DID YOU READ

“Let” Them Entertain You and More New DVDs

“Let” Them Entertain You and More New DVDs (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD today:

“Let Me In” (2010)
Directed by Matt Reeves
Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment

“Never Let Me Go” (2010)
Directed by Mark Romanek
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

Two of 2010’s most underrated films that approach their respective genres from radically different perspectives than most, “Cloverfield” director Matt Reeves’ “Let Me In” and Mark Romanek’s “Never Let Me Go” will finally have the opportunity to stand out on home video. In “Let Me In,” Reeves applies some of his own biographical touchstones for this remake of Tomas Alfredson’s horror film about the unlikely friendship between a vampire (Chloe Moretz) and a lonely young boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee). Romanek’s adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s much-beloved sci-fi novel about a group of children raised apart from the rest of society for purposes that are unknown to them. (Alison Willmore’s reviews for “Let Me In” and “Never Let Me Go” and her interview with Romanek and Matt Singer’s interview with “Let Me In” composer Michael Giacchino can be found here.)

“Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2″ (2011)
Directed by Alex Zamm
Released by Disney Home Entertainment

Yes, there’s a direct-to-video sequel featuring the George Lopez-voiced tough-talking pooch who must save his owner’s home from foreclosure by entering into a dog show.

“Chain Letter” (2010)
Directed by Deon Taylor
Released by Image Entertainment

“Thirteen” star Nikki Reed and the gruff-voiced Keith David and Brad Dourif star in this horror flick about a high school circle of friends who are killed off one-by-one if they decide against passing along a threatening letter to each other.

“Conviction” (2010)
Directed by Tony Goldwyn
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

Hilary Swank stars as Betty Anne Waters, the real-life attorney who went to law school solely to free her brother (a scene-stealing Sam Rockwell) who she believes has been wrongly accused in this drama directed by Tony Goldwyn. (Matt Singer’s interview with Rockwell and my interview with Goldwyn can be found here.)

“Death Tube 2″ (2010)
Directed by Yohei Fukuda
Released by Cinema Epoch

Yohei Fukuda directed this second installment in the J-horror series about a group of killers who prey on each other online.

01282011_ElenaUndone.jpg“Elena Undone” (2010)
Directed by Nicole Conn
Released by Wolfe Video

Already noted for breaking the record for the longest onscreen kiss, Nicole Conn’s romantic drama concerns a lesbian author who finds love with the wife of a pastor.

“11 Harrowhouse” (1974)
Directed by Aram Avakian
Released by Shout! Factory

Charles Grodin and Candice Bergen star in this comedy where Grodin plays a diamond cutter whose job divided a top-grade rock turns into his inadvertent involvement in a jewelry heist.

“Farm Girl in New York” (2010)
Directed by J. Robert Spencer
Released by Maverick Entertainment Group

Not surprisingly a favorite of the upstate New York festival circuit in 2008, J. Robert Spencer’s romantic comedy centers on two smalltown guys who take off for the big city and soon find themselves writing a play about their experience as a way to meet women who audition for it.

“Forgotten Pills” (2009)
Directed by David Hefner
Released by Synkronized USA

A winner at last year’s Dances With Films festival, “Hell Ride”‘s Larry Bishop stars in David Hefner’s thriller about a group of friends who decide to raise hell when they have a vial of pills that erases their memory from the night before, though unfortunately it won’t erase the memories of who they harm in the process.

“Giulia Doesn’t Date at Night” (2009)
Directed by Giuseppe Piccioni
Released by Entertainment One

This Valeria Golino romantic drama from Italy about a man whose interest is piqued by his daughter’s mysterious swim teacher (Golino) was originally intended to get a U.S. theatrical release that never came, so this will be the first opportunity for Americans to see the multiple David Di Donatello nominee.

01282011_Hatchet2.jpg“Hatchet II” (2010)
Directed by Adam Green
Released by Dark Sky Films

Since Adam Green’s unrated slasher thriller controversially played less than a week in theaters, it’s fair to say this will also be the first chance for horror fans to see Danielle Harris’ Marybeth take revenge on the swampbound serial killer Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), with additional creepiness thrown in by Tony Todd’s Reverend Zombie.

“Lucky Lady” (1975)
Directed by Stanley Donen
Released by Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory unearths this 1975 prohibition-set comedy that pits moonshine-runners Burt Reynolds and Gene Hackman against each other for the love of Liza Minnelli. Stanley Donen directs from a script by George Lucas collaborators William Huyck and Gloria Katz.

“Mean Girls 2″ (2011)
Directed by Melanie Mayron
Released by Paramount Home Video

Although Lindsay Lohan might’ve been up for reprising her role as Cady Heron, only Tim Meadows will be returning for this DTV sequel to the 2004 comedy, which presumably will keep the meanness of high school cliques without neccessarily the wit of Tina Fey. (trailer)

“Monsters” (2010)
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Released by Magnolia Home Entertainment

Now that he’s been tapped to direct a new version of “Godzilla,” it’s high time audiences get familiar with this low-budget sci-fi wonder about a journalist (Scoot McNairy) and his boss’ daughter (Whitney Able) as they travel across Mexico after an alien invasion to a supposedly safe zone just across the U.S. border. (My interview with Edwards and Matt Singer’s consideration of the film is here.)

