|DVD Reviews For 10/28: "In The What-I-Wait-For Department, You're It Baby."
|by Peter Sobczynski
Included in the latest roundup of new titles on home video, please find the flong-suppressed first work from one of the all-time great filmmakers, the latest efforts from some current masters of the form and positively the most important factually suspect politically-oriented documentary from one of Ann Coulter's former paramours that you are likely to see this year. . .at least I hope so
NEW AND NOTABLE
2016: OBAMA'S AMERICA (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $19.98): In this documentary based on his own best-selling expose, journalist/filmmaker/adulterer/former-lover-of-Ann-Coulter Dinesh D'Souza traverses the globe to prove his theory that Barak Obama is nothing more than a modern-day Manchurian Candidate hell-bent on unleashing upon the world an anti-colonialist, pro-socialist agenda to honor the agenda set forth by the father that he met maybe once while growing up. Scared? Don't be because this factually dubious (much is made of Obama allegedly returning a bust of Churchill to England as proof of his anti-colonial leanings--taken at face value, this is absurd and only becomes more so when you realize that the bust a.) actually was on loan from England and b.) was just moved to another room) and cinematically suspect (instead of hearing D'Souza's revelatory conversations for ourselves, we more often see him talking to people while hearing him narrate over the footage) piece of half-baked propaganda is pretty much an embarrassment all around. Say what you will about Michael Moore--and there is plenty to be said there--at least he has the good taste to make his films dramatically interesting (which is why they piss so many people off) while D'Souza just offer us the cinematic equivalent of a guy on a park bench muttering to himself. In fact, this is quite possibly the least accurate portrayal of an actual American president in a film featured in this particular column.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.98): Yep, still sticking with that previous statement. That said, this horror-comedy-action hybrid featuring the old rail-splitter battling armies of bloodsuckers is as stupid as can be and, outside of one visually impressive bit involving a fight atop a train rolling across a burning bridge above an impossibly huge chasm, even fails on the level of goofball eye-candy. In other words, the title is best thing about this film and even that is nowhere near as clever or interest as it thinks it is.
CHERNOBYL DIARIES (Warner Home Video. $28.98): Oren Peli, the dope behind the increasingly intolerable "Paranormal Activity" films produced and co-wrote yet another entry in the found-footage horror sweepstakes with this frightfest following six friends who unwisely decide on an "extreme tourism" jaunt to Pripyat, a town abandoned 25 years earlier---or was it?--in the wake of the nearby Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Spoiler Alert! It all goes bad--not funny bad like "National Lampoon's Vacation" but grim and horrifying bad like "National Lampoon's European Vacation." The characters are bores, the found footage gimmick is growing increasingly hackneyed, the ending is a joke and the whole premise is kind of tasteless but if you can push all of that out of your mind, this film does have its moments here and there. If nothing else, I prefer it to the entire "PA" franchise.
FEAR AND DESIRE (Kino Video. $34.95): Stanley Kubrick made his directorial debut with this low-budget 1953 allegorical war drama about a squad of soldiers trapped behind enemy lines struggling to find and rejoin their patrol and was so unhappy with the results that he did everything he could during his lifetime to ensure that it continued to remain under wraps. More than 13 years after his passing, during which it has only resurfaced for very rare repertory screenings and a showing on TCM last winter that had cineastes buzzing with anticipation, the film is now finally making its long-overdue official home video debut and as it turns out, Kubrick was right as usual. The film is pretty embarrassing--the kind of overly earnest first film that no one would care about except for the fact that it has Kubrick's name on it--and while one could try to tie it in with his subsequent war epics like "Paths of Glory," "Dr. Strangelove" and "Full Metal Jacket," there are far better ways to pass the time. For film buffs, it is worth watching just to see what Kubrick was doing right at the start of his career but, unlike every of his 12 subsequent features, one viewing will be more than enough for most viewers.
