Two “big” movies are hitting DVD today, but I’m not recommending either for a RENT or BUY. Why? Because I’ve only seen one of them, and it’s pretty terrible. Luckily there are some smaller films worth checking out this week as well as a few re-issues and television shows that may be worth your time.
One of the lower profile titles (that just missed being my Pick Of the Week) is a somewhat original little horror film called Forget Me Not. The premise is generic at first, but it makes up for it with a fresh take and some fairly creepy visuals. Horror fans should give it a chance.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
The Kids In the Hall: The Complete Series
Comedy is the most subjective genre, so I won’t claim The Kids In the Hall is for everyone, but folks who enjoy solidly creative sketch comedy should definitely take a look at an episode or two. And for those of us who already love the show, A&E Entertainment has released this complete series megaset of all five seasons plus their recent IFC miniseries, Death Comes To Town. The “kids” are five Canadian guys unafraid to dress up as women on a regular basis, and while as with any sketch show the series is hit and miss, the bits garner laughs more often than not. Each season comes in its own snapcase with an insert listing each and every sketch per episode making it easier to find a Chicken Lady bit when you’re in the mood for funny but disturbing comedy. I’ll have a more in-depth review coming soon.
The Great Dictator (Criterion)
Pitch: Who else but Charlie Chaplin would have the nerve to remake Ivan Reitman’s Dave into a black & white satire…
Why Buy? All of Chaplin’s work is worth owning, watching, and enjoying, but this one (along with Modern Times) should be an essential part of everyone’s movie collection. The film sees a lowly barber and war veteran get drawn into a situation due to his resemblance the the nation’s cruel and mustachioed dictator. Chaplin’s 1940 tale is a satirical yet critical look at Hitler’s actions and intentions years before polite society deigned to give the man any serious thought. It’s a crowning comical achievement for Chaplin, but it also highlights the man’s intelligence, awareness, and concern for the world. He may not be as sexy as Hayden Panettiere, but he was still a cool guy.
Action-Packed Double Feature: Fighting Mad/Moving Violation
Pitch: Who’s up for some innocent men and easy women pushed to the edge by corrupt authoritarian figures…
Why Rent? Two Roger Corman-produced films are collected here for fans of 70s-style action romps. Fighting Mad sees Peter Fonda as a “peaceful man” pushed too far, but the twist here is that Fonda’s character is far from peaceful. The dude starts just about every fight he’s in beginning with one just minutes into the movie. But then the big bad corporation kills his brother and his daddy and a few neighbors, and his rage becomes justified. Too bad the final fight takes place in near pitch black darkness. Next up is Stephen McHattie as a drifter who crosses some corrupt cops in Moving Violation. This is the better of the two films and features some solid car crashes and chase action accompanied by a highly improbable relationship between McHattie and Kay Lenz.
Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy
Pitch: Hayden Panettiere is guilty. Of packing ten feet of hotness into a four-foot frame…
Why Rent? Haven’t seen this one yet, but after falling hard for Hayden Panettiere in Scream 4 I’m game to watch anything of hers. Even if it is a Lifetime dramatization of the sensationalized Amanda Knox case. None of us will ever truly know what happened the night Knox is charged with having taken part in the murder of her roommate (although her behavior was fairly suspicious), but there’s still room for interesting drama and character work in the story. And if not? I’ll just watch it on mute. (And for the record I’d never found Panettiere attractive before Scream 4, so odds are that was a fluke and she’ll go back to being a tiny blah in this TV movie.)
Children’s Hospital: The Complete First & Second Seasons
Pitch: “Attention staff. There’s a gigantic snake living below the elevators…”
Why Rent? Created, written, and often directed by Rob Corddry, this Adult Swim series follows the lives and loves of a bunch of doctors. But seeing as the episodes are only a few minutes long each there’s really no need to worry about plot. Instead just look at the cast list… Corddry, Lake Bell, Rob Huebel, Ken Marino, Megan Mullally, and Henry Winkler. Guest stars include the other Corddry brother, Ed Begley Jr, Lizzy Caplan, John Cho, Clark Duke, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Ernie Hudson, Joe Lo Truglio, Eva Longoria, Rob Riggle, Adam Scott, Kurtwood Smith, Jason Sudeikis, David Wain, and Mr. Ron Swanson himself, Nick Offerman.
