FilmDrunk

Your Mid-Week Guide To DVD And Streaming: A Dark Truth About Red Dawn

That’s right, the awful and awfully unnecessary Red Dawn remake is out on DVD today, but it isn’t alone.  We’ve also got flicks with Jessica Biel, Rebecca Hall, Eva Longoria, Aubrey Plaza, and two films with Catherine Zeta-Jones.  We’ve even got some famous dudes like Bruce Willis and Gerard Butler, if that’s how your ship sails.  We’ve got killer fish and killer water, a chatty hitman and a midnight stallion.  There’s a marine, a quadriplegic, Satan’s angel, and even some cannibals!

The DVDs:
Red Dawn
Wreck-It Ralph
Playing For Keeps
Lay The Favorite
The Bay
A Dark Truth
The Intouchables
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You
California Solo
Interview With A Hitman
Gun Hill Road
Midnight Stallion
The Marine 3: Homefront
Satan’s Angel: Queen Of The Fire Tassels
Elfie Hopkins: Cannibal Hunter
House Hunting

Streaming: Check out your choices here.

Does the name ‘DJ Mom Jeans’ mean anything to you?  It will, but only if you continue reading.  Curious about the fire tassels?  That’s understandable.  Continue reading to sneak a peek at ’em.  Of course you can always just click the link above and skip right to the streaming suggestions, but if you do you’ll never know which film sold more tickets to German audiences than any other movie in 2012, and how can you live without that information?
Red Dawn

Holy hell, this movie is a comedy of errors.  Let’s review, shall we: This film –a remake- went into production in 2009 at MGM, with a script co-written by the guy who co-wrote The Last House On The Left (another remake) and directed by first-timer, Dan Bradley.  Production wrapped that December, and the film was set to hit theaters on November 24, 2010.  Unfortunately MGM’s financial troubles forced it to shelve all of its movies and Red Dawn missed its release date. Eventually MGM got its house in order enough to reconsider releasing Red Dawn, but by that point the powers that be decreed that the bad guys should be changed from the Chinese to North Koreans, so as to not piss off China and risk harming the global box-office prospects of the film.  So the costly and complicated changes were made.  Scenes were altered digitally, dialogue was re-dubbed, and any evidence of an evil Chinaman was removed.  Except for, you know, all the Chinese people now playing North Koreans, but whatever.  At some point during this process a company called FilmDistrict gained theatrical distribution rights to the flick and it finally came out last fall –two years past its original release date, complete with an ad campaign that heavily featured Chris Hemsworth, who was actually relatively unknown back when this film was originally supposed to come out.  As you know, the film promptly bombed; it opened at 7th place, and to date is still $21 million shy of making back its original production budget of $65 million.  I really can’t imagine why MGM has –and continues to have- such financial troubles.  Red Dawn snagged a spot in Burnsy’s Worst Films of 2012, and Laremy’s review gave the film an ‘F’.  Like I said, a comedy of errors.  The best part though is that for all the time, money, and effort spent on changing China to North Korea, the change itself got so much press that it made no difference.  Everybody knew about the change so, ultimately, there was no change. Every time the characters said ‘North Korea’ everyone auto-corrected to China. (Plus, isn’t just as insulting to China –if not moreso- to say “Hey, we think you Orientals all look the same, but we changed the label on your tanks cuz we want your money”?) Oh, and as for the concerns about foreign box-office?  There wasn’t any.  Box-office, I mean.  All that hurrabaroo, and the total foreign take, across all countries outside North America, was a whopping $3,631,798, with only $188,145 coming from China.  So many wrong choices, how can you pinpoint just one? Clearly, they should’ve approached this production with an entirely different slant.


