It’s a new year, and there’s plenty of new DVDs to discuss. Yes there’s Dredd and Frankenweenie, but there’s so much more. Almost all of this week’s offerings are movies you’ve never heard of starring people you have -assuming you’ve heard of people like Michael Weston and David Morse. Even if you don’t know those names, there’s films with Nicolas Cage, Gary Oldman, Kurt Russell, Anne Heche, Martin Sheen, Dakota Fanning, and Melissa Leo. We’ve got flicks about football players and priests, terminal cancer patients and musicians, lesbians and fast-food workers. There’s ghouls and witches, and WWII soldiers. There’s even a movie all about guns, girls, and gambling!
House At The End Of The Street
Hit & Run
Guns, Girls, And Gambling
That’s What She Said
Now Is Good
Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best
Excuse Me For Living
Jack & Diane
Hansel & Gretel
Pathfinders: In The Company Of Strangers
The Wise Kids
A Dangerous Place
Streaming: Check out your choices here.
Want to know which flick’s all about guns, girls, and gambling? Continue reading. At least one of these films features time travel. The only way to know which one (or ones) is to continue reading. Of course you can skip straight to the Netflix streaming suggestions by clicking the link above, but then you’d be breaking that New Year’s resolution you made about reading more things more often, and nobody wants to give up on their resolutions yet.
If you’re worried that my decision to give the top spot this week to a box-office bomb remake of a mid-90s Sylvester Stallone flick indicates that this week isn’t the greatest in terms of new DVDs, well –it’s not. This week’s pretty grim. Of course that’s not being fair to this film, which -despite its poor earnings- I keep hearing is pretty great. Vince gave it an enthusiastic ‘B’ in his review, and he even gave it an honorable mention in his 12-ish Best Films of 2012. Also, let’s be honest: this film isn’t really a remake of the Stallone version. Yes they are both based on the same comic book character, but that would be like calling Batman Begins a remake of the Batman TV show from the 1960s. The point is, don’t let any negative associations you may have with the ‘original’ deter you from checking out the ‘remake’. By all accounts, not only is it a far superior film, it’s also a pretty great action flick by any measure. Except for the measure that is known as box-office receipts. Even with world-wide ticket sales, it’s still about $19 million shy of meeting the cost of its production budget. Ouch.
Speaking of remakes, Tim Burton made this remake of his own short film from 1984. Good for you, Tim. Way to address those critics who accuse you of making the same film over and over. As I think by now we all know exactly how we feel about Tim Burton and his films, let’s take a peek at some of the many other DVDs coming out today for which I didn’t feel like embedding trailers: Samsara –Vince shared the trailer for this documentary when it was still in theaters. It looks like the type of film you really have to see on the big screen (or while high), which is why I’m burying the news of its DVD release. Game Change –this is that HBO TV movie about Sarah Palin and the 2008 presidential election. It’s a shame it was made for HBO and not theaters, or else I would’ve featured it. The Assassins –this Chinese action flick starring Chow Yun Fat looks like every other epic-scale action film that takes place in ancient China. Seriously, these come out every god damn week, and I never know what to say about them anymore. I mean, if you’ve made one lazy racist joke about Asians, you’ve made ‘em all. Light? Seal Team Six: The Raid On Osama Bin Laden –another TV movie, this time trying to coincide with Zero Dark Thirty buzz. Co-stars Cam Gigandet and Xzibit, but I’m sure you assumed that already. Sleep Tight –this Spanish thriller is about a doorman who decides to ruin the life of one of his building’s residents because she seems too happy. And that’s precisely why I go out of my way to look miserable around doormen and other similar types of workers. That and my crippling genetic clinical depression. The Inbetweeners Movie –it may not be a TV movie, but it is the film spin-off of a TV show, so, close enough to get ignored this week. Whores’ Glory –the prostitutes in this documentary don’t look glorious at all. In fact, they look like real-life prostitutes. Gross. Hopeful Notes –this movie about a dude with cancer visiting dying kids at the hospital looks so boring that it getting a full 5-Dove Dove Foundation Seal of Approval isn’t even enough for me to bother writing more about it. After Fall, Winter –fittingly enough, this is the sequel to Fall. You see, Whores’ Glory? That’s how you do an accurate title. Lapland Odyssey –this Finnish flick is about a guy trying to find a cable box for his girlfriend. Talk about a played-out plot line. Music From The Big House –the Dove Foundation approves of this documentary about blues music and it’s origination in Angola Prison, but they are put off by the inclusion of prisoners, prisons, and blues music.
