Weekly Release Rundown (7-17-12)
Fans of the sci-fi action thriller will delight with Sony’s ‘Lockout’ starring Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace. Despite the fact this low budget thriller barely hit theaters, there’s enough action and decent performances by the film’s stars to keep things interesting. Although it probably won’t make anyone’s best list anytime soon, this fun, if not forgettable little thriller will keep you entertained through its breezy ninety-five minute length.
Set in the near future, ‘Lockout’ follows the story of a falsely convicted ex-government agent (Pearce), whose one chance at obtaining freedom lies in the dangerous mission of rescuing the President’s daughter (Grace) from rioting convicts at an outer space maximum-security prison. Co-directed by Stephen St. Leger and James Mather from their script co-written with Luc Besson, ‘Lockout’ may feel a bit familiar but it’s the film stars, including the always dependable Peter Stormare, who make it all work.
Extras including featurettes ‘Breaking into Lockout’ and ‘A Vision of the Future: Production Design and Special Effects’ as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.
It’s been six decades since ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ hit theaters to captivate audiences and critics alike. With the recent trend towards musicals, Warner Brothers wisely dusted off this classic for this 60th Anniversary Edition. Starring Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, this toe-tapping crowd pleaser continues to endure generation after generation. With some show stopping performances by Cyd Charisse, Kathleen Freeman, Stanley Donen, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Baz Luhrmann, and Rudy Behlmer, this delightful romp deserves a fresh look particularly with this remastered transfer.
The film centers around 1920′s onscreen stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont. Lina mistakes the on-screen romance with her leading man for real love. When Don and Lina’s latest film is transformed into a musical, Don has the perfect voice for the songs but Lina… not so much. So the studio decides to dub over her voice with an aspiring actress, Kathy Selden. It isn’t long before Don falls in love with her and things quickly spin out of control. With memorable songs lavish routines and Kelly’s fabulous song-and-dance number performed in the rain, this ‘Singin’ continues singing’ in pitch perfect tone.
Extras include commentary by Debbie Reynolds, Donald O’Connor,”Singin’ in the Rain: Raining on a New Generation” All New Documentary, Great Performances: Musicals Great Musicals: The Arthur Freed Unit at MGM, What a Glorious Feeling: The Making of Singin’ in the Rain, “You Are My Lucky Star” Outtake, Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed Film Excerpts (A collection of 12 film clips from earlier movies that originally carried the Freed/Brown songs.), 26xScoring Stage Session Cues Stills Gallery, as well as the film’s original theatrical trailer.
Perennial tabloid hot head Mel Gibson stars in a surprisingly entertaining thrill ride with 20th Century Fox’s ‘Get the Gringo’. Although it may have by-passed theaters, this explosive action flick hits all its marks to deliver a thoroughly entertaining filmgoing experience. These are the video finds you stumble upon every once in awhile that have you scratching your head wondering why it didn’t make a bigger impact when it was initially released. Perhaps it’s the stars notoriety which overshadows ‘Get the Gringo’ at first… but give this little sleeper a chance and you just might find yourself won over.
Gibson plays a career criminal who plans to pull off the heist of a lifetime. Of course nothing as easy as it seems and things never go off without a hitch as his getaway plans quickly find him south of the border when a high-speed car chase lands him in a hard-core Mexican prison community known as “El Pueblito.” Now, in order to survive, he’ll have to fend off corrupt cops, take down ruthless drug lords while teaming up with a streetwise ten-year-old in order to survive. With some terrific action scenes and swift pacing, ‘Get the Gringo’ deserves to find a wider audience on video.
Extras include ‘Get the Gringo: A Look Inside’, “El Corrido del Gringo” music video as well as On-set featurettes (The Car Chase, The Showdown, and The Raid).
