It’s a big week for DVD releases as a bunch of the holiday season heavy hitters are now available for your home viewing pleasure. Today sees the release of both The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as well as Zero Dark Thirty, and in a few days both Les Misérables and This Is 40 come out as well. But wait, there’s more: We’ve also got movies starring Lizzy Caplan, Luke Wilson, Parker Posey, and Haley Joel Osment. We’ve got bachelorettes and shadow people, and also legless whale trainers and kickboxers. We’ve even got rust and bone. All that and some cartoon lesbians as well!
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Zero Dark Thirty
This Is 40
Rust And Bone
The Other Son
Adventures In Appletown
23 Minutes To Sunrise
Streaming: check out your choices here.
I know you’re intrigued by the legless whale trainer, so continue reading to find out which movie has her. You might as well; you’re already going to in search of those cartoon lesbians. On the other hand, if you insist that you only see movies with real, live, two-legged straight women, you can always just click the link for the streaming picks, but to be honest, most of the DVDs have straight, legged (and straight-legged) women in them as well, so it would still be your loss.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
In Vince’s ‘C-‘ review of this movie, he threatens to write a thousand words describing just his experience traveling from the box office to the concession stand. He doesn’t actually do it, but the very threat makes his point. This adaptation does not need to be (approximately and eventually) nine hours long. I know a lot of die-hard Lord of The Rings fans really dug this movie, but I’m guessing if you’ve waited for DVD, that ain’t you. This movie takes FOREVER to even just get out of the hobbit’s f*cking house. I honestly think it took about 45 minutes for them to start washing the dishes, which gets its own epic 12-minute sequence, which is separate from the epic 12-minute sequence of the 13 dwarves singing by Bilbo’s fireplace. (At least I think there were 13, for all the obnoxious detail and never-ending minutiae, I never really felt like the dwarves were identified as individual characters.) The point is, this movie was made for the folks who’ve read and re-read the books. Casual fans should tread carefully and strap themselves in for a film that –by design- lacks a true ending. The highlight of the film for me was the loud exclamation of confusion and frustration the old lady two seats down from me burst out with when the credits finally rolled. Apparently, she didn’t know about the whole one book/three movies thing. On a home video note, there seems to be some hope/speculation among the enthusiasts as to whether or not there will be extended cuts of these films released at a later date. To be fair, that is what they did with the original trilogy. Personally, I’m skeptical; what more could they possibly add? Another song? Another montage of people walking? I can’t imagine they’ve left any of that on the cutting room floor, and as for logical character development or coherent action sequences, I’m guessing those weren’t ever even filmed in the first place.
This flick was once considered the front-runner for 2012’s Best Picture Oscar, but a good bit of controversy surrounding the film’s assertion of being an accurate account of real-life events, combined with its depiction and possibly implied endorsement of torture ended up scaring the Academy voters off and into the welcoming arms of Argo, a much lighter ‘true’ story about Americans forcing their way into a hostile Middle East environment with the sole purpose of taking people out. (But not, you know, taking people out.) If you’d like to learn more about the various controversies surrounding the film, you could do a lot worse than reading Vince’s ‘B-‘ review. For myself, I don’t have much to add other than I was a little nervous going in that I would be bored waiting for the climactic compound-storming sequence, but instead I found the whole movie engaging. That’s probably because I get off watching fiery redheads shrieking at dudes in business suits, but there you go. If you want another perspective, The Dove Foundation reviewed this flick, but unfortunately, it did not meet their elite standards of quality, and they awarded the film 0 Doves. Their Dove Worldview analysis is a beautiful combination of condemning the film’s harsher elements, while criticizing it for not getting to them sooner:
The plot drags on as a CIA operative plods through evidence and intelligence to locate the elusive leader of Al Queda. It’s not until the final 30 minutes that we get to see some action as the Seal team enters the compound and searches for Bin Laden. There is a great deal of violence in this segment that is simply not family entertainment, nor is the excessive language used by almost everyone in the film including the Defense Secretary himself. Due to the extreme content, we cannot approve this movie for a family audience.
