It’s time again to look at this week’s new DVDs, and we’ve got an excellent batch to choose from. Besides Fast & Furious 6 (pictured above -unless that’s a still from Fast Five. Or Fast & Furious 7, I can’t really tell), we’ve got a lot of other great movies and they all star somebody you’ve heard of. Assuming you’ve heard of Toby Jones, I mean. Look, even if you haven’t heard of him, trust me, you know his face. All right, even if you don’t know his face or his name, he was Dobby in the Harry Potter movies. Fine, whatever, even if you haven’t seen a single Harry Potter movie and you’ve never heard of Toby Jones and you’ve never seen his face, that’s not his fault. He’s still a semi-famous character actor. The problem’s yours, pal, not Toby’s. Maybe you should broaden your horizons and familiarize yourself with some of the many actors who work hard but weren’t blessed with George Clooney’s good looks and starring roles before you start questioning the professional accomplishments of others. You know what? Just forget it. You win. Here are the DVDs, you big baby.
Fast & Furious 6
Despicable Me 2
Man Of Tai Chi
Jayne Mansfield’s Car
Berberian Sound Studio
Battle Of The Year
[ALSO: Mr. Angel, which I saw and loved at SXSW, came out on DVD last week, while Morton was taking time off to volunteer at the autistic cat shelter. See also, our Buck Angel interview and podcast. -Vince]
You know what? I lied. It’s entirely possible you haven’t heard of anyone in Sightseers, but you have heard of its executive producer -Edgar Wright. His latest film, The World’s End, hit home video a few weeks back. It’s pretty great, even if Toby Jones isn’t in it. Speaking of, I don’t know why I reacted so strongly to your indifference to his body of work. It’s probably just the stress of the holidays, the hustle and bustle and all. I hope you understand.
Vin Diesel and Paul Walker are back for the latest installment in the action franchise that made both of them internationally known as the guys from the Fast & Furious movies. I’ve only seen the first film in this series, and while I was surprised to find I enjoyed it, I vehemently boycotted the second installment ten years ago because I could not abide how stupid a title ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’ was. Such innocent times. Anyhow, I haven’t kept up with the series or any news surrounding it so I don’t really have much to say other than to point out that for some reason Universal has pledged to donate a portion of the sales of this DVD/blu-ray to star Paul Walker’s charity, Reach Out WorldWide. Seems like a shameless ploy to sell more DVDs to me. I mean, they aren’t even saying what percentage of the sales they plan to donate, and if Walker really wanted to help his charity out, you’d think he’d show up in a promo or two. I’ve seen a few commercials for this DVD and they just have a still photo of the box cover and a voiceover –not even Walker’s voice, I might add- mentioning that they will donate some cash to his charity if you buy a copy. I don’t know what Walker’s deal is, but if he really wanted to use his clout to help out he’d donate his salary from the next Fast film instead of holding the production hostage while they figure out how to finish the film without him. I’m just assuming he walked off because he wanted more money or a better sex scene or more lines than Vin Diesel or something. What a douche.
As a parent, I find few things as soul-crushingly sad as seeing how aggressively –and successfully- Hollywood markets to my children. No matter the film, no matter how soon since the last one, no matter how terrible and insulting it looks, they’ve got the commercials down to a science that results in my otherwise thoughtful and intelligent children mindlessly begging and braying like jackasses that I HAVE to take them to see the latest piece of animated crap. There’s no discernment; whatever is new in theaters, they beg to see. Whatever is new on disc, they beg to own. Even though I rarely give in, it’s still sad. When they were babies my wife and I vowed that our kids would be different, that they would have taste and manners and they would not invite the judgment of strangers by screaming for “MORE MORE MORE” while in the toy aisle at target or while walking past the Cinemark at the 29th Street Mall in Boulder. Even if we isolate them from all the advertising both on TV and out in the world, they still have friends at school putting the poison in their ears, and kiddie movies are the least of it. My son attended a classmate’s 6th birthday party at which they turned on Call Of Duty as an activity for the two-year-old younger siblings. I’m completely serious. And the merchandising. Oh god, the merchandising. It isn’t enough to buy four tickets (in 3-D) to see a crappy movie, oh no, we have to own the crappier toys. It’s gotten to the point that I’ve contemplated instituting a family rule that if something is trying to encourage you to buy something else, we simply refuse as a matter of policy. Does the movie have a toy tie-in? Then we won’t see the movie. Is this toy based on a movie? Sorry, kids. Does the action figure have accessories that can only be obtained through an additional purchase? Apologies, Toys ‘R’ Us. Does this children’s book indicate it’s part of an on-going series, f*ck you, Beverly Cleary. The problem though is if we did that our kids would never get anything. Plus, I’d lose out on harassing my wife with this kick-ass Despicable Me 2 banana-scented fart blaster. If the movie is half as much fun as that thing, it’s got my vote for best film of the year.
This is that martial arts movie that Keanu Reeves directed. If you were hoping this was a ‘guy uses his martial arts skills to raise money to save the rec center’ film, you’re out of luck. Instead, he’s trying to raise money to save his Tai Chi temple from greedy developers. Unless Tai Chi temples are the Chinese equivalent of rec centers, then it’s exactly what you were hoping for. Of course if you like Chinese action flicks but hate Keanu Reeves (and why would you –he’s adorable) today also sees the release of Saving General Yang, which is from the director who gave you Bride Of Chucky and is probably a Chinese remake of Saving Private Ryan. I’m just assuming.
An Alabama family long ago abandoned by their wife/mother is forced to deal with the Englishman she left them for and the new family they started together when she dies in England but states in her will that she wishes to be buried back home in Alabama. So that old chestnut. Billy Bob Thornton directs, co-writes, and co-stars, and he’s managed to fill out the rest of the cast with names such as John Hurt, Tippi Hedren, Kevin Bacon, Ray Stevenson, Robert Patrick, Robert Duvall, Frances O’Connor, Shawnee Smith, and Ron White. That’s right, Oscar winners Robert Duvall and John Hurt co-star in a movie with the least-famous star of The Blue Collar Comedy Tour and that chick from the Saw movies. By the way, if you didn’t know, the title is a reference to the infamous car accident death of movie star Jayne Mansfield. She died 46 years ago, and now she’s remembered more for her grisly demise than for any of her acting roles. The car Mansfield was riding in (along with her kids, including future Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay) crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer, sheering off the top of the car. The accident became a media sensation and rumors and grisly details still abound such as the incorrect but commonly held belief that Mansfield was decapitated. In fact, she was just scalped. With such shameless and morbid celebrity-death fixating taking place almost 50 years ago, I can’t even imagine what it would be like if a somewhat young, reasonably popular movie star were to die horribly in a violent car wreck today.
Naomi Watts and Robin Wright play two life-long friends who find themselves in a bit of an awkward situation when Wright’s character starts f*cking Watts’ character’s son. Obviously, this prompts Watts to start f*cking Wright’s character’s son. Will this destroy their friendship or strengthen it? What about the friendship between the young men? Can love be found or is it just acts of vengeful lust? Have I mentioned that all the characters are Australian? Do you think the two leading ladies discussed the fact that in the film 21 Grams Sean Penn (Wright’s husband at the time of 21 Grams’ filming) sucked on Watts’ nipple? Do you think the actor playing Watts’ love interest watched Mullholland Drive for ‘research’? Do you think Robin Wright considers her best film to be Toys, that weird movie in which Robin Williams runs a toy factory and LL Cool J is his cousin? I know most people would say The Princess Bride is her best film, but I’m guessing she’s going with Toys. She just seems like she’d be weird and contrarian in that kind of way. Toys was Jamie Foxx’s first movie, by the way. His real name is Eric Marlon Bishop, did you know that? He auditioned for the Cuba Gooding Jr. role in Jerry Maguire. I’m guessing he’s okay with how both of their careers turned out. So anyway, Adore. It’s about two forty-somethings son-swapping, and I’m guessing it’s supposed to be wish fulfillment for Australian cougars. To those women I say, why watch a movie when you can live the reality, check out this delightfully retro website, and start realizing your fantasies today!
