This week, even the worst film on the short list isn’t all that bad. And the best is one of the best of last year.
The Constant Gardener
If you haven’t heard of director Fernando Meirelles, here’s your chance to see how he rolls with major stars. Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz (with outstanding support from Pete Postlethwaite, Danny Huston, and perennial MVP Bill Nighy) bring the socio-political and personal heartache in this tale of a diplomat’s search for his wife’s killers. This film, likely to draw serious Oscar attention, proves that Meirelles’ masterpiece City of God was no fluke. Screenwriter Jeffrey Caine displays mad adaptation skills with his chronologically shuffled take on the John le Carré source material. Read me wax even more rhapsodic in my Top Ten of 2005.
Extras include deleted scenes and some behind-the-scenes docs.
Speaking of directors who still got it, Wes Craven shows that he can still put strong heroines in frightening situations to riveting effect with this thriller. Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy, in the meantime, earn their reputations as stars to watch. Full review here.
Hear the horror-meister himself (along with producer Marianne Maddalena and editor Patrick Lussier) in the commentary.
Afficionados of what I like to call MacGyver-Fu, which is a discipline involving taking an ordinary item (say, a fire hose) and turning it into a formidable chop-sockey wounding machine (see: every Jackie Chan film ever made), will enjoy this sequel to the middling Luc Besson-co-scripted actioner from 2002. Alternately, if you just like looking at Jason Statham (and, hey, who doesn’t?) you’ll get an eye-full. Other than that, there’s not much to recommend this entry in the saga, which improves on the original by having better actions sequences and less parts of the film that aren’t action sequences.
(Incidentally, Luc Besson is still writing great action scripts, just not for this country. His Banlieue 13, which screened at the Toronto Film Festival but has yet to secure U.S. distribution, is one of the best action films of the decade so far. Keep your eyes peeled.)
As if keen on what makes the film work, extras include extended fight sequences. Also, what looks like a new trailer for X3 as well as trailers for upcoming fantasy films Eragon and Night Watch.
Hustle & Flow
Once you get past the rampant misogyny, this is actually a very entertaining, powerfully directed and acted American Dream tale. Terence Howard gives an Oscar-worthy performance as The Pimp Who Would Be Rap Star and he’s supported ably by Taryn Manning and Taraji P. Henson as, well, his loyal hoes (tried to warn you) as well as Anthony Anderson and DJ Qualls as the most unlikely of studio techs. Just the scene where they build the song “Whoop That Trick” from the ground up is worth the price of admission.
Watch with Crash for a Putting Terence Howard and Ludacris in the Same Film Where They Only Meet Briefly Is a Good Idea double feature. You’ll thank me later.
Extras include commentary from writer/director Craig Brewer and a bunch of featurettes.
The Wild Bunch – The Original Director’s Cut (Special Two-Disc Edition)
Where The Transporter gives action a mediocre name, this film, which is far bloodier, is on the syllabus of many a film class. We move now to the world of director Sam Peckinpah, where a man’s a man and that’s probably not a good thing. The film opens with a bunch of kids torturing scorpions, and they’re about the nicest people you’ll meet. Peckinpah action is gritty and unforgiving, and this is as good an example as any.
Extras include commentary from some Peckinpah experts, outtakes, extra scenes, documentaries, and a feature-length biography of Peckinpah.
I’m experimenting with some different sources of information for our long list, so there’s not quite as much information as usual. But I’m banking that you don’t need to know the name of every studio behind every title here.
50 of Hollywood’s Greatest Leading Ladies (Not Rated)
50 of Hollywood’s Greatest Leading Men (Not Rated)
According to Occam’s Razor (Not Rated)
Andromeda: Season 5, Volume 5.3 (Not Rated)
Asia: The Ultimate Collection (Not Rated)
Great. Now I’ll never get “The Heat of the Moment” out of my head.
Assisted Living (R)
Well-reviewed flick about a guy who works in a nursing home. Filmed in a real nursing home with actual residents and staff in the cast.
Baby Brainworks: Alphabet (Not Rated)
Baby Brainworks: Cars, Trucks, Trains, Planes (Not Rated)
Baby Brainworks: Counting (Not Rated)
Baby Brainworks: Four Seasons (Not Rated)
Babypro: Let’s Tumble & Dance (Not Rated)
Battleground: 21 Days on the Empire’s Edge (Not Rated)
Black Books: The Complete 1st Series (Not Rated)
Black Sabbath: Paranoid (Not Rated)
Cardio Burn (Not Rated)
The Chumscrubber (R)
Acclaimed comedy that starts off with a suicide. Oh, I probably should have mentioned that it was a dark comedy. Stars that kid from Billy Elliot, not to mention Ralph Fiennes in his 100th role of the year.
