisingly, have been difficult to see in America since their initial releases. Now the increasingly valuable Olive Films has released two key documents from that period and while they are not recommended for newcomers to the works of Godard, his devotees should find them fascinating. 1975's "Numero Deux" was a film that he financed on the promise that it would be a color remake of his 1959 breakthrough "Breathless" but instead, he presented viewers with with a heady tale in which the marital angst of a young working-class couple is captured via a then-revolutionary of film and video techniques. Made one year later, "Ici Et Ailleurs" also changed radically through its production--originally financed by Palestine and meat to be a in-depth look at life inside their camps but after their army was beaten in the Six Day War, the film changed into a look at how film records and alters the historical record, a concept that he would continue to grapple with in such later works as "Histoir(e) du Cinema" and "In Praise of Love."
PROJECT X (Warner Home Video. $28.98): The box for this incredibly obnoxious comedy from producer Todd Phillips (the douche behind the "Hangover" films and "Old School") about a teen party that goes ridiculously out of control includes a disclaimer that reads "The events portrayed in this film are fictional, and all stunts were performed by actors in a controlled environment. No one should attempt to re-create or reenact any of the scenes, stunts or general activities portrayed in the film." Of course, if you are smart and lucid enough to read and comprehend said disclaimer in the first place, you are presumably not the kind of person who is likely to watch this trash in the first place anyway. Besides, the Blu-Ray also proclaims in much bigger letters that it also contains, and I quote, "#Xtendedcut To The Break Of Dawn, Yo!," which strikes me as sending mixed signals at best. Whichever version you choose, this film is still a strong contender for the title of worst of 2012 and possibly of the millennium to date as well.
SEEKING JUSTICE (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. $26.98): In news that is sure to shock and astound you, Nicolas Cage stars in an absolutely preposterous thriller--this time around, he plays an ordinary guy who, after his wife (January Jones) is attacked and beaten into a coma, hooks up with an underground vigilante group (led by an insanely overacting Guy Pearce) that offers to take care of the guy and who only ask that Cage do a favor for them at some future time. Having evidently never seen "The Godfather," Cage agrees and gets caught in the expected web of lies, betrayal and murder. Unfortunately, while this film is as ridiculous as can be, Cage has set the bar for lunatic projects so high that this one seems almost ordinary by comparison, though there are a couple of moments worthy of appearing on his ever-expanding clip reel. That said, kudos to whomever decided to cast January Jones in a role where she spends a good chunk of her screen time in a coma.
A THOUSAND WORDS (Paramount Home Video. $29.99): Considering the depths that Eddie Murphy vehicles have plunged to in recent years, the notion of naming one as the absolute lowest of the low seems like an impossible task but if this one (a long-delayed comedy in which he plays a slick ad executive who discovers that, for reasons too lame to go into here, he is hit with a curse that suggests that he will die after saying his next thousand words) isn't it, it comes pretty damn close to that particular booby prize. Hell, even the otherwise odious "Norbit" had a certain loathsome energy to it that made it semi-watchable while this one is so fundamentally boring on every possible level that not only will you struggle to make it to the end of it, you will find yourself wondering how Murphy managed to do it as well.
21 JUMP STREET (Sony Home Entertainment. $30.99): The campy 80s-era TV show featuring a bunch of baby-faced cops (including up-and-comer Johnny Depp) going undercover in high schools to ferret out drug dealers and the like gets the high-octane action-comedy treatment as Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum play a couple of mismatched rookie cops who are assigned to pose as teenaged students in order to bust up a drug ring. This is a frustrating movie to analyze because when it is funny--the occasional zingers poking fun at the inherently ridiculous nature of the plot, the amusing byplay between the two stars (between this and "Haywire," Tatum is beginning to suggest that he, like Depp before him, may be more effective in roles that play against his heartthrob image) and the funniest cameo appearance since Bill Murray lurched into "Zombieland"--it is really funny. Unfortunately, there are too many long and aimless stretches for its own good and the sudden escalation of violence in the final reels jibes uneasily with the surrounding silliness. Not as bad as it might have been but nowhere near as good as it might have been based on the quality of the best stuff.
WANDERLUST (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston play a harried Manhattan couple who, after both losing their jobs on the same day, wind up at the door of a genuine hippie commune and get sucked into its bucolic promise of living without the constraints of conventional society--which turns out to be swell when it comes to the notion of free love but not so much when it involves having share a bathroom with twenty other people. This is the latest creation from David Wain, who gets a lifetime pass for the immortal "Wet Hot American Summer," and while this one doesn't quite approach the brilliance of that earlier effort (largely because of a disappointingly conventional third act), this is still a very funny comedy for the most part--hell, even Aniston scores some big laughs here and there. Alas, for whatever reasons (my guesses lean towards a lame marketing campaign and audience apathy towards Aniston), the film bombed when it appeared briefly in theaters last winter but now it is back and ripe for rediscovery.
WINDOWS (MGM Home Entertainment On Demand. $26.98): If you are one of those people yearning for that long-ago time when gays and lesbians were looked upon as subhuman psychos who lived only to lure unsuspecting straight people into their world of repugnant deviation, then this long-forgotten 1980 thriller, which marked the directorial debut and swan song for famed cinematographer Gordon Willis, will be right up your dark and disturbing alley. In it, Elizabeth Ashley stars as a well-heeled and depraved lesbian who develops an uncontrollable lust for new neighbor Talia Shire. Of course, like all decent people, Shire is straight but Ashley has a foolproof plan to take care of that--she hires someone to rape Shire on the basis that the attack will put her unsuspecting neighbor off of men and into her arms. As bottomlessly offensive as this may sound today, this was a major studio release at the time, though audiences, in an attack of good taste, rejected it completely and sent it into the obscurity from which it has only now begun to emerge.
COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK (Olive Films. $29.95)
DELIVERANCE: 40th ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Warner Home Video. $34.99)
EVITA: 15th ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $26.98)
LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY (Kino Video. $29.95)
NEWSIES (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $26.50)
NIGHT OF THE GRIZZLY (Olive Films. $29.95)
PROJECT X (Olive Films. $29.95)
THE SAMURAI TRILOGY (The Criterion Collection. $69.95)
THE SPACE CHILDREN (Olive Films. $29.95)
THE SPIRIT IS WILLING (Olive Films. $29.95)
TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS (Olive Films. $29.95)
THE 39 STEPS (The Criterion Collection. $39.95)
WRATH OF THE TITANS (Warner Home Video. $28.98)
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3403
originally posted: 07/02/12 07:32:28
last updated: 07/02/12 08:25:17