Thursday, August 31, 2006


It took me a little longer to get this week's edition out, and I apologize. I might be running a little late on next week's too since my wife is coming into town. She's at school in Chicago right now, so we only get to see each other about once a month, and well, you know, we've got business to attend to. A lot of interesting releases this week, not quite as many stand-outs as I would like, but like I said, a lot of interesting titles. I'm pretty sure with that being said that this is my longest post yet. Hope you enjoy.

�Romancing the Stone� has kind of gotten lost in the shuffle over the years of all those big budget adventure films that came out in the early eighties; it also doesn�t help that the very next year director Robert Zemeckis topped this rousing yarn with what many consider to be one of the best science fiction films of all time, �Back to the Future.� And before now the only DVD release of the movie has been a cheapo/quickie edition where they ripped the laserdisc picture and it shows. Now lovers of this film or people who need to rediscover it can have it in all of its adventurous glory with a nice visual and sound transfer to match. For those out there who haven�t seen it it�s a story about a famous romance novelist, Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) who gets caught up in a high stakes adventure when her sister gets kidnapped by some nefarious thugs; she ends up teaming up with Soldier of Fortune, Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) who bears a strong resemblance to the hero of her novels, and of course they fall in love. The film holds up really well 22 years later and proves to be a much better studio product than the majority of the bloated bullshit we have to suffer through today. Turner and Douglas have great chemistry and Danny Devito is also a treat has a comic sidekick who ends up being just as greedy and dirty as the people they are running from. Zemeckis was involved with a lot of great projects around this time; he was a producer and co-writer on the �Indiana Jones� films along with �Back to the Future,� and this one kind fell on deaf ears after awhile. Thankfully it�s getting the DVD release it most definitely deserves.

It was so popular they immediately rushed a sequel into production and released it a year later, �The Jewel of the Nile.� Zemeckis was busy with �Future,� so they got work-for-hire director, Lewis Teague (Cujo, Navy Seals) to helm the picture. It takes place a few years later and Jack and Joan are still together, but getting rather bored with each other. Joan decides to go to a Middle Eastern Country that she is invited to as a guest of the country�s Sheik. She is of course kidnapped, and Jack has to come to her rescue again. Danny Devito conveniently returns because he is interested in the Jewel of the title that holds all kinds of mysteries. The sequel is nowhere near as good as the original, but it has its charm; it�s not a total waste of time. Well worth owning as a nice companion piece and it too is a Special Edition. Now if they will just go and make a great special edition of the best film this cast did together, �War of the Roses,� then we would have all of the Douglas/Turner/Devito films together if that�s something you�re interested in having.


I missed this when it was in the theaters earlier this year; to be honest, I read some reviews, very positive ones, when it came out, and then forgot about it a couple days later. Most of the time these up-lifting dramas, in this case a girl tries to be a spelling bee champ, and probably make the world a better place, tend to be more cheese than charm, and just really aren�t my cup of tea. But this got a lot of positive word including from fellow blogger, Chris, so I will most definitely be giving this a looksy.

This is an IFC Films presentation that interweaves a handful of stories that are all related to the proliferation of gun use in America. It has a lot of great acting in it, Donald Sutherland, Forest Whitaker, Marcia Gay Harden, etc. The stories themselves are a mixed bag, but there is a lot more good than bad here. Director Aric Avelino doesn�t shy away from a thing here; this cuts down to what he feels on the matter of gun use which at sometimes makes it a little preachy, but it�s worth checking out if this description interests you. Avelino is a director that I look forward to seeing what he brings us in the future.

The show that everyone tried to save, but it was all for naught. This will go down in the history of television has one of the smartest sitcoms to ever air. I almost don�t want to call it a sitcom because that seems to cheapen it a little bit. It�s as original as a comedy series has ever been on television; the producers and writers refused to give in to any conventions. Any collector of television on DVD should add this along with the first two seasons to your shelf.

This was a documentary made by HBO, something they are proving to be very deft at over the past few years. It�s a fly-on-the wall kind of thing tracking the days and nights of the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Iraq. Not for the faint of heart, but for those that can stomach it it�s a very educational experience. I found it interesting how they determine what gets priority injury wise. And the discussion of IED�s (Improvised Explosive Devices) is eerie; you really get an interesting perspective on what the hell is happening overseas. This by no means falls under the category of entertainment, but it�s real and unflinching, and I commend it for not cutting any corners in its depiction of the horrors of war.

