And a whole rack of foreign films
Michael Bay, the king of visually incoherent action spectacle, downshifts his mixmaster editing style for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Paramount). Videodrone's review is here. "Carlos" (Criterion), Olivier Assayass' epic account of the life and myth of real-life terrorist Carlos the Jackal, is a mesmerizing portrait of committed activist who transforms himself into a media-hungry rock star of an international terrorist. Videodrone's review is here.
"Viva Riva!" (Music Box), an award-winning African crime thriller set in Kinsasha, Congo, offers a fresh eye on the culture of the impoverished African city. Hong Kong director Dante Lam returns to the gangster genre with "The Stool Pigeon" (Well Go USA) and "The Shaft" (Global Lens) observes the mining culture in modern China. More on these and other international releases in the Foreign Affairs round-up here.
"Is "The Ledge" (IFC) a thriller laced with heady ideas or a faux-philosophical tract with a few little tassels of suspense tied on?" asks Movieline film critic Stephanie Zacharek. She settles on the latter. Charlie Hunnam, Liv Tyler and Patrick Wilson star in the romantic triangle that ends up with a man on the ledge of a hotel, and Terrence Howard is the cop supposed to talk the man down.
Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw praises "The Hide" (Breaking Glass), from director Marek Losey (grandson of Joseph Losey), which he describes as a "claustrophobic, tense, ultra-low-budget British film with a neat final twist." Alex MacQueen and Phil Campbell star.
And the rest:
Scott Speedman, Emily Hampshire and Jay Baruchel are the "Good Neighbors" (Magnolia) who come together when a string of murders hits their community.
Leslie Bibb is "Miss Nobody" (Inception), a secretary who finds a talent for murdering her way up the corporate ladder. And Sean William Scott is the "American Loser" (Lionsgate) who tries to pull it together when he meets Gretchen Mol.
Plus 'The Shaft,' 'Angel of Evil' and more from China, South Korea, India and elsewhere
"Viva Riva!" (Music Box), an award-winning African crime thriller set in Kinsasha, Congo, offers a fresh eye on the culture of the impoverished African city through the adrenaline-charged tales of a small-time con man who hijacks a truckload of fuel from an Angolan crime lord. "A slick, exciting, well-made crime thriller, dripping with atmosphere," praises film critic Roger Ebert. "You might learn more about Congo from this film than in a documentary, and you'd probably have more fun." In French and Lingala with English subtitles. The DVD features an interview with director Djo Tunda Wa Munga and a bonus short film.
Hong Kong director Dante Lam returns to the gangster genre of obsessed cops and tortured informants with "The Stool Pigeon" (Well Go USA), which reunites Nicholas Tse and Nick Cheung, the stars of his defining hit "Beast Stalker." "Smarting with as much psychological as physical bruising, "The Stool Pigeon" is an action film with a grave, melancholic strain," writes Maggie Lee in the Hollywood Reporter. Cantonese with English subtitles and optional English dub soundtrack. On DVD and Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack, with featurettes and deleted scenes.
Also set in the criminal underworld, this one in Italy, is "Angel of Evil" (Fox), starring Kim Rossi Stuart as the notorious Milan gang leader Renato Vallanzasca. In Italian with English subtitles, plus a making-of featurette and deleted and extended scenes.
"The Shaft" (Global Lens) refers to the industry of an mining town in China, where pretty much every young man is destined to work unless they can get an education and get out. And, as you might guess, most of the characters of Zhang Chi's Chinese drama get the shaft. But it defies expectations in one significant dimension: there are practically no scenes in the mines, no disasters and no deaths. Rather, mines are the slow death that hangs over every life. In Mandarin with English subtitles, plus a discussion guide and film notes.
Also from China is the lavish "The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman" (Fox), a stylistically flamboyant martial arts drama that Village Voice film critic Nick Pinkerton complains director Wuershan buries in overkill: "purée-editing each overshot scene and style-hopping at will as he incorporates doodled cartoon interludes, a horrid musical number, and a brawl framed with the graphics of a one-on-one fighting game."