HAPPY ENDINGS: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (Sony Home Entertainment. $45.95): Usually it takes a sitcom at least a couple of full seasons before all of the elements begin to fully jell but in the case of this look at the lives and loves of six friends living in Chicago, it kicked off its second season firing on all cylinders and is now arguably the funniest show on network television (or at least the funniest without the word "Community" in the title). Filled with crackling performances from its cast, a breathless pace and the most hilariously obscure pop-culture references since the glory days of "MST3K," this is a must-see (as is the series as a whole) and the Halloween episode that is one of the 2q collected here is one for the ages. Other TV-related titles now available include "Awkward: Season 2" (MTV. $19.95), "The Ernie Kovacs Collection: Volume 2" (Shout! Factory. 29.93), "Fantasy Island: The Complete 3rd Season" (Shout! Factory. $39.97), "The Firm: The Complete First Season" (E1 Entertainment. $39.98), "The Fugitive: The Complete Series" (Paramount Home Video. $259.98), "Gunsmoke: The Sixth Season, Volume 2" (Paramount Home Video. $36.98),"Law & Order: Criminal Intent--The 8th Year" (Shout! Factory. $39.97), "Perry Mason: Season 7, Volume 2" (Paramount Home Video. $53.98), "Star Wars: The Clone Wars--The Complete Season Four" (Fox Home Entertainment. $44.98) and "Touch: The Complete First Season" (Fox Home Entertainment. $49.98).
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED (Paramount Home Video. $29.98): Having pretty much loathed the first two installments in the animated franchise about a bunch of lost zoo animals struggling to make it back home to New York City, I didn't really have much hope for this sequel in which the gang (voiced once again by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Schwimmer) turn up in Europe and join a run-down circus while trying to avoid the clutches of a maniacal Animal Control officer (Frances McDormand). As it turns out, this is the best of the series to date and while that may not be saying much from my perspective, it is bright and colorful and reasonably funny throughout. Granted, there is nothing here that makes me immediately yearn for a "Madagascar 4" but at least there enough to it this time around to lightly entertain older viewers while the younger one watch it over and over again.
MAGIC MIKE (Warner Home Video. $28.98): I know--you really liked Steven Soderbergh's surprisingly clever and enormously entertaining comedy-drama about a veteran male stripper (Channing Tatum, who also conceived and co-produced this semi-autobiographical tale) teaching the ropes to a new recruit (Alex Pettyfer) even as he begins contemplating the shift to a normal, pants-required existence but wished there was some way to experience the film without any of those pesky plot scenes getting in the way of the extended dance sequences. Well, Warner Brothers feels your pain and as one of the bonus features here, there is a mode where you can watch all the dance scenes back-to-back and uninterrupted. Strange, when Soderbergh offered this option on the DVD for "Bubble," not many people seemed that interested.
MOONRISE KINGDOM (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): In the latest effort from cult filmmaker Wes Anderson, a couple of 12-year-old kids living off the coast of New England circa 1965 fall in love and run away to a nearby island with parents, a Scout troop, a Social Services representative and a beleaguered local cop in hot pursuit. Filled with weird humor, mannered performances and plenty of stylistic quirks, the film comes perilously close to feeling like a parody of Anderson's distinctive cinematic style and the only thing that keeps it from slipping over the edge is that it is flat-out brilliant--a touching and hilarious tale of young love that contain big laughs, convincing sentiment and wonderful turns fro a cast including the likes of Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and young newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is Anderson's best work since the 1998 masterpiece "Rushmore."
NEIL YOUNG JOURNEYS (Sony Home Entertainment. $30.99): The legendary rocker reunites with acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Demme for the third in a loose trilogy concert films (following "Heart of Gold" and "Trunk Show"), this one showing him performing a solo acoustic/electric set from the stage of Ontario's Massey Hall consisting of tunes from his then-current album "Le Noise," a selection of classics like "Ohio" and "Down by the River" and even a couple of unreleased gems. In between songs, there is footage of a road trip Young and Demme took from the singer's hometown to the gig in which he revisits the haunts of his youth and reminisces about his life and times. A startlingly intense experience, both emotionally and visually (the camera gets in so close on Young's haggard face that you can actually see his dental work), this is a powerful examination of an artist who has managed to remain vital and relevant after nearly a half-century and for fans of his work, it is utterly indispensable.
SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): In this cheerfully quirky and surprisingly emotional comedy-drama, the impending apocalypse sends neighbors Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley on a road trip to look up their long-lost loved ones and wind up growing unexpectedly close in the process--nothing like unstoppable doom to cut through all the usual relationship gibberish. It sounds kind of dopey but writer-director infuses the material with an effective combination of heartfelt sentiment and big laughs and the performances from the two leads are excellent as well. Alas, this proved to be one of the bigger box-office flops of the year, thanks to the ill-advised decision to toss it out amidst the summer behemoths, but hopefully it will find a larger audience on home video.
