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DVD Reviews for 10/14:Special Duke, Ditka and Duvall edition

by Peter Sobczynski

In which your faithful critic looks at good television, bad horror and reminds you once again of a little masterpiece that you probably missed the first time around.

Generally, I try not to highlight movies that I have already dealt with at length in a formal review on the theory that I would prefer to use the space for something new. However, I am willing to make an exception forMiranda July’s extraordinary debut film “Me and You and Everyone We Know” because it is a must-see gem that heralds the arrival of a fascinating and fully-formed talent.

An ensemble piece, the film follows around a group of disparate people–among them a lovelorn performance artist (July), a recently divorced oddball shoe salesman (John Hawkes), his two sons, a pair of sexually precocious teenage girls, an older man who loves the idea of sexually precocious teenage girls but fears the reality of them and an emotionally repressed art gallery owner–as they all awkwardly search for love, understanding or just a simple bit of human contact over the course of a few days in L.A.

That description makes it sound like it could be absolutely unendurable (as does July’s past history as a performance artist) but the film is anything but–it mixes tenderness and hilarity in strange and surprising ways and deals with potentially off-putting material (such as a scene in which the younger son stumbles into an adult-oriented chat room and unwittingly taps into someone’s weird fetish) in ways that are disarmingly direct, realistic and entertaining. As the couple who would be perfect for each other if they ever managed to connect, July and Hawkes are an enormously appealing screen couple and the other members of the largely unknown cast (especially the younger players) are fascinating to watch as well. Besides her work with the actors, July’s writing and directing is impressive as well–like Todd Solondz, she is willing to tackle potentially troublesome material head-on but she demonstrates an affection for her characters instead of outright contempt that Solondz has for his.

A surprise hit at Sundance (where it received the Special Jury Prize) and at Cannes (where it shared a prize for best debut film), “Me and You and Everyone We Know” is one of those quirky little treasures that actually is as good as those who have seen it say it is.

Written and directed by Miranda July. Starring Miranda July, John Hawkes, Miles Thompson, Brandon Ratcliff. Natasha Slayton and Najarra Townsend. 2005. 90 minutes. Rated R. An MGM Home Entertainment release. $24.98.


ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Fox Home Entertainment. $39.98): I defy anyone to watch this season set of this little-seen show–especially the season finale and the episode where Martin Short makes a guest appearance which is perhaps the most hilarious thing he has done since his “SCTV” days–and then tell me in all honesty to my face that it isn’t the funniest show currently on television.

HIGH TENSION (Lions Gate Home Entertainment. $27.98): One of the stupidest slasher films ever made (and yes, that is saying a lot), this gory and incoherent French import finally hits America in its original form–meaning more blood and more subtitles for all. Having seen the original cut, all I can say is that while I prefer it to the Americanized version (mostly because of the crappy and poorly-planned dubbing it received), I would still rather take a barbed wire-covered post to the face (a la one of the key bits of brutality) than sit through it again anytime soon.

HONDO/McLINTOCK (Paramount Home Video. $14.95 each):Hot on the heels of the recent release of “The High and the Mighty,” two more John Wayne classics have been beautifully restored for DVD and released with bonus materials a plenty. Of the two, “Hondo” (based on a Louis L’Amour tale) is the better but some purists may howl over the fact that it is only available in a flat version instead of the 3-D that it had on its original release.

KICKING AND SCREAMING (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): Although there have been any number of “Bad News Bears” clones in which an adorable group of rag-tag moppets are whipped into a winning sports team by a goofy coach, this one deserves some kind of accolade for the spectacularly weird sight of having Will Ferrell, Robert Duvall and Mike Ditka share scenes together. Not essential viewing but there are enough laughs to keep adults interested in what is essentially a kiddie movie.

KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.98): Handsomely mounted, woefully miscast and dramatically inert, the usually reliable Ridley Scott’s take on the Crusades was nowhere near as bold or provocative as it should have been. Buyers beware–there are rumors that a 4-disc version–containing an inevitable “director’s cut”–is supposedly on the horizon.

THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS (Warner Home Video. $29.98):Although this adaptation of the beloved young-adult best-seller, about the summer adventures of four lifelong friends who share both a magical bond and a magical pair of pants, wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, it was definitely a cut above the usual teen fare and those who are actually in the target audience are bound to eat it up.

UNDEAD (Lions Gate Home Entertainment. $27.98): Look, if you want to spend your hard-earned money on a truly brilliant zombie film, wait one more week for the release of George Romero’s masterful “Land of the Dead.” If, on the other hand, you want to throw away your cash on a weak horror spoof that rehashes the works of Romero, Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson, then this limp Australian effort should be right up your alley.

UNLEASHED (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98):Another superior product from the seemingly inexhaustible Luc Besson (who co-wrote and produced), this highly entertaining martial-arts extravaganza combined a flashy visual style, incredible fight choreography, a flamboyantly over-the-top performance from Bob Hoskins and the first intelligent use of Jet Li–utilizing both his strengths and weaknesses as a performer–in his entire American career.

VERONICA MARS: SEASON ONE (Warner Home Video. $59.98):While “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” may have gotten the lion’s share of the ink last year, this quirky drama, about a high-school outcast (Kristen Bell) who spends her spare time solving mysteries small and large, developed an intense fan base of its own. They should be happy with this set, which collects all of the first season with the usual array of bonus features galore.

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originally posted: 10/14/05 13:27:16
last updated: 10/21/05 12:53:23
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