Pathfinder releases four from South Korea. "The King and the Clown" (Pathfinder) is a period drama set in the court of the 16th Century king who makes a pair of actors into his court jesters. "The Recipe" (Pathfinder) is a romantic drama concerning a man on death row, a last wish and dish that brings tears to those who taste it. "The Servant" (Pathfinder) is a Korean folk tale with a sexy angle. And "Magic" (Pathfinder) is a romantic drama set in a music conservatory.
Journalism drama and espionage thriller meet in the British mini-series - MSN has a clip
Though "The Hour" (BBC) opens in the anonymous offices and hushed (or more accurately somnambulistic) TV newsrooms of the BBC of 1956, the cool swing of the soundtrack suggests something more along the lines of a spy show. It turns out the "The Hour," a new BBC miniseries, is both, an odd but intriguing hybrid of journalism drama and Cold War conspiracy thriller.
See an MSN exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from the DVD and Blu-ray release below
Writer/creator Abi Morgan almost sabotages the show in the first episode, making our maverick newshound hero Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) a wild card who loudly criticizes the anemic BBC style, insults his bosses and generally makes himself such a nuisance that you wonder why no one has fired him. It's only the loyalty of his best friend Bel (Romola Garai), newly promoted to produce a fresh, adventurous TV news hour, that lands him a position where he can put his ideas of confronting and engaging the news into practice. The handsome, somewhat arrogant and only modestly talented newsreader (Dominic West) fills out the team. Hired purely out of nepotism, he gets inspired by the exciting work on the show and by the charms of Bel, while Freddie learns the not-so-fine art of working with people rather than simply berating them. Meanwhile, there is a murder mystery, a government cover-up of an international conspiracy and a mole at BBC News.
Olivier Assayass' riveting epic of the self-promoting outlaw superstar Carlos the Jackal
"Carlos" (Criterion), Olivier Assayass' epic account of the life and myth of real-life terrorist Carlos the Jackal, is a mesmerizing portrait of committed activist who transforms himself into a media-hungry rock star of an international terrorist.
Édgar Ramírez plays Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal (a name he appropriates after the Fredrick Forsythe nove), as a bundle of contradictions, a self-professed revolutionary out to destroy the capitalist system and champion the oppressed, and a man whose love of luxury grows in direct relation to his notoriety, from fine clothes and liquor to gifting himself with a Mercedes for his 30th birthday. He imagines himself Che Guevara, a charismatic and revered leader spouting off revolutionary philosophy and giving orders that are obeyed without question by his own followers, but to him it's all about the cult of personality and feeding his ego. By the end, it's hard to tell if he's at all committed to his or merely to himself, the outlaw superstar.
Olivier Assayass packs the film with incident and energy, trailing after his globe-hopping journey all over Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East and watching the characters to blow through his story, and directs with a pace that suggests the runaway drive of the numerous missions yet pauses for us to get to know, if only briefly, all these characters and places. He takes the camera to the streets with handheld flexibility reigned in by stylistic discipline. It’s not about mock-documentary realism and exaggerated wobble but getting in, getting out, getting the shot with an immediacy that his jumped-up editing drives to a run. And yet it never feels rushed, even when missions spiral out of control. At almost six hours over three parts I was still ready for more, even as the once-sleek figure of outlaw style succumbs to gluttony and self-indulgence, physically and emotionally.
Michael Bay's third rock 'em sock 'em giant robot spectacular is all action and no sense
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Paramount), Michael Bay's third rock 'em sock 'em giant robot spectacular, was shot and designed for 3D, a format that forced the director to slow his chaotic editing down and create a coherent action canvas. While the DVD and Blu-ray are standard format, they too benefit from the restraint: you can actually see the transformations unfold and the action play out. It's just the story that makes no sense.
What passes for a screenplay involves the discovery of Sentinel Prime, the former leader of the Autobots, on the dark side of the moon, and the Decipticon plot to enslave humanity to rebuild their homeworld. At least, that's the part that doesn't concern once and future hero Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) trying to land a job. Seriously, the kid who save saved the world -- twice -- and essentially signed the greatest living weapons in the universe to an exclusive partnership with the American military can't land a job, merely a supremely hot and utterly vacant new model girlfriend (Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in her acting debut, though there's less action than posing and walking around seductively in runway fashions and underwear) and an absurdly luxurious Washington D.C. loft. What, no one in the Defense Department will give the guy a letter of recommendation?
