April 8, 2008

DVD Pick of the Week: There Will Be Blood

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope that this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

This week brings with it a selection that includes plenty of titles of interest. There are good titles, bad titles, and everything in between. Rest assured that there will be something that you will want added to your queue, whether it be Oscar winners, or those that are as far from Oscar material as you can get, there will be something. There was even a race to the top for the prestigious placement in the title. Two releases made a charge for that honor, and I, obviously, chose the more prestigious of the two (as if it needs any more help).

There Will Be Blood. Winner of multiple Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Daniel Day Lewis, this film is destined to be a classic. It is a fascinating character study that is as engrossing as anything your likely to see, and it does this while remaining emotionally distant. At no point did I feel truly emotionally involved. Still, this is a film made by a creative team that is on their A game. Paul WS Anderson has taken a novel and taken it in an unexpected direction, and thus has given us something to watch multiple times to discover all of the nuance, all of the details and motivations within. In short, this is a movie that is not to be missed. The film is being released in two disk special edition as well as a single disk release.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Going completely to the other end of the spectrum is this Judd Apatow scripted, Jake Kasdan directed spoof. It is one of the better spoofs to arrive in some time, and it deserved better than what it did at the box office. It sets its sights on the biopic genre, specifically Walk the Line. It successfully skewers the clich├ęs while still making a compelling film. This is in no small favor to John C. Reilly's performance, he nails the title role. The movie is being released in a single disk edition as well as a two disk unrated set, which is 30 minutes longer than the theatrical version contained on the single disk release.

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. This family-friendly feature opened this past Christmas to generally good reviews. I never got around to seeing it, and quite frankly, I never had much interest in seeing it. Still, it is arriving on DVD and will surely be a hit with the youngsters who like the monsters friendly and big. It tells the story that builds into the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.

Reservation Road. This had a lot of buzz around it for awhile, but then it just fizzled and never received a wide release. It is a story of loss and redemption that I have not yet seen. A father and son are driving home one night when they are involved in a hit and run, they keep going as another little boy dies. That boy's father then goes on a search for the person responsible. Stars include Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, and Jennifer Connelly.

Lions for Lambs. This was supposed to be a big hit, it was supposed to be the big return of United Artists under Tom Cruise's guidance, and it flopped. It is another example of an Iraq themed film failing at the box office. I suspect it will do better on DVD, but it still amounts to a lecture more than a movie. Try listening to Cruise, Meryl Streep, and Robert Redford talking about the war for 90 minutes, not exactly a good time.

The 11th Hour. A documentary narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio about environmental issues. I have seen it described as An Inconvenient Truth for the MTV set. It had a short run in theaters, and now it is on DVD at a super low price. I guess they are dead set on getting this info out.

P2. Tightly wound and sharply focused thriller that was ignored in theaters. Hopefully it will find an audience on DVD. Besides the thrills, it features the best performance by a white dress in the past few years. Wes Bentley stars as an obsessed security guard and Rachel Nichols is the object of his affections. It is highly effective and well worth the time.

Resurrecting the Champ. The story never truly pays off, but we get a truly remarkable performance from Samuel L. Jackson. A reporter, played by Josh Hartnett tries to break a story that will push him to the top, but can it be believed? It is worth a watch, but as a rental only. Jackson's performance is the primary reason to see this, as it is one of his best in years (next to Black Snake Moan).

Day of the Dead (2008). Originally slated for a theatrical release, it was deemed to not be good enough for that. Early word surrounding the film is not good. It is a loose remake of Romero's 1985 film, although aside from that there does not seem to be any connection to either the original series nor the Dawn of the Dead remake from a few years back. I am curious, but in no rush to see this.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. I cannot recall ever seeing this Terry Gilliam film before. I certainly have been aware of it, but cannot remember actually watching this comedic fantasy adventure. Perhaps I should give it a shot now.

The Cellar Door. This could wind up being a large steaming pile of indie horror, but then again, it could turn out to be a horrific gem. It purports to be a psychological horror where a woman his held captive and she must match wits in order to survive. I'd be willing to give it a shot.

Alien Agent. Sci-fi action starring Mark Dacascos and Bully Zane? Sure, why not. Commenters at Amazon say that the plot makes little sense, but I still believe it could be worth a shot. Dacascos has been involved in some entertaining direct to video flicks in the past, so this should at least be watchable.

That's all for this week!

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