Friday, October 29, 2010

October '10 New on Disc


The latest by French master Alain Resnais (88 years old when he made it), Wild Grass (Sony) proves that, although his vigor and stamina are unmatched, Resnais has always been a hit-or-miss director. This disappointing absurdist drama puts a stop to an incredible 20-year run, which began with 1993’s Smoking and No Smoking and reached a peak with 2006’s Private Fears in Public Places—all classically elegant, daringly simple but proudly anti-realistic films. Two (possibly) insane people dance around for 105 minutes before finally finding each other: it’s all a big shrug because Resnais favors style over substance and sense. Admittedly, the frisky opening sequences would make a good short about fetishism—our heroine buys shoes, is robbed, and our hero finds her wallet. Andre Dussolier phones in his performance while Sabine Azema is hammier than she’s ever been. Still, even a minor Resnais movie has its pleasures, and the movie looks absolutely gorgeous, making the lack of a Blu-ray release a bigger disappointment than the movie itself. The DVD’s lone extra is a very short interview with production designer Jacques Salnier, long-time Resnais collaborator.

An ordinary relationship drama by German director Maren Ade, Everyone Else (Cinema Guild) follows a dreary couple on the verge of breaking up in stunning Sardinian locations (best extra: cast and crew interviews); Jonah Hex (Warners), another movie based on a comic book, features Josh Brolin as a scarred bounty hunter out for revenge and Megan Fox as the gal who comes to his rescue—both are game, but the movie is too slight and silly to get worked up over (lone extra: deleted scenes); save for a fabulous performance by Nikki Reed as a local loser’s kidnap victim, Last Day of Summer (E1) is for the most part an unoriginal and uninvolving twist on the “odd couple” theme (lone extra: making-of featurette); Lost Boys: The Thirst (Warners), despite its bright moments, mainly serves to remind us that the 1987 original was a fun vampire flick that didn’t take itself too seriously, unlike a certain current teen vampire franchise (best extra: featurette hosted by Charisma Carpenter—too bad she’s not in the movie); with My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (First Look), director Werner Herzog creates a creepily watchable modern tragedy, if you can forgive some howlers in the dialogue—Michael Shannon and Chloe Sevigny also add necessary weight (best extra: Herzog commentary); another lightweight movie by Ed Burns, Nice Guy Johnny (Filmbuff) does have one virtue by introducing us to talented young actress Kerry Bishe (best extra: original cast footage); Nightmares in Red White and Blue (Lorber) is a fantastically entertaining history of American horror movies—complete with interviews from several top directors from Romero to Dante—and how they change according to the tenor of the times, right up to post-9/11 torture a la the Saw franchise; Alex Cox has made his first respectable movie in a long while, Searchers 2.0 (Microcinema), which is a semi-riff on John Ford’s classic by being set in Monument Valley, even if it’s a middling Hollywood satire at most (best extra: making-of featurette); the terrifically eye-opening documentary The Sun Behind the Clouds (Zeitgeist) shows the Dalai Lama diplomatically advocating for autonomy not complete independence from China, while younger Tibetans advocate for a total break (best extra: 37-minute Dalai Lama interview); if you absolutely adore Tilda Swinton, then Teknolust (Microcinema), in which the androgynous actress plays a quartet of roles, is a must-watch (lone extra: Swinton and director Lynn Hershman Leeson discussion); Two and a Half Men—The Complete 7th Season (Warners) again features superb comic chemistry between Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer and young Angus T. Jones(best extra: gag reel); Ultimate NFL (Warners) is just what it promises to be: a hi-def look at the 2009-10 football season, through the lens of a super slo-mo camera that captures the action as never before (lone extra: virtual tour); Barry Levinson’s engaging biopic You Don’t Know Jack (HBO) features a fiercely committed if slightly off-key Al Pacino as infamous doctor Jack Kevorkian, who brought assisted suicide to the forefront in the 90s (best extra: behind the scenes featurette, The Real Jack/Inner Circle).

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