Anyway, after an ingenious hook of an opening scene, Bay and screenwriter Ehren Kruger pile on caricatures (John Turturro as the obsessive Agent Simmons, John Malkovich as eccentric software genius Bruce Brazos) and comedy scenes (special credit to Alan Tudyk, who vamps tired bits with madcap commitment and wild intensity) until Sentinel Prime is revived with the voice of Leonard Nimoy (complete with gratuitous "Star Trek" gag) and the evil Decipticon scheme is revealed. Then the film revs up for an hour of non-stop combat. Because when you get down to it, this is a movie about giant alien robots who go to war in Chicago and destroy half the city along the way. Who needs a story?
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist releases of the week.
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Paramount), Michael Bay's third rock 'em sock 'em giant robot spectacular, was shot and designed for 3D, which forced the director to slow his chaotic editing down and create a coherent action canvas. While the DVD and Blu-ray are standard format, they too benefit from the restraint: you can actually see the transformations unfold and the action play out. It's just the story that makes no sense. But then again, it's a movie about giant alien robots who go to war in the city of Chicago and destroy half the city along the way, so who needs a story? Note that this is a Friday, September 30 release and features no supplements. Expect a special edition and a Blu-ray 3D version by the holidays. Videodrone's review is here.
"Carlos" (Criterion), Olivier Assayass' epic account of the life and myth of real-life terrorist Carlos the Jackal, is a mesmerizing portrait of committed activist who transforms himself into a media-hungry rock star of an international terrorist. It is packed with incident and detail and moves at a remarkable for its entire five-and-a-half-plus hour running time. Videodrone's review is here.
Also new this week: the thriller "The Ledge" (IFC) with Charlie Hunnam, Liv Tyler and Patrick Wilson, the Hong Kong gangster flick "The Stool Pigeon" (Well Go USA) with Nicholas Tse and "Viva Riva!" (Music Box), an award-winning, adrenaline-charged African crime thriller set in Kinsasha, Congo, among a generous collection of foreign language films this week.
TV on DVD:
"The Hour" (BBC), a BBC mini-series set in the fifties, is an odd but intriguing hybrid of journalism drama and Cold War conspiracy thriller, all set in the crucible of a fresh, adventurous TV news hour that pushes against the suffocating government restrictions on reporting. Though the soap opera diversions tend to distract, it builds to a dynamic climax that creates high tension out of low-key defiance. Ben Whishaw, Romola Garai and Dominic West star. Videodrone's review is here.
"Queer as Folk (Original U.K. Series): The Complete Collection" (Acorn) presents the entire run of the groundbreaking British series created by Russell T. Davies. Set in the gay culture of Manchester, it also launched the careers of Aidan Gillen ("Game of Thrones") and Charlie Hunnam ("Sons of Anarchy"). Of course, being British, "Complete" means that it's a mere six episodes.
"How to Make It in America: The Complete First Season" (HBO) is the half-hour HBO comic-drama and "Call Me Fitz: The Complete First Season" (eOne) is a black comedy starring Jason Priestly, originally made for Canadian cable.
Plus the continuing shows keep rolling out. On the comedy side, we have "How I Met Your Mother: The Complete Season Six" (Fox), "The Middle: The Complete Second Season" (Warner) and HBO's "Hung: The Complete Second Season" (HBO), while on the drama side the entire "CSI" franchise rolls out: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – The Eleventh Season" (Paramount), which is final season for Laurence Fishburne, "CSI: Miami – The Ninth Season" (Paramount) and "CSI: New York - The Seventh Season" (Paramount).
Cool, Classic and Cult:
"Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938" (Image) is the kind of labor of love that makes my job so much fun. This collection of features, shorts, documentaries, newsreels, travelogues and fragments from the silent and early sound era is more about preservation and education than simple entertainment, but it is entertaining as well as revealing. It's a record of the American West as it was transforming from frontier to modern world, as viewed through fictional representations and documentary recordings. The richness of offerings and the span of formats presents a visual record that makes the case for film preservation better than any lecture. All this and Clara Bow, flirting her way through the Yukon.
"The Phantom Carriage" (Criterion) is considered one of the masterpieces of the early twenties and the greatest film of Sweden's silent era, and for good reason. It's a gorgeous film with understated performances, haunting imagery and a human drama as compelling as any modern masterpiece. Criterion presents its long-awaited home video debut in a superb edition on DVD and Blu-ray.