Claire Dolan (Not Rated)
College Campus Chaos (Not Rated)
Dead Poets Society (Special Edition) (PG)
Some cool features in this special edition, including commentary from director Peter Weir, new featurettes, new interviews with the likes of Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawke, and a sort of cinematography class from director of photography John Seale.
Dirty Deeds (Not Rated)
The most interesting thing about this indie American Pie rip is that it was financed by a bunch of baseball players ’cause, y’know, they needed the dough.
Dominos (Not Rated)
Dora The Explorer: Save the Day! (Not Rated)
The Dubliners: Dublin (Not Rated)
El Beso Del Sueno (Not Rated)
El Chavo Del 8: Le Mejor de Professor Jirafales (Not Rated)
El Chavo Del 8: Los Mejor de Quico (Not Rated)
El Chavo Del 8: Los Ninos Del De La Vecindad (Not Rated)
El Dia De Los Albaniles 4 (Not Rated)
El Siete De Copas (Not Rated)
Eleanor Roosevelt (Not Rated)
En Las Arenas Negras (Not Rated)
Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain (R)
If you thought it was only a matter of time before Jenna Jameson worked with Richard Grieco, you were right.
Fair Game (Not Rated)
Fat Joe: Live at the House of Blues (Not Rated)
Fates Warning: Live in Athens (Not Rated)
FDR (Not Rated)
Ferret Music: Under the Gun (Not Rated)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Bueller Bueller Edition (PG-13)
Some featurettes highlight this special edition which might not have been called the 20th Anniversary Edition because fans might not want to be reminded how old they are now (myself included).
The Five Heartbeats – 15th Anniversary Special Edition(R)
On the other hand, this Robert Townsend directed and acted musical drama about a fictional Temptations-esque group didn’t attract quite as many fans as Ferris Beuller, so it’s okay that they know how old it is.
Flame of Recca Volume 6: Demon’s Face (Not Rated)
The Flash: The Complete Series (Not Rated)
Um, I never watched this. But remember that episode of Smallville where Clark meets The Flash? Yeah, that was cool.
Fly Fishing: A Lifetime Sport (Not Rated)
Focus: The Ultimate Collection (Not Rated)
Frente Al Mar (Not Rated)
Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 7: Reunion on Yock Isle (Not Rated)
Gaelic Storm: Live in Chicago (Not Rated)
Gankutsuou Volume 2: Count of Monte Cristo (Not Rated)
Geldof in Africa (Not Rated)
The Golden Honeymoon (Not Rated)
Good Morning, Vietnam (Special Edition) (R)
A whole mess of featurettes and something called “raw monologues” appear in this edition, which, along with the release of the Dead Poets Society Special Edition, suggests an attempt to remind us of a time when Robin Williams movies were something to look forward to. As opposed to, “I’m not looking forward to R.V.”
Gungrave: The Complete Box Set (Not Rated)
Hawthorne Heights: This is Who We Are (Not Rated)
The Hee Haw Collection Vol. 5 (Not Rated)
Hellsing 4: Eternal Damnation (Not Rated)
The House of Eliott: Series 2 (Not Rated)
How to Make a Monster / Blood of Dracula (Not Rated)
I’m a Fool (Not Rated)
In The Groove: Kim Waters (Not Rated)
Into the Deep (Not Rated)
James Brown: Live at Chastain Park (Not Rated)
Journeys in Black: Arts (Not Rated)
Journeys in Black: Visionaries (Not Rated)
The Judy Garland Show: Peggy Lee & Ethel Merman (Not Rated)
Kamikaze Girls (Not Rated)
Kodocha Volume 4: Moving & Shaking (Not Rated)
Legends of Modern Music 1 (Not Rated)
Legends of Modern Music 2 (Not Rated)
The Little Mermaid & Other Stories (Not Rated)
Macross Volume 1: Upon the Shoulders of Giants (Not Rated)
The Magnificent Seven (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition) (Not Rated)
Lots of featurettes and a High Definition Transfer, for the five of you for whom that will make a difference. Good flick, but I’m a Seven Samurai man, myself.
Making of the Firefighter Fundraising Calendar (Not Rated)
Title of the Week, because you have to look at the cover before you realize why someone would make this video.
Man of Faith (Not Rated)
Matt Monroe: Sings (Not Rated)
Men Behaving Badly: Season 3 (Not Rated)
Men Behaving Badly: Season 4 (Not Rated)
Men on Attack (Not Rated)
Miss Spider’s: Captain Sunny Patch (Not Rated)
Miss Spider’s: Happy Heartwood Day (Not Rated)
Missing in America
Danny Glover, Linda Hamilton, and David Strathairn all seem like valid straight-to-DVD candidates, but it’s still not something you like to see.