With a title like this, how could you not be curious? The great thing about a lot of these specialized companies in the DVD field (In this case it�s the newly developed Casangra Productions), is that they are always finding obscure foreign films, and sometimes domestic, and giving them the royal treatment with their release. This is apparently the first time this film has even been released in the States with subtitles. It�s a Spanish horror film directed by the always interesting Fernando Mendez (The Spot of the Family and The Vampire�s Coffin) concerning the ongoing horrors in a mental institution run by the mysterious Dr. M. What little I could find on the film makes it sound like a pretty creepy horror film with an interesting mystery to boot. Could be a complete failure or a discovered gem, but that�s the fun in watching these types of releases, you just never know.

Desperate Housewives seemed to be slipping a bit in the first half of season two, but when everything started coming together in the second half I actually started enjoying it a little more than the great first season. Don�t get me wrong, this is a cheesy soap opera, but it�s a very intriguing one. The cast is great, Marcia Cross really got to shine in the second season; the writers gave her most of the meatiest material. They also developed a much stronger supporting cast with the likes of Alfre Woodard and Kyle McLachlan thrown into the mix. And what a season finale, it was easily the best cliffhanger of last season.

This was a series produced for HBO Latin America that was so popular overseas they are releasing a subtitled version for American audiences on DVD this week. Reading about it, I am extremely excited. It sounds like a cross between �Silence of the Lambs,� �Saw,� and �Six Feet Under.� How crazy does that sound? The story involves a teacher taking four students hostage and as a result of an accident the students all end up dying. Five years later upon being released, the teacher turns up dead and by his body are three graves with names on them related to the incident. The authorities soon realize that they have a serial killer on their hands who has the intention of killing everyone involved with the incident. HBO is always engaging when it comes to their television series, so I will definitely be giving this one a shot. And for HBO it�s reasonably priced; you can get it for about 44 dollars on Amazon.

There are a lot of Film Noir releases on DVD�s these days; the studios are going to the vaults to get us some really obscure ones. And being a huge fan of the genre, I have been watching them all as soon as I can get my hands on them. Paul Douglas plays a man having a very bad day and decides to take his life by jumping off a building. Richard Baseheart plays the cop who has the job of trying to talk him down. I�m assuming the fourteen hours refers to the time it takes for all this to go down. I don�t know, but it sounds like a great premise, and this one might be the first in my player when I get my DVD�s in the mail.

I�m a fan of Nicole Holofcener�s previous film, 2002�s �Lovely and Amazing,� so I�m curious to see how she did here. It looks like much of the same territory as �Lovely,� girlfriends having problems with their husbands or boyfriends, and struggling with their careers. It also did not get real favorable reviews. However, it�s got a nice cast led by Jennifer Aniston, and with my love of the other film, I�m willing to check it out.

Here�s a pretty cool unseen by most gem from seventies horror. Kind of got lost in the mix of all of the �Dawn of the Dead,� �Alien,� �Texas Chainsaw Massacre,� �Exorcist,� �Halloween,� etc. It�s a very simple ghost story about some people deciding they are going to scare their crazy ass friend, Jessica, well�to death. Then a bunch of legitimate weird shit starts happening, and we realize Jessica might not be all that she might seem. I have a feeling when Stephen King wrote �Carrie,� he had this film on his mind. She doesn�t possess any powers really, but it kind of gives off the same vibe. It�s also interesting to watch this now and realize how much it feels like an American remake of a Japanese horror movie. If you�re in the mood for a horror movie this week, and have seen �The Omen� for the umpteenth time, this is definitely one to check out.

This is for Albert Brooks fanatics only, which I am one. If you thought �The Muse� was his worst film to date, well, you�re in for a treat. It�s not a terrible film by any means, but with Albert Brooks trying to make the Middle East funny, you would think it would be, well, funnier. I have faith that Albert Brooks is going to give us another �Modern Romance� or �Lost in America� before he retires, but this is a long way from that. However, if you just have to see every Albert Brooks film, this one�s out this week.