“Night Catches Us” (2010)
Directed by Tanya Hamilton
Released by Magnolia Home Entertainment

Tanya Hamilton’s labor of love about stars Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington as Marcus and Pat, two ex-Black Panthers whose romantic reunion in Philadelphia after being apart for the better part of a decade is short-lived, thanks to a current Panther (“The Wire”‘s Jamie Hector) who wants Marcus’ head, a detective (Wendell Pierce) who wants to blackmail him and an unpredictable client (Amari Cheatom) of Pat’s pro bono law practice.

Pre-Code: “Hell Harbor”/”Jungle Bride” (1930/1933)
Directed by Henry King/Harry O. Hoyt
Released by VCI Entertainment

A double bill of uncensored tales of murder and mayhem with a foreign flavor, this set includes “Hell Harbor,” the story of a woman who flees an arranged marriage with an eye toward Havana with an American she falls for, though he’s targeted for murder. “Jungle Bride” also takes place in a tropical locale as a woman convinced of her imprisoned brother’s innocence in a murder takes her fiancé on a hunt to find the real killer and winds up deserted on an island off of South America.

“The Prowler” (1951)
Directed by Joseph Losey
Released by VCI Entertainment

Then-blacklisted Dalton Trumbo helped write the script without credit for this favorite noir of Manny Farber and James Ellroy about a policeman called to the residence of a deejay and his wife and becomes infatuated with the missus while plotting to murder the husband. Matt Zoller Seitz’s video essay gives a taste.

“Quantum Apocalypse” (2010)
Directed by Justin Jones
Released by First Look Pictures

A comet is on a collision course towards Earth and it’s up to four scientists to stop it in this low-budget sci-fi flick.

“Red River” (2010)
Directed by Jacob Ennis
Released by Bloody Earth Films

Not to be confused with the John Wayne classic, Jacob Ennis’ horror film tells the story of Roland Thatcher, a private man in Kentucky who really doesn’t like it when a group of kids begin to encroach on his property.

“Rhineland” (2007)
Directed by Chris Grega
Released by VCI Entertainment

Chris Grega’s 2007 World War II drama focuses on a soldier who is thrust into the heat of conflict and comes to rely on a lieutenant and sergeant who have long since lost the desire to be on the battlefield.

01282011_Skin.jpg“Skin” (2008)
Directed by Anthony Fabian
Released by Entertainment One

A festival favorite, “Hotel Rwanda”‘s Sophie Okonedo stars as Sandra Laing, a black South African born to white parents (Alice Krige and Sam Neill), causing upheaval in her community and her family during apartheid in this true-life drama.

“The Tillman Story” (2010)
Directed by Amir Bar-Lev
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

“My Kid Could Paint That” documentarian Bar-Lev demystifies the 2004 death of the NFL star-turned-soldier in Afghanistan. Through interviews with Pat Tillman’s mother Dannie and his widow Marie, as well as friends and fellow soldiers, the film goes into the U.S. military’s cover-up of his death caused by friendly fire and the true heroism of the former Arizona Cardinal that far exceeded the image cultivated by the government in his wake. (Aaron Hillis’ interview with Bar-Lev and my review are here.)

“Welcome to the Rileys” (2010)
Directed by Jake Scott
Released by Samuel Goldwyn Films

This drama stars James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo as Doug and Lois Riley, an Indiana married couple that’s still struggling with the death of their daughter eight years earlier when Doug is shaken out of his stupor by his nonsexual encounter with Kristen Stewart’s lady of the night during a business trip to New Orleans. (Coverage of the film’s premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival.)

“A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop” (2010)
Directed by Zhang Yimou
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

“Hero” director Yimou helmed this rare Chinese remake of an American film with his own spin on the Coen brothers’ “Blood Simple” where the humble owner of a the titular noodle shop in Imperial China plots to murder his unfaithful (and neglected) wife and her lover.

New to Blu-ray: Blake Edwards’ “10”, “An Affair to Remember”, Disney’s 1960 animated classic “Alice in Wonderland”, “All About Eve”, Sean Penn’s “Bad Boys”, “Boys Don’t Cry”, “The Double Life of Veronique” (Criterion), the Forest Whitaker basketball drama “Hurricane Season”, “Pleasantville”, “Ray”, Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Shopping”, “You’ve Got Mail”

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

“Dogtooth,” “Enter the Void” and a Week of DVDs on the Edge

“Dogtooth,” “Enter the Void” and a Week of DVDs on the Edge (photo)

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“Dogtooth” (2009)
Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos
Released by Kino