Motorhead: Stage Fright (Not Rated)
Muerto De Pena (Not Rated)
Night of the Skull (Not Rated)
Nighty Night: Complete Series 1 (Not Rated)
Ninja Thunderbolt / Invincible Hero (Not Rated)
Odd Girl Out (PG-13)
One for the Money: The Birth of Rock & Roll (Not Rated)
Pilates for Life: 20 Minute Overall Body Workout (Not Rated)
Pilates for Life: Abs & Butt (Not Rated)
Pilates for Life: Abs & Waist (Not Rated)
Pilates for Life: Butt & Hips (Not Rated)
Pilates for Life: Pilates for 50+ (Not Rated)
Pilates for Life: Pilates for Flexibility (Not Rated)
Pilates for Life: Pilates on the Ball (Not Rated)
Pilates for Life: Prenatal & Postnatal (Not Rated)
Pride FC: Inferno (Not Rated)
Pride FC: Shockwave 2004 (Not Rated)
Pro Wrestling’s Ultimate Insiders 5 & 6 (Not Rated)
Qye Byeba Esta Mi Ahijada (Not Rated)
Ramones: Pleasant Dreams (Not Rated)
Rampage: The Hillside Strangler Murders (R)
Rebus (Not Rated)
Red Dwarf: The Original Series VII (Not Rated)
The Revolt of Mother (Not Rated)
Rising Damp: Series 1 (Not Rated)
The Rolling Stones: Get Yer Ya-Yas Out (Not Rated)
Sam Peckinpah’s The Legendary Westerns Collection (Not Rated)
The aforementioned Wild Bunch Director’s Cut can also be acquired as part of this larger collection, which includes Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Ride the High Country, and The Ballad of Cable Hogue.
Samuel L. Jackson Ultimate Collection (Not Rated)
Shaft, Coach Carter, and Rules of Engagement. Riiiiigghhhht.
Ingmar Bergman’s sequel to Scenes from a Marriage.
Secreto De Cabaret (Not Rated)
Self: Your Best Body Fast (Not Rated)
Sepultura: Live in San Paolo (Not Rated)
Sexo Diario Volume 3 (Not Rated)
Sexo Diario Volume 4 (Not Rated)
Shadow Skill Volume 2: Brothers & Sisters in Arms (Not Rated)
Shield Around the K: The Story of K Records (Not Rated)
The Short Films of David Lynch (Not Rated)
Includes “Six Men Getting Sick,” “The Alphabet,” “The Grandmother,” “The Amputee,” “The Cowboy and the Frenchman,” and “Lumiere.” If those aren’t Lynchian titles, I don’t know what are.
Soldier’s Home (Not Rated)
The Spider / War of the Colossal Beast (Not Rated)
Steam Detectives: Complete Collection (Not Rated)
Strong Medicine: The Complete First Season (Not Rated)
Styles of Krump (Not Rated)
Supercross Exposed 2 (Not Rated)
Thomas Edge TV Tube Top (Not Rated)
Thumbelina, The Flying Trunk & Other Stories (Not Rated)
Touch Me in the Morning (Not Rated)
Triple Agent (Not Rated)
Two Men Went to War (Not Rated)
UFO: Showtime (Not Rated)
The Ugly Duckling & Other Stories (Not Rated)
Urban Gothic: Season 1 (Not Rated)
Urban Scenze (Not Rated)
Urusei Yatsura TV Volume 36 (Not Rated)
Urusei Yatsura TV Volume 37 (Not Rated)
Urusei Yatsura TV Volume 38 (Not Rated)
Urusei Yatsura TV Volume 39 (Not Rated)
Urusei Yatsura TV Volume 40 (Not Rated)
Vidas Secas (Not Rated)
Vigilantes (Not Rated)
Viva La Bam: Complete Seasons 4 & 5 Uncensored (Not Rated)
Wedding Peach: Season 1 (Not Rated)
Why Should the Devil Have all the Good Music (Not Rated)
Wild Kingdom: African Wild 2 (Not Rated)
Wild Kingdom: Hunters of the Sky (Not Rated)
Wild Things Trilogy (Not Rated)
Witchcraft 666: The Devil’s Mistress (Not Rated)
A Year in the Life (Not Rated)
Yesterday (Not Rated)
Yo El Valiente (Not Rated)
Yugo the Negotiator: Pakistan 1 – Legacy Volume 3 (Not Rated)
Zorro Cliffhanger Collection (Not Rated)Powered by Sidelines