The only reason to see this stupid looking horror film is to see Jennifer Lawrence running around for 101 minutes in that dirty tank top. And with that, most of you reading this will be seeking out this movie, but not me. Tits aside, I can’t look past the lack of a ‘The’ at the beginning of the title. That had to be a conscious choice on somebody’s part, and I just can’t see the logic in it.
Written by, produced by, co-directed by, and starring Dax Shepard, a guy who came to ‘fame’ as one of Ashton Kutcher’s bros on Punk’d. Yeah, nope.
Seriously, has anyone heard of this movie before? I don’t think I have. Apparently it played in 141 theaters in late September, but that is all news to me. I’ve never seen a poster, a trailer, or a commercial. This Nicolas Cage action flick is written by the same guy who wrote Safe House (that Denzel Washington/Ryan Reynolds flick), and it also shares a director with The Expendables 2, so it isn’t like the people involved aren’t part of the Hollywood machine. This movie must just suck that bad. Anyhow, it co-stars Josh Lucas, Danny Huston and Malin Akerman. 141 theaters. $2 million dollars world-wide gross (with only $304, 318 domestic), and an estimated $35 million dollar budget. Makes Dredd’s numbers look not so dreddful after all. (I’m sorry, I had to do it.)
Look, you tell me there’s a straight to video action-comedy called Guns, Girls, And Gambling and I can pretty much guess everything about it. I could guess that Christian Slater and Dane Cook star. I would definitely assume it involves Elvis impersonators. I’d probably even guess some of the co-starring roles would be played by the likes of Jeff Fahey (as The Cowboy), Chris Kattan (as Gay Elvis), and Tony Cox (as Little Person Elvis). Hell, I’d probably even have guessed those character names correctly, although if I’m being honest, I would probably have guessed Black Midget Elvis. (I can use those terms, I know a black midget; he’s my neighbor’s lawn jockey.) There’s an order to straight-to-video films, and this fits right into that order -although, to be fair, this film is getting a theatrical release next month. In Russia. There’s just one thing that doesn’t fit: GARY OLDMAN IS IN THIS. I can only imagine the hours-long conversations he must’ve had with Chris Kattan and Dane Cook about the craft of
acting paycheck collecting. Bonus trivia: Wayne Gretzky’s daughter plays ‘The Deputy’!
Kurt Russell co-stars in this film about a time-traveling football player. This film is finally getting a proper DVD/Blu-ray release after coming out on disc as a Wal-Mart exclusive last September. Because nothing says quality and prestige like exclusivity to Wal-Mart.
The official synopsis:
Bebe (Marcia DeBonis) is getting ready for the most romantic encounter of her life, and she needs her best friend Dee Dee (Anne Heche) to cheer her on. Too bad Dee Dee is so cynical about dating that she shows up three hours late only to spew cigarette smoke and bitterness all over the morning coffee. And too bad Clementine, a train wreck of a stranger (Alia Shawkat,) has decided to invade their day with non-stoptalk about her nymphomaniac escapades. Looking to turn the day around, this fearsome threesome embark on a day of misadventure that only New York City can offer. That’s What She Said is a quirky and honest look at friendship in the face of adversity, asking one of life’s great questions: why does it always have to be so hard? (That’s what she said.)
According to IMDb, there are absolutely no male-spoken lines in the entire film. No comment.
Martin Sheen plays a 1950s Irish priest who meets resistance when he brings Hollywood films to a small Irish town. The leading crusader against the ‘filth’ that is movies is played by Stephen Rea, but I’m guessing he’s just trying to stop everyone from seeing that scene in The Crying Game where he finds out his girlfriend has a dong.