Wreck-It Ralph

In this animated flick from Disney, John C. Reilly plays Ralph, an old-school video game villain who wants to change his reputation.  You see, he’s not bad, he’s just doing his job.  Ralph decides the only way to change his lot in life is by winning a medal, so he sets out across the arcade to venture into other games in the hopes of winning one.  As you can assume, this creates all sorts of problems, blah blah blah.  Here’s the thing, though: the movie’s pretty good.  Sure, it hits all the kid-flick tropes you expect and the story turns out just like you assume it will, but the kids will like it, and it is far better than crap like Alvin and the Chipmunks, so watch it with your kids and count your blessings.  Also, if the theater I was at is any indication, video-game fans will lap up all of the cameos, in-jokes, and easter eggs.  We took our five-year-old to see this a couple weeks after it was released and he was the only kid in the almost packed room.  The rest of the audience was entirely comprised of guys in their twenties and thirties, all wearing too tight T-shirts and sporting greasy hair, and all of them laughed and whispered throughout the film (especially the first third, before Ralph gets to the candy-themed racing game) and most of the time I had no clue what was so god-damned funny.  The point is, the movie works for kids, it works for adults, and if you love video games, you’ll love the movie even more than the rest of us.  I was never that into video games, myself.  I was too busy banging chicks.  Hence the kids.  Hence why I paid $40 to see this in 3-D and haven’t been to the theater to see a proper R-rated action movie since 2007.  So suck it, nerds.


Playing For Keeps

This is that Gerard Butler soccer mom rom-com that Burnsy declared the 3rd Worst Film of 2012.  There’s really not much to say other than that, but I did find it curious that the box cover features six character’s heads, but only credits five of the actors by name.  Sorry, Judy Greer.  We’ll always love you for Archer.  Also of note, Playing For Keeps is the first writing credit for screenwriter Robbie Cox in almost 20 years.  His last writing credit was for the 1994 Pauly Shore masterpiece, In The Army Now.  He’s one of eight (8!) people credited with writing that film.  Conversely, he’s the sole credited writer for Playing For Keeps, so…good job, guy.  It only took you two decades to write your own script, and it still ended up being a Gerard Butler soccer mom rom-com.  Soccer mom rom-com. That’s fun to write and to say. Surely more fun than actually watching Playing For Keeps by any measure.


Lay The Favorite

Hmmmm.  Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vince Vaughn, Rebecca Hall, and Joshua Jackson in a film directed by the guy who directed The Queen and High Fidelity, and you probably can’t recall even hearing of it before.  Must be good. Anyhow, Hall plays Beth, a ditzy Vegas cocktail waitress with a knack for gambling who starts working with Dink (Willis), a professional gambler.  Dink sees Beth as his good luck charm, but that upsets his wife, Tulip (Zeta-Jones), who demands that he fire her.  You can bet that wacky gambler hijinks ensue. I’ll admit I had to look it up, but if you also didn’t know, the phrase ‘lay the favorite’ apparently means to bet against the favored horse in a race.  At least that what it means in gambling.  As it turns out, it can also pertain to sibling rivalry within incestuous families.  Thanks, internet!


The Bay

This is that parasitic fish found-footage horror film from Barry Levinson, the Oscar-winning director of Wag The Dog, Sleepers, Bugsy, Avalon, Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Diner. What’s he doing directing a found-footage horror film?  F*ck if I know, but it might have something to do with the fact that he’s the same guy who directed What Just Happened, Man Of The Year, Envy, Bandits, An Everlasting Piece, Sphere, Disclosure, Jimmy Hollywood, and Toys. The guy’s track record is kind of spotty, is what I’m saying.  Still, for a low-budget horror flick, this film’s 75% on Rotten Tomatoes is pretty good.  Of course on the other hand, it’s still a found-footage movie about killer fish.


