April 1, 2010

DVD Pick of the Week: I Sell the Dead

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.

I Sell the Dead (also Blu-ray). I have not seen this film but I am definitely intrigued enough to make it my top pick of the week. Just read this desciption and tell me it does not at least sound interesting: It was a time of ghouls, ghosts and most ghastly of all, the fine art of grave robbing. Dominic Monaghan of Lord of the Rings and Lost stars as 19th century corpse snatcher Arthur Blake, who pilfered the cemeteries and coffins of England until his capture by police. But just before Blake is to meet the hangman s noose, he will confess to a peculiar priest (Ron Perlman of Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy) his gruesome tale of vampires, zombies and cadaver dealing that takes him from the savagery of the criminal underworld to the terrors of the undead. Producer Larry Fessenden (Wedigo, The Last Winter) and Angus Scrimm (Phantasm) co-star in this deliriously grisly and hilarious homage to foggy graveyards, bloody mayhem and the golden age gothic horror.

Sherlock Holmes (also Blu-ray). This movie is a lot of fun. The story is not exactly deep and Rachel McAdams seems a little lost, but there is no denying the entertainment value and the way Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law command the screen. Guy Ritchie does a fine job of tempering his kinetic skills and focusing them on a decidedly more mainstream project, it is a definite compromise but one that works to his advantage. I look forward to visiting it again at home.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (also Blu-ray). I enjoyed the first film but feel that with that I have seen enough of the animated trio brought to the live action arena. Frankly, the commercials began to annoy me, especially the Chipettes and that Beyonce tune. You know the one. Maybe one day I will catch up with it, but not soon.

Collateral (Blu-ray). This is a thrilling film. Michael Mann brings LA to life and also opened my eyes to Jamie Foxx's ability. The film centers on Foxxs cabbie who is charged with driving Tom Cruise around as he goes about his work. Cruise just happens to be a hit man. It really is fascinating to watch their personalities interact over the course of the night. This is definitely a movie to see.

An Education (also Blu-ray). I have heard very good things about the Oscar nominated Carey Mulligan's performance. Despite that, I cannot say I have an overriding desire to run out and see it. It is a coming of age story set in the 1960s and how a teen girl's life changes with the arrival of a man much older than she, played by Ewan McGregor.

The Killer (Blu-ray). Back before John Woo came to Hollywood he made some great action films in Hong Kong. This is one of them. Chow Yun Fat stars as an assassin going on one more job before quitting the game, but he is double crossed by his employer. This is a great film I have not seen in some time. It is a shame that I hear that the Blu-ray is really quite bad. I understand that it is interlaced as opposed to progressive and just does not take advantage of the format.

Robin Williams: Weapons of Self Destruction. Robin Williams first new special in years has arrived. I have not seen any clips, but the man does not know how not to be funny. The guy is insane and has incredible energy reserves, how can this not be fun?

The Protector (Blu-ray). Tony Jaa is quite the martial artist. Not so great an actor, but definitely impressive when it comes to fighting. This film features an extended fight sequence with no cuts as Jaa blasts his way through a ton of bad guys before getting into a fight where a guy throws an elephant (no joke).

Sports Night: Season One. I never watched this when it was on, but a friend turned me on to it well after its run and I saw just how great it was. Aaron Sorkin created the show that was set on the stage of a sports news show and the drama about the characters and their relationships. It is now coming back to DVD after a long period of beng out of print. I may need to finally pick it up.

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