Three Stooges 20th Century Fox / 2012 / 92 Minutes / Unrated
‘Three Stooges’ reboot starring Sean Hayes, Chris Diamantopoulos, and Will Sasso seemed primed for ridicule and derisive critiques based upon the subject matter when it opened at theaters last year. But surprisingly, co-directors (and huge Stooges fans) Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly somehow manage to pull it off. Expectedly silly and purile, stars Hayes, Diamantopoulos and Sasso do a fine job at recreating the star’s madcap energy. At a brisk 92 minute length, the Farrelly’s know full well how to keep things moving along swimmingly so as not to have the boys overstay their welcome.
The paper thin plot line involves the Stooges on a mission to save their childhood orphanage from going under. That translates into Moe, Larry, and Curly inadvertently stumbling into a murder plot and starring in a reality TV show. Really just a bunch of bits woven together, ‘Three Stooges’ still works on the level tickling the funny bone with every crass, in-your-face gag in the book. With a bunch of hysterical cameos, including Larry David playing a nun, ‘Three Stooges’ may not be up to par with the classic shorts of 40′s, 50′s and 60′s but it nonetheless works for what it is.
Extras are plentiful for fans of the Stooges, young or old, including behind-the-scenes featurettes: – What’s the Big Idea? A History of The Three Stooges, Knuckleheads: Behind the Scenes of The Three Stooges, Did You Hear that? The Three Stooges Sound Effects, Poifect: Casting The Three Stooges, Deleted/extended scenes, The Three Stooges Mash-up feature as well as an Original screen test.
An all-star cast stars in Lasse Hallstrom’s ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ which tickled the fancies of most critics but seemed to miss the mark with audiences when it was released last year. Without the support of award nominations, this little gem starring Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Amr Waked, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Catherine Steadman went mostly unnoticed. Sony’s obviously hoping for a richer audience on video when it should receive some good word-of-mouth.
This artsy socio-political character drama tells the extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and political spinning, of unexpected heroism. This enchanting effort will quickly take you off guard with its story of a late-blooming love and a lead character who tries to prove the impossible, possible. Written by Oscar winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire), this feature film is based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel about a scientist who looks to fulfills a sheikh’s dream of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to his homeland in Yemen.
Extras include ‘Miracles Happen: Making Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’, ‘The Fisherman in the Middle East: Novelist Paul Torday’ as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.
Possibly the most remade horror sci-fi adventure of all time, ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ was an instant hit with audiences when it first hit theaters in 1956. Loosely based upon American’s fear of the Russians during the Atomic age, this classic tale of paranoia continues to endure almost six decades since its debut. Starring Carolyn Jones and Kevin McCarthy, this black-and-white classic of the day was directed by future ‘Dirty Harry’ helmer, Don Siegel.
The film starts innocently enough with McCarthy playing a doctor in a small California town whose patients are becoming hysterical and accuse their loved ones as emotionless imposters. Plant-like extra-terrestrials have invaded Earth, replicating the villagers in giant seed “pods” and taking position of their souls while they sleep. Realizing that the epidemic is out of control, in a terrifying race for his life, he escapes to warn the world of the deadly invasion of the pod people. The key is to stay awake, for the pods attack when you’re asleep. This heart pounding ten-little-indians style thriller costars Dana Wynter, Larry Gates and King Donovan. Remade in 1978, 1997 and 2007, the original remains the watermark of pure sci-fi excellence (although I originally got hooked with the Donald Sutherland 1978 version).
Extras include the film’s original theatrical trailer.
You can say this about comedy star Will Ferrell–love him or hate him, he’s the king of commitment no matter what the part. No matter how silly or ridiculous the situation, Ferrell dives in with both feet and gives it his all. Take last year’s comedic experiment ‘Casa de Mi Padre’, an all Spanish dialogue adventure set in Mexico. Never once stepping out of character, Ferrell fits right into the Mexican drama directed by Matt Piedmont and co-starring Gael García Bernal.
Ferrell plays Armando Alvarez, a migrant worker who has lived and worked on his father’s ranch in Mexico his entire life. But when the ranch encounters financial difficulties, things become even more dicey for Armando when his younger brother Raul (Diego Luna), shows up with his new fiancé, Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez). It seems that Raul’s success as an international businessman means the ranch’s troubles are over as he pledges to settle all debts his father has incurred. But when Armando falls for Sonia, and Raul’s business dealings turn out to be less than legit, all hell breaks loose as they find themselves in a war with Mexico’s most feared drug lord, the mighty Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal). Played not for the jokes but for the absurdist reality, ‘Casa de Mi Padre’ may hit you as hysterical or totally absurd. But you can’t blame Ferrell for trying–and keeping his fans guessing.
Extras include commentary with Matt Piedmont, writer/producer Andrew Steele, and Will Ferrell, Behind-the-scenes featurettes, Actor Pedro Armendáriz Jr.’s final interview, Four “Commerciales” starring Will Ferrell, Diego Luna, Genesis Rodriguez, Efren Ramirez, and Nick Offerman, “Fight for Love” music video performed by Will Ferrell and Genesis Rodriguez as well as some deleted scenes.
Ashton Kutcher enjoyed a brief run at movie stardom, although never achieving that status the talented actor from television’s ‘That 70′s Show’ and currently ‘Two and a Half Men’ made some respectable stabs at being a leading man. Take the underrated low-budget thriller ‘Butterfly Effect’ from 2004. By mixing elements of time-travel, this smart sci-fi thriller has elements of genius. Sort of a darker version of ‘Back to the Future’, ‘Butterfly Effect’ costars Amy Smart, William Lee Scott, Elden Henson, and Melora Walters. Co-directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber, this eight year old thriller spawned an inferior direct-to-video sequel. If you’ve never seen it, you’re in for a treat.
Kutcher plays a charming young man who has found an ingenious way to block out harmful memories of significant events of his life. As he grows up, he finds a way to remember these lost memories and a supernatural way to alter his life. Factor in a love story with co-star Amy Smart and this young man’s life will never be the same. Dark, twisted, but a thinking man’s thriller, ‘Butterfly Effect’ is mind bending and at times mind numbing. Not entirely successful, this film has enough going for it to make it a memorable experience.
Extras include the film’s original theatrical trailer as well as the director’s Cut.
International critics rave over last year’s Hungarian import ‘The Turin Horse’. This heady dram begins by recounting an anecdote from the life of Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher and philologist who taught that life is nothing more than will to power, and that the task for us is to face up to this without despair and resentment, without insisting that where there are no absolutes there can be nothing worth while, that without the security of certainties there can only be emptiness. If that’s enough to intrigue you or turn you away, this character drama starring János Derzsi, Erika Bók, and Mihály Kormos may just have your head exploding by the end of its mind blowing 147 minute length.
Co-directed by Béla Tarr and Ágnes Hranitzky, ‘The Turin Horse’ is set against the backdrop of Turin Italy. On January 3, 1889, Friedrich Nietzsche steps out of the doorway of number six, Via Carlo Albert. Not far from him, a cab driver is having trouble with a stubborn horse. The horse refuses to move, whereupon the driver hoses his patience and takes his whip to it. Nietzsche puts an end to the brutal scene, throwing his arms around the horse’s neck, sobbing. After this, he lies motionless and silent for two days on a divan, until he loses consciousness and his mind. Somewhere in the countryside, the driver of the cab lives with his daughter and the horse. This definitely is the tie of film that attracts critics but repels the mainstream. ‘The Turin Horse’ is an acquired taste… a taste that I have yet to acquire. That said you can’t deny the film’s impact and obvious intelligence.
Extras include ‘Hotel Magnezit’, a short film by Bela Tarr from 1978. There’s also audio commentary by film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, Press Conference with Bela Tarr, co-director Ãgnes Hranitzky; actors MihÃ¡ly Kormos, Erika BÃ³k, and JÃ¡nos Derzsi; director of photography Fred Kelemen; composer MihÃ¡ly Vig; and co-producer GÃ¡bor TÃcni from the 2011 Berlin Film Festival as well as Regis Dialogue with Bela Tarr at the Walker Art Center.