A Dark Truth

Andy Garcia and Forest Whitaker star in this thriller about a political activist in South America (Whitaker) and the ex-CIA agent (Garcia) hired to bring him out of the mountains of Ecuador and safely to Toronto, where he can testify against the evil corporation that has murdered an entire Ecuadorian village. I saw this flick recently, and while it is certainly a case of a film exceeding extremely low expectations, it wasn’t that bad.  If this same movie were written/directed by an A-list director instead of some guy I’ve never heard of (Damien Lee), it would be up for all sorts of Oscars based on its message alone.  You see, the evil corporation, Clearbec, specializes in purchasing water rights around the globe and then doing things like bribing the local governments to make it illegal to do things like collect rainwater. Clearbec installed a water filtration system in this Ecuadorian village, but they cut corners and instead of filtering the water it instead gave everyone typhus and so Clearbec paid off an evil general to come in and kill everyone to cover it up, but Forest Whitaker found documents proving what happened and that’s why he’s hiding in the mountains.  Clearbec, by the way, is run by a cleaned-up Tig from Sons of Anarchy and his sister, played by Deborah Kara Unger (who should sue her plastic surgeon; she looks horrible).  Tig runs things and the sister makes public appearances in the name of the company.  At one of these appearances a kid from the Ecuadoran village gives her an audio recording and then blows his brains out, so of course she keeps the tape to herself and listens to it and finds out the truth –the dark truth– of what her family business is doing in Ecuador.  (How did the kid escape from Ecuador and make it all the way to Canada with no money and an entire army trying to kill him?  Who knows.) Tig tells his sister to butt out, but instead she hires CIA agent Andy Garcia (who is also a talk-radio DJ, by the way) to go get Whitaker and save her conscience, even if it means the end of her company. He decides to go because he needs the money because his kid is autistic or something and also because he has a history with Whitaker.  So he goes, but Tig and his evil henchman have hired a ‘specialist’ to keep tabs on his sister, so they know she hired Garcia and they tip off the evil general to stop Garcia once he’s in Ecuador.  Garcia meets up with his Ecuadorian contact and immediately drives into the mountains and gets stopped by a bunch of the general’s men, but he shoots them because he’s good and they are bad.  About thirty seconds later, he stumbles upon Whitaker and his refugees, despite the fact that the general and his men haven’t been able to find them for weeks. Garcia earns the trust of Whitaker, who doesn’t seem to know that they have a connection, and all the while Mrs. Whitaker thinks insists that Garcia is full of sh*t.  Mrs. Whitaker is played by Eva Longoria, by the way.  Anyhow, they talk and Garcia confesses that he was the man responsible for Whitaker’s being sent to prison on false charges, but Whitaker forgives him because he wrote a book in prison under a fake name and the whole experience changed his life.  Garcia’s mind is blown because that book just happens to be his favorite book and it was what inspired him to quit the CIA and become a Canadian talk show host.  Whitaker goes on to say that in prison he learned that nothing but violence comes from picking up a gun, and that no good can come from violence.  They then promptly pick up some guns and manage to kill the general’s entire army and escape to Canada. Because they beat the general and escaped, Tig’s henchman has arranged for the ‘specialist’ who was spying on Tig’s sister to kill them all, in broad daylight, in the middle of a busy downtown Toronto street, but the hitman decides not to do it because when he was researching them he was so moved by Whitaker’s words about the injustice of a company placing ownership on water.  He’s a sensitive professional killer, you see.  Because the hitman won’t kill them, the henchman and a bunch of other dudes (who are inexplicably present and somehow up to speed on what’s going on) ram the good guy’s cars and start a gunfight in the middle of the street, but between Garcia, Whitaker, and the noble hitman, the good guys win and escape.  Whitaker goes on Garcia’s talk show, Tig blows his own brains out in a bit of symmetry with the boy from the beginning, and the hitman buys Garcia a coffee because he’s become such a big fan.  The end. You know what, having just written all that out, I’m realizing that the only reason I thought this movie wasn’t that bad is because I happened to be eating an exceptional bowl of soup while I watched it.  Really, that soup was top-notch.


The Intouchables

This French film was France’s official entry to the Best Foreign Language Film category for this past Oscars, and it’s easy to see why; this film has everything.  It’s about a rich old quadriplegic who learns to live again with the help of his new assistant, who also happens to be a poor black dude from the ghetto.  They seem like polar opposites, but by the end of the movie they’ve learned that they have a lot in common, all while growing as people by embracing their differences.  It’s like if The Diving Bell And The Butterfly met The Blind Side. On an interesting side note, this was the most successful movie in Germany for 2012, because if there’s one thing Germans are known for, it’s their love of foreigners, the handicapped, racial minorities, and people escaping the ghetto.


Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You

Lucy Liu, Aubrey Plaza, Marcia Gay Harden, Stephen Lang, Ellen Burstyn, and Peter Gallagher star in this film about ‘a vulnerable teenager with a deep perception of the world and no idea how to live in it’.  And you thought the title was going to be the most obnoxiously pretentious thing about this flick.


California Solo

Here we have another ‘washed-up rocker tries to form a relationship with his estranged daughter’ flick. There is one thing that makes it stand out, however.  An excerpt from the official synopsis:

Danny Masterson co-stars.

Fun trivia: Just like in the film, Masterson is a real-life DJ. He DJs under the names ‘DJ Donkey Punch’ and ‘DJ Mom Jeans‘. Adjust your club-going outings accordingly.


Interview With A Hitman

The only thing stupider than a hitman giving out interviews is one that buys coffee for their targets instead of killing them.


Gun Hill Road

In The Army Now’s Esai Morales plays Enrique, a recently paroled ex-con who must come to terms with the fact that his teenage son is transgendered.  At first he lashes out, admonishing his son and forcibly cutting his son’s hair, but I’m willing to bet that by film’s end he learns to accept and love his son unconditionally.  Maybe he even comes to believe that there’s nothing wrong or inferior about transgendered people at all.  Or maybe he doesn’t learn anything or grow and ends up beating his son to death or kicking him out, thus forcing him to start turning tricks with the other outcasts on Gun Hill Road.  Probably not, because if that’s how the movie turned out we’d probably have heard a lot more about it, but you know, maybe.  Things could go either way, that’s the magic of cinema.


Midnight Stallion

Kris Kristofferson and Jodelle Ferland star in this family-friendly tale that includes a dude in a priest’s collar in the trailer, so you just know that the Dove Foundation likes it.  And they do, giving the film a full 5 Dove rating. Everything you need to know about the plot you could surmise from the box cover, but as always, Dove’s Worldview goes beyond simple synopsis and into deep analysis:

Remember when you were a child and the family gathered around the TV on a Sunday night to watch a show about a family and/or animals?  Well here is that type of movie.  With Kris Kirstofferson as the patriarch of the family, who along with his wife and daughter are trying to keep the family land but he still wants to follow a dream of his own.

I don’t know why exactly, but I’m fascinated by that first sentence.  It’s so specific: Sunday nights, a show about family and/or animals.  Needless to say, that wasn’t my childhood experience, but I’m genuinely curious to know if the average (read: sincere) Dove reader does immediately identify.  The whole point of the Dove Foundation is to insulate families from beliefs and viewpoints contrary to their own, and I wonder if that extends to assumptions about individual experiences.  Does the reviewer really believe that because her family did things a certain way, therefore everyone’s did?  What if my family/animal-based program viewing night was Tuesdays? I don’t know, it just grabs my attention.  As for the film itself, the content warnings once again prove invaluable: “SEX: Couple kiss. LANGUAGE: Dang Nab it.  VIOLENCE: MAN discusses beating a horse; man falls in barn and is trapped; man pulls son off of horse, rider uses whip on horse. DRUGS: Horse is given medication by vet. NUDITY: Cleavage.  OTHER: Person with disrespectful attitudes, discussion regarding home being foreclosed.”  To me, the obvious standouts are the vet-administered medication being a concern because of its depiction of drugs, as well as the delightfully transcribed ‘Dang Nab it’. The person with disrespectful attitudes is intriguing, but not nearly as much as the concern regarding foreclosure talk.  Think about that, there isn’t even a foreclosure, merely the discussion of it, and that alone is cause for concern.  I’d hate for this Dove reviewer to actually read some Bible stories to her kids, that book is full of homeless people, and worse, they aren’t even Christians, they’re Jews.


The Marine 3: Homefront

Awesome, it’s a straight-to-video sequel (that seemingly bears no relationship to the two films that came before it), starring a pro-wrestler who got his start as a cast member on The Real World. The only way I could want to see this less is if it were being projected onto my mother’s 66-year-old taint.