As you might have assumed based on the box cover, in this film Dakota Fanning is dying of cancer and the number one thing on her bucket list is to lose her virginity. What you didn’t know is that she plays a Brit. I bet you feel pretty stupid about your assumptions now, don’t you? You know what they say about making assumptions, right? It makes an ass out of you and me. I’ve never understood that. How am I an ass? You’re the one that assumed something, not me. I’m fine either way. Plus, what about all the assumptions we make that are accurate? Like that this movie is terrible. If anyone’s an ass in that assumption, it’s this film’s writer/director, Ol Parker. Yes, he goes by Ol. It’s short for Oliver. Like I said, it’s abundantly apparent that he’s the ass in this scenario; you and I are just fine.
Ryan O’Nan writes, directs, and stars in this indie flick as Alex, a down-on-his-luck aspiring musician who meets an eccentric fellow musician asking Alex to form a band and tour with him. The eccentric, Jim (played by Michael Weston), only plays toy instruments, but as Alex has nothing else to do, he agrees to the tour. Indie wackiness ensues. I actually watched this flick yesterday and assuming you are okay with the music (and I was) it wasn’t too bad. It hits almost all the obvious tropes you’d expect for an indie flick about musicians on a road trip, but the banter between Alex and Jim was mostly funny and it sure as sh*t beat the usual boy-meets-eccentric-girl plot these types of movies usually include. (There’s a girl, too, but she really is a third wheel to the two bandmates.) Of course, the film isn’t without its problems. Even if you accept that the musical duo would agree to touring together without ever writing a single song, it is complete bullsh*t that they can write an entire set’s worth of songs while on the road. Literally, while they drive. Never a missed note, stumbled-over lyric, or f*cked up harmony. Every song is improvised perfectly, and while rocketing down the interstate. Jim even plays a handful of the toy instruments while driving the car –the camera angle even shows that he doesn’t bother to steer. Speaking of cars –and plenty of other films commit this sin as well- it bothers me to no end when somebody is sitting in the middle of the back seat and they don’t have to be. It’s just to make things easier on the camera angles, and it is stupid. Lastly, and to be fair, this isn’t as much a complaint with the movie but with the marketing, but Oscar-winner Melissa Leo should not get fourth billing in the credits. Watch the trailer below and you’ll honestly see 75% of her screen time. There were plenty of other ‘name’ actors who pop up in this flick who actually get some lines and a close-up, but that’s Hollywood I guess. Sorry, dude who played Fez on That ‘70s Show, you were great in your one scene as the office douche, but Leo’s 13 seconds were utterly riveting.
Just as Ryan O’Nan wrote, directed, and starred in Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best, so Martin Donovan writes, directs, and stars in this indie flick. The two films are pretty much identical, except replace musician with playwright, replace the eccentric musician supporting character played by an actor who once played a guy hired by Dr. House to investigate other characters on House with an eccentric criminal supporting character played by an actor who once played a detective investigating Dr. House on House, replace Melissa Leo with the horny grandma from Who’s The Boss? and replace the road trip with setting almost the whole film in one small house. Finally, change the plot entirely. So, yeah, pretty much the same exact movie.
Dreama Walker, the non-bitch from Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23 plays Becky, a fast-food restaurant employee who has been accused of stealing in this ‘inspired by true events’ film. Becky’s manager Sandra receives a call from the police informing her of the accusation and instructing her on what they request that she does with Becky before they arrive. As the trailer gives away, Becky is innocent and the caller isn’t really with the police, but Sandra and others take the bait and in the spirit of doing what one is told to do, degrade and abuse Becky. Hence the title. From what I can tell, this is one of those rare ‘based on true events’ films that is really based on true events. Also, the screening at Sundance led to people shouting out both their disgust at Sundance for screening the film as well as proclaiming their enthusiasm for Walker’s body –right to the poor actress’s face. What’s more, Craig Zobel, this film’s writer/director was one of the founders of the Homestar Runner website. He went from making a living creating content for the web, to making a movie about fast food and the sexual degradation of young women. Yup, sounds about right.
