I’ve always felt that live-action musicals, with literally five exceptions*, are not for me. The idea that a group of strangers could suddenly burst into simultaneous song and dance with no prior opportunity to rehearse is simply ridiculous. And where’s the music coming from anyway? Preposterous.
Armed with that kind of attitude it seems obvious that I would avoid any effort to watch a Bollywood film… at least until this week. In addition to my surprising Pick Of the Week other new titles hitting the street today include the BBC’s Human Planet series, the forty-year-old awesomely-titled softcore flick The Lickerish Quartet, the killer boar movie Chawz, and many more.
(*The only great movie musicals are: Happiness Of the Katakuris, Meet the Feebles, The Muppet Movie, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and The Wizard Of Oz)
If you see something you like, click on the image to buy it from Amazon.
Color me surprised, but my favorite release of the week, and one I never expected to enjoy, is this Bollywood blockbuster about three college friends reuniting a decade after graduation. The bulk of the film actually takes place during their four years of education at a prestigious engineering school and follows them through the laughs, struggles, suicide attempts, dance numbers, and bonding on their way into the real world. The first twenty minutes or so are pretty much what I expected from the genre… basically dancing and extremely broad comedy… but I soon found myself engaged in the story, caring about the characters, dancing around in my kurta, and laughing at the jokes. Good fun all around and highly recommended for fans of charming characters, inspiring stories, and goofy ass musical numbers.
Pitch: No, it’s not the Innerspace sequel we’ve all been waiting for…
Why Buy? Haven’t seen this one yet, but the brief bits I’ve caught on TV and the ravings of a certain Neil Miller have convinced me to pick it up when I can as a blind buy. After years of brilliant nature documentaries the team behind Blue Planet and Planet Earth have finally turned their cameras on the most dangerous animal of all… man. Dun dun dun! The series is broken into eight different habitats, from deserts to jungles to cities and everywhere in between, and examines how man survives and interacts in these varied environments. As expected, the show is filled with stunning imagery and insight into how different and similar our Earthly neighbors are.
The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
Pitch: Seriously, why have we never seen The Vision onscreen? Sounds like a case of robot discrimination…
Why Rent? The core members of the Avengers, and by “core” I mean the ones with movie deals, join forces to defeat all manners of bad guys and evil doers. I have no horse in the race between Marvel and DC (although my childhood heart belongs to the Super Friends (at least until the Wonder Twins and their goddamn disease factory of a monkey arrived on the scene)), but pound for pound the Avengers are probably the most exciting and interesting superhero group going (take that Freedom Fighters!). These action-heavy episodes offer origin stories, fresh villains, and lots of animated bang for your buck. Definitely worth a watch for fans of the characters.
Blow Out (Criterion)
Pitch: Oooh! Oooh! Mr. De Palma…
Why Rent? A sound man (John Travolta) for cheap slashers accidentally records a gunshot and subsequent car crash, and soon he’s caught up in a conspiracy with a femme fatale (Nancy Allen) and a lunatic killer (John Lithgow). On the Brian De Palma scale of crap (Raising Cain) to brilliance (The Untouchables) this early eighties effort falls comfortably in the middle. The technical aspect is top notch in its attention to the sound design, Travolta is fantastic and filled with energy and intensity, and the plot is bold in its decision to go nowhere, but the movie suffers from a terrible performance by Allen, characters with zero peripheral vision and spatial awareness, and the aforementioned plot that goes nowhere. De Palma hasn’t made a good movie in twenty years, so give this one a watch and remember what he once was.
The Lickerish Quartet
Pitch: Best. Library. Scene. Ever…
Why Rent? It’s a family film, of sorts, as a couple and their grown son watch a stag film in the living room of their giant castle-like home. They meet the blond and buxom star of the film and invite her home, and one by one they fall under her seductive spell. At which point everything goes bonkers. Radley Metzger had a healthy career in the sixties and seventies churning out erotica filmed in sumptuous European locales, and this is apparently his most well known. The film, including the sex, is beautifully shot, and while the film makes barely a lick of sense its exploration of reality makes it seem like Inception meets soft-core… and that can’t be a bad thing.
Pitch: “Winning the lottery is like throwing Miracle-Gro on your character defects…”
Why Rent? The director of Spellbound turns his documentarian eye towards the world of lottery winners to show how winning millions of dollars can change people for the better and for the worse. He also looks at people who haven’t won but who continue to play in the hope that one day they will. There’s little new here in these stories as we’ve all heard the cautionary tales before, but some of the details are still startling and entertaining. The most ridiculous involves the guy who won millions and was flat broke just a few years later.
Muay Thai Giant
Pitch: Two girls one chump…
Why Rent? Nathan Jones, aka giant white guy from Tony Jaa’s The Protector, plays a kind-hearted tourist who has his passport stolen and is forced to hang out in Thailand longer than planned. He gets mixed up with two teen Thai girls (don’t judge, we’ve all been there), and discovers that while he’s a klutzy pacifist in general he turns into a red, raging hulk when he consumes spicy chilies. So yeah, fairly silly stuff here, but but it has a few laughs and plenty of heart. Best of all though, it has Sasisa Jindamanee. She’s like a teenage Jeeja Yanin (Chocolate), and she’s a promising fighter who’s a joy to watch jump, kick, and hit her way through a fight.
Pitch: “It blended the structure and character relationships of Rashomon and Citizen Kane by providing the viewer an evolved exegesis into the psyche of each character through the perspective of that character’s ego and through the looking glass perspective of a third party.” – Writer/director Christopher C. Odom, on his film 23rd Psalm…
Why Avoid? No, Mr. Odom, it did not.
Pitch: Only one thing smells like shitty movie and that’s shitty movie…
Why Avoid? Maybe it’s the seven different characters falling down hillsides in the first fifteen minutes, or the incredibly poor attempt at mixing comedy with a creature feature, or the lack of scares, gore, and legitimate thrills… whatever it is this Korean movie about a giant killer boar terrorizing a small rural community is not nearly as much fun as it should have been. No one really expected the DVD cover reference to Jaws to pan out, but this isn’t even as entertaining as Jaws: The Revenge. And that was about a shark out for vengeance.
Pitch: The melodramatic tale of an ignorant ginger and the douche-nozzles who pretend to love her…
Why Avoid? Based on an EL Doctorow short story, this tale about ten years in the life of a girl named Jolene is an endurance test of a most repetitive nature. Jolene starts as a fifteen-year-old who marries a dork but sleeps with his uncle, and the next decade sees her moving through juvenile halls, tattoo parlors, Vegas show floors, and beyond. Jessica Chastain does a fine job in the lead role, but everyone else involved has seemingly forgotten how to act. Even worse, her character is unlikable, fairly stupid, and consistently uninteresting.
Pitch: It’s that Cuba Gooding Jr./Christian Slater team-up the whole world has been waiting for…
Why Avoid? A cop still reeling from his family’s murder returns to the job on a case involving really bad people, silly Canadians, and Virgin Mary statues made of heroin. Clearly any film with Gooding Jr. and Slater must be worth a rental at least, right? Sadly, that’s just not the case. Half of the film’s dialogue is ADR’d in over unrelated scenes, major characters disappear for twenty minutes at a time, a bad guy is given a nonsensical flashback, and the whole thing is edited by the homeless guy who bought Gooding Jr.’s Oscar at a garage sale.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Bunny And the Bull
Doc Martin: Series 1-4
The Universe: The Complete Megaset
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?