Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope that this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you towards titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.
This week brings with it a selection that includes an Oscar winner, a nominee, and a variety of other, non-nominated flicks, both good and bad. Read on for the week's titles that are worthy of your consideration.
Battlestar Galactica: Season Three. The fourth season is so close I can almost taste it. I eagerly anticipate digging into the third season of the show, as I have sadly forgotten a lot of what has happened and need the refresher. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, do yourself a favor and dig up a copy of the first season and you will discover why the fans rave about the series so much. It is an incredible series with action, drama, comedy, thrills, and chills — everything you could possibly want in engrossing television. This is a must have, no question about it.
Enchanted. Here is a film that I had no expectations for. I thought the trailers looked cute, but beyond that I did not hold out much hope. Then I saw it. The film is wonderful. It has comedy, fantasy, adventure, and plenty of good cheer that is totally infectious. Amy Adams really brings everything together as she completely sells the princess out of water element; without her energy this film would not have been nearly as successful. Because of her, Enchanted is a must have film. At least give it a rental.
Atonement. Here is a film that is well made, but is surprisingly uninvolving. Until the final minutes of the film, I felt as if the filmmakers were keeping me at arm's length. Now, considering that this is a wartime romance, involvement is a must. In order for this to work, we need to care about these characters. I did not feel that connection. Still, it is well made and is worth a rental.
I Am Legend. Surprisingly good for about two thirds, then it goes off the rails to a poor conclusion. No, it is not a straight adaptation of the novella, and it subverts what the title means, but it still works as a stand-alone film. Will Smith is strong as Robert Neville, a role I was unsure he had the presence to pull off. I was happy to be proven wrong.
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising. This film is bad. Fans of Susan Cooper will already know this. In the end it doesn't matter if you are a fan of the book or not, you will be falling asleep or struggling to figure out what the purpose of this was. Now, it isn't nearly as disastrous as Eragon, but it is awfully close. The two seem to be in a race to see who can hit the bottom of the fantasy barrel first. Then again, I would probably rather watch Eragon again than this, if only to make fun of all the Star Wars rips.
Southland Tales. Here is a movie that I gave a bad review, yet am very interested in owning. It is very ambitious in director Richard Kelly's goals. It is enormous in scope and crams so much stuff into its running time that it becomes a muddled mess, yet I find it strangely desirable to take another shot at it. I am sure there is much more to see that was not seen during only one viewing.
Bionic Woman: Volume One. This is likely going to be the only volume that will ever be released, as I doubt that a second season will be in the offing. Still, I enjoyed the series. It was far from perfect, but it was entertaining and the potential to develop into something good is definitely there.
Love in the Time of Cholera. Javier Bardem's other 2007 film arrives on DVD with considerably less fanfare than No Country For Old Men did last week. I did not see this film, but have read that it was not very good, at all. I guess they all cannot be winners.
Revolver. Guy Ritchie's latest film has not been treated kindly by critics, although I am still interested in seeing it for Jason Statham's performance if nothing else. It appears to be a confusing film which defies explanation. Just take a look at Roger Ebert's review — it is not kind, but makes me want to see it.
The Ice Storm: Criterion Collection. Ang Lee's 1970's-era drama has always been well reviewed, yet remains on my unseen list. It has been released before, but here it gets the Criterion treatment, which is always first rate. This may be the right time to check up on it.
Eight Men Out: 20th Anniversary Edition. Has it really been twenty years since this came out? Wow. I really need to give it another spin, it has been such a long time.
Bull Durham: 20th Anniversary Edition. 1988 must have been a good year for baseball, here is another twentieth anniversary baseball film, although in a decidedly different tone than Eight Men Out.
After Dark Horrorfest: 2007 Edition. Here is the collection of the eight films released as part of last fall's horror festival. I was able to see five of them on the big screen. Here are the included titles:
- The Unearthed. Haven't seen this yet.
- The Deaths of Ian Stone. This tale of a man who dies over and over is a good concept, but could have been so much more. It fails to live up to its premise, but still retains enough substance to warrant a watch for the curious. It makes a strong attempt to create an intelligent story that also has enough thrills to target a couple different audience demographic.
- Borderland. It is not perfect, but it is a strong movie. It has frightening implications and definitely puts thoughts in one's head. Zev Berman has crafted an scary tale which has very personal roots. Like many of the film's at this year's Horror Fest, it's borderline horror at best, but that does not take away the frightening reality behind this story.
- Lake Dead. Haven't seen this yet.
- Mulberry Street. Proof that low budget does not equal low quality. This may not be for everyone, but those willing to give it a shot will be rewarded by a gem of a movie with interesting characters with plenty of flavor and story and reason to care about them. Much of it is not explicit, but if you pay attention you will find a rich tapestry develop. That's when the rats kick in and you have a reason to care, a reason to be invested in their survival. Impressive debut feature from Jim Mickle.
- Tooth and Nail. This was a good movie. It may have suffered from being a little talky, but it still worked. I liked the setting, and the payoff was cheer-worthy. It does offer a bleak look at the future, but it attempts to ground it in a sort of believable way. Not exactly "horror" but still worth your time.
- Nightmare Man. This appears to have had a budget of about $20 and a camcorder borrowed from your friend's mom. In other words, it looks and feels cheap. It will never win any awards, but for a throwback homage it is kind of fun.
- Crazy Eights. Haven't seen this yet.