Welcome back to This Week In Discs!
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
A Night at the Opera, Stage Door, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Long Long Trailer, The Great Race, Blazing Saddles, The In-Laws, Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Risky Business, The Goonies, Spies Like Us, Beetlejuice, Grumpy Old Men, Ace Venture: Pet Detective, Analyze This, Wedding Crashers, The Hangover
Warner Bros. has been releasing various box sets to celebrate various anniversaries, genres and talents (including musicals, gangsters and Clint Eastwood), and as is often the case with collections there’s inevitably a mix of good and bad. Their comedy collection manages a coup of sorts though by featuring almost nothing but fantastically funny films. (Sorry Analyze This.) The discs are in sleeved pages along with brief info on each movie, and each of the films include whatever extras previous releases had. [DVD extras: Multiple extra features]
Pitch: The original Movie 43…
What’s It About? What isn’t it about? Movies made up of comedic sketches aren’t a common site these days, but they had a brief run thanks in large part to the efforts of a handful of comedy masterminds. John Landis follows up his directorial debut Schlock with an 80 minute collection of spoofs, parodies and utter absurdities.
Why Buy? Landis would return to the formula a decade later with Amazon Women On the Moon, but he would do so without this film’s writers. Jerry & David Zucker and Jim Abrahams would go on to make Airplane three years later, but they made their debut with this comedy shotgun blast that finds more hits than misses. As fun as the movie itself is, the real star of this Blu-ray release is the audio commentary featuring all three writers along with Landis. Shout! Factory delivers the goods, and they do it all without a single set of balls on anyone’s chin. [Blu-ray extras: Commentary, interviews, trailer]
Pitch: But seriously, who wouldn’t go see a musical called Springtime for Hitler…
What’s It About? Broadway producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) and his accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) are in need of a cash infusion, and they think they’ve thought of a foolproof plan. They’ll produce a fully insured, surefire flop, and then collect when it tanks. The joke is on them though when their intentionally offensive and terrible musical becomes the talk of the town.
Why Buy? Mel Brooks wrote/directed this classic that retains all of its laughs today even after the world has seen a remake and a very successful stage production. The key to its staying power is in the sharply comedic writing and the genuine joy of Wilder’s performance. Of course pretty much every Wilder performance is a never-ending treasure, but he was at his best in his early years. Mostel is less successful unless you’re a fan of loud, broad gestures. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray offers up a truly sharp image alongside a new featurette and some older extras. [Blu-ray extras: Making of, featurettes, deleted scene, trailers]
Pitch: Steampunk hasn’t looked this good since, well, Tai Chi Zero…
What’s It About? Lu Chan came to the Chen Village previously (in Tai Chi Zero) to learn the elite art of a very specialized tai chi, but he was turned away for being an outsider. His persistence paid off though, and the village took him in after he stepped up to help fight back a common enemy. This second film picks up where the prior left off with new enemies moving in with motivations of their own.
Why Rent? I wasn’t a big fan of the first film as its reliance on style over substance makes Zack Snyder’s movies look like Oscar-winning dramas by comparison. The action looks good, but there really isn’t all that much of it. The sequel fixes that issue by adding more in way of fights, battle and spectacle. It’s still a fairly simple tale, but the visual style combined with some Sammo Hung-choreographed action sequences make it a sequel that puts its predecessor in its place. [Blu-ray extras: Making of, trailer]
Pitch: No pets, Section-8s or bullet-proof vests…
What’s It About? A young man is murdered in a low-rent tenement building in London, and while several of the residents witness parts of the attack they all choose to stay mute when questioned by the police. A year later life has returned to normal aside from the building’s impending scheduled demolition. As the last residents prepare to move on the unexpected happens as a sniper takes aim killing off anyone who tries to leave.
Why Rent? This UK thriller boils down to a game of “who’s going to die next,” but it manages some real suspense and surprise thanks to a smart (enough) script and some atypical characters. They initially fall in line with genre expectations, but the film does a fine job with antagonists and potential victims alike. It’s not a film you’d necessarily watch again, but it more than delivers on an initial viewing. [Blu-ray extras: Commentary, interviews, trailer]
Pitch: Dear lord, please gimme shelter from drab thrillers like this…
What’s It About? Dr. Cara Harding (Julianne Moore) is a widowed mother who’s lost her faith and belief in the supernatural. Challenged by her father to give the unknown another chance she takes on the case of a man (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) with apparent multiple personalities. As she investigates his case she’s forced to entertain the notion that science may not have all the answers.
Why Avoid? The question isn’t why was this film stuck on a shelf for five years before finally seeing a release a few months ago. The question is why was it released at all. I kid! Kind of. The script by Identity scribe Michael Cooney aims for some of the unexpected thrills and twists, but it fails as they’re built on a far less interesting and somewhat more convoluted premise. The actors give it their all, but the script combined with Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein‘s dull, darkly lit direction result in a film that simply never catches viewers’ attention or imagination. [Blu-ray extras: None]
Skip it and watch Primal Fear instead.
Pitch: Fake headlight lights are officially the new CGI blood…
What’s It About? Two couples head to a remote cabin to celebrate Winona’s return to town, but the party is short-lived as a masked and icicle-faced killer has set his sights and taste buds on their fleshy bits.
Why Avoid? Two reasons, and they’re the plot and the execution. There’s nothing actually wrong with the story itself aside from the fact that it brings nothing new to the table. We’ve seen this before, and we’ve seen it much, much better. While the story is generic it’s the film’s production that sinks below sub par levels thanks to terrible lighting (both real and fake), a redundant script, and a killer that makes no sense. Also, his goggles are perpetually frosted over… how does he see what he’s doing?! On the bright side the blood is done practically, and there are a couple cool shots. Just not enough to warrant watching 70+ minutes of the movie. [DVD extras: Making of]
Skip it and watch Cold Prey instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and review material was unavailable:
An American Girl: Saige Paints the Sky
Fangoria Presents: Entity
The House I Live In
Last Resort: The Complete First Season
Least Among Saints
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis: The Complete Series
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season 3
Venus and Serena