Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week
"Side Effects" (Universal), medical drama-turned-psychological thriller with Jude Law and Rooney Mara, is ostensibly the last feature film from Steven Soderbergh, and it's a pretty sharp piece of filmmaking. Kind of like an updated Joe Esterhaus thriller from the nineties, only smarter and without any ice picks in sight. Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand. Videodrone's review is here.
"Beautiful Creatures" (Warner), the latest teen romance with a supernatural setting, stars Alice Englert as the new girl in town with magical powers and Alden Ehrenreich as the local boy entwined with her fate. Apparently it wasn't popular to spawn a franchise. Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand.
On the more traditionally action-oriented front, there is "The Last Stand" (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand and at Redbox), the Arnold Schwarzenegger come-back film, and "Parker" (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand and at Redbox), with Jason Statham as the brutal anti-hero of the Richard Stark's crime novels. Skewing older is "Stand Up Guys" (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, and at Redbox), the geriatric gangster buddy film with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.
"The ABCs of Death" (Magnet, Blu-ray and DVD) is an indie anthology horror film with 26 short pieces, "The Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane" (Eagle Rock) looks back on the first two decades of the legendary band, and the Israeli drama "Yossi" (Strand, DVD) toplines the foreign list this week.
Most releases are also available as digital download and VOD via iTunes, Amazon, and other web retailers and video services.
TV on Disc:
"True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season" (HBO) is the final season of HBO's gothic pulp vampire melodrama supervised by Alan Ball, and he goes for broke with the most extreme season yet: more blood, more conspiracies, more transformations, and way more internal wars within and between the species. A little too much for many fans, but it's still addictive supernatural soap opera for many others. Oh, Sookie! 12 episodes on Blu-ray and DVD, plus commentary tracks, featurettes, and other supplements. Videodrone's review is here.
"Teen Wolf: Season 2" (Fox), MTV's entry in the supernatural teenager series, is turning out to be one of the best of the genre and a much more interesting and engaging series than "True Blood," as far as I'm concerned. 12 episodes on two discs on DVD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.
Plus 'Defiance' with Daniel Craig, 'Longmire: Season 1,' revisiting 'Khan,' and more
The big news of course is the Netflix original revival of "Arrested Development," which debuts on Sunday, May 26 when 15 episodes all launch at once. We'll try to get a review in by next week. Meanwhile, here's what's available now.
"The Dictator" (2012) is a Sacha Baron Cohen comedy that forgoes all pretense of mock documentary or reality TV parody to make a big, crazy, outrageous comedy that rides roughshod over all boundaries of taste to make both its point and its punchlines. And "it's all the more focused and consistently funny for that," argues MSN film critic Glenn Kenny. For this one, Baron Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen the blithely brutal, oppressive, and self-aggrandizing dictator of the fictional North Africa nation of Wadiya, who gets accidentally deposed and replaced by a dazed and idiotic double (Baron Cohen again) on a trip to speak at the U.N.. To get back at his back-stabbing head of security (Ben Kingsley), he teams up with a dizzy activist health-food store manager (Anna Faris, still one of the funniest women in the movies today), despite her ungainly armpit hair and inexplicable compassion for oppressed refugees from brutal regimes. Videodrone's review is here.
"Defiance" (2008) dramatizes the real-life story of the Bielski brothers, Polish Jews who escaped the Nazi roundups and created a sanctuary for thousands of Jews in the Bellarussia forests during World War II. It was a passion project for director Edward Zwick and Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell star as Bielskis.
Not new but getting a lot of renewed interest is "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982), still the best "Star Trek" feature ever made, a pirate movie in space with an obsessed villain (wild-maned and bare-chested Ricardo Mantalban) and an impish Kirk. Director Nicholas Meyer brings a panache to the production and William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley seem to have both gotten in touch with their characters and relationships all over again.
