Your Mid-Week Guide To DVD And Streaming is back, and just in time to run down one of the worst weeks for DVD releases in recent memory. We’ve got big-budget box-office duds like Jack The Giant Slayer, moderately-budgeted duds like Stoker, and just plain embarrassing films like Movie 43 (pictured above). This week’s not so great selections run the gamut from giants to G-strings, with everything from opera singers to exorcists in between. It’s June -who really wants to be stuck in front of the TV anyways?
Jack The Giant Slayer
21 & Over
The Last Exorcism Part II
The Brass Teapot
The Ghastly Love Of Johnny X
The G-String Horror
Streaming: Check out your choices here.
If I’m being honest, one or two of these films do actually look watchable: it really is amazing what they can do with picture and sound quality on home video these days. If you want to know which films you shouldn’t skip, continue reading on the next page. On the other hand, if you’ve already seen The Brass Teapot, feel free to hop on over to the Netflix Instant suggestions by clicking the link above, but if you do you’ll never know which film I think might hold some promise.
Bryan Singer threw his directorial hat (it’s a modest bicorne) into the public-domain-fairytale-turned-gritty-adventure-film ring with this adaptation of Jack & The Beanstalk, and the world responded with overwhelming indifference. Critics thought the film was mediocre if not terrible, and the audiences that actually went to see it agreed. Not that that was very many people, mind you. With a production budget of $195 million, the movie bagged only $65 million here in the U.S., and just shy of $198 million worldwide. As anyone with a working TV set this past February will attest, they also dropped quite a bit of cash into advertising this film, so any way you slice it, this movie bombed and cost the Brothers Warner (it sounds more fairy-taley that way) quite a bit of money. Regardless of its merits, this film is a failure and will probably end up forgotten by everyone except for those few -those precious few- who never judge a film by its merits. That’s right, my friends, in a surprising twist, this week’s big Hollywood DVD release is also this week’s film boasting the Dove Foundation’s elusive and coveted Seal of Approval. Giving the film a surprisingly high 4 Doves out of 5 (the director is both openly gay and openly Jewish, after all) Dove’s Worldview states, “We were pleased to see that the filmmakers kept the blood and gore to a minimum even though the giants do have a taste for humans. The fights are all action and not overly graphic.” I couldn’t agree more. I hate fights scenes that don’t have action; it practically ruined West Side Story for me. Of course any film from such a mainstream Hollywood studio like Warner Brothers (who were also Jewish –COINCIDENCE?!?) is bound to have its share of prurient filth to appease the unwashed-in-the-blood-of-the-lamb masses. As always, Dove provides the crucial warnings: “SEX: A couple of kisses. LANGUAGE: P-off-1; B-1; H-2; the second head of a two headed giant says a word that was incomplete, our reviewer heard “fuh” but not the rest of the word. VIOLENCE: Man punches boy; giants eat men; men and giants fall from beanstalk; giants are hit with arrows; giants throw burning trees into castle; many soldiers are killed but none of these scenes are graphic. DRUGS: Giants drink in a scene; a small group of men appear to be drunk. NUDITY: Shirtless giants; cleavage. OTHER: Monks use magic; giant picks nose and eats his snot; giant farts; giant scratches armpit and smells fingers.” I could write another 423 words about the second head’s almost swear alone. Is the first head really so polite and well-mannered that the second head gets singled out? Also, if there were any fudge, funnels, or funny fumbling footballs in the scene the reviewer might need to relax a bit. In conclusion, I think it would be wonderful if the critics’ blurb on the box art said “Giant Farts! – Scott Rolfe, The Dove Foundation”, but I always think things can be improved with giant farts.
If Jack The Giant Slayer is this week’s blockbuster bomb, Stoker is this week’s art-house bomb (its timer is one of those old cat-clocks with the moving eyes). Even with a modest budget of only $12 million, the worldwide gross was just over $9 million, so yeah, not that many people wanted to see the enigmatic English-language debut of a Korean director most known for hammer-fights and having his characters eat live octopus. Or maybe it was because it was written by one of the stars of Prison Break –you know the guy I’m talking about, the one whose last film role was in a Resident Evil flick. At least it got a positive response from the critics, kind of. It has a pretty sad 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, but that’s enough to get a tomato icon instead of that green splat thingy, so it’s a critical darling by this week’s standards. As for FilmDrunk’s resident critic, Vince gave the film a “C-“, and he basically says that the film -about a pale young woman, her pale mother, and her slightly less-pale uncle- takes too long to get interesting, and after it does, it still just sort of fizzles out. He likens it to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Villiage, in that it tries to surprise the audience, but unfortunately the surprise is just disappointing. I haven’t seen the movie, so I’ll take his word for it, although I have to say when I bought a ticket to see The Village the ending surprised the hell out of me. I didn’t think they were ever going to make it to White Castle. Turns out my local cinemaplex screwed up their marquees. I didn’t mind the error.
