Every now and again, one is left with an assortment of films that has no rhyme of reason. In one hand, I have a documentary that is ultimately against the concept of Global Warming, but that doesn’t take the whole “Democrats are evil lying Liberal Commies” approach; an anti-sexist, fictional account of a 1968 Ford Sewing Strike; and a chick flick with Patricia Clarkson. In the other hand, I am faced with an IMAX flick that shows us how cool it is to ride in a helicopter with Martin Sheen whispering into your ear; an Academy Award-nominated animated film suitable for all audiences; and a god-awful animated Belgian turkey that isn’t suitable for any audience but Adolf Hitler.
And so, with absolutely nothing to connect more than two films here whatsoever with, it is my less-than-confident pleasure to welcome you to the latest chapter of Catching Up At The Video Store: “A Little Of This, A Little Of That.”
· Cool It (2010) (Lions Gate)
The Short Version: Yet another movie to annoy your Right Wing friends with.
The Slightly-Elongated Version: No, it’s not the UK TV series with human puppet Phil Cool of the same name. Instead, director Ondi Timoner presents us with this documentary about The Skeptical Environmentalist author Bjørn Lomborg. Instead of going the usual route that most “documentaries about saving the planet” seem to go down — declaring that we’re doomed and all that jazz — Lomborg presents viewers with a number of innovative ideas and original concepts to stop the threat of Global Warming and save the human race (although as to why anyone would want to do such a thing is beyond me). The movie received a limited theatrical screening in the US, which is a bit surprising considering Lomborg himself is supposed to disbelieve the concept of Global Warming himself. Either way, here’s your chance to see it for yourself.
· Made In Dagenham (2010) (Sony Pictures)
The Short Version: Somebody should show this flick to all of the Walmart workers of the world.
The Slightly-Elongated Version: From Nigel Cole, the guy who helmed such Brit Hits as Saving Grace and Calendar Girls, comes this tale based on the true-life 1968 Ford sewing machinists strike incident. The story here (which takes a certain amount of liberties in order to make it all the more dramatic, naturally) focuses on the fictional character of Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins), who organizes a strike that ultimately shuts down an entire Ford Motor plant in Dagenham, England (yes, they have Fords there, too, kids) after the factory’s male superiors refuse to give them equal pay and rights and stuff. Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike and the great Bob Hoskins also star in this anti-sexism masterpiece that boasts some truly wonderful retro fashions. Also available on Blu-ray.
· Cairo Time (2009) (IFC Films)
The Short Version: Ten points if the song “Fire In Cairo” by The Cure just popped into your head.
The Slightly-Elongated Version: Ruba Nadda writes and directs this romantic drama about a Canadian magazine editor, Juliette Grant (Patricia Clarkson), who travels to the mystical Egyptian capital mentioned in the title in order to reunite with her slightly-estranged husband, UN official Mark (Tom McCamus). Mark, however, is pretty busy with the fighting going on in Gaza, so he asks a local Egyptian friend of his — Tareq (Alexander Siddig) — to look after his wife. Well, as you can well imagine, Tareq not only looks after our heroine, but he looks directly at her, too: especially her body and decidedly un-Egyptian manner, prompting Juliette to reconsider the whole “marriage” thing. Also available on Blu-ray.
· Straight Up: Helicopters In Action (2002) (Vista Point Entertainment)
The Short Version: IMAX + Helicopters + Blu-ray = Bargain Bin
The Slightly-Elongated Version: OK, so who’s up for a helicopter ride with Martin Sheen? Sure, such a concept is probably infinitely safer than taking one with Charlie Sheen. Nevertheless, the creators behind Straight Up: Helicopters In Action didn’t feel the need to include a lot of incentive in their IMAX production…such as appeal. While it is an interesting item to watch for whirlybird enthusiasts and families alike (its brief 42-minute runtime helps considerably if you’re not a big fan of things with propellers), the 2011 Blu-ray release of this title doesn’t deliver anything new (or at least interesting) when compared to its previous SD-DVD issue. Best recommended as a curiosity-sort-of-thing.
· The Secret Of Kells (2009) (New Video Group)
The Short Version: The secret’s in the milkshake. Oh, wait, that’s Kelis I’m thinking about.
The Slightly-Elongated Version: It received a nomination for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year in 2010 during the Academy Awards. And yet, strangely enough, nobody had really head of The Secret Of Kells at the time. Once the title finally hit home video, however, people were at last able to check out Tomm Moore’s wonderfully-crafted piece of animation — one that didn’t rely on the overrated usage of computer graphics, but that instead used traditional hand-drawn graphics (gasp!). The story involves a young Irish lad who goes on a often-perilous quest to help finish the legendary Book of Kells. Evan McGuire and Brendan Gleeson provide their voices in this fit-for-family fare that was more-than-worthy of its Oscar nomination. Also available on Blu-ray.
· Luke & Lucy: The Texas Rangers (2009) (Phase 4 Films)
The Short Version: Obviously, the Belgians really hate us — and the Mexicans, too.
The Slightly-Elongated Version: Whereas The Secret Of Kells earned a nomination for Best Animated Feature, the Belgian-made Suske En Wiske: De Texas Rakkers could very well go down in history as one of the Worst Animated Features ever. The amazingly-poorly-animated atrocity has youngsters Luke and Lucy (or, “Spike and Suzy,” as they are called in the original release, and based off of a couple of popular Flemish characters) helping to save the world from some evil mastermind that has shrunk the Texas Rangers. As if the fact that the film has too many negative Mexican stereotypes and way-too-inappropriate sexual innuendo to be aimed at small children weren’t bad enough, the US distributors decided to up the ante of crap by having Billy Ray Cyrus voice one of the characters. Belgium should just stick to making chocolates. Also available on Blu-ray.
Happy viewing, kids!