Five videos: “Hush,” “Sober,” “Prison Sex,” “Stinkfist,” “Ã†nema”
Bonus CD with eight tracks
Released by: Volcano Region: 1 Rating: NR, but don’t let your kids pop it in Anamorphic: N/A; videos appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Own it.
Many, many moons ago, when I was in a band, Tool’s Opiate EP was one of the CDs I would use as a vocal warm-up on my way to gigs. People would ask me if I listened to Tool, due apparently to lead singer/vocal god Maynard’s influence on my particular stylings. That would always fill me with a sense of pride. When their next album, Undertow, came out, they had this disturbing little video for their single, “Sober,” which fascinated me. Featuring a deformed stop-motion puppet being tormented in a what appeared to be a blasted-out shell of a dead house, it was something I could watch over and over again, always finding some little bizarre nuance I had missed before.
Written by: Robert Nelson Jacobs, based on the novel by Joanne Harris Directed by: Lasse HallstrÃ¶m Starring: Juliette Binoche, Alfred Molina, Johnny Depp, Lena Olin, Judi Dench
My Advice: Wait and Rent It.
Vianne (Binoche) comes from a long line of wanderers, spreading the good word and the good chocolate, with her daughter Anouk (Victoire Thivisol) in tow. She just so happens to have wandered into a sleepy little French town circa 1959. She rents a shop and begins to get ready to open her confectionary shoppe for the benefit of the entire burg–but she’s doing all of this right before Lent, which doesn’t sit well with the town’s mayor (Molina). Before long, the battle lines are drawn: the establishment versus the iconoclastic chocoholics. Who will win? Three guesses.
Written by: Mark Protosevich Directed by: Tarsem Singh Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vince Vaughn, Dylan Baker, Jake Weber
My Advice: Don’t miss it.
Catherine (Lopez) is a former social worker who’s now finally able to get inside the mind of the child in her care. We’re talking literally here. She is able to project her mind into the minds of others using cutting edge technology, and is trying to help a catatonic child (Colton James) with his trauma. Into her life comes FBI agent Novak (Vaughn), and boy does she wish he was carrying flowers. But instead, he’s carrying Carl (D’Onofrio), a serial killer–and they need Catherine’s help to find the whacko’s latest victim.
Let’s get something out of the way first. This seems an awful lot like Dreamscape of the Lambs, with art direction by Joel-Peter Witkin. And yes, in the hands of less capable directors, that’s probably all it might have turned out to be: eye candy that wasn’t for the squeamish. However, Tarsem, he of the music videos, stepped up to the chair and brought with him much thoughts (and effective ones at that) about what the inner workings of a madman’s mind might be.
Written & Directed by: Robert Rodriguez Starring: Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Antonio Banderas, Carla Gugino, Alan Cumming
My Advice: Matinee.
Gregorio and Ingrid Cortez (Banderas and Gugino) are the world’s greatest spies. No, really. They just look like entrenched suburbanites, minivan and all. They have two very intelligent, energetic kids (Vega and Sabara). Everything’s just peachy. But when the past comes calling, and they get pulled out of retirement, they get more than they bargained for. Captured–because they’re just a little rusty–that leaves “Uncle Felix” (Cheech Marin) to get the children to safety. Alone and outgunned, the children decide that they’re going to have to claim their spy heritage–and get their parents back themselves.
The problem with movies for kids these days is that there’s very little in them for the adults that inevitably must chaperone the tykes. Hollywood, for the most part–there are exceptions, has forgotten how to give things levels. The best example, of course, are the Looney Tunes. You watch them when you’re a munchkin, and you love them. You come back to them as an adult and go: “Whoa–I had no idea–!” Such is the fun of Spy Kids, not to mention the mind-blowing concept of the man who brought us From Dusk Till Dawn doing a family movie. And doing a family movie that actually works as outlined above. Who knew?
Written and Directed by: Guy Ritchie Starring: Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Alan Ford, Dennis Farina, Benicio Del Toro
My Advice: Matinee
Turkish (Statham) is a boxing promoter. He and his partner, Tommy (Stephen Graham), just want to do their fights, make their money, and get on with it. But their search for a new trailer/headquarters leads them to a gypsy camp, which leads them to pissing off the local heavy, Brick Top (Ford), which…which, well, after several various iterations leads them to a huge, flawless diamond that nearly everybody wants. Picture It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, but with a diamond instead of a hidden treasure. Oh, and British accents. And guns.
First thing that needs to be established is that this film feels almost like a highly polished version of Guy Ritchie‘s prior and debut film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Granted, a lot of the same faces make appearances: Ford, Statham, Vinnie Jones, Jason Flemyng to name a few. But the trouble is, you can’t come down too hard on it–because it’s just so damn funny. And because it’s got that damn dog. And the funniest thing about the dog was imagining the foley artist who had to work that squeak toy. No, I’m not going to explain myself–go see the movie yourself.
Written by: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard Koch & Casey Robinson, based on the play Everybody Comes to Rick’s by Joan Allison & Murray Burnett Directed by: Michael Curtiz Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Dooley Wilson
“You Must Remember This,” a documentary hosted by Lauren Bacall
All-new introduction by Lauren Bacall
Theatrical trailer for the film, along with several other classic Bogart flicks
Released by: Warner Brothers Region: 1 Rating: NR Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 ratio
Written by: Simon Moore Directed by: Alastair Reid Starring: Bill Paterson, Lindsay Duncan, Jamal Shah, Fritz MÃ¼ller-Scherz, Julia Ormond
Cast and crew filmographies
Interviews with Moore and producer Brian Eastman
Released by: Acorn Media Region: 1 Rating: NR Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Rent it.
Drugs and the people who take them and the war being waged on those people. It’s a big story to be told, with many different sides to deal with–and none of them are pretty. Submitted for your approval: a British government minister (Paterson) assigned to deal with Pakistan, a terrific exporter of heroin to all of Europe; a woman (Duncan) who discovers that the way by which her husband (Knut Hinz) finances their good life is through trafficking the stuff; an opium farmer (Shah) driven out of his given trade by a government who wants to prove to the Brits that they are deserving of monetary aid. How these people’s lives interact with one another across international lines and how they are all affected by humanity’s need to leave one’s cares behind forms the backbone for one helluva sprawling epic.
Written by Alan Moore Pencils by J.H. Williams III Inks by Mick Gray Colors by Jeromy Cox Letters by Todd Klein Published by DC/Wildstorm/America’s Best Comics. Price: $2.99
My Verdict: More, please.
Sophie, as Promethea, continues to help Barbara, a former and still Promethea, in her search for her deceased husband. In the meantime, back on Earth, Stacia, the stand-in for Sophie, who is now also Promethea–makes a new set of rules.
Part of the fun of Promethea for me is that it’s what I imagine reading a comic book by Robert Anton Wilson would be like. Filled and overflowing with ideas about ontology, it continues to push the envelope for what can be discussed in a so-called “superhero” comic book. Promethea may be the titular character of the series, but the true story is about stories–and how they factor in our lives. Even our afterlives.