Dove’s content warnings are, as always, insightful: “LANGUAGE: F-40+, S-5, A-1, D-1, B-1, BS-4, GD-1. VIOLENCE: Violent interrogation techniques shown including a man’s pants being pulled down to humiliate him; hotel shooting with point blank murders; hotel/restaurant bombing with explosions and fires; bloody footage of people who survived bombings or shootings with blood; bloody gun fight and assassinations at point blank range; several shots of pools of blood on and under bodies. DRUGS: Cigarette Smoking; minor drinking in a few scenes. NUDITY: Man is seen from behind with an exposed rear a couple of times.” I find it fascinating that with all the torture depicted in the film, the reviewer only gets particular about the dude’s pants getting pulled down. It’s as if the sight of a dude’s ass is somehow more upsetting than seeing a fully-clothed man get water-boarded. I also like to think that the reviewer stopped counting after 40 ‘f*cks’ because that’s one more than the number of lashes Jesus received during his torture, and as all Christians know, every time you swear, you’re whipping the Savior. At least the Romans didn’t pull his pants down while they did it.
It’s finally out you guys! It’s been 12 years, but today finally –FINALLY- sees the release of the French TV miniseries adaptation of the famous novel. We here in America can now own the classic (and classy) version of this tale that stars Gerard Depardieu as Jean Valjean and John Malkovich as Javert. Even better, they’ve edited the unnecessarily long 6-hour original version into a much more palatable 3 hours (are you listeing, Peter Jackson?) and dubbed the whole thing into English so we don’t have to read subtitles! Just a heads up, though, some shameless opportunists are trying to piggyback on this release by releasing a different version of Les Mis this coming Friday; it’s got singing and sh*t and I’m pretty sure it’s at least partly responsible for a recent resurgence in Smash Mouth awareness. Don’t be fooled by this obvious attempt to confuse the consumer.
Speaking of movies that think they are too good for a Tuesday release, this Judd Apatow comedy also hits DVD this coming Friday. Unlike Les Misérables, however, this film wasn’t nearly as popular with critics and audiences, and therefore hardly justifies the marketing hubris that is the Friday DVD release. Normally I refuse to feature movies that fore-go the Tuesday release schedule, but I’m making an allowance about this film because I feel like it got short shrift over the holidays. I know plenty of people who wanted to see this, and even intended to, but simply didn’t get around to it. For me, it was go see this one on a cold Saturday in December or go see Django Unchained instead. Obviously, I chose Django. Just so, in Vince’s Best Films of 2012 article, he mentions that he felt bad for having not seen This Is 40 yet, but that he planned to and would provide a review within a few weeks. Well it’s now March and I don’t believe he’s written a review, and I’m assuming that’s because he has too much integrity to write a review for a movie he hasn’t seen. Or he forgot to. He’s funny that way. Anyhow, between Les Misérables for the idiots who think it’s somehow impressive for actors to sing live and in a single take (despite the fact that stage performers do entire shows live every single day and twice on matinee days) and Django Unchained for those of us who like violence and the somewhat socially acceptable use of the N-word, This Is 40 kind of got forgotten at the Christmas-time box office, and I figured a good number of people might want to catch it now that it’s on DVD. Or will be on DVD. On Friday. Instead of today, Tuesday, the industry-standard day of the week for DVD releases. Because everybody will rush out special on Friday just to get a movie featuring a scene of Paul Rudd looking at his own assh*le. Actually, I think I follow the thinking now. Rudd’s assh*le is probably pretty amazing to look at.
Rebel Wilson’s getting married and Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher are her wacky bridesmaids, not that this movie is trying to evoke thoughts of that far more successful, acclaimed, and even Oscar-nominated comedy. I’m pretty sure I never even heard of this movie until the day it came out in theaters and Ashley mentioned it in his Weekend Movie Guide. Just so, I’m pretty sure I haven’t heard anything about it since. It was available on demand in August, hit theaters in September, and is only now getting a DVD half a year later. I could be wrong –and tell me if I am- but the release schedule combined with the lack of advertising or buzz in general leads me to think this movie’s probably awful. I’m not opposed to seeing the film, I just feel like I would’ve heard more things if it were worth seeing. I get the impression that the basic comedic premise is that raunchy women = funny, and that’s not enough to make me laugh or really want to watch the movie at all. I need a higher level of comedic sophistication. Like poop jokes. It was the fecal humor that earned Bridesmaids that Best Original Screenplay Oscar nom, not the sweary dialogue. So give me poop jokes or give me death, as they say. Or lesbian scenes between Caplan and Fisher. That would be okay too.
