Above: Incredible Hulk, Flight of the Red Balloon, The Strangers
"There once was an angry young man..." sounds like a fairy tale, but the rebooted Hulk got a huge leg up with the casting of the intense Edward Norton as the scientist who turns green with rage. This Hulk has narrative problems, but as a straight-ahead action picture it keeps a pretty good beat as it rocks along, and definitely benefits from Norton and Tim Roth as his nemesis; Liv Tyler and William Hurt also star. Scott examined all the features of the 3-disk Special Edition on DVD; also available in a single-disk DVD edition and on Blu-ray. Buy it.
Flight of the Red Balloon
Juliette Binoche hires a Taiwanese film student as nanny for her son, and magical moments begin. Jeffrey M. Anderson said Binoche was "simply miraculous" and that the film itself "could be one of those magic moments that people could appreciate if only they would take the time." Now's the time, people! Hou Hsiao-Hsien is an amazing filmmaker and this a perfect alternative to Hulk's smash/bang. Available on what looks like a bare-bones DVD. Rent it.
It's Liv Tyler week! She and Scott Speedman play a troubled couple besieged by masked strangers in their own home. Writer/director Bryan Bertino takes a commendably low-key approach to their night of terror, but there were far too many cheap scares and telegraphed thrills for me. Eugene Novikov was much more impressed, however, so decide for yourself. Available on DVD and Blu-ray; both include R-rated and unrated versions. The unrated cut includes about five minutes of additional footage, mostly near the climax. Rent it.
After the jump: Indies on DVD (Go-Getter! B-Ballers! Ben Stein!), Blu-ray (James Bond!), and Collector's Corner (Looney Tunes! Gangsters!).
Eclipse Series 13: Kenji Mizoguchi's Fallen Women (Osaka Elegy / Sisters of the Gion / Women of the Night / Street of Shame).
Mizoguchi (Sansho the Bailiff), said to be one of Japan's master filmmakers, has been underrepresented on DVD. I am sorry to admit that I am completely ignorant of his work, so I'm beginning my educaton with this box set from Criterion Eclipse, which includes two pre-war and two post-war socially conscious dramas about the plight of women in Japanese society. Buy it.
Too clever by half, Lou Taylor Pucci's performance still earns this road movie a favorable nod. In the wake of his mother's death, he "borrows" a stranger's car and sets off for a series of adventures, encountering Jena Malone, Judy Greer, Maura Tierney, and Bill Duke, among others. Meanwhile, the car's owner (Zooey Deschanel) begins calling him, which leads to a very odd flirtation. A good-spirited tone by writer/director Martin Hynes keeps the trip bouncy and light. The DVD includes an audio commentary, interviews, test footage, trailer, and digital copy. Rent it.
Gunnin' for That #1 Spot. Doc follows eight young, elite basketball players as they compete on "the most legendary playground in the world." Directed by Beastie Boy Adam Yauch.
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Doc features Ben Stein traveling around the world to tell the stories of teachers who have challenged Darwin's theory of evolution and been "persecuted" for it.
Mondays in the Sun. Timely drama from 2003 about dockworkers who lose their jobs. Javier Bardem stars.
Sold Out: A Threevening With Kevin Smith. The writer/director always makes me laugh really, really hard in his live performances as he answers questions, skewers sensibilities, and tells long, rambling stories.
Sweet Sixteen. Slasher picture from 1981 sounds routine, but the knowledgeable Mondo-Digital says it's more of a murder mystery than a gorefest and features a "one-of-a-kind cast of cult actors." I'm risking a purchase.
To the Limit. Rock climbing doc. We don't get too many of those, do we?
James Bond Blu-ray Collection, Vol 1 & 2
If you've got Blu-ray, you've got big bucks, right? So you can splurge for the whole thing, right? Wrong! The folks behind Bond aren't stupid - they've included one clunker in each package, forcing consumers to check for the best prices on the individual disks they really want. Volume 1 includes Dr. No (very solid), Die Another Day (awful), and Live and Let Die (cheesy good); Volume 2 features For Your Eyes Only (below-average), From Russia with Love (great great great), and Thunderball (quite decent). They've also double-dipped on Casino Royale with a new, two-disk edition. It never ends, does it? Buy selectively.
Funny Games (US remake). For those who really hate themselves.
George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead. Zombies on camcorders? Now on Blu-ray? Something about that doesn't seem right.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, 'nuff said.
Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Vol 6
If you're going to the poor house, might as well go laughing, right? Volume 6 is another four-disk edition, with individual disks devoted to "Looney Tunes All Stars," "Patriotic Pals," "Bosko Buddie and Merrie Melodies," and "Most Requested Assorted Nuts," all stuffed with the usual ace expert commentaries and bonus features. Buy it.
Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 4 (The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse / Invisible Stripes / Kid Galahad / Larceny, Inc. / The Little Giant / Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film)
The original gangsters! Of these, I've only seen Kid Galahad, but this is another bargain-priced way to explore one of my favorite eras through its crime flicks. The six-disk box set includes shorts, cartoons, trailers, and audio commentaries.