CATEGORIES DVDsAs summer heat hangs over much of the U.S. it's time to cool off with a couple of off-beat productions this week. First there's 'The Runaways,' a high-octane musical biodrama about the first all-girl rock 'n' roll band that features stand-out performances by 'The Twilight Saga's' Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning. Then there's South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho's ("The Host") 'Mother,' a harrowing tale of a devoted mother who will do just about anything to prove that her retarded son didn't commit murder. And finally, a wonderful low-budget guilty pleasure sci-fi actioner produced by the Roger Corman factory comes to home video after too long an absence, 'Forbidden World.' Read on. 'The Runaways'
What It's About: Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in the music-fueled story of the ground breaking, all-girl rock band, The Runaways. The rebellious Southern California girls formed the group in 1975, on the cusp of the punk-rock movement, and garnered outrageous success for a few short years with their tough-chick image and raw talent. But sometimes the price of rebellion is unhappiness, and the band fell apart almost as fast as it rose to the top.
It's Kinda Like: 'The Doors' meets 'The Rose'
What We Say: It's not easy making a biopic about rock groups; it's all too easy to either idolize them or demonize them. First-time feature director Floria Sigismondi (she's an Italian photog and music-video director) successfully navigates the thin line between the two and comes up with a heart-felt story that captures the exhilaration of rock 'n' roll creativity while not stinting on the obvious problems of stardom, growing-up-with-sex-and-drugs-and-rock-'n'-roll too fast, the corrupting temptations of the music biz, and the heartbreak of shattered expectations. Stewart and Fanning are fabulous as the leads here, and the music (still) will knock you out. | Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
What It's About: Mother is a devoted single parent to her simple-minded 27-year-old son, Do-joon. While walking home drunk one night, Do-joon follows a school girl for a while before she disappears into a dark alley. When she's found dead the next morning in an abandoned building, Do-joon is accused and quickly convicted of her murder. But hid mother refuses to believe her beloved son is guilty and immediately undertakes her own investigation to find the girl's killer.
It's Kinda Like: Alfred Hitchcock meets Kar Wai Wong
What We Say: What starts out as a simple story about a mother trying to prove her son innocent of a crime she's sure he could never have committed soon evolves into a black comedy-psychological thriller about obsession, corruption and the outer bounds of morality. Nothing is as it seems -- Bong Joon-Ho is getting a reputation as a kind of South Korean Hitchcock -- and one can never be sure if good or evil will reign by the film's end. But you'll definitely want to go along for the ride to find out. | Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
Why the Re-Release? This 1982 Roger Corman produced 'Alien' clone is a definite guilty pleasure. On the remote planet of Xarbia, a scientific experiment has gone horrifically wrong, and a cloned being has mutated into a man-eating organism. A soldier-of-fortune and his robotic aide is dispatched to eliminate the problem, but he gets more than he bargained for as the body count rises. There's plenty of gratuitous gore, unexpected nudity, surprising bits of black comedy, and an assortment of inspired and inventive special effects -- all made on a bargain basement budget. The film has been restored and is presented in the theatrical and never-before-seen director's cut.
New Special Features: Commentary by director Allan Holzman, interview with producer Roger Corman, interviews with cast and crew, special effects featurette, poster and still gallery, original theatrical trailer, additional New World trailers.
Is It Worth Upgrading? In all likelihood you've never seen this on the big screen or on DVD (if you've seen in at all, most likely it's in a chopped-up version some late night on the Syfy Channel) so this is a great opportunity to view a fun and inventive sci-fi pulp film for the first time. And by all means get the stunning Blu-ray edition.
Other New July 20 DVD Releases:
'Black Narcissus' (The Criterion Collection)
'The Red Shoes' (The Criterion Collection)
Check out other new July 20 DVD releases at OnVideo.