Forget Me Not
Pitch: I Know What You Did Because I’ve Seen This Movie Before…
Why Rent? That pitch is only partly true. This horror flick follows the well worn formula of a group of teens being picked off by an unseen killer for something they did several years before, but it mixes things up pretty well around that conceit. It’s pretty creative, it has a solid ending, and best of all the scares generated by the killer are an effectively creepy mix of editing, CGI, practical effects, and sound design. It’s slow to start and missing some much needed nudity, but genre fans should make time for it.
IRT Deadliest Roads: Season One
Pitch: It’s like BJ and the Bear meets The Wages Of Fear…
Why Rent? Three of the top drivers from History Channel’s Ice Road Truckers head to India to tackle the most dangerous roads in the world. I was no fan of IRT as the constant risk of cracking ice was far from thrilling and the show seemed to manufacture suspense purely through editing. But this new series ups the stakes considerably, and instead of just telling you how risky it is it shows you every five seconds. The Indian drivers and insanely high (and poorly maintained) cliff-side roads make for a deadly combination that’s heart-racing even in still frames.
The Kids In the Hall: Death Comes To Town
Pitch: Murder! Scandal! Obesity! Cross-dressing…
Why Rent? Seven years after The Kids In the Hall series closed up shop the boys return with this IFC mini-series about a small town murder instigated by the arrival of Death. As with their show the five regulars play the vast majority of the characters here thanks to the wonders of wardrobe changes and prosthetics. The series isn’t as laugh out loud funny as many of their past sketches, but it’s a humorous mystery all the same. If nothing else the series makes me wish they’d get another crack at a feature film as I’m one of the relatively few who truly enjoyed Brain Candy.
A Small Act
Pitch: All the kind strangers…
Why Rent? This HBO doc is framed by the inspirational lives and relationship between two strangers. One is a Swedish woman who contributed $15 per month to a foundation designed to support Kenyan children’s education. She’s assigned a child, she donates monthly, and life goes on… while unbeknownst to her the boy whose education she made possible moves on to University and eventually all the way to Harvard. The remainder of the doc plays like a Kenyan version of Waiting For Superman or The Lottery, so be prepared to be both inspired and depressed.
Transcendent Man: The Life And Ideas Of Ray Kurzweil
Pitch: “These are bound books of business deals, sales of companies. This is a table of awards. I have about over 300 cat figurines…” Ray Kurzweil giving a tour of his home office
Why Rent? Ray Kurzweil is an interesting guy. Bestselling author, holder of multiple patents, millionaire, and esteemed futurist, Kurzweil has some intriguing ideas about the role technology will be playing in years to come.
This doc gives a look at his predictions, his detractors, and aspects of his personal life that go a long way toward explaining his views. Is he right? Who knows, but his thoughts are definitely worth the discussion.
I Am Number Four
Pitch: Almost worth recommending this as a BUY so the studio will make the sequel with more Teresa Palmer. Almost…
Why Avoid? An alien teen and his guardian try to blend into a small town, but a group of alien thugs arrive to snuff him out and he’s forced to explore his untapped powers to fight back. Here’s what works…
Teresa Palmer as Number Six and the brief bit of action she displays towards the end. What doesn’t work in this poorly written mish-mash of other, better movies? Just about everything else. Check out my full review here.
Pitch: Cars! Will! Race! And that’s about it…
Why Avoid? Steve McQueen and a bevy of international racers take part in the grueling Grand Prix race in France. Not sure where this ranks in McQueen’s output in the realm of popular opinion, but it should probably be a bit lower. That’s not to say it isn’t shot well, but it will really only appeal to race fans. Why? Because there’s almost no narrative here. It’s literally forty minutes before the first real dialogue starts, the “story” is paper thin, and the movie is more of a documentary of the race than a proper film. There is a fairly spectacular crash near the end, but it’s effectively ruined thanks to some poor editing choices.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
The Big Bang
Brad Meltzer’s Decoded: Season One
Death Hunter: Werewolves vs Vampires
Gnomeo & Juliet
God Went Surfing With the Devil
The Ron Howard Action Pack: Eat My Dust/Grand Theft Auto
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?