I have to admit I was only just a casual viewer of MST3K when it was on Comedy Central, and I�m pretty sure I never saw an episode on Sci-Fi. However, I know there are a lot of fans out there, and these box sets they put together are very nice. The only problem I have with the show is that it can really only be enjoyed by a group of people. I tried to watch �Manos the Hands of Fate� episode a few months ago by myself, and it just didn�t work. But if you want to have some more MST3K parties so you can relive the good old days this looks like a nice batch. There�s actually a �Godzilla� film on here, �Godzilla vs. Megalon.� They have a hard time with these sets due to rights to the films and �Godzilla� seems to be the hardest one to crack, Toho wants a lot of money for these things. However, what little I did watch of the show, the �Godzilla� films were usually some of the better ones. The other films on this one are �Swamp Diamonds,� �Teen-Age Strangler,� and �Giant Spider Invasion� plus a couple of shorts. I never saw any of these in their original broadcast so I don�t know how good they are. I do know they come from Season 2 and 8, so you get a little Joel and a little Mike. Just thought I mention it for the fans out there.

NIP TUCK � SEASON 3 (2005)
If you want to see a once provocative show go completely downhill and lose all of its focus, then look no farther than �Nip/Tuck � Season 3.� Here�s a show that really became too aware of it self, and decided to spend all of season three trying to top all its previous gore and freak-show surgeries from the past. My favorite disgusting moment has to be from a three-hundred pound plus woman who hasn�t left her couch for 12 years. Not to mention, this season had the on-going mystery of who was the serial killer, The Carver. The resolution is one of the biggest letdowns in series television in as long as I can remember. All of a sudden, Bobby waking up in the shower seems like a great idea. This is really only for people who have to own all of the seasons once they start collecting. A lot of people might be giving this one more shot with Season 4, I won�t be one of them.


These are two films from the eighties written by the God of teen movies, John Hughes, and directed by one of his favorite collaborators, Howard Deutch. This is two of the four movies they worked on together. �Pretty in Pink� is a solid film and further shows why no one but Hughes has ever been able to get this genre right. I�m sure most everyone has seen this, so I won�t get in too much plot here, but I do think this is nowhere near as good as the two earlier films Hughes directed, �Sixteen Candles� and the almighty �The Breakfeast Club.� Still, it�s got a lot of good moments including the only good performance that Jon Cryer ever gave. However, this being the �Everything Duckie�s Edition,� I have to wonder why they didn�t finally give us fans the original ending where Molly Ringwald ends up with Ducky instead of the annoying rich kid, Blaine. This is probably one of the most controversial endings of any movie from my generation. Apparently they shot an ending with Ringwald and Cryer dancing at the prom to �Heroes� by David Bowie and it didn�t play well to the test audiences, so they did a last minute re-shoot before the film came out. Hopefully, one day we�ll get to see that so we can compare. Still, if you�re a huge fan, I�m sure this will be a nice treat.

�Some Kind of Wonderful� was made a year later by the same team, and is basically a reversal on �Pretty in Pink.� Eric Stoltz takes over the Molly Rinwald role, Lea Thompson takes over for Andrew McCarthy, and Mary Stuart Masterson gets to be the Ducky of the picture. Because of the feeling that they just dipped right back into the well and made this movie so quickly, it never has really worked for me. But it�s got a lot of fans; I know a lot of people like to treat this has some kind of cult classic, but it basically did about the same box office as �Pretty in Pink.� All the performances are fine and there�s a lot of good John Hughes writing to be had, but watch these two back-to-back and don�t tell me you don�t get a feeling of deja-vu, and not the good kind that Beyonce has been giving us either.

I�m only mentioning this because it�s a recent release, and a lot of people like to catch up on this year�s releases when they come out on DVD. But I would avoid it, read Chris�s earlier review when it was in the theaters if you don�t believe me. A great cast with the likes of Michael Douglas and Kiefer Sutherland, but talk about treading old ground. This is as predictable as thrillers come, and there is really nothing that this movie has to offer unless you really want to just watch a run-of-the mill thriller, I would go elsewhere.

Anthology films are cursed by the fact that they always seem to be a mixed bag at best (i.e. �Twilight Zone � The Movie,� �Tales From the Darkside � The Movie,� etc.). So, wade through the first two stories in Dan Curtis�s seventies shocker which are okay, and then watch the third and final story if you�ve never seen this and you will know why it was all worth it. You know the one with the Zuni fetish doll. It is a fucking treat to behold. This scared the ever living shit out of me as a kid, and I have to admit, it still does. Put this on the watch list for the upcoming Halloween season if you haven�t already seen it, it�s a good one.


Post a Comment

<< Home