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 toward 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.
Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles and what follows are not necessarily reviews. It is my opinion based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists that I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations upon them are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.
It was a little tough to choose one film to highlight this week, as some of the releases are good, but none jump out as "must-haves." So, I went with the one that is high profile and had some good ideas.
Hancock. I do not love Hancock. Actually, I think I enjoyed it in spite of the film's attempts to deter me. Also, while I did select it as my pick of the week, it is likely a better rental than a purchase. Now why would I select a movie like that as my top pick? Easy – because I like what it was attempting to do. Yes, it tried to do too much, but it brought some new elements to the table. I enjoyed the injection of real world consequences, the lawsuits, the property damage, the hero persecuted for doing what he does, and the hero lashing out against anyone within reach, all felt fresh. Of course, the latter part of the film, where they try to incorporate an elaborate back story is rushed and ill-advised, Hancock is definitely worth checking out.
24: Redemption. I watched this when it aired Sunday and thought it was pretty good, although the smile-inducing excitement I get from the series was not there. I suspect my enjoyment will not return until the season starts and I have a full slate of episodes to look forward to. Still, it was nice to see Jack Bauer back in action again after such a long time off.
A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All. Colbert is a funny guy, although I am not sure I am interested in a disc of Christmas cheer. Still, I am sure it will offer some laughs, how often do you see him and not laugh? I am willing to give this a go, how about you?
Fred Claus. This is considerably more clever than I expected. There are some nice dialogue exchanges between all involved and some funny site gags. Performances are decent all around with Paul Giamatti faring the best as the jolly Santa. Of the things I didn't like, the big issues actually all seem pretty minor – the cartoony sound effects, and the secret service elves. I warned you.
Space Chimps. This is a pretty dull film; you would be better off going back to Wall*E or Kung Fu Panda. Space Chimps quickly became a chore to sit through. Even the kids at my screening seemed to grow tired of it pretty quickly. However, I will admit that Patrick Warburton (Titan) is worth seeing (or hearing) in anything he does.
George Carlin: It's Bad for Ya. This is a recording of George Carlin's (RIP) last HBO special from this past March. It was his fourteenth such special, and I look forward to checking it out, I have seen far too few of his stand up specials.
Bottle Rocket. This is a new Criterion Collection release of Wes Anderson's debut film, co-written with Owen Wilson. I have not seen this in years, but I remember liking it very much. It follows three brothers who have recently been released from a mental institution and plan an elaborate robbery of a small bookstore before going on the run. Owen Wilson co-stars with his brother, Luke.
Meet Dave. If Space Chimps does not fill your quota of bad movies for one week, this one is sure to send you into overload. This is not a good movie – the script is poor, the concept was not thought out beforehand, and the execution is a mess. You can probably tell all that from the seriously unfunny trailer (except for the cat encounter, I find that moment hysterical). In any case, this film would be best left to die a quick death.
Chungking Express. Wow, I have not seen this in years, probably around the last time I saw Bottle Rocket. This Wong Kar-wai film is what brought his name to the international stage. It stars Takeshi Kaneshiro and Tony Leung as two lovelorn cops who cross paths at a take out restaurant overseen by Faye Wong. I look forward to seeing this again, and with it being a Criterion Collection it should be well worth the time.
Lacuna Coil: Visual Karma (Body, Mind and Soul). I have seen some clips from this recording and bet the whole thing will be excellent. This melodic act puts on great live shows, or at least they did the one time I witnessed them live.
Larry The Cable Guy's Star Studded Christmas Extravaganza. "Git'r done." Or however that goes, it had to be said. The man can be funny, so long as you keep him off movie sets, those results are awful. I bet this is funny, but hardly a keeper.
Nevermore: The Year of the Voyager. Following up Lacuna Coil's release is another live DVD featuring a band I am much more interested in. Nevermore is an excellent band featuring virtuoso guitars and one of the best metal voices going (IMHO). I have seen clips of this and thirst for more.
Arch Enemy: Tyrants of the Rising Sun: Live in Japan. Paired with the earlier two band releases, this week offers a compelling card. Program your own concert! I have never heard live performances from these guys, but am definitely interesting in checking it out.
The Atomic Cade: Collector's Edition. I have seen this called a "nuclear Reefer Madness" but it is another film I have not watched yet. It is a comedic documentary-style film looking at the nuclear age. Sounds like fun.
Freaks & Geeks: Yearbook Edition. This was previously released only through the show's official site, but is now being reprinted and available to all. It contains all of the show's episodes, tons of commentaries, and bonus material as well as two exclusive discs all in a package that looks like a yearbook. I am not sure it is worth the inflated price, but the show is fantastic and ended way before it should have.
The Zeiram Duology. That Keita Amemiya is an odd fellow. I have seen a few of his films and they are all low budget science fictioners. This is the two film Zeiram cycle, which would best be described as Power Rangers for adults. Robots and aliens exist within this realm, which is fun and corny and worth checking out.
Dirty Cop No Donut. This sounds like fun, if only for the title. It follows a cop who is tired of what he sees around him and heads out to take the law into his own hands. Should be a good one!