April 6, 2010

DVD Pick of the Week: Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope 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, but opinions based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations 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.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (also Blu-ray). I fear that not enough people had the opportunity to see this film. Now that it is arriving on home video I hope that it will find a larger audience. This really is an intense, strange, odd film that has a very strong performance from Nicolas Cage (that's right, that Nicolas Cage). Director Werner Herzog takes us into post-Katrina New Orleans on the trail of the drug-addicted Cage who is in a downward spiral with no hope of escape. It is a movie that has a plot but it is not what the movie is about. The plot is the thread used to give the audience some perspective, to organize the heavenly hell that Cage's lieutenant is building for himself. The story could have been anything, the point is not the investigation. Just watch Cage and the his character develops. He is the titular bad lieutenant. He has relationship troubles, drug troubles, case troubles. You name it, he has an issue for it. Sit back and watch the fun.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Blu-ray). The classic, Oscar winning fantasy trilogy makes its way to Blu-ray. What can I say that hasn't already been said? They are wonderful films with exhaustive extras that everyone should watch. However, it is not without its controversy. This set only has the theatrical versions, not the extended cuts. There really is no reason to separate the two aside from milking the fans who want both. I really don't have much of an opinion one way or the other, save to say that Peter Jackson considers the theatrical cuts to be the definitive versions.

The Natural (Blu-ray). I have not seen this in forever. Robert Redford stars as Roy Hobbs, an average baseball player who becomes a legend. I remember loving this film, but I have very few definite memories of it and think I really should give it a revisit.

The Unusuals: The Complete Series. This is an Amazon exclusive, so don't go looking for it on store shelves. This short lived series was pretty entertaining. It stars Jeremy Renner and Amber Tamblyn as members of a dysfunctional detective force. The characters were developing nicely only to have the show cut short. It was quirky and odd and different from your typical cop show, which is possibly why it didn't last.

The Lord of the Rings (animated, Blu-ray). Interesting that they are releasing this the same day as the trilogy, although it makes perfect sense to pair them up. I remember watching this when I was really young and just being utterly confused. It wasn't the story that I found difficult, but I was thrown by the animation style, which relies on a lot of rotoscoping, where animators trace live action footage. It really is a unique project, it is a shame he was never able to complete the trilogy. This leaves off part way through The Two Towers.

The Relic (Blu-ray). I like this creature feature. It is nothing particularly special, but it is fun. If you like monster movies, give this a spin. It features a researcher who brings some findings to a Chicago museum from an excursion to South America. One of the things he brings back turns into a bloodthirsty monster. Penelope Ann Miller and Tom Sizemore are faced with trying to stop its advance. Fun.

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