Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist home video releases of the week
"Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (Disney) dredges up the waterlogged adventure franchise for yet another big-budget spectacle that equates furious action and visual momentum for plot and story. Only Johnny Depp keeps this foundering film afloat, but it was a box-office hit and there's at least one more in the offing. Arrives on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D editions, as well as digital download. Videodrone's review is here.
Cameron Diaz makes for a really "Bad Teacher" (Sony), which MSN critic Glenn Kenny praises as a "refreshingly raucous comedy." Selena Gomez gets the royal treatment in the tweener romantic fantasy "Monte Carlo" (Fox), with Leighton Meester.
Chris Weitz takes a stab at exploring the American Dream in "A Better Life" (Summit) while "Red State" (Lionsgate), a horror film billed as "an unlikely film from *that* Kevin Smith," makes the culture wars literal.
"Page One: Inside the New York Times" (Magnolia), the acclaimed documentary made with unprecedented access in the fabled newsroom, is the top pick for a solid week of non-fiction films. Among the other titles are "The Shock Doctrine" (Kim Stim/Zeitgeist), Michael Winterbottom's film of the Naomi Kline book, and "Beats Rhymes and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest" (Sony). The True Stories round-up is here.
And it's another hefty week for cinema imports. "Aftershock" (China Lion), currently China's all-time biggest blockbuster, spins a family melodrama through two devastating earthquakes. Alex de la Iglesias' "The Last Circus" (Magnet) combines horror and satire to measure Franco's legacy in Spain, plus there's "The Robber" (Kino Lorber) from Austria, "The Names of Love" (Music Box) from France, and Giuseppe Tornatore's "Baaria" (Image) from Italy. Complete Foreign Affairs round-up is here.
TV on DVD:
"V: The Complete Second Season" (Warner) brings the 21st century reboot of the eighties invasion series to with an abbreviated ten-episode season and conspiracy just beginning, but the spectacle is sure impressive. Videodrone's review is here.
"The Rise and Fall of Margaret Thatcher" (BBC) offers a portrait of the Prime Minister through three BBC productions made between 2002 and 2009, with Thatcher played by three different actresses: Andrea Riseborough, Patricia Hodge and Lindsay Duncan.
Tragically, this tremendous bonus feature is only available in a limited Blu-ray box set
Now that the "Harry Potter" franchise has truly ended (with the last book published in 2007, and the last film released earlier this year), it's time to reflect back on the magical series of books and films that captivated witches and wizards of all ages. You know what that means? Massive box sets! The final film, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" is coming to home video on November 11, and Target will mark that day with another release - a giant Blu-ray box set that includes all eight Potter films. But what's most intriguing about the Target set is a bonus feature that will only be available with said set.
Director Morgan Matthews was granted special access to the sets of the final two Potter films, and the resulting product is a 48-minute documentary called "When Harry Left Hogwarts." The film doesn't just cover the normal ground of production docs, as even in this trailer, it's quite obvious that Matthews was going for a broad spectrum of insights and interviews. Sure, there's interviews with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, but there's also touching behind-the-scenes glimpses at the creation of more emotional scenes, as well as interviews with members of the cast and crew that might not normally get the limelight. For fans of the series, it's a bit of a must-watch, it's just unfortunate that the doc is only available as part of a single retailer's special set.
Here's hoping that Warner Bros. wises up and releases the doc on its own.
The special Target Blu-ray "Harry Potter" box set will be available on November 11. Check out the trailer for "When Harry Left Hogwarts," thanks to Cinema Blend, after the break.
Studio mulls move in order to not upset the political establishment
The now-triple threat penned original script with John Krasinski
Instead of previously planned wide release, the historical drama will debut in only 250 theaters
The late actor's brother, Joaquin Phoenix, has been asked to help complete the film
Like so many others, I thought River Phoenix was a wonderful actor who had a great career ahead of him. His death at the age of 23 on the pavement outside of Johnny Depp’s Viper Club was a tragedy on many levels.
Among my favorite River Phoenix films are “Stand by Me,” “The Mosquito Coast,” “Running on Empty, and “My Own Private Idaho.” Each of these roles was very different and Phoenix seemed to give everything he had to his heartfelt performances. It’s tempting to speculate on the roles Phoenix would have continued to play had he lived. He’d be only 41 today and, given his rich early career, he probably would have made many interesting choices
More than 18 years after his death, we may finally get the chance to see one last River Phoenix film. When he died on Halloween 1993, Phoenix was 11 days away from completing a film called “Dark Blood.” He played a character called “Boy” in that film, a young widower living like a hermit on a nuclear testing site and waiting for the end of the world. His character comes to the aid of a jet-set couple (played by Judy Davis and Jonathan Pryce) when their car breaks down in the desert and he ends up having a turbulent relationship with the wife.
George Sluizer, the director of “Dark Blood,” has announced that he plans to complete the film and release it within the next year. Sluizer is asking Joaquin Phoenix, the late actor’s younger brother, to provide a narration for the missing segments since the two have very similar voices. I haven’t heard any word from Joaquin’s camp and I’m a little skeptical that the eccentric actor will agree to take on this role, but Sluizer said he’s stayed in touch with the Phoenix family and intends to move forward with the film.
Here’s a snippet of the raw footage from “Dark Blood.” These are among the very last images ever filmed of the talented actor.
Long-delayed release co-stars Keira Knightley
For whatever reason, "The Departed" screenwriter William Monahan's directorial debut, "London Boulevard" has had a devil of a time getting to audiences across the pond. The Colin Farrell-starring crime flick opened in the UK way back in November of last year, and it's just making its way to American audiences next month.
The film stars Farrell as Mitchell, a former gangster who has just gotten out of jail and is determined to go straight. A new job protecting a movie star who looks strangely like Keira Knightley (because it is Keira Knightley!) looks like a fine start for the gruff and handsome former baddie. But, of course, the criminal life is a tough one to get out off, and Ray Winstone as gangster Gant doesn't intend to let Mitchell get out for good. Will Mitchell be able to go clean? Will Knightley's Charlotte fall for her bodyguard? All those questions (and probably more) will be answered in Monahan's adaptation of the Ken Bruen novel. The film co-stars a murderer's row of British talent, including David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Ben Chaplin, and Eddie Marsan.
The film's first American trailer is out, and it's just a touch confusing. The bouncy tones of The Clash's "London Calling," along with some cutesy title and story cards and some flashy cuts, make it hard to gauge the tone of the film. It certainly seems frisky and fun in the trailer's first two-thirds, but it takes on a noticeably darker cast towards the end. What sort of film will "London Boulevard" prove to be?
"London Boulevard" opens in limited release on November 11. Check out the film's first U.S. trailer, thanks to Cinema Blend, after the break.