On feta and fidelity, long conversations and longer takes
Beginning with "Before Sunrise" and followed up by "Before Sunset," one of American independent cinema's milestones continues (or possibly concludes) with "Before Midnight." Reuniting director Rick Linklater with stars and co-writers Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, "Midnight" continues the intertwining lives of Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy.) The two met on a train in 'Sunrise," reunited in Paris in "Sunset" and now, in "Midnight" find themselves married with twins, in Greece on a writer's retreat, where the passage of time has made their conversations -- and their wounds -- all the deeper. We spoke with Linklater, Hawke and Delpy in Los Angeles about getting the band back together, why some women find Delpy's character "insufferable" and the horrible indignities of couple's massage.
MSN Movies: Let me just start by asking the obvious question, which is when exactly do you come upon the decision to say, "Let's get the band back together"?
Richard Linklater: You know it happened similarly now that we've done it twice. It was still this kind of six, seven year gap I think when we don't have .. as much as we would all like to work together, we're not going to do it just to do it, you know? We have to realize Jesse and Celine have something to say.
Julie Delpy: And we have something to say.
Linklater: And we can't know that. I mean time is such a big player here, it has to be like six or seven more years of life accumulation. And then it's like Jesse and Celine, these parallel characters we've created, kind of emerge and kind of maybe have something to say about this new station they find themselves at. So that's how it's worked twice. We kind of have the same trajectory where we joke about it, there's funny titles thrown around ...
Delpy: (Laughs) "Before the Grave."
Linklater: Yeah before, you know, there's... But then at some point it gets a little more serious, then something of substance hits the table, and it takes on a slowly different tone. And we realized Jesse and Celine are sort of reemerging in a potentially real way, but it still takes awhile. That's at year six. And then we get two years of what-if this what-if that. And we get to use that luxury of the time we have to actually explore maybe what they have been doing for nine years.
Does it ever happen that two-thirds of the constituency are on board and one has to be cajoled or convinced? Or does everybody roughly sync up at the same time?
Seventh film set to go back to Los Angeles
The Coens finally make their return, and the Fortnight offers up its first stunner
Guess what? It doesn't work
Star takes a break to play ball with some kids (in costume!)
"I don’t know when we were told that we have to sacrifice story and character and acting and performances for the sake of action ..."
On a balcony overlooking a sprawling city, Vin Diesel is affable, laughing and a gracious host, wearing a crisp polo only slightly bluer than the sky. Diesel has managed to find a career path that mixes big, burly action films (like "Fast &Furious 6," as well as the upcoming "Riddick") and also managing to turn up in other films that have much more to do with brain than brawn ("The Iron Giant," Call Me Guilty"). We spoke with the man behind Dom Toretto in London, a quarter-mile at a time.
MSN Movies: How great is it to shoot driving action in London, one of the biggest, busiest cities in the world? It's pretty crazy, isn't it?
Vin Diesel: So, so crazy. If you would've asked me back in 1997 when I was here doing my first acting job, "Saving Private Ryan," that 15 years later I would be destroying the streets of London with a Dodge Daytona I would've thought you were crazy. And that's exactly what happened. We loved shooting in London, we loved the contrast to Rio, and we loved the idea that we, after Rio, after the fifth one ... we realized that the audience kind of enjoys traveling with us, going to new places. Somehow we've become their favorite tour guide.
Their favorite global tour guide, and we kind of try and live up to that ...
You see the world's great cities, and you destroy them, and you're kind of this anti-tourist advertisement.
Yeah, yeah. We leave rubble in our path.
And also, how great it is ... most of the time when you say to an audience, "Oh this is part six of a series," they're like, "Ugh." But this people look forward to. How fortunate is that? And what do you think explains it?
If we had continued the franchise in the way that we made the first three we would've gotten that reaction. When we came back for the second trilogy, (films) 4, 5, and 6, there was a very specific way that we changed the dynamic of making these movies. And that was, we no longer thought of it as a franchise where we make do whatever you want then slap the brand name on it and sell it. We thought of it as a continuing story, and you see that in the bookend style that we use. But we were very conscious about ... I know this sounds crazy, but almost rewarding the audience for the movie that they saw before.
And making the investment.
And making the investments. So if you saw 4 ... I mean, one of the executives at Universal thought they were really cute, they said, "On the poster for 'Fast Seven,' we're going to write, 'If you ain't seen 1 through 6, you ain't invited.''" (Laughs)
(Laughs) That's a bold statement.