Ryan Phillippe, Anna Paquin, and Luke Wilson star in this film. The title does not refer to the caliber of the actors involved.
Pete Cozy does his best juggling family life, rising debt and a dead end job, but when his new boss, Susan, a sexy, powerful, human dynamo shows up, Pete is pulled into the maelstrom that is her life and made to work harder than he ever has before. Suddenly, money and opportunities come his way, but at what price?
Parker Posey plays Susan, a typically Parker Posey-esque character for you Parker Posey fans, and what that synopsis doesn’t tell you is that she and Pete start f*cking and that’s where the complications come in. Holy sh*t, I just realized that the title has a double meaning: yes, they work in the pricing/marketing division of a supermarket chain, but it also refers to checking the price, or cost, this affair will have on Pete’s life. And maybe Susan’s life, too. Whoa, deep.
This is that movie where Diedrich Bader (the ‘two chicks at the same time’ guy from Office Space) and Haley Joel Osment (the ‘I’m a shiny robot’ kid from A.I.) play gay lovers. Sure, the plot actually focuses on the trials and tribulations of Bader’s character’s daughter, but who really gives a crap about her? Which is saddest: the fact that a former child actor growing up and playing a gay character is the only semi-remarkable thing about this film, or that the marketing for this film completely misses that fact, or that as soon as I saw the title Sassy Pants in the list of today’s DVD releases, I immediately recognized it as the film in which Haley Joel Osment plays a gay dude? Trick question: the saddest part is that I audibly squealed and said out loud to myself, “Ohhh! Sassy Pants!”
Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises) and Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead) star in this French-Belgian film. Schoenaerts plays Ali, a single father and night club bouncer and Cotillard plays Stephanie, a whale trainer. They come from different worlds and romance seems unlikely, but after an accident at Marineland leaves Stephanie legless and emotionally broken, Ali’s tough love and commitment to helping her sparks a deep relationship between the two of them. They start having casual sex and he starts underground kickboxing, while she slaps on some fake legs and manages his bets from his fights. So, you know, that old story again.
Last week saw the release of Hitchcock, and this week sees the release of the made-for-HBO film, The Girl. Hitchcock covered The Master Of Suspense’s time making Psycho while The Girl chronicles Hitch’s intense and abusive relationship with leading lady Tippi Hedren while making his next two films, The Birds and Marnie. Apparently Hitch developed an unhealthy obsession with Hedren and put her through hell filming these movies because she refused his sexual advances. At least that’s the way Hedren –who endorses this film- tells it. Plenty of other people who worked with Hitchcock, including several of his iconic blond leading ladies, dispute the characterization of the man as portrayed here. Either way, he did hold Hedren under contract for three years after Marnie was released and refused to let her appear in any films during that time, so there had to be some bad blood between them, even if Hedren -and by extension, this film- may be sensationalizing events a bit. So, it’s either a case of a horny old man abusing his power and trying to get some tail half his age, or it’s a case of a crazy old lady holding a grudge and falsely accusing an innocent (and long dead) man of abuse. I’m guessing it’s a bit of both. He probably whipped his dick out in front of her and she freaked out, but he didn’t mean anything sexual by it, he was just letting it breathe for a bit. My grandfather was only two years younger than Hitchcock and that’s what he always said when I noticed his penis was resting on my shoulder. Different customs for different eras, you know?
