April 27, 2010

DVD Pick of the Week: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

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.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (also Blu-ray).This movie is wildly imaginative, and is one of the best cinematic mind-twisters to come along in some time. I find no shame in saying that while I understood the movie, I also did not understand it. Terry Gilliam has crafted a visually stunning film whose through story is easy to follow, but there is a lot of nuance and elements that will take a few more viewings to understand. This also happens to be Heath Ledger's final movie, and another bright spot on his two short career. The film involves a traveling carnival act whose centerpiece is a mirror that will show you the inside of the mind. Too few saw this on the big screen, now you can catch up.

Tombstone (Blu-ray). This was te movie that changed my mind about Westerns. I was never a big fan, but then prior to this film I never really gave them a chance. This movie was just fantastic, exciting, action packed, dramatic, touches of humor. Val Kilmer stole the show as Doc Holiday. This is the sort of Western that is easy to like and I suspect it will look good on Blu-ray.

Armageddon (Blu-ray). Everybody knows about this movie. A Michael Bay offering that is everything that is evil about a Bay movie and everything that is good. There is nothing that compares to a Michael Bay explosion. He just knows how to do it. Sadly it is one of the only things he does right. Still, they are big often fun popcorn movies and I enjoy a bunch of them. I bet this will look spectacular on Blu-ray, although I do not think it will help the overall quality.

Dune (Blu-ray). This should look pretty good, although I do not think I'm going to get it. I got the last DVD some time ago and still have not watched it. This is the David Lynch helmed adaptation of the Frank Herbert epic. Not quite like the book, not quite successful, but definitely odd and unique.

It's Complicated (also Blu-ray). Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep, and Steve Martin star in this romantic comedy. Frankly, I do not have a lotto say about this one as I did not see it and do not have much interest in seeing it. It concerns Baldwin and Streep as a divorced couple who still have feelings for each other while Martin adds romantic complications. Maybe I will catch it at some point, but no immediate desire.

The Descent Part 2. The first film was utterly fantastic, a terrifying, skin crawling affair that truly delivered. I have not heard much good about the sequel. I don't think the movie needs a sequel. Still, I feel almost compelled to see it. We are taken back to the caves of the first one to find what still waits inside.

District 13: Ultimatum (also Blu-ray). Pierre Morel directed the first film and truly introduced the world to parkour. It was a blast of adrenaline that was a lot of fun to watch. Will the sequel match up? I am looking forward to seeing if it does! Science fiction and action together with a dose of fun is what I am expecting. Of course, I have avoided information, hoping to see it without pre-knowledge. This will also be available in a Blu-ray two pack with both District 13 films, which is the set that I will likely be going for.

Megapirahna. A SyFy channel oiginal that is easily be identified by the title. What a title it is! How can you not be intrigued by a movie called Megapirahna? Do you really need to know anything else?

Transylmania. This movie arrived in theaters back in December with little fanfare. It disappeared just as quickly as it arrived. It is a spoof comedy that has a group of exchange students heading to Europe where they encounter supernatural baddies. Not sure I'd be able to sit through it.

Sympathy.  I knew nothing of this film before seeing it pop up on the release list. It is described as Hitchcockian claustrophobic horror/thriller. The story is driven by a bank robber and his teenage hostage hole up in a hotel where a stranger turns their night into a cat and mouse game of bloody terror. I think I am really going to have to check this one out.
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