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DVD Pick of the Week: Black Snake Moan

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This is the week that those of you who love camp movies have been waiting for. Warner Brothers has opened their vaults and are releasing four themed collections of those old school flicks for our viewing pleasure. In addition to that, this week also has a couple of worthy television titles, some horror films, and a couple of old cartoon series. A nicely varied week of new titles, and just like all weeks before it, one title has risen to the top of the food chain.

This week's pick is the exploitation/redemption film Black Snake Moan. It is a daring, audacious example of exploitative filmmaking that seeks to transcend the element of exploitation and deliver something deeper. Director Craig Brewer, who delivered the Oscar-nominated Hustle & Flow a few years back, has written and directed this feature which centers on a pair of fractured individuals who find the path to salvation in each other. It is a film which has much to say, yet never falls into the pit of self-importance; rather it delivers characters who take themselves to the edge of parody, playing on the edge with daring dramatics and humor. It is the humor that carries the film through moments of relief and moments of incredulity at the turns the story takes.

The performances are fantastic. Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci throw themselves headlong into their performance; they are fearless in the face of these roles. Both of them have put everything out there on the screen, delivering some of their best performances thus far. Jackson has said this is the best work of his career, and it just may be. He truly disappears into the character. While his performance has that distinctive Jackson feel to the delivery, there is something more. Lazarus is a fantastic character, and one that could not have been brought to life by anyone other than Jackson. Ricci, on the other hand, gives us this fractured portrait of a woman who is sinking into the darkness. It is a brave role that she really puts herself out there for, emotionally and physically stripped raw to the world.

Technical Specs and Extras: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0, also French and Spanish 2.0, subtitles in English ans Spanish. Extras include director's commentary, featurette: "Conflicted: The Making of Black Snake Moan", "Rooted in the Blues", Black Snake Moan, deleted scenes with commentary, trailer, photo gallery.

Also out this week:

  • Shooter. This was a good straight up action/thriller that was focused and delivered the goods. No classic, but well worth the time.
  • Monk: Season Five. Who doesn't like the defective detective? This series just keeps chugging along.
  • La jetee/Sans Soleil. The former is a classic, the latter I have yet to see. This looks like another winner from Criterion.
  • Cult Camp Classics Vol 1: Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, Giant Behemoth, Queen of Outer Space. Camp Sci-Fi collection.
  • Cult Camp Classics Vol 2: The Big Cube, Caged, Trog. Women in peril collection.
  • Cult Camp Classics Vol 3: Hot Rods to Hell Skyjacked, Zero Hour. Terrorized traveler collection.
  • Cult Camp Classics Vol 4: The Colossus of Rhodes, Land of the Pharoahs, The Prodigal. Historical epics collection.
  • Psych: The Complete First Season. Very nice companion to Monk, a guy with great perception pretends to be a psychic.
  • Dead Silence. Available rated and unrated, this is a pretty creepy flick from the director of Saw.
  • Frankenstein Conquers the World/Frankenstein vs. Baragon. Toho studios monster mash.
  • The New Adventures of Batman. Animated from the seventies, featuring the voices of Adam West and Burt Ward.
  • The New Adventures of Superman. Animated series from the sixties.
  • Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. I am quite interested in this slasher flick that exists in a world where Freddy, Jason, and Michael are real.
  • Pride. Inspirational sports drama starring Terrence Howard.

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