If you missed the excellent ParaNorman in theaters (or saw the similarly macabre and quirky Frankenweenie instead), catch an exclusive clip from the dark, funny, moving, and visually impressive stop-motion animation about a loner kid named Norman whose ability to see dead people first makes him an outcast, then an unlikely hero, when his small town is overrun by zombies.
I'll give Ridley Scott this much: Despite leaving us all with a thousand unanswered questions at the end of Prometheus, he's seemingly packed a multitude of answers into the upcoming Blu-ray, DVD, and 3D Blu home video release. Count down the days — mere days! — until October 8, when the secrets of Prometheus are yours to devour, with a tantalizing look at the spoilery Blu-ray/DVD trailer.
Cinema connoisseurs of two kinds are in luck this week: Panos Cosmatos's acid-trip of an arthouse thriller Beyond The Black Rainbow hits shelves as Movieline's highbrow pick of the week, while the comedy classic Airplane! gets the Blu-ray treatment. Surely you can't resist?
It seems Ridley Scott gave himself options when it came to some of the effects in his Prometheus saga, which the forthcoming DVD/Blu-ray release (and its reportedly sprawling bonus features menu) should handily reveal for hungry fans. Newly unveiled unused effects shots of a pivotal action scene in the film involving a certain crewmember are so drastically different than what's seen in the theatrical version it actually is making my brain hurt more trying to figure out how this alterna-design would have made any sense.
This week's DVD releases encompass everything from the sublime — Richard Linklater’s Bernie, one of the best films of the year so far (Millennium Entertainment; $29.99 Blu-Ray, $28.99 DVD) — to the ridiculous — the DVD debut of the 1980s T&A epic Joysticks (Scorpion Releasing; $19.95 DVD). For my tastes, however, the highlights include a subtle but powerful British romance along with some animated Disney faves that are available for the first time on Blu-ray. more »
Movieline is excited to welcome Alonso Duralde back to the pages of this site with a new regular feature we're calling High and Low. Every week, the dauntless Duralde will wade through the mind-numbing number of home-entertainment choices out there and recommend two must-see releases: His first pick will be geared for cineastes looking for essential viewing. His second will be aimed at movie lovers seeking out the highest form of guilty pleasure available: the offbeat, the campy, the kitschy and the just plain wacky. Take it away, Alonso: more »
Before there was Django Unchained, there was Django, and the star of that 1966 spaghetti western, Franco Nero, can be found in the 1970 surreal comedy Compañeros, which also inspired Quentin Tarantino's upcoming anti-slavery opus.
The Film: Compañeros (1970)
Why It's an Inessential Essential: With Django Unchained on the way, it's a good time to revisit the films that inspired Quentin Tarantino's upcoming pastiche. The winningly surreal action comedy Compañeros is the third installment of a trilogy that spaghetti-western director Sergio Corbucci's shot with Franco Nero, the star of the original Django (1966) and the mysterious man who makes a prominent cameo at the end of the Django Unchained trailer. Like most spaghetti westerns, Compañeros is a mish-mosh of narrative tropes that takes the kind of mercenary outsider made popular in the genre by A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and Django and places him in the political, revolutionary-centric context of "Zapata westerns" like Tepepa (1969) and Duck, You Sucker! (1971). more »
Good news for anyone who couldn't get enough of Kenneth Lonergan's flawed, fearless, possibly cursed epic Margaret: The forthcoming DVD will feature a 186-minute cut — 36 minutes longer than the version all but buried last year by Fox Searchlight before a cadre of critical supporters rallied on its behalf. The not-so-good news, if high-definition transfers of talky moral dramas are of particular importance to you: The 150-minute version will reportedly be the only one available on Blu-ray when it goes on sale July 10. But hey. We take what we can get in this world. [Amazon]
The Film: Being John Malkovich (1999), available today on Blu-ray and DVD via The Criterion Collection
Why It’s an Inessential Essential: It’s strange to think that a film with John Malkovich’s name in its title isn’t really considered to be “a John Malkovich movie.” Instead, Being John Malkovich is understandably normally associated with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze, both of whom really broke out thanks to BJM’s success. While Jonze reveals on The Criterion Collection’s new audio commentary track that he and Kaufman were dead-set on getting Malkovich for the film, Being John Malkovich could really be about any celebrity. At the same time, that’s one of the many things that’s funny about Being John Malkovich: It’s a metaphysical black comedy about what people projecting things onto celebrities that don’t necessarily have anything to do with those celebrities.