This French film is about two young men –one an Israeli and the other Palestinian- who discover that they were switched at birth. The two men must struggle not just with the implications this means for themselves and their identities, but also with how their communities receive them. Does belief make you what you are, or does genetics? If you’ve lived your whole life as a Jew, should the existence of Palestinian blood in your veins really change who you are and what you value and believe? Just so, If you’ve always been Palestinian, and then find out you’re technically Jewish, what does that mean for your foreskin? Do you have to circumcise it, and if so, does the other guy get it? Or do they both just leave their dicks alone and split a pound of bacon? Obviously, I’m well versed in cultures different from my own.
A car accident in Thailand leaves Jeff (Cary Elwes) in a coma and both his wife and son dead. When he awakens, Jeff discovers that he can see the specters, or shadows of people who have died horrible deaths, so he seeks out a spiritual adviser who explains that there is a shadow realm filled with souls reliving their terrible deaths over and over. Obviously, the dude’s wife and son are among those tormented shadow souls. The only way to help them is to travel to the shadow realm himself, so Jeff does just that and risks losing his own soul in the process. In a shocking twist, four time Oscar-nominee (and one time winner) William Hurt plays the spiritual adviser. Why? Money, probably. Or maybe he wanted to work with writer/director John Penney of Zyzzyx Rd infamy. You remember that one, don’t you? It’s the Katherine Heigl film that holds the distinction of being the lowest-grossing theatrically released film ever. ($20. Total.) Ultimately it doesn’t matter why Hurt took the role. (By the way, Elwes –no. Nobody’s surprised you took your role.) All that matters is if the film looks original, and if not original, at least well-made and worth watching. But, as it doesn’t look original or well-made, the question goes back to Mr. Hurt: seriously dude, what the f*ck? You were tricked into this while on vacation in Thailand, right? Like in that Eddie Murphy/Steve Martin flick Bowfinger? You probably didn’t even know you were in this movie, you just saw that guy from The Princess Bride wander out of the woods, blathering on about shadow people, and you went along for the ride in the hopes that he would share some of his mushrooms, right? It’s okay to admit it; they got Orson Welles to be in The Muppet Movie in almost the exact same way.
Milton from The Walking Dead and Clint Eastwood’s daughter star in this supernatural thriller about people tormented by visions of shadowy figures –possibly from another realm- coming to steal souls. Now, before you accuse this film of having the same essential premise as Hellgate, I’ll point out that this movie is ‘based on a true phenomenon’, so in fact, they couldn’t be more different.
Originally titled The Kings Of Appletown, this film starring basic-cable children’s television stars was shot in 2008 and expected to get a theatrical release in 2009. Depending on your source, this film was either shelved until today’s straight-to-video release due to a lack of interest from distributors or due to a legal battle between various distributors all vying for the right to release the film. I’ll let you decide which explanation is more likely. What’s really interesting is that this film’s director, Robert Moresco, is the same Robert Moresco who –inexplicably- won an Oscar for co-writing Crash. Yes, that Crash. The bad, ‘we-are-all-connected-despite-our-racism-and-differences’ Crash, not the awesome, ‘James Spader-f*cks-scars’ Crash. Don’t worry though, this movie wasn’t written by Moresco, just directed by him. Instead, his daughter wrote it. So yes, it’s terrible, but at least it isn’t likely to be as painfully contrived or intelligence-insulting as it might’ve been. Jury’s still out on if there’s any scar-f*cking, though.
Look, if you find yourself in a 24-hour diner in the middle of the night and there’s a guy sitting there wearing sunglasses and being all creepy and enigmatic and vaguely threatening and he’s offering to make deals with you to grant you all your wishes and when you tell him to go to hell he replies with, “Now that’s funny,” there’s a pretty good chance you’ve met up with the devil. If that same guy also happens to look like Eric Roberts, well, it’s probably just Eric Roberts. He’s been known to do that sort of thing.
What. The. Hell. Is. This? First, the synopsis:
Two freedom-fighting lesbian musicians living on one of Jupiter’s moons wage a valiant fight against the oppressive powers that be in this animated sci-fi musical set in the 28th Century, when humankind has fled planet Earth to make their home amongst the stars.