THE SLUT (Strand Releasing. $24.99): Although the title makes it sound like an adaptation of a lesser Jackie Collins novel--okay, a Jackie Collins novel--this is actually a somber Israeli drama about a young single woman running a remote chicken farm with her two young daughters who whiles away the time and curbs her considerable erotic appetites by having sex with most of the less-than-desirable men in her village--of course, everything begins to change with the arrival of a studly-but-sweet veterinarian. It sounds shocking and scandalous as all get out but with the exception of the lead performance by Hagar Ben-Asher (who also directed), the film as a whole is a bit of a drag that seems to go on for far longer than its relatively brief running time. PS: Although I have to assume that it was faked somehow, animal lovers should be warned that they aren't going to like the opening scene at all.
TAKE THIS WALTZ (Magnolia Home Entertainment. $26.98): In theory, the combination of director Sarah Polley (whose first film was the beautiful and haunting "Away With Hey) and actress Michelle Williams should have resulted in something truly memorable and that is certainly the case here, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Williams plays a quirky young lass (the kind who insists on having people at airports push her around on a wheelchair because she is afraid of missing her connections--get it?) who finds herself romantically torn between the dullard she is married to (Seth Rogen) and the hunky rickshaw driver who has moved in across the street. This sounds ridiculously twee in theory but in practice, it is absolutely intolerable--so much so that it is easy to mistake it for a parody of other indie romantic fables of late--and while Williams gives the role her all, the whole thing is so implausible that all you can do is shake your head in disbelief as it goes on and on and on. That said, Sarah Polley is still gifted and talented and if there is one positive thing to say about this mess, it is that by concentrating all of her bad ideas into the same project, she has hopefully cleared the decks of such things and is ready to make something truly worthwhile the next time out.
THAT'S MY BOY (Sony Home Entertainment. $30.99): Having achieved a personal low-water mark last year, entertainment-wise, with the one-two punch of "Just Go With It" and "Jack & Jill" (not to mention his contributions to the equally awful "Zookeeper" and "Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star"), most moviegoers probably went into the latest Adam Sandler joint last summer under the assumption that at the very least, it had to be better than those.. Astoundingly, Sandler managed to plumb new depths with this astonishingly tasteless and witless comedy in which he plays a jerk who tries to reconnect with the son that he fathered at the age of 14 with one of his schoolteachers. Featuring an incredibly distasteful premise, horrible performances and jokes so gross and unseemly that they make one long for the gentle wit of "The Human Centipede" (poor Leighton Meester is forced to do things so beyond the pale that you get the sense that someone involved with the production was trying to get revenge on her for some long-ago hurt), this is quite possibly the worst films Sandler has ever appeared in and the only mildly redeemable thing about it is that it tanked at the box-office, proving that even Sandler's fan base has its limits.
WRONG TURN 5: BLOODLINES (Fox Home Entertainment. $29.98): Wait, they made a fifth "Wrong Turn" movie? Man, time flies when you are not paying attention at all.
AVATAR 3-D (Fox Home Entertainment. $39.99)
BILLY BATHGATE/BLAZE (Mill Creek. $9.98)
THE COLOR OF NIGHT/PLAYING GOD (Mill Creek. $9.98)
ELLA ENCHANTED (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $14.99)
EXCISION (Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. $24.99)
THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD (The Criterion Collection. $39.95)
THE FUNHOUSE (Shout! Factory. $29.93)
GONE IN 60 SECONDS (Anderson Merchandisers. $20.99)
I ROBOT (Fox Home Entertainment. $39.98)
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION (Sony Home Entertainment. $19.95)
LIVE AT THE BOWL '68 (Eagle Rock Entertainment. $19.98)
LOONEY TUNES PLATINUM COLLECTION: VOLUME TWO (Warner Home Video. $44.98)
PETE'S DRAGON (Walt Disney Home Entertainment. $29.99)
THE STERILE CUCKOO (Olive Films. $29.95)
SUDDENLY (HD Cinema Classics. $15.98)
SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY (The Criterion Collection. $39.95)
TYLER PERRY'S MADEA'S WITNESS PROTECTION (Lionsgate Home Entertainment. $29.95)
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originally posted: 10/29/12 04:58:49
last updated: 10/29/12 13:07:30