The film: Jeremiah Johnson (1972), newly available on Blu-ray via Warner Home Video.
Why it's an Inessential Essential: The audio commentary on the new Blu-ray of Jeremiah Johnson suggests that director Sydney Pollack's time helming the serio-comic 1972 Western mirrored his inexperienced protagonist's uphill struggle to survive in pioneer America. Before making Jeremiah Johnson, Pollack directed episodes of such western tv shows as Frontier Circus and The Tall Man and even a feature-length western called The Scalphunters (1968). Still, Pollack is not normally associated with Westerns. And after hearing him talk about some of the travails he had filming Jeremiah Johnson, it's easy to see why the film was the late filmmaker's only Western.
The film: Strange Fruit: The Beatles’ Apple Records (2012), available on DVD via Chrome Dreams
Why It’s an Inessential Essential: Clocking in at a mammoth 162 minutes, Strange Fruit: The Beatles’ Apple Records is an exhaustive new documentary about the short-lived record and film label that the Beatles used to release such artists as Badfinger and James Taylor. And while the absence of Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney and the lack of archival interview footage of the Beatles is striking (John Lennon only chimes in around the 135-minute mark), that’s also sort of liberating: The film takes a semi-critical look at why Apple, a label that was meant to have established artists promote new artists, never really took off.
The Film: Night Call Nurses (1972), available on DVD in the new set Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection via Shout! Factory.
Why it's an Inessential Essential: The respectability gap between director Jonathan Kaplan's recent and early-career work is pretty striking. Today, Kaplan works primarily in TV: He served as a co-executive producer for both E.R. and Without a Trace, and has also directed eight episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, two episodes of Brothers and Sisters and 40 episodes of E.R. But when Kaplan started his filmmaking career, he made sleazy but surprisingly sturdy exploitation pics like Truck Turner (1974), in which Isaac Hayes plays a bounty hunter that is very attached to beer and his cat, and The Slams (1973), a prison flick starring Jim Brown. Now Night Call Nurses, Kaplan's 1972 directorial debut, has just been reissued in a new collection highlighting four nursesploitation pics produced by schlockmeister Roger Corman. Kaplan's film is easily the best one in the set — and also a good indicator of Kaplan's then-nascent talent.
The film: "Dogville" (2003)
Why it's an Inessential Essential: It's admittedly a little strange to think of this fairly well-known film as needing endorsement of any kind. However, Lionsgate recently released a new Nicole Kidman box set, packaging the first film in Lars von Trier's acerbic but still incomplete "America Trilogy" in the same collection as more high-profile and easy-to-swallow Kidman roles like Cold Mountain, Rabbit Hole and The Others. The juxtaposition is striking, and as the clear odd film out in the four-disc set, Dogville emerges as perhaps Kidman's most inessential essential.
"Screw Netflix!!!!!!" "Don't be stupid!!!!!!" And with one final missive taped to the shelf between copies of Syriana and Shoot 'Em Up, another doomed Blockbuster store fell to the tyranny of Netflix's superior business model. Might as well screw Netflix with three months' free rental, eh Blockbuster loyalists? (What about those Redbox bastards, with their $1.20 rentals?) All is not lost, indeed.
The film: The Broken Tower (2011), available on DVD via Focus World
Why it's an Inessential Essential: Straight out of New York University's Tisch School for the Arts, actor-turned-aspiring filmmaker James Franco helmed, starred in and adapted The Broken Tower: The Life of Hart Crane, Paul Mariani's biography of the titular turn-of-the-century poet. Franco's moving film — his first feature as a director to be commercially released — depicts Crane (played by Franco, of course) as a frustrated artist striving for an avant-garde artistic ideal that he would never fully realize.