A rich and privileged dude fails at his drug-fueled suicide attempt and gets sent to a rehab clinic filled with insightful patients, wacky doctors, and our drug-addled, suicidal protagonist must play along or risk being sent to jail. He resists the process until he meets his doctor’s beautiful daughter, because that is how psychiatric care and drug rehabilitation work. If you saw the words ‘insightful patients, wacky doctors’ and wondered if our old buddy Christopher Lloyd is in this, wonder no more. He is. In fact, here’s a real bit of trivia from his IMDb page that I find infinitely more interesting than any other aspect of this film: “His second cousin, John Willis, works for the Vermont Food Bank.”
This love story is about two young ladies, one played by Riley Keough (Elvis’ real-life granddaughter) and the other played by Juno Temple (whose ‘hairy snizz’ was one of the subjects of Vince’s “Bravery of the Merkin” rumination from last month). I’ve seen this film and the only way to really express my thoughts is by spoiling it, so if you don’t want it spoiled stop reading this paragraph right now. Seriously though, nobody stopped reading because what’s there to spoil? Well that’s my point. This film commits the sin of unfulfilled expectations. Just take a closer look at the box art. The tag-line says ‘Love Is A Monster’ and you see Temple’s hand is mutating into some creepy claw-thing. You look at that and you wonder what the deal is. Is she a monster or an alien or something? Well, the movie’s the same way. The very first scene of the film is Juno Temple with a weird nosebleed. She’s freaked out, in a panic, and all of a sudden, BOOM, a giant f*cking monster. Like, for real. Then the screen says, ‘Earlier’ and cuts to the beginning of the story, which the viewer reasonably assumes will lead up to the scene we just saw, but this time with context. That is how movies work. Except not this one. Scenes of the monster pop up here and there, and the whole flick is intercut with freaky stop-motion animation of hair writhing around inside somebody’s body. These scenes with the monster and the animated sequences are compelling because they allude to something more –something supernatural- going on. The rest of the film is just strange enough for you to believe they would make a indie romance where one of the characters is a monster, or has one growing inside of her or something. There’s a weird subplot about identical twins and pornography. Other characters get strange nosebleeds too, and at one point the monster even attacks Elvis’ granddaughter, but you find out that that was just a dream, and eventually the credits roll, and the monster is never addressed and worse, the ‘earlier’ from earlier is never paid off. Because there is no monster. It’s just a metaphor for their raging hormones or something. It’s awful. As for the hair slithering inside the body scenes, well, f*ck if I know. Like I said, unfulfilled expectations. A bunch of intriguing stuff is shown to the viewer, making this seem like something more than just a crappy indie romance, and then it’s just a crappy indie romance. To be fair, there is a scene of Juno Temple shaving her bush, but just like the rest of the movie, it’s all promise and no payoff. At least we’ve still got Killer Joe.
Hey everybody, one of the annoying wiener kids from Modern Family is starring in a horror movie!
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, that gritty action-comedy starring Jeremy Renner and produced by Will Ferrell comes out later this month, so that means it’s time for the straight-to-video knockoffs. Seriously, there’s at least three different Hansel & Gretel flicks hitting DVD this month, and this –The Asylum’s take- is the first. They’ve avoided the headache they’ve had with Age Of The Hobbits (which is now called Clash Of The Empires) because Hansel & Gretel is in the public domain. To be honest, I’m a little surprised that they kept the title simple and straight-forward. No mention of witches at all. The other two –which we’ll address upon their DVD releases- definitely shoehorn ‘witch’ into their titles. I’d hate to think The Asylum got burned by their experiences with The Hobbit. Half the fun (actually all of the fun) of their movies is the shameless title rip-offs they employ. This really should be Hansel & Gretel Hunt Witches or Hansel & Gretel: The Witch Hunters or something. I don’t know; I’m just spit-balling clever title rip-offs, I’m not busy making unique pieces of art like they do at The Asylum.
Before I started writing these DVD columns nearly a year ago, I had no idea how many low-budget independent WWII action flicks were produced. There’s a least one of these a month, and it just doesn’t seem like a cost-effective subject for a low-budget film. War flicks –especially historical ones from eras that most viewers are pretty familiar with- require production value. If I were investing in an indie flick, I wouldn’t want to spend money on things like period costumes, vehicles, weaponry, etc. Which is to say nothing of special effects or hiring competent actors. And yet, I’m missing something obvious because these keep hitting DVD at a regular pace. There must be a market for ‘em that I don’t know about. Anyway, this one cleverly takes place mostly at night and in the dark so they could’ve just shot the whole thing in some farmer’s field for all I know. Good for them if they did, because IMDb lists the estimated budget at $50. While I’m sure that’s a typo, I’d like to think that it wasn’t. Of course, if you gave me $50 and told me to make a WWII flick, I’d take your money and make a cell phone video of my elderly neighbor complaining about the Jews. To be honest, I’d probably do it for $25.
In a move that is sure to completely satisfy both the fundamentalist Christian community as well as the homosexual community, this movie is about the difficulties of resolving the seeming conflict between one’s homosexuality and one’s faith in a religion that condemns that homosexuality. Never have I been more disappointed to not find a Dove Foundation review for a film.
According to Amazon.com, this film is about a pharmaceutical exec who is shocked to discover her company is intentionally poisoning the public so they can sell more units of the antidote. Or, if you’d rather consult IMDb, she is drawn into a terrorist plot to kill people by mail using a deadly strain of TB. So which is it? Corporate villainy or terrorism? I dunno, probably both. I tried watching the trailer and my brain kind of wandered due to the poor acting. We’ll say it’s both, if only because I actually know somebody who believes that the pharmaceutical and medical industry is actively and explicitly working to kill everyone. As in she won’t go see a doctor. Ever. When she gets sick -which, shockingly, is all the time- she puts yellow mustard on her feet and sleeps with an onion. I’m not exaggerating. I’m hoping weirdos like her have some strange google alerts for sh*t like ‘cod liver oil’, ‘raw milk’ and ‘Weston Price’ and come rushing to pad out my comments telling me what a mindless sheep I am for using a store bought bandage when a fermented fish head works soooo much better.
It’s been some time since we last checked in with Netflix’s streaming options, and there’s plenty of new additions so let’s get on with it, shall we? There’s Fire With Fire, Jeff Who Lives At Home, The Devil Inside, Red Lights, Afghan Luke, Dark Horse, The Day I Saw Your Heart, and finally, two from today: Seal Team Six: The Raid On Osama Bin Laden, and Whores’ Glory. As always, here are four more stellar suggestions inspired by this week’s amazing new DVDs:
Dredd’s Lena Headey and Jack & Diane’s Juno Temple co-star in this flick, which I can only assume is some sort of British attempt to trick Americans into thinking this is a real film. Inspired by a film series that began in the 1950s, this awful looking wreck of a flick about the rebellious students at an all-girls school somehow stars the respectable likes of Colin Firth and Stephen Fry, who appear alongside other Brits like Russell Brand and Rupert Everett (that’s him in the picture above). Like I said, I think this –and its sequel- must be some elaborate joke on us boorish Americans and I just don’t get it. Since when have the British found cross-dressing humourous?
House At The End Of The Street’s Elisabeth Shue co-stars in this invisible man flick from mostly kick-ass director Paul Verhoeven. I won’t try to tell you this flick is at all good, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to watching it multiple times over the years. Yes, the CGI is horrible –and it always has been- but that doesn’t change the fact that you get to see Kevin Bacon’s skinless dick flapping around. Oh yeah, there’s also boobs, but unfortunately, with skin over them.
Sadly, Hit & Run is not Dax Shepard’s writing/directing/starring debut, and given that it actually turned a profit at the box office, it probably won’t be his last film, either. Somebody else can watch this, his actual first feature, and tell me if I’m being too hard on the guy. P.S. –I’m not.
Stolen co-star Josh Lucas co-stars in this film, Stolen. That’s right, he has now appeared in two different films entitled Stolen. This film, from 2009, actually stars Jon Hamm as a dude trying to solve the mystery of his missing son while also uncovering a crime from 50 years earlier. This film co-stars James Van Der Beek and Oscar-nominee (and potential re-nominee come this Thursday’s Oscar nominations announcement) Jessica Chastain. I would watch this if only out of fascination on how much an actor’s career can change in four years. Except for Josh Lucas’s. Sh*tty then, sh*tty now.