This film is from Ben Wheatley, the guy who also gave us Down Terrace, Kill List, and A Field In England. I’ve only heard good things about each of his films, Sightseers included, but I haven’t gotten around to actually watching any of them. I make no excuses for this oversight. Anyhow, this one is about a couple going on a sightseeing road trip and they let the frustrations of travel get the better of them so they start killing people who annoy them. This only brings them closer together. I know it sounds sort of hacky, but the trailer does a pretty good job of making it look like a fun comedy/horror romp without any of the preachiness of God Bless America, an American film with a similar concept but done with a very heavy-handed execution. To be fair, I liked God Bless America just fine, but I couldn’t fault anyone else for hating it, and Sightseers has gotten mostly really favorable reviews, and Wheatley has a pretty great reputation as a director, so I can’t wait to catch this film -sometime in the next five years or so after I get around to Down Terrace and Kill List, I mean. Assuming I’m not compelled to watch something else, like Movie 43. Again. What? That scene with Chloe Grace Moretz smearing her period blood all over the place was really…ummm…..compelling.
In other ‘films from the UK that have horror elements and were beloved by the critics’ news, this week also sees the release of Berberian Sound Studio. This movie stars Toby Jones as a sound engineer going insane while working on an Italian horror film in the 1970s. Like Sightseers, I’ve only heard good things about this movie and I look forward to catching it someday. That being said, it’s taking every ounce of my restraint to not type Barbarian Sound Studio, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been pondering just what such a film would be like. I bet it would be awesome. Think of the music alone. I mean, have you heard Basil Poledouris’ score from the original Conan The Barbarian film? It’s the greatest music known to man (sorry Joe Dolce, you come in a close second) and my wife insists that we listen to it whenever we make love. She’s funny that way.
We’re gonna stick with foreign films for a bit, but now we transition into ones with actual subtitles. Also, I’m actually going to use this space to mention three separate films because, oddly enough, they all star Bond villains. The top spot goes to The Hunt, a Danish film starring Mads Mikkelsen. He’s now best known as the title character on the surprisingly watchable Hannibal TV show, but let’s not forget that he was also Le Chiffre in Casino Royale. The Hunt, in which Mikkelsen’s character’s life gets ruined by a child’s innocent lie, gets the most love this week because the critics liked it the best, it actually looks the best, and most importantly, if you look at a really big photo of the box cover you will see that Mr. Mikkelsen is totally fantasizing about raping you. That’s some serious still-frame acting, folks. Second up is a French film entitled You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet. It’s from legendary director Alain Resnias, and it’s a fictitious film in which a bunch of French actors play themselves honoring a dead playwright’s wishes by watching a play and then restaging it or some other incredibly artsy French navel-gazing bullshit. The critics liked it, but it looks terrible. It co-stars Mathieu Amalric, who played Dominic Greene in Quantum Of Solace. (For real, the bad guy in Quantum of Solace was named Dominic Greene. I couldn’t have told you that without looking it up either, and I’ve seen the movie more than once.) Our last film is a Taiwanese movie called The Rooftop, written by, directed by, and starring Jay Chou. It’s a martial arts/dance movie/musical and that alone should tell you why it’s getting bottom billing. If you don’t remember Chou’s Bond villain role, it’s because I was wrong about them all being Bond villains. Turns out he was Kato in The Green Hornet instead. Close enough.
Adam Brody is about to get married so he travels all around the country trying to get closure with all of his exes, including Kristen Bell, Jennifer Morrison, and Emily Watson. Hasn’t this been a movie before? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that synopsis before and didn’t want to see this movie then, so why would I want to now? Plus, do people really do stuff like this? I’m asking seriously. Besides the obvious time and money expense (couldn’t you just skype or something?), why does this guy have exes all over the country? Did they all flee when things ended with him, or is he some sort of nomadic philanderer, breaking hearts from coast to coast? I’m just saying that Neil LaBute wrote this (adapting his own play) and while I liked In The Company Of Men as much as anyone, we mustn’t forget that LaBute’s also the guy who gave us both the Nic Cage Wicker Man and the black version of Death At A Funeral, so maybe he of all people shouldn’t be asking us to swallow all of this bullshit right out of the gate. And don’t get me started on those parentheses in the title.