“Enter the Void” (2010)
Directed by Gaspar Noé
Released by MPI Home Video

Somehow it’s fitting that two of last year’s most dangerous films will be hitting DVD shelves the same week, both being favorites of the IFC.com staff. “Dogtooth,” Lanthimos’ much-debated Un Certain Regard winner from Cannes, concerns the lives of three culturally isolated children — two daughters and a son, who range from mid-teens to early 20s — fenced in by their parents’ country home, who receive a reeducation when their lone connection to the outside world, a female security guard for their parents’ business, introduces them to the joys of sex and Sylvester Stallone films. Meanwhile, “Irreversible” provocateur Noé’s latest is a wildly ambitious 155-minute extravaganza set inside the mind of a drug dealer told from the first-person perspective. Nathaniel Brown and “Boardwalk Empire” star Paz de la Huerta play siblings torn apart after their parents died in a car accident who reunite in Tokyo just before Brown’s drug dealer is shot and left to observe his sister from above. (Alison Willmore’s review of “Dogtooth” and Aaron Hillis’ interview with Noé can be found here.)

“Aaron Bacon: Troubled Youth Collection” (2010)
Directed by Nick Gaglia, Jonathan Heap, Kether Donohue, and Charlie Vaughn
Released by Vanguard Cinema

“Avatar” supporting player Joel David Moore and “Firefly” fave Alan Tudyk make appearances in this collection of dramatic shorts including Nick Gaglia’s “Aaron Bacon,” Jonathan Heap’s “Bedridden,” Kether Donohue’s “The Babydaddy,” and Charlie Vaughn’s musical coming out tale “Flight to Sinai.” Also available on VOD.

“Alligator” (1979)
Directed by Sergio Martino
Released by Mya Communication

Barbara Bach and Mel Ferrer are just two of the tourists who make the unfortunate booking at a resort in Africa where a flesh-hungry crocodile, thought to be the reincarnation of an angry island god, is eating the guests in this exploitation flick made in the wake of “Jaws.”

“Eclipse Series 25: Basil Dearden’s London Underground” (1959-1962)
Directed by Basil Dearden
Released by Criterion Collection

The 25th entry in the Criterion Eclipse Series offers a spotlight to the oft-overlooked British director Basil Dearden with four of the films he made after exiting Ealing Studios to make the crime thrillers “Sapphire” and “The League of Gentlemen,” in addition to the landmark gay drama “Victim” with Dirk Bogarde and the jazz-infused “All Night Long.”

“The Bird Can’t Fly” (2008)
Directed by Threes Anna
Released by Vanguard Cinema

Barbara Hershey plays a woman who almost literally can’t return to her desert home for her daughter’s funeral since it has been deluged by sand, but finds a reason to stay with the discovery of a grandson she hadn’t known about previously in this 2008 drama from Dutch director Threes Anna. Also available on VOD.

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Ryan Reynolds Escapes Two “Buried” Indies, Samuel Fuller Freakouts and More New DVDs

Ryan Reynolds Escapes Two “Buried” Indies, Samuel Fuller Freakouts and More New DVDs (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD today:

“Buried”
Directed by Rodrigo Cortes
Released by Lionsgate

“Paper Man”
Directed by Kieran and Michele Mulroney
Released by MPI Home Video

While one can’t feel too badly for the future “Green Lantern” star and People‘s sexiest man alive, Ryan Reynolds’ two stabs at glory outside the beaten path went largely unseen, which is particularly a shame in the case of Rodrigo Cortes’ “Buried,” the thriller where Reynolds has no acting partner but a cell phone as a military contractor who finds himself trapped in a coffin with no knowledge of how or why he got there. A success at Sundance, Lionsgate scrapped expansion plans for the film when it didn’t do well in limited release, so home video will be the first chance for many to catch it. Still, that was a considerably bigger success than “Paper Man,” which snuck in and out of theaters in the spring despite its big name cast. The dramedy features Reynolds as the imaginary superhero pal of Jeff Daniels’ struggling writer, whose writer’s block and desire to leave a mark on the world also leads to befriending a teen (Emma Stone) he takes a spark to – it’s also available on VOD. (My interview with Cortes and Reynolds is here.)

“Animal Kingdom”
Directed by David Michôd
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Currently riding high on an Oscar push for the film’s duplicitous matriarch Jacki Weaver after having won the Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition, David Michôd’s moody directorial debut stars Ben Mendelsohn as the 17-year-old nephew of a well-known Melbourne underworld figure who attempts to break away from his family’s criminal ways, with the help of a possibly crooked cop (Guy Pearce). (Alison Willmore’s interview with Michôd is here.)

“Army of Crime”
Directed by Robert Guédiguian
Released by Lorber Films

Simon Abkarian and Virginie Ledoyen play the couple at the center of a revolt against the Nazi occupation in this historical epic from French director Robert Guédiguian.

“Checking Out”
Directed by David Leland
Released by Image Entertainment

Long before “Paper Man,” Jeff Daniels was having a midlife crisis in this Joe Eszterhas-penned comedy from 1989 about a man whose young neighbor dies setting him off into a panic.

“The Dogfather”
Directed by Richard Boddington
Released by Image Entertainment

Chris Parnell stars in this comedy about a family man who takes in an orphaned bulldog for his son, not knowing that the dog swallowed the ring of a mob boss, who sends two goons to get it back.

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