Okay, space lesbians. Got it. Who’s in the cast? Well for Star Trek fans there’s Michael Dorn and George Takei. For Joss Whedon fans there’s Ron Glass, Alan Tudyk and Juliet Landau. For everyone else there’s Tim Curry. Next is the box cover. Look at it. LOOK AT IT. There’s a critic’s blurb from Perez Hilton. Right there on the goddamn cover. That’s not even the strangest part of the box. No for that, look no further than the tag line. ‘Delicious evil. Two Lesbians. One Saxophone. You’ve Never Seen The Future Like This.’ That italicized ‘never’ is totally unnecessary by the way; you’ve got my full attention, crazy lesbian space musical. Also, I kind of want ‘Two Lesbians. One Saxophone.’ tattooed somewhere on my body. Those words just belong together, you know? But nothing –and I mean nothing- will prepare you for the trailer. It’s…bad. Like, ‘even Perez Hilton should be ashamed’ bad. The animation’s not right. It looks like it came from an early 1990s kids’ show made for PBS, but instead of teaching us about the Fibonacci sequence and the golden mean it just has two lesbians and one saxophone. And Tim Curry, of course. I don’t know what’s going on anymore. After my third viewing of the trailer, one of my eyebrows fell off. Like it was fake and glued on, it just fell f*cking off in a single hairy piece. I put it in my pocket and watched the trailer again and now my teeth are crying. I don’t even know what that means. I’m pretty sure I’m going to watch the trailer at least three more times, but I wouldn’t dare watch the whole movie. I’m afraid my nipples would start to speak, and I don’t know that I’d like what they have to say.
Holy crap, after a long period of nothin’ much on Netflix Instant, this week we’ve got two of today’s DVDs: the Depardieu/Malkovich version of Les Mis and Sassy Pants (pictured above) as well as ten deep cuts from the DVD back catalog: Stolen, Earthling, The Dish & The Spoon, LOL, And They’re Off…, Good For Nothing, Yellow Rock, Runaway Slave, A Dangerous Place, and Cosmopolis. That should keep anyone busy for some time, but as usual, here are four more just to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth from your Netflix subscription:
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll
The Hobbit’s Andy Serkis stars in this biopic about Ian Dury, the polio-stricken front man for The Blockheads. What’s nutty is that this is one of those rare, featured roles for Serkis where he isn’t mo-capped like he is when he plays Gollum. The Girl’s Alfred Hitchcock, Toby Jones, is also in this flick. He’s no stranger to mo-cap himself, as he played Dobby in the Harry Potter films. In this movie, neither performer is hidden behind computer graphics. No, instead they have to act front and center, without any technological gimmicks or cinematic crutches to aid them. Except for, you know, the polio crutch Serkis uses, but you get my point.
K-19: The Widowmaker
Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow also gave us this Harrison Ford flick from 2002. It’s about Russia’s first nuclear ballistic submarine. I’ll be honest, I never got around to seeing this flick when it was in theaters, and whenit sunk at the box office it torpedoed my interest at the time, and since then it kind of fell of my radar. Is it any good? If it is, I just might scope it out after all. I’m so sorry. (No, I’m not.)
The King’s Speech
I’ll be honest, a good amount of my disinterest in the big Les Misérables film everyone I know seems to love is that it’s from Tom Hooper, the same director who gave us this undeserving Best Picture Oscar winner from a few years ago. Black Swan, The Fighter, Inception, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone and hell, even 127 Hours were all better films, but this one was more Oscar-baity, so it won. If you haven’t already, now’s your chance to watch two riveting hours of a guy learning how to talk without stuttering. Exciting stuff.
Straight A’s‘ Ryan Phillippe co-stars in this Best Picture Oscar Winner from 2004, which I’ll remind you, was co-written by Robert Moresco, director of Adventures In Appletown. You know what, The King’s Speech, for all your faults, you aren’t the worst Best Picture Oscar Winner in recent memory. At the very least, you didn’t include Brendan Fraser, Ludacris, and Tony f*cking Danza in your cast. Of course, Geoffrey Rush is often called the Australian Brendan Fraser, but still.