Take your blood pressure medication, kids. This is going to be rough. The synopsis:
TOUCHY FEELY is a closely observed examination of a family whose delicate psychic balance suddenly unravels. Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt), is a sought after massage therapist and a free spirit, while her brother Paul (Josh Pais) thrives on routine and convention, running a flagging dental practice and co-dependently enlisting the assistance of his emotionally stunted daughter Jenny (Ellen Page). Suddenly, transformation touches everyone. Abby develops an uncontrollable aversion to bodily contact, which not only makes her occupation impossible but severely hinders the passionate love life between her and her boyfriend (Scoot McNairy.) Meanwhile, rumors of Paul’s “healing touch” begin to miraculously invigorate his practice as well as his life outside the office. As Abby navigates her way through a soul-searching identity crisis, her formerly skeptical brother discovers a whole new side of himself. TOUCHY FEELY is about the experience of living in one’s own skin, both literally and figuratively. The film, written and directed by Shelton, and co-starring Allison Janney, Ron Livingston, and newcomer Tomo Nakayama (of the indie rock band Grand Hallway), is filmed on location in Shelton’s hometown and urban muse of Seattle.
“Delicate psychic balance” “Scoot McNairy” “living in one’s own skin, both literally and figuratively” “(of the indie rock band Grand Hallway)” “hometown and urban muse of Seatlle”. If you haven’t already punched your monitor, laptop, tablet or cell phone, please watch the trailer below and I guarantee you’ll be shopping for some new electronics this holiday season. For f*ck’s sake, if there was a way to commit a hate crime against a movie, I’d be going to jail just as soon as you can say the tagline, “sometimes healing ourselves begins with helping others…”
This week’s obligatory Christmas movie is also this week’s recipient of The Dove Foundation’s Seal Of Approval. Funny how these things tend to work out that way. Unfortunately, Dove’s four-Dove review just isn’t bringing the usual surreal Dove take on things (it’s surprisingly and disappointingly straight forward, with little to no commentary or analysis), so allow me to summarize the trailer: Harry Connick Jr. plays a modern-day Grinch who moves his family to a new house because an angel named Nick played by Willie Nelson gave him a great deal on the property. After they move in, they discover that they are living in the nation’s most famous Christmas decorating neighborhood and now there’s pressure on Connick Jr. to follow suit. The community playfully harasses him, his wife (Connie Britton) wants him to do it, and even his dopey kid gives him grief about it, so eventually he climbs up on that ladder, hangs those lights and learns to stop being a dick. That’s pretty much it for the trailer, but it can’t be that simple, can it? Dove only gave it four stars, so where’s that missing star? It has to be for something, right? Well, the Dove review does go into some back story and makes mention of a tragedy in Harry Connick Jr.’s character’s past –a child falling through the ice and drowning- and some other tragedy in the present, which prompts his son to lose the Christmas spirit, which in turn prompts HCJ to snap out of his funk so he can snap his son out of his, but just what was that modern-day tragedy that the trailer makes no mention of? How can it compare to a kid drowning? Luckily for us living in the internet age there’s no such thing as an unspoiled movie plot, so with just a little bit of digging, I’ve uncovered the truth. Courtesy of IMDb commenter ‘quigleydunder’, we get the shocking reveal:
Was the grandpa killed because the dad was being a grinch?
The X-mas angels murdered someone to teach the guy the real meaning of X-mas. That’s pretty cold. This movie is twisted as hell.
That does sound pretty messed up, and especially because Kris Kristofferson is in this and I’m pretty sure that he’s the grandpa. Why would anyone want to kill him for Christmas? The man is a saint, he’s like an older, grumpier Keanu Reeves. So, yeah, something to think about. The film also co-stars Lyle Lovett because why the hell not? I bet he turns out to be one of the singing angels of death; he’s always had that look of violent and holy retribution about him.
In case you’ve forgotten, this is that dance battle film starring Sawyer from Lost, the (now not fat) fat kid from that one Nickelodeon show about the fat kid and the not fat kid, and last and definitely least, professional douchebag Chris Brown. I give you this promise: nothing –and I mean nothing- hitting DVD this week (on or off this official and beloved list) deserves less of your viewing consideration than Battle Of The Year, and no, I haven’t forgetten about today’s DVD debut of Screwed: The Movie, which is about a guy becoming a human f*ck-machine after his wiener gets zapped by a magical porno tape.