Saturday, September 30, 2006

Open Season

Before I go any further, a word in defense, if I may, of traditional film critics, a species as much endangered as the hunters in "Open Season."

As late as Tuesday morning, I was leaning toward seeing "School for Scoundrels" and just saying no to both of Ashton Kutcher's movies this week. Then I read Roger Moore's rather glowing review of "Open Season." Mr. Moore, who reviews movies for the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, is, for my money, the best critic working today. In his review he dropped two magic words: "Chuck Jones." With that, I was hooked.

And I must say, for the most part, he was dead right; "Open Season" often does have the same manic spirit that drove the old "Looney Tunes" classics.

For anyone unfamiliar with the "plot," I'll break it down very quickly. Boog, a domesticated bear, befriends a young buck named Elliott, who leads him into trouble. Boog is forced to go into the wild, where the two of them rally the various woodland creatures in defense against the hunters coming