January 13, 2009

DVD Pick of the Week: Appaloosa

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.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles and what follows are not necessarily reviews. It is my opinion based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists that I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations upon them are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

Appaloosa. This is a movie that I went into wanting very much to love it. As I watched it, I enjoyed what I saw, but at the same time I was bit frustrated with the slow build that was employed. I guess I was hoping for something a bit more energetic. Then, when I sat down to write about it, I found myself beginning to like it more than I had in those moments immediately after leaving the theater. The central gunslingers are fascinating characters and the film, as a whole, has a realistic build that feels awfully genuine. It is clear the filmmakers were not interested in crowd-pleasing as much as they wanted to make a tribute to the old-school of filmmaking. It is effective and does warrant a revisit.

My Bloody Valentine. In 1981 a slasher film arrived that told of a killer that had something against Valentine's Day and would kill anyone who celebrated. It was thought to be a legend until people start showing up dead. This special edition arrives just in advance of the 3D gimmicked remake. This is one of those early '80s slashers that I have been meaning to look into. With this release, it appears that my time is now.

Mirrors. This journey from the start of the mystery through the conclusion takes so many leaps that it is hard to understand the whys and hows of what is happening. Everything points back to the style over substance that is the true heart of Mirrors. Events happen in rapid succession that flow by at such a pace that you are not given much time to connect the dots, but I assure you that when you reflect on the film you be left at a loss as to how everything goes together. Director Alexandre Aja does a great job of building atmosphere, but when it comes to exercising a logical story, success is decidedly poor.

Swing Vote. This actually turned out to be a decent movie, perhaps even better than decent. It had enough heart to induce numerous smiles, funny enough to spur a few chuckles, and smart enough not to play the audience for fools while having a clear focus of what it was trying to accomplish. Now, these facts do not make this a great movie; that it is not and will never be confused for one. However, it is one that is better than I was expecting and well worth spending some time with. What it comes down to is a heartwarming story of a father and daughter that hopes to encourage involvement; regardless of which party side you take, get involved. I enjoyed it, more than I was expecting to, and I suspect others will too.

My Best Friend's Girl. I will not lie and say that the movie is not funny. There are some lines and scenes that are definitely hilarious, I was still caught off-guard by the great mini-wheat line that was in the trailer. The problem is that all the funny moments are lines and scenes, not the movie, which is a significant point. When taken in bits and pieces, you will find yourself helpless in its ability to make you laugh. When you step back and take a look at the big picture you will likely be at a loss as to why you should care about the story.

Tokyo Gore Police. How can you not like a title like that? Seriously though, this sounds way too bizarre to pass up. It is set in the future where police have been privatized and self-mutilation is common. Our central cop character is on a mission to avenge the death of her father. I understand it lives up to the gore of the title, I am looking forward to checking this out.

WWE: Starrcade Essential Collection. I am sorry, but it looks very strange, weird, and wrong to see the letters WWE in front of Starrcade, which was the Wrestlemania equivalent of WCW. Still, this set should contain some old school classics.

Humboldt County. This film was barely in theaters long enough to have a cup of coffee before disappearing. It concerns a disillusioned med student who goes on a trip with an odd friend and ends up with counter cultural pot farmers. Needless to say, it has an effect on his outlook. It does not look like a great film, but definitely one that could be worth checking out.

Supercop. Along with Rumble in the Bronx, First Strike, and Operation Condor, Supercop was in that wave of Chan films that helped him truly break out in America, yes there were other, earlier films, but these got the ball rolling in a big way. Dragon Dynasty is delivering a new Ultimate Edition of this entertaining, if imperfect Chan vehicle. He co-stars with Michelle Yeoh in a film that is well worth checking out, if you haven't already. I know I am looking forward to it.

Breakfast at Tiffany's: Centennial Collection. One of Audrey Hepburn's most beloved films is back in a new release that appears to be little more than a repackage of the last one. Still, here is no denying the infectious quality of the film.


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