Satan’s Angel: Queen Of The Fire Tassels

Speaking of elderly women and their saggy naked bodies….


Elfie Hopkins: Cannibal Hunter

Ray Winstone’s daughter stars (with Ray in a supporting role) in this British horror comedy that holds a 0% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Also, just for your information, the ‘Cannibal Hunter’ subtitle was added for this American release in a shameless attempt to cash in on the film’s more sensational plot points. I don’t know, call me a quibbler, but isn’t being a cannibal hunter a little hypocritical?  You’re both killing people, at least they -the cannibals- have the good sense to kill for food and not sport. I’m just saying.


House Hunting

It’s not what you think; instead of people hunting  for houses, it’s a house that hunts people.  You could even say that the house, itself, is haunted.  A haunted house, if you will. Maybe they should’ve called it House Haunting, right?  Anyhow, the synopsis is a little confusing:

 Part of the American dream is finding a house you can call home. This is not the case for two families, whose dreams are about to turn into a living nightmare. Upon entering a deserted farmhouse, they quickly realize that every attempt to leave the house takes them right back to the front door. Stuck in this purgatory, the two families are haunted by the deserted homes former owner with the declaration that only one of the two families will be able to call this house their home.

The first two sentences are confusing enough; regardless of their experiences with this haunted house, wouldn’t it still be their dream to find a house that they can call home? That’s not even what bugs me, though.  What bugs me is the very last part, “only one of the two families will be able to call this house their home.” Why would they want to?  It’s f*cking haunted. What’s the alternative, death?  Probably, and the dead family will also end up haunting the house along with the former owner, so it looks like both families will be calling this house their home, except one family gets to do awesome supernatural sh*t like scaring people and cutting off tongues while the other family –the living family- has to do horrible chores like putting up storm windows.  This is exactly why you always want to find a covenant-controlled community or a good HOA; sure they seem like they are just taking your money every f*cking three months, but in reality they are keeping the tongue-cutting ghosts at bay and making sure your redneck neighbor next door can’t spend all day revving his Harley’s engine while almost burning your house down with the turkey he’s trying to deep fry on his front porch. If you can get snow removal and fence maintenance, all the better.

Unfortunately, Satan’s Angel: Queen Of The Fire Tassels isn’t streaming. Please excuse my attempt at shameless attention whoring through exploitation of a shameless attention whore. The good news is that Gun Hill Road is streaming, so check that one out if you’d like. Otherwise, I’ve decided to use this week to focus on the work of California Solo‘s Danny Masterson.  Over the years, we’ve all given Masterson a lot of sh*t, but only because he deserves it.  He’s just simply a horrible person.  The thing is, he’s also a fairly prolific actor who pops up in plenty of obscure indie films. I don’t know how or why he keeps getting work, but he does.   Here are just a few of his films:

Alter Egos

This flick is all about how superheroes have real-life problems, just like the rest of us. Masterson plays Jimmy, a character that doesn’t get mentioned in the synopsis.  So kudos to you, promotional people for Alter Egos.

Made For Each Other

This one actually stars Danny’s brother Christopher in the lead role of Dan, a newlywed guy whose wife won’t have sex, so he cheats and then tries to get his wife to cheat on him in order to restore moral balance.  Danny Masterson plays Morris, another character that doesn’t get mentioned in the synopsis. So kudos to you, promotional people for Made For Each Other.

Spin

This flick from 2007 is about a group of people recalling their wild experiences from their club outing the previous night. Those people are Ryan, Cassie, Tony, Delaney, Mick, Aubrey, and Apple.  Danny Masterson plays Derek, yet another character not mentioned in the synopsis.  So kudos to you, promotional people for Spin.

Sex And A Girl

This film, set in the 1970s, is about a teenage girl named Alex.  Her recently divorced parents have no taboos about sex, and her mother is exploring her own sexuality with a slew of boyfriends.  Meanwhile, Alex’s friends are pressuring her to lose her virginity, but all Alex wants is to focus on getting into Julliard. Masterson plays Patrick, who once again is not mentioned in the synopsis.  So kudos to you, promotional people for Sex And A Girl.

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