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.
This week brings an eclectic selection of films that includes a number of films from Asia, classic comedy, an old television show, recent action, some touching drama, a documentary on an important current issue, and some Italian horror. I know there are a few here that I am looking forward to checking out, as well as some that I am eager to see for the first time. Read on and see if any strike your fancy.
Rambo. In 2006, Sly Stallone revisited one of his most iconic characters, Rocky Balboa. He made one final sequel to the franchise, crafting a thoughtful, intelligent film that surprised everyone by being very good. In 2008 he went back to another of his famous characters to create a (potentially) final film, thus crafting one of the bloodiest, most violent films I have seen in recent memory. I like this film. It is brutal, it is bloody, it is Rambo! It is low on plot, high on body count, and surprisingly interesting in terms of its title character. This is definitely worth checking out and is sure to be a part of my collection. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
The Three Stooges Collection, Vol 2.: 1937-1939. Sony is continuing their Stooges releases with this two-disk set of remastered Stooges classics. Please support these releases so we can get more! The first one is great and I am sure this will be as well. The Stooges have provided some absolutely timeless goofy comedy. Do yourself a favor and support the Stooges. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
The Invaders: The First Season. Never heard of this series before, but the involvement of aliens and a lone man who has to stop them makes it interesting to me. Anyone able to vouch for the quality of he series? (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
The Thief of Bagdad. This 1940 film is being released as a part of the Criterion Collection, meaning it is immediately worth at least some consideration, sight unseen. Reading a bit about it makes it look like something I would like to see. Prince Ahmad is cast out of his kingdom by the evil Jaffar, teams with the thief Abu in an effort to regain his throne, told in Technicolor with wonderful special effects. Sounds good to me! Plus, being a Criterion release it will have an excellent transfer and any extras will be first rate. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
Cassandra's Dream. This Woody Allen film features good performances from Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell, but is otherwise one to skip. It treads similar ground to Match Point, but is nowhere near the same quality level. The two play brothers and need money, they approach their uncle, who will give it to them, but needs something in return. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
Grace is Gone. I missed this on the big screen and look forward to catching it on the small one. It is the story of a father of two who has lost his wife to the war in Iraq. He now has to find a way to break the news to his girls. Sounds utterly tragic. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
Darfur Now. This documentary on the battle to end the suffering in Darfur is arriving on DVD at the budget price of $4.99, an effort to entice more people to pick it up. You know, it may work. I may just pick this up. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
Dario Argento Boxset (Do You Like Hitchcock?, Tenebre, Phenomena, The Card Player, Trauma). I believe these titles are also being released individually. It is a mix of new and old Argento, with Hitchcock being pretty recent and Tenebre going back to the '70s. It looks like a pretty good collection. I remember seeing Phenomena (starring a young Jennifer Connelly) many years ago. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
Come Drink with Me. Another Dragon Dynasty release, this will definitely be worth checking out. It stars Cheng Pei Pei as she goes undercover to rescue a kidnapped official. I had never heard of this title before, but am really looking forward to seeing it. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
Heroes of the East. The second Dragon Dynasty release of the week, this one features an early appearance of Jackie Chan. It stars another martial arts legend, Gordon Liu (Shaolin Master Killer), and features a face-off between Chinese and Japanese martial arts. How can you go wrong? (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
Noriko's Dinner Table. From the director of the Suicide Club, this looks like another weird one. A young girl runs away to the city to meet a friend she met in an online social group. She meets the leader of the group, who is prostituting the young girls out for in-home role-playing. Drama and bloody mayhem ensue. Sounds good to me! (BUY, RENT, SKIP)
The Tiger Blade. A Thai film about a police detective with knowledge of sorcery who must do battle with the leader of a bandit gang who has similar knowledge. In order to defeat his enemy, the officer must find the legendary Tiger Blade. I am not familiar with this one, but could be worth a rental. (BUY, RENT, SKIP)