Lorber Films releases last year’s indie comedy adventure fantasy ‘The Fairy’ starring and directed by Dominique Abel, Fiona Gordon and Bruno Romy. This Belgium-based trio were responsible for previous acclaimed independent films ‘Iceberg’ and ‘Rumba’. Darlings of the critics and festival circuit, this off beat adventure is nonetheless a breezy respite from the typical Hollywood fare.
This unexpected story of love and chance befalls a befuddled hotel clerk who finds himself falling in love with a fairy who grants him three wishes. After the first two wishes come true, she mysteriously vanishes from his life. Determined to get her back, our little hotel clerk searches everywhere, hoping to reunite with his one true love. Probably an unbelievable premise if handled by the typical Hollywood crowd, however in the capable hands of Abel, Gordon and Romy, this high concept conceit comes off as grounded simply by their flare, dedication and irresistible charm.
Extras include the original theatrical trailer as well as a Still Gallery.
Dark Sky Films delivers a better than average apocalyptic adventure starring Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh. By by-passing the theater route, Dark Sky stands a much better chance finding an audience for this tight little adventure directed by Abel Ferrara. Elevated by Dafoe’s presence, ’4:44 Last Days on Earth’ probably could have used a more catchy title, however, it pretty much lays out the premise of the film. Although, Hollywood has tried unsuccessfully for the most part dealing with this typically downbeat premise, Ferrara delivers a noble attempt by mixing some true pathos and fine performances into the mix.
The film begins with the following postulate: tomorrow at 4:44 AM the world is going to come to an end. As panic hits the Earth’s population, we land upon our two lovers (played by Dafoe and Leigh) who manage to seclude themselves in a Manhattan high-rise to spend their last moments in existence together. Accepting their doomed fate, the pair discovers more about themselves and each other in a few short hours than most do in an entire lifetime. You could easily see 4:44 as either a Twilight Zone or stage play, since most of the action is confined to the apartment. An interesting character study no matter how you cut it, ’4:44′ will undoubtedly have you wondering what you might do with the precious hours you had left if you had the knowledge the world was about to end.
Extras include director’s commentary and a slew of trailers.
Miramax is obviously hoping to strike some direct-to-video gold with it’s star studded sci-fi adventure ‘Imposter’, starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Mekhi Phifer, Tony Shalhoub, and Gary Sinise. Despite the talent attached, this space-age turkey has a hard time taking flight, mired in part with a bad script, languid direction and a tight budget that leaves a little too much left for imagination.
This futuristic thriller is set at a time when the Earth has been at war with an alien force for over a decade. The world’s hope rests upon the latest work of lauded governmental scientist Spencer Olham (D’Onofrio), who promises to save the planet. But suddenly, Olham himself is accused of being an alien spy and is thrown headlong into a disorienting nightmare as a fugitive from the law. With huge plot holes and conceits even a stalwart Trekkie might overlook, this tepid thriller manages to go through its requisite twists and turns but leaves you feeling like you’ve seen this all before in a multitude of other movies–a lot better. Probably better left for fans of the genre, ‘Imposter’ will fail to turn many heads until it finds its final berth on cable.
Extras include a plethora of other upcoming trailers.
The 1980′s makes a valiant return in 1984′s crime-drama thriller, ‘Fear City’ starring such decade stand-outs like Tom Berenger, Billy Dee Williams, Melanie Griffith, Maria Conchita Alonso, Rae Dawn Chong, and Jack Scalia. Kitschy by today’s standards, this forgettable gem from three decades ago was wisely rediscovered by Shout Factory. Although it shows its age in places, the acting is top-notch with a memorable story of love and murder along a path of unexpected twists and turns.
The film begins as we discover some of New York’s hottest dancers in the city’s hippest strip club are being stalked and murdered by a vicious psychopath. Enter a hard-nosed police detective and a conflicted ex-boxer-turned-private-eye who must find a way to work together to set out to find him before he strikes again. Perfect for the time, ‘Fear City’ rises above its dated status by the tight performances and swift direction by Abel Ferrara (who maybe not so coincidentally directs ’4:44′ which also comes out this week).
Extras are minimal, except for the requisite count of trailers of upcoming films on video.