May 01, 2009

Notes from a DVD Geek

by Jeremy Lassen

Hey everyone.  Got some new release info for you this month, and some rambling about "Star Trek".

First up: "The Uninvited" hits DVD this week.  It's a US remake of the Korean horror classic "A Tale Of Two Sisters".  It’s fairly decent, (if a little bit dumbed down,) but given how convoluted and obtuse the original was, this isn’t really a terrible problem.  I enjoyed this one.

"S. Darko" proves the Joe Bob Briggs rule of sequels: just do the same damn thing over again.  This beat-for-beat sequel to "Donnie Darko" is by the production company of "Donnie Darko," but original "Darko" director Richard Kelly had nothing to do with it.  In fact he's pretty vocally disavowed it.  But. . . it occurs to me that if Kelly had turned in this movie instead of "Southland Tales," he might still have a career in Hollywood.  If you just want to experience the frission of "Donnie Darko" again, check out "S. Darko".  It does exactly what a sequel is supposed to do - give you precisely the same experience all over again.

Coming out this month is the mainstream science-fictional movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button".  This one comes from David ("Seven," "Alien3") Fincher, and is based on a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It uses the very science-fictional conceit of a man aging backwards, to tell a star-crossed love story.  Don’t miss Brad Pit hamming it up in this one.  Fincher’s last movie was also just barely on the margins of genre, being a bio-pic of the San Francisco reporter who literally wrote the book on one of the country's most infamous serial killers, the Zodiac Killer.  Both these movies are only peripherally genre, and Fincher, like Ridley Scott before him, seems to be moving away from the genre excesses of his earlier films, aiming for more respectable territory.  But there’s still some really nice bits that a genre fan can enjoy in "Zodiac," and "Benjamin Button".

On the anime side of the house, there is a very interesting series, "FLAG," which is getting the “complete series in one package” treatment.  It follows the exploits of a peace-keeping force in south-east Asia; the story told through the eyes of a photojournalist whose photo inspired his nation to believe in peace.  This emblematic photo is stolen by guerrillas, and the narrative follows the escapades to get it back.  This is a unique anime series exploring issues of revenge, nationalism, and civil war.  Oh, and because it's anime, the peace-keeping force has a transforming bipedal exoskeleton.  Don’t miss this one.

Another quirky anime title this month is "Karin". This series follows a little girl who is the middle child of a family of vampire immigrants in Japan.  However she has a problem that makes her different from her family.  She produces too much blood. So, instead of draining poor souls of their plasma, she must inject the red stuff into others via her vampire bites.  "Quirky" is exactly what this 24-episode series is.  I enjoyed the hell of out it.

Another quirky anime series that kicks ass is "Last Exile".  It is a TV series that combines the best elements of "Porco Rosso" and "Steamboy".  It drips with steampunk imagery, and takes place in a futuristic world where the skies are populated by technologically advanced 1940s-style fighter planes. "Last Exile" is the production of the esteemed Gonzo anime studio, and directed by Koichi ("Full Metal Panic") Chigira.

Moving away from the new releases, I wanted to mention that, in the wake of the new "Star Trek" movie, now’s a perfect time to add all of the "Star Trek" movies to your collection.  Each movie has received the 2-disk Special Edition treatment, and is jam-packed with bonus material.  High points for me are, (of course) "ST II: The Wrath of Kahn," and "STIV:  Save the Whales".  Even the recently released special edition of "ST: The Motion Picture" has its charms, and includes a re-edited version featuring special effects shots they wanted to do at the time but couldn’t afford.  Frankly (and I know most people won’t like me for saying this) the Next Generation movies mostly left me cold.  They suffered from the thing that hobbled the entire Next Generation series – terrible writing.  NG may have super Shakespearian acting talent, but I’ll take the slick writing of the 2 and 4, or the original TV series any day.  Because every time Jordie rewires something in the last five minutes and saves the day, somewhere, a baby cries, and a piece of Gene Roddenberry’s soul dies.

On the Star Trek “send up” side of the house, if you haven’t seen "Galaxy Quest," run out and do so.  It is very funny, and relatively savvy, despite the easy targets that its humor skewers.  And it's probably Tim Allen’s best big screen performance.

No geek film library would be complete without the 1997 documentary, "Trekkies".  This one is actually a really nice time capsule, and it's interesting to see how fandom has changed (or not) in the 10-odd years since this one came out.

Another loving send-up of geek life is "Free Enterprise".  I know I’ve mentioned this movie before, but let me do so again.  It features William Shattner as himself, and enough references to "Star Trek," "Star Wars," "Logan's Run," and a host of other geek pleasures to fill two or three of my DVD columns.  It is awesome.  And at its heart, it’s a romantic comedy about a guy with Peter Pan Syndrome.  He just doesn’t want to grow up. . . and hell, maybe he doesn’t have to after all.  And maybe Shattner will do a hip-hop musical version of Julius Ceaser!

That’s all I got this month.  Enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment