Check out Ed Harris’ Certified Fresh Western, Appaloosa, but do try and avoid certified stinkers like My Best Friend’s Girl, Mirrors, and Seann William Scott’s direct-to-video vehicle, Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach. After all, there are surprises in store, especially if the Japanese title Tokyo Gore Police catches your fancy…
Another Certified Fresh new release this week is Appaloosa, which comes courtesy of actor/director Ed Harris (who previously starred in and directed the Oscar-winning biopic, Pollock). Harris moseys into the Western genre with a relatively straightforward drama about two lawmen (Harris and Viggo Mortensen) whose tenuous friendship is tested by an evil entrepreneur (Jeremy Irons) and a comely widow (Renee Zellweger). Action packed it ain’t; this Wild West bromance is for fans of the quiet, character-driven Western. However, the disc is rounded out nicely with special features on historical accuracy and the usual making-of experience, as well as a feature-length commentary by Harris and actor/screenwriter Robert Knott (who played Harris’ brother in Pollock).
2. Mirrors — 14%
Apparently, Jack Bauer can’t save everything. Despite starring erstwhile 24 hero Kiefer Sutherland, this lethargic Korean horror remake about — you guessed it! — demonic mirrors never reached above #4 at the box office last summer. The spooky tale, directed by French horror director Alexandre Aja (High Tension), should have yielded much more; instead, Mirrors barely out-grossed Aja’s previous slasher, The Hills Have Eyes, and is his worst-reviewed film to date. Horror devotees may still want to check out the Unrated DVD release for an alternate ending and Aja’s commentary on select scenes; we might recommend a Blu-ray rental just to see Amy Smart’s head ripped apart in HD.
Next: Brideshead Revisited
3. Brideshead Revisited — 64%
Brits may consider Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel Brideshead Revisited among their best 20th century works of literature, and its 1981 television serial among their most beloved original programs, but they’ll probably be much harsher on this 2008 adaptation. A decent retelling with a stellar cast pedigree, Julian Jarrold’s (Kinky Boots) Brideshead stars Ben Whishaw, Emma Thompson and Matthew Goode (in the role that made Jeremy Irons a star in the 1981 miniseries) in a story about a young man involved with a family of aristocrats in the years before and during World War II. A few featurettes and a feature-length commentary with the filmmakers provide insight into how and why they chose to focus on certain elements of Waugh’s novel over others in order to create a unique adaptation.
Next: My Best Friend’s Girl
Employee of the Month. Good Luck Chuck. And now, My Best Friend’s Girl. What single factor unites these three abysmal wastes of celluloid? Dane Cook. The comedian-turned-romantic comedy star did nothing to correct his rotten run on the Tomatometer with his most recent flick, My Best Friend’s Girl, in which he starred as a sleaze-for-hire who accidentally falls in love with his pal’s lady friend (Kate Hudson, who has also been stuck in rom-com hell for years). This DVD release contains more MBFG special features than any decent person should ever be allowed to watch, including a feature-length commentary in which supporting actor Jason Biggs (who’s building his own “What the Hell Happened” niche) gets stuck in a room with a producer and the screenwriter to wax poetic while drinking in the recording studio.
Next: Swing Vote
Imagine if the Presidential election came down to a single vote, and that vote belonged to the most ignorant, irresponsible, apolitical man in America. While it’s hard to laugh at the 2000 Florida recount fiasco, producer/star Kevin Costner thought it made for compelling movie making; audiences, however, may have found the mix of political satire with still-raw sentiment to be like oil and water. It’s a shame, since Costner’s “aww shucks” performance as Bud, who may as well have been named after his favorite beer, is one of his most charismatic performances in years. Deleted scenes, a making-of featurette and a commentary with writer/director Joshua Michael Stern and his co-scripter Jason Richman comprise the bonus menu.
Next: Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys
Tyler Perry knows his niche, and it has served him well. His latest — a Medea-free drama full of infidelity, backstabbing, and, yes, strong black women — is not only a semi-departure from his usual niche comedies, it’s also his best-reviewed film to date. (It’s still rotten, but an improvement nonetheless.) Kathy Bates, Alfre Woodard, Cole Hauser, Sanaa Lathan, and Taraji P. Henson join Perry himself as various members of two dramatically-linked families; featurettes and deleted scenes supplement the disc.
Next: Seann William Scott in…Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach
As we wind down this edition of RT on DVD, we make a brief stop in Direct-to-DVD Land, where we find poor former American Pie-er Seann William Scott wallowing in low budget “comedy” hijinks. Competing for Worst Release of the Week with the direct-to-DVD sequel Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling (which inexplicably stars Number 80 himself, Jerry Rice) is Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach. One might suppose director Danny Leiner nabbed poor Seann William Scott because of their prior relationship making the modern classic, Dude, Where’s My Car? (“Where’s your car, dude?”) or even Leiner’s major breakthrough feature, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. Is Direct-to-DVD Hell not far beneath the likes of Stifler? Oh, how we long for the days of watching Seann William Scott being peed on from on high. At least there was dignity in that.
Next: Humboldt County
Support indie film by checking out this stoner comedy from first-time directors Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs (who appear in a charmingly comic promo video for their film on the DVD release). Grodsky and Jacobs nabbed a solid cast for their tale of a straight-laced med student stuck for a summer on a pot farm in Humboldt County (“the northern part of Cali”), including Frances Conroy, Peter Bogdanovich, Brad Dourif, and Fairuza Balk; behind-the-scenes footage and more bolster Humboldt County‘s DVD release, which you can rent or buy directly from the filmmakers here.
Next: Tokyo Gore Police — 100%
Horror hounds need not settle for this week’s tepid thriller, Mirrors — why settle for subpar studio remakes when much more exciting and unique films are at hand? The 1981 cult slasher My Bloody Valentine gets a Special Edition (timed to coincide with Lionsgate’s upcoming remake, My Bloody Valentine 3D) which means a remastering, re-inserted gore (originally cut out to avoid an X rating), and never-before-seen deleted scenes! But if that tale of a crazed, pickaxe-wielding miner isn’t enough to get your bloodlust going, take a gander at the new import Tokyo Gore Police, from the makers of Machine Girl. In Tokyo Gore Police, a wave of mutated humans are able to create weapons from any wound inflicted upon them — the results, as you might imagine, are grotesque , gory (and thus, awesome) in equal measure. Early festival reviews have TGP pegged at 100 percent on the Tomatometer; V.A. Musetto of the New York Post calls it “quite possibly the goriest, craziest, most eye-blowing, chunk-spewing, head-exploding sci-fi movie of all time.”