Dennis Quaid. Greg Kinnear. Common. Seth MacFarlane. Hugh Jackman. Kate Winslet. Liev Schreiber. Naomi Watts. Anna Faris. Chris Pratt. J.B. Smoove. Emma Stone. Richard Gere. Jack McBrayer. Aasif Mandvi. Justin Long. Jason Sudeikis. Uma Thurman. Kristen Bell. Kate Bosworth. John Hodgman. Katrina Bowden. Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Chloe Grace Moretz. Patrick Warburton. Matt Walsh. Gerard Butler. Seann William Scott. Johnny Knoxville. Halle Berry. Stephen Merchant. Snooki. Terrence Howard. Elizabeth Banks. Josh Duhamel. Tony Shalhoub. That’s just some of the stars of this “comedy” anthology film. Despite that star power, nobody had anything good to say about this movie. You may think, with a 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, that this is this week’s flat-out, straight-up, some other hyphenate bomb. The thing is, it was so cheap it turned a profit with the domestic sales alone. So expect Movie 44, or Movie 86, or Movie 69, or Movie 43 Part 2, or Mo2ie 43, or something, because you know it’s happening. Fun fact: Bob Odenkirk directed (and Anton Yelchin starred in) a scene about a necrophiliac, but the sequence was removed after ‘highly negative’ responses from the test screenings. Maybe it will be on the “Outrageous Edition” blu-ray, but I can’t say for sure. I’d find out, but one of the conditions of my parole is that I don’t do any internet searches containing the term ‘necrophilia’ or any of its derivations. I mean, I knew there were stiffs at the morgue, but I thought that the term referenced the corpses and not the employees! (If you liked that joke, you’ll probably like Movie 43. I’m available for the sequel, Hollywood.)
Dustin Hoffman makes his directorial debut with this comedy about old British opera singers trying to save their old British opera singers’ home by staging a concert or something. That’s right, it’s the elderly British equivalent of saving the rec center. I’d dismiss the film as not really having a lot of appeal to the average FilmDrunkard, but I did that with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (this looks almost exactly the same to me) upon its DVD release last year, and was surprised to find comments belittling me and defending the film. So, I won’t make assumptions about this film or about anyone reading this paragraph, and instead I will impart every last thought I have about this film: the dude who plays Dumbledore is in this and I’m pretty sure he’s still wearing his Dumbledore costume. I’m sure the movie is wonderful.
From the folks who gave you The Hangover, it’s The Hangover with college kids. So it’s sort of like a Hangover prequel. I don’t know, something like: The Night Before The Hangover. Or The Hangover: Back To The Frat. I’m just spit-balling here. Believe it not, this film has a lot in common with Quartet: both films are from first-time directors who have made their marks in other areas of film (this is the directorial debut of the guys who wrote –surprise, surprise- The Hangover) and both films feel like they were explicitly designed to not interest me. Oh, and they were both also Rated R for “crude and sexual content, pervasive language, some graphic nudity, drugs, and drinking.” I heard Dustin Hoffman had to direct for a day while totally naked just to convince Maggie Smith to do a full-frontal scene in which that Scottish dude from The Boondock Saints gives her character a golden shower. If you haven’t noticed, I’d rather fantasize about old British people having kinky sexual encounters than write about this tired cliché of a movie, and you get to reap the benefits. I’ve got a pretty elaborate scenario envisioned in which Maggie Smith pegs Dumbledore, if anyone’s interested. You’re welcome.
There’s something like 12 horror films hitting DVD today, and there was no way I was going to cover all of them so I decided to cover this one because it is the only one that I’d heard of before. Also because, you know, the title is easily the stupidest horror title this week, and that’s saying something with contenders such as Jersey Shore Lingerie Party Massacre, Human Antfarm, and Billy Graham Presents: Two A Penny. (To be fair, I still think The Haunting In Connecticut 2: Ghosts Of Georgia is stupider, but I’m open to debating the issue.) So, yeah make sure to check this out before the next one in the series arrives. The film took in more than triple its budget at the box office, so it’s gonna happen. If I were going to feature the new horror film that looked the best instead of the one with an awesome ‘2’ contortion on the cover, this paragraph would be about American Mary, a film about a medical student who tortures people via body modification. Keep in mind, though, ‘best’ is relative; it doesn’t necessarily mean good. Every public restroom has a ‘best’ toilet stall, and when the time comes you certainly seek it out, but that doesn’t mean you want to be there or that it doesn’t smell like shit. Feel free to use that analogy if you have kids and they ever ask you which child is your favorite.
