Fast & Furious
"Not only is the story silly, but there's not even much car-racing in it -- and why would anyone want to watch this movie if it doesn't have a lot of car-racing in it?" Eric D. Snider asked. "It turns out minimizing the one entertaining element of a franchise was a BAD idea!" Alas, I must agree. Also on Blu-ray. Skip it.
Bart Got a Room.
"It's not much different from other nerdy-teen-needs-date-for-prom flicks," noted Erik Davis in his review, "but it sure as hell packs a ton of heart and has a lot of fun. It's alive, it's colorful, it's got well-written characters and more than a handful of memorable scenes." Steven Kaplan stars, with William H. Macy and Cheryl Hines as his newly-divorced parents. Rent it.
"It's not aggressively bad," opined the long-suffering Eric D. Snider, "It's more like a dumb, energetic puppy." Personally, I think he was being far too kind to a sloppy, embarrassing, and dull movie. Also on Blu-ray. Skip it.
"Up until yesterday I was having trouble keeping track of all the movies that were contenders for the worst of 2009," confessed Jeffrey M. Anderson, "and I couldn't decide which one topped the list. Now my head is clear of such decisions. I've seen Miss March." Also on Blu-ray. Skip it.
Also check out: This week's TV on DVD releases at TV Squad.
New indie film releases, more Blu-ray picks, and a look at the Collector's Corner -- featuring the complete BSG set -- all after the jump!
Big Man Japan
I've heard huge raves from people whose opinion I trust -- like Tim League of Austin's Alamo Drafthouse and Fantastic Fest -- though others have expressed reservations about the pace being slower than they expected. Described as "an outrageous portrayal of an original superhero," the titular character " inherited the role of defending Japan against a host of bizarre monsters. He receives high-voltage electroshocks which transform him into a stocky, stick-wielding giant several stories high. However, where his predecessors were revered as national heroes, he is an outcast among the citizens he protects." Good enough to warrant a rental? I think so.
The Astonishing Work of Tezuka Osamu
Groundbreaking animation from the creator of Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. If you love anime -- or animation in general -- this sounds like a small investment that should pay off big time.
Sita Sings the Blues
Nina Paley's animated feature based on an Indian epic won rare raves from our own Jeffrey M. Anderson as "a staggeringly brilliant, astonishingly imaginative feature debut ... what I love most about the film is the way it combines an intellectual deconstruction of the story with genuine emotional ecstasy and turmoil; it's as if all the different segments somehow meet in the middle with a satisfying click."
Bill Plympton's Dog Days: A Collection of Short Films 2004-2008
Let's make it a trifecta of animation, with this new collection of recent work from the award-winning Canadian animator.
Shouting Fire: Stories From the Edge of Free Speech
Liz Garbus' quietly riveting doc mixes historical (the Pentagon, the Nazi march in Skokie, Illinois) with "contemporary free-speech battles" in the wake of 9/11, from a t-shirt worn by a high schooler to the ouster of a college professor. This debuted recently on HBO, and I was quickly absorbed, thanks to Garbus' deftness as a filmmaker and the sense of urgency about the possible erodin of the First Amendment.
An American Affair
Gretchen Mol, James Rebhorn, Cameron Bright, and Noah Wylie star in the story of a young teenager who gets "an inside view of JFK's torrid affair with his neighbor and secret CIA assassination plans."
Also out: Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, The Alzheimer's Project.
This is Spinal Tap
Rob Reiner's debut feature came out of the blue in 1984. I grew up watching him play 'Meathead' Michael Stivic on All in the Family, and so the idea that he could direct a decent movie sounded impossible. He struck gold his first time out, though, in large part because he collaborated with Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer.
Those three gentlemen were basically unknown commodities at the time, which made it all the easier to believe their thick British accents and the thick-headed musicians they played. Underneath the deadly accurate mocking of all the overly familar rock star trappings, though, runs a stream of genuine affection for the characters, especially for their never-say-die attitude, despite the untimely deaths of a series of hapless drummers.
That sincere appreciation for and understanding of the real-life musicians (and filmmakers) that served as sources of inspiration is also what separates This is Spinal Tap from all but a few of its imitators. It's easy to make fun of someone, but much more difficult to do it with empathy -- and without any smirking.
Blu-ray.com reviews the disc and comments on the supplemental material.
Also out: Repulsion (Roman Polanski's classic in a new edition from the Criterion Collection), Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys, and Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It.
Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series
Yes, we're a movie site, but we can't ignore such a colossal release, especially when many people consider BSG to be finer than any three dozen so-called "great" science fiction movies the average citizen could name. I am not quite convinced myself, but if some kind soul sends this to me in the mail, I'm willing to give it a try!
The box set will no doubt become the new centerpiece of the shrine that all true BSG fans have constructed long-ago in their place of abode, replacing all the individual season box sets. Light a candle, turn down the lights, and try not to burn the house down. Also on Blu-ray, for the ultimate deep space experience.
The Green Hornet / The Green Hornet Stikes Again
From 1940, the first title is a 13-episode serial, with Gordon Jones as Britt Reid and Keye Luke as Kato, while the second set includes all 15 episodes of the sequel, with Warren Hull stepping into the lead role and Keye Luke returning as his faithful sidekick.