High and Low: Ryan Gosling Wants a Revolution, Taylor Kitsch Will Settle For Kicking Some Alien Ass
While the GOP gathers in tropical storm-plagued Tampa to Do That Thing They Do, this week's new DVD selections feature a rallying cry against the status quo and an overblown, flag-waving spectacle based on a board game that, all things considered, is still pretty fun to watch.
HIGH: #ReGeneration (Virgil Films; $19.99, DVD)
Who’s Responsible: Written and directed by Phillip Montgomery; narrated (and produced) by Ryan Gosling; appearances by Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Talib Kweli.
What It’s All About: The film’s marketing suggests it’s a documentary about the Occupy movement, but it’s got a more ambitious agenda than that. #ReGeneration feels less interested in the economic roots of the protests than in the cultural underpinnings of Occupy (mass media manipulation, the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, corporatization, the crumbling educational infrastructure, our interactions with computer and TV screens instead of each other). Interview subjects include activists, intellectuals, high school students, the founder of Adbusters magazine, and just plain folks who feel somewhat helpless about their ability to change the world.
Why It’s Schmancy: Packing such ambitious subject matter into 81 minutes leads to a certain lack of focus, but the movie ultimately stands as a rallying cry for the new “Me Generation” to rediscover a sense of community and to fight back against being turned into wage-slave drones controlled by shadowy figures on high. It’s also probably one of the few documentaries you’ll ever see that features critiques of the media from both the legendarily leftist Chomsky and Libertarian Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson.
Why You Should Buy It: The bonus features are relatively meager, but the deleted scenes include more thoughts from the late Zinn (A People’s History of the United States), some interesting interviews with Japanese teens and their parents (who seem to be dealing with the same cultural issues as their North American peers) and the use of the phrase “Coca-Colonization,” which I kinda love.
LOW: Battleship (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; $34.98 Blu-Ray, $29.98 DVD)
Who’s Responsible: Written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber, “Based on Hasbro’s Battleship”; directed by Peter Berg; starring Taylor Kitsch, Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neeson, Rihanna
What It’s About: Nefarious aliens follow a beacon signal sent out from Earth — stupid science! — and the planet’s only hope to repel the invasion is a cocky, trouble-making Naval officer (Kitsch) and his plucky crew. Will they save the day? Will Kitsch win the hand of girlfriend Brooklyn Decker over the objections of her dad, the admiral (Neeson)? Will this ludicrous but entertaining action extravaganza find an audience on home video after tanking at the box office?
Why It’s Fun: Granted, a big, loud, stupid and expensive movie based on a board game pretty much encapsulates everything that’s wrong with Hollywood these days. But as big, loud, stupid summer movies go (and the fact that it’s on DVD before Labor Day tells you something about its fate in theaters), Battleship is surprisingly entertaining in its silliness. Despite its illogical story line, the hackneyed characters and the movie’s unapologetic, join-the-Navy bursts of jingoism, it never lags. That sounds like damning with faint praise, but how many other elephantine high-concept explosion-fests in recent years can make the same claim?
Why You Should Buy It: The DVD includes the requisite making-of and meet-the-cast extras, and the Blu-Ray throws in a few additional ones, including the previsualization of an alternate ending and a look into the special effects and the legendary USS Missouri (which plays a key role in the film). If you’re looking for something to throw into your home theater system to show off the booming sound and the crisp hi-def images, this one will hit the mark.
Alonso Duralde has written about film for The Wrap, Salon and MSNBC.com. He also co-hosts the Linoleum Knife podcast and regularly appears on What the Flick?! (The Young Turks Network). He is a senior programmer for the Outfest Film Festival in Los Angeles and a pre-screener for the Sundance Film Festival. He also the author of two books: Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas (Limelight Editions) and 101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men (Advocate Books).
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