"To Be Twenty" (RaroVideo) is a sexploitation youth drama rarity from gangster movie specialist Fernando di Leo and "The Cloud-Capped Star" (Facets) is Indian film master Ritwik Ghatak's 1960 family melodrama set in Calcutta.
"Ben-Hur: 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition" (Warner) is the latest Oscar-winning epic to the Blu-ray treatment in a newly-remastered HD edition. Yes, it is a big, lumbering epic that can barely support its own weight, but then it has the square shoulder of the even squarer Charlton Heston to hold it up, and the new edition features a new documentary on Heston as well as documentaries on the film and a DVD edition of the original silent version of the film from 1925. Videodrone's review is here.
"Footloose" (Paramount) gets its HD debut as the remake is set to hit theaters and Videodrone has an exclusive clip. Kino continues rolling out Keaton on Blu-ray with "Buster Keaton: Go West / Battling Butler" (Kino), reviewed on Videodrone here.
Guillermo Del Toro reworks his American film debut with "Mimic: The Director's Cut" (Lionsgate) and "The Blood Trilogy" (Image) features the Blu-ray debut of three grindhouse gore classics from Herschel Gordon Lewis.
The complete calendar of releases this week is after the jump:
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The blockbusters are lining up on DVD and Blu-ray for your holiday dollars
"Captain America: The First Avenger" (Paramount) has been announced for release next month. On October 25, the World War II superhero film will arrive on Blu-ray, DVD and a Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack, in editions packed with featurettes and other supplements.
The next month, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2" (Warner) brings to an end the epic journey of "the boy who lived" with the final installment on home video.
Friday, November 11, you'll be able to complete that match set on both Blu-ray and DVD, plus it will be available via Digital Download and OnDemand for those who aren't set on owning the set.
And in December the Wolf Pack is back for "The Hangover Part II" (Warner), arriving on December 6 on Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Download and OnDemand.
Also recently announced:
"Horrible Bosses" (Warner), arriving October 11 on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Digital Download and OnDemand
"Crazy, Stupid, Love." (Warner), coming November 1 on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, Digital Download and OnDemand
"Super 8" (Paramount), set for November 22 on Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and single-disc DVD
Your guide to our coverage of the new DVD/Blu-ray releases
Here's what's new on DVD and Blu-ray this week as featured on Videodrone
"Bridesmaids" Gone Wild
TV on DVD:
Emmy Winners: "Modern Family," "Mike & Molly" and "The Kennedys"
'Hawaii Five-0: The First Season' – The Next Generation
TV on DVD Channel Guide: Emmy winners, new shows, old shows, continuing shows and more
The Cool and the Collectible:
Classics: 'Le Beau Serge' and 'Les Cousins'
'Star Wars: The Complete Saga' - Version 3.0
Wes Craven's original 'Last House On The Left' and 'The Hills Have Eyes'
Blu-ray Round-up: 'Dumbo,' ,'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' 'The Others' and more
Watching with Kristin Wiig: Talking movies and DVDs with the star and co-writer of "Bridesmaids"
Coming up next week:
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Paramount) (Friday, September 30)
"Good Neighbors" (Magnolia)
"Viva Riva!" (Music Box)
"The Stool Pigeon" (Well Go USA)
"Angel of Evil" (Fox)
"Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938" (Image)
"The Phantom Carriage" (Criterion)
"The Hour" (BBC)
"How to Make It in America: The Complete First Season" (HBO)
"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – The Eleventh Season" (Paramount)
"CSI: Miami – The Ninth Season" (Paramount)
"CSI: New York - The Seventh Season" (Paramount)
"How I Met Your Mother: The Complete Season Six" (Fox)
"The Middle: The Complete Second Season" (Warner)
"Hung: The Complete Second Season" (HBO)
"The Cleveland Show: The Complete Season Two" (Fox)
"Army Wives: The Complete Fifth Season" (Disney)
"Ben-Hur 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition" (Blu-ray) (Warner)
"Mimic: The Director's Cut" (Blu-ray) (Lionsgate)
"The Blood Trilogy" (Blu-ray) (Image)
"Basket Case" (Blu-ray) (Image)
|Tags:||Week in review|