Yes, this is late indeed. I got caught up in other (aka paying) gigs and end of the year assignments and let the blog slide. So here’s the better late than never home video highlights of the week. At MSN I review Ben Affleck’s sophomore directorial effort The Town (Warner) and the noisy and sloppy big screen version of the eighties TV action/caper series The A-Team (Fox) and I dig into The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle and Trouble in Mind (which have nothing in common beyond the distinction of being shot in Seattle) on my blog here. Here are a few of the other releases in a very big week of DVD and Blu-ray releases.
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are The Other Guys (Sony), the NYPD desk jockeys who step up (at least in one case reluctantly) when the squad superstars (hilarious cameos by Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) go out in a blaze of stupidity, in this parody of the maverick super-cop action movie. Ferrell favorite writer/director Adam McKay doesn’t hit the comic alchemy of Anchorman or Talladega Nights, but Wahlberg is terrific as the misguided maverick exasperated by his social misfit partner Ferrell. And for what it’s worth, it’s much funnier than the last Ferrell/McKay feature, Step Brothers. Features the original cut and an extended version (which runs about nine minutes longer), plus deleted/extended scenes and featurettes on the stunts and Michael Keaton’s second job. The Blu-ray packs in more deleted/extended scenes, “Line-O-Rama” ad-libs, comic featurettes and a “Mom-mentary” tracks featuring the mothers of director Adam McKay, co-writer Chris Henchy and star Will Ferrell. It’s funnier as an idea than an actual commentary track, but they have fun and they love their boys.
Cyrus (Fox) has the dubious distinction of being the first mumblecore comedy to come out of a major studio, complete with an A-list cast (John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei and Catherine Keener). While I like the individual performances and the emotional awkwardness and shifting relationships among the characters, I just got frustrated at the wobbly camerawork—always reframing, zooming in and out in spasmodic jerks like an amateur with a home video camera—the dull, functional, dim lighting scheme that looks neither natural nor expressionist and the rhythms of the interactions. Marisa Tomei, who has now firmly established herself as both a fortysomething sex symbol and dream girl all in one and an actress of great skill and range, is good enough to make me almost forgive the directorial mannerisms. Almost.
Despite the title, Straight to Hell Returns (Microcinema) is neither sequel nor remake, but a revision of Alex Cox’s original 1986 film, a collision of spaghetti western parody, punk gangster film, and rock and roll lark played out as a feature length private joke. Based on a script scribbled out in three days (and feels like it), it’s shot on the crumbling ruins of an old movie set in Almeira, Spain (where Sergio Leone’s westerns were shot) with a cast of rock figures (Courtney Love, Joe Strummer, Ed Tudor-Pole, Shane MacGowan and The Pogues, Elvis Costello), indie actors (Sy Richardson, Dick Rude, Miguel Sandoval) and cult figures (Dennis Hopper, Jim Jarmusch, Grace Jones) in roles major and minor. Cox adds back some deleted scenes and reworks the gunfight scenes with digital effect additions and cinematographer Tom Richmond reworks the color palette for this edition. Includes commentary by Alex Cox and co-writer/co-star Dick Rude, the 2000 featurette “Back to Hell” (featuring interviews with 18 members of the cast and crew) and a documentary on Almeira, Spain (where he shot the film) shot as a student in 1977.
With all this going on, I didn’t have time to review Despicable Me (Universal) but I lean on Mary Pols in my MSN coverage, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet returns to the dark whimsy of his first features with Micmacs (Sony), which I review on MSN here.
Also new this week: Rodrigo García’s Mother and Child (Sony), Nanny McPhee Returns (Universal), Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Warner), Frenemy (Lionsgate) with Zach Galifianakis, and the documentaries Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (IFC) and Gasland (Docurama)