Electric Shadow

Disc Roundup (Movies & TV) 29 June


Radford and Wayne as Charters and Caldicott in Night Train to Munich


Release of the Week - Catalog Movie New to Disc
Night Train to Munich (Criterion Collection)
An early Carol Reed movie that is less a full-on classic than Third Man or others, but is no less essential to knowing Reed as a filmmaker. A sterling example of Criterion quality versus quantity of supplemental material.

Non-English Release of the Week
Everlasting Moments (Criterion Collection)
A great discovery.

Release of the Week - New
The White Ribbon
Michael Haneke's film is called "challenging" because it addresses one of those things we like to ignore: social acceptance of violence and brutality. This is not the kind of movie that you throw on when debating what to have a good ol' time with on a Friday night in at home. The movie takes place in the year and a quarter preceding the outbreak of WWI. Strange things happen too coincidentally in an Austrian village during this time to be due to mere chance. Is there someone behind everything, or something more? This kind of sociological suspense is particularly unsettling because it makes you question the motivation and actions of everyone around you once you're done watching the movie. Included extras are a making-of, an interview with Haneke, footage from the Cannes premiere, and a short career retrospective doc.

Release of the Week - Catalog New to Blu
The Leopard (Criterion Collection)
Going solely off of word-of-mouth, the HD upgrade has been kind indeed to Visconti's classic, which already had a stellar Criterion edition and supplements.

Movie New Releases
Hot Tub Time Machine
It was unfair to call this "the next Hangover". It's a more accurate thematic comparison than She's Out of My League, but that isn't saying much. The movie is fun. It is, however, just as much a morally-guilty, middle-aged male wish fulfillment movie as It's Complicated is for middle aged to older women. The only extras on the DVD that I was sent are nearly twelve minutes of deleted/alternate/extended scenes, the trailer, and an "unrated" version of the movie that presumably includes more nudity and crudity. This deserved better box office than it got, and I suspect the culprit was too high a quantity of sneak preview screenings.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
You know, I didn't hate this as others seemed to, mostly forgiving shortcomings to thin source material. I've been a greek mythology nut since I was in middle school, and I almost lost it when they got to the Lotus Eaters scene. I nearly lost it a second time when Steve Coogan appeared as Hades in human form in the underworld looking like a has-been death metal rocker. I was glad to see Kevin McKidd in a prominent role as Poseidon, because the man should be a gigantic star (and I think will be eventually). The whole cast is pretty damn solid, honestly. Give the world a franchise of this before The Last Airbender, please.

On a technical level, I've gotta say they did wonders making the love interest girl look like a competent swordfighter in her early scenes with quick cuts. She's betrayed later on, where I saw this "daughter of Athena" to be a bit...unpracticed with a blade. I've got extensive sword training under my belt, and I wish they'd gotten a real combat-trained young woman her age (they're out there!). The extras are family/kid-centric, understandably. The outtakes were pretty good, in particular when they featured Tropic Thunder's Brandon T. Jackson. I have a feeling this franchise could grow past "just OK" in the same way the Potter movies did.

The Warlords
I'm pretty sure I've had my import copy of this for two years. I'm glad Magnolia picks these movies up, but they're losing potential customers like me who don't want to wait over 700 days.

The Crazies

Creation (DVD only)
I hope this coming out will mean that I stop getting 100 emails a week from the movie's publicity firm. Is a long blogger nightmare finally at an end?

Don McKay

These were both as good as DTV. No clue whether they're any good.

Concert/Music New Releases
Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage
When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors

Direct to Video
Pretty Bird
After watching it, I get why this never hit theatres: it's an impossible sell full of unlikeable weirdos. That said, the performances are pretty great, just generally unappealing. Billy Crudup plays a dreamy-eyed entrepreneur with ambitions of being a great inventor. He has no engineering experience. David Hornsby is a relatively well-off mattress store owner who Crudup easily convinces to put up the money to develop a rocket belt (jetpack). Paul Giamatti is an out-of-work, bitter, and nasty mean rocket scientist. Kristen Wiig plays the dippy mattress store employee who kinda falls for Crudup. She's charming and disarming as always. The three guys are all effortlessly authentic to the dudes they play, but I'm not interested in any of them the way I was in director/writer Paul Schneider's Lars in Lars and the Real Girl. If you don't expect what is now considered the conventional "goofy/quirky little indie", the movie can certainly be enjoyed merely for the technical precision of the performances. I hate the word quirky because it means nothing, but I gather almost every review of this movie probably used it.

Catalog Movies New to Disc
Kill Switch
Finally, this 2008 Seagalassic can be seen by the masses.

New York Confidential
A vintage catalog title from VCI. It probably looks terrible, but here it is.

TV New Releases
The Closer Season 5
Eureka Season 3.5
Warehouse 13 Season 1

Catalog TV
Mad About You Season 4
Leave It to Beaver Complete Series