This is that indie comedy where the young down-on-their-luck couple find a magical teapot that gives them money whenever they hurt themselves. I think it looks good because the premise is just wacky enough to appeal to me and also because I’m strangely fascinated by this film’s leads, Michael Angarano and Juno Temple. I don’t like every film I’ve seen them in, but they both seem to be choosing unusual projects without going the full-Franco into dicknose territory or, particularly in Juno’s case, into the ‘hire me just because I will show my body’ route that I, for one, associate with Bijou Phillips -who’s probably best known as Mrs. Danny Masterson. Ick. Anyhow, the concept for this film is kind of crazy and out there, but it has promise, and I like the cast, and although Vince questioned the film’s possible anti-Semitism when he first shared the trailer earlier this year, the movie was given the all-clear in the comments of that post by a commenter named nachosanchez, who claims to be Jewish. Jewish or not, nachosanchez is obviously sensitive to racial issues. Also obvious? I possess a magical teapot that gives me money whenever I write a run-on sentence.
Bad news friends: There’s no Eric Roberts DVD this week. Luckily, Vince shared a vintage trailer starring everyone’s favorite Oscar-nominee yesterday, so we’ll just have to make do with Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. and this, his latest straight-to-DVD masterpiece. CGJ, as I like to call him, stars as Det. Callendar, and somebody –or something- is killing all the members of a jury which five years ago found a serial killer guilty, resulting in a death sentence. See, this is why when I served on a jury a couple years ago, we made sure to find the defendant not guilty of all charges; you just never know when some hoodoo-slinging sorcerer or disgruntled malcontent will blame you for ‘ruining his life’ by not buying the bullshit his lawyer was selling. It’s just common sense. Switching topics, you think CGJ is at the point in his waning career where it’s considered in poor taste to mention his Oscar win right to his face? It would be like reminding an athlete playing in the minors that they once won the World Series, or reminiscing with me about when I had reasons to leave my house or put on pants. It’s just not classy.
This delightful romantic comedy stars The Sopranos’ Jamie-Lynn Sigler and some dude that IMDb assures me played both Van Wilder and Bo Duke in the straight-to-video prequels to, well, Van Wilder, and The Dukes Of Hazzard. Obviously. Anyhow, this film is all about the wacky misadventures that occur when you meet the love of your life…but you’re already married -and with an iron-clad pre-nuptial agreement. Now I’m no expert like nachosanchez, but watching the trailer for this, I get some pretty strong anti-Semite vibes. For instance, the evil wife who won’t let him be with his true love is Jewish, and the bulk of the trailer –seriously- is devoted to this fact. There’s even a quick shot of what I’m guessing is a nightmare of the main character getting circumcised by sword. If you were to watch the trailer cold (and it’s too late for that if you’re reading this), you would think the whole film was about a gentile trying to assimilate into his wife’s Jewish culture, and then, a minute or so into the trailer, the plot shifts and he meets ‘the girl of his dreams’ and his Jewish wife turns vindictive and evil. Oh, and the dude’s name is Mike Christian. For real. Further confusing things, the film’s writer/director is this guy. I haven’t been this confused about race relations and how I should feel about them since that time I went to the bathroom at 3 Margaritas and noticed that the kitchen was staffed entirely by white people. At least the mariachi band seemed legit.
I’d like to say that I’m featuring this movie because it is an homage to campy 1950s sci-fi that actually co-stars a legend of the era, Kevin McCarthy –who starred in the original 1956 Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (although most people now know his as the villain from UHF). I’d like to say that I’m featuring this because it co-stars singer/songwriter Paul Williams, who gave the world many immortal hits like The Rainbow Connection, and who in real life looks like an alien from just such a campy 1950s sci-fi movie. The truth is, however, that I’m sharing this because it co-stars Creed from The Office and his character looks like Bill Murray in Zombieland. Watch the trailer, and tell me I’m wrong. (Please don’t tell me I’m wrong; my ego can’t take it. Also, sorry about spoiling Bill Murray’s cameo in Zombieland if you haven’t yet seen it. At least I didn’t tell you that he gets killed, too. F*ck.)
Since 1996 film director Michal Kosakowski has been asking people with different backgrounds about their murder fantasies. He offered them the chance to stage their fantasies as short films. The only condition was that they had to act in these films themselves, either as victims or perpetrators. More than a decade later, Kosakowski met these people again to ask them about their emotions during their acts of murder or victimization, and interviewed them about current social topics such as revenge, torture, war, terrorism, media, domestic violence, the death penalty, suicide etc. If someone murdered a person you love, how would you feel about it? Should torture be legalized? Are soldiers murderers? How to define good and evil? Their replies are juxtaposed with the short films based on these ‘non-criminal’ fantasies made accessible to viewers. Simultaneously, the participants’ respective replies help viewers to get better acquainted with them and their highly diverse social and professional backgrounds. It is the banality of their acts that frightens us so badly, their stabbing of innocent people, their orgiastic throttling of marriage partners or their random shooting of unsuspecting visitors to exhibitions. ‘Zero Killed’ takes the issue one step further: the film deciphers common clichés and patterns of visual violence with the aid of the protagonists’ immediate and direct comments. The result is an unconventional hybrid of feature film and documentary that makes viewers question their personal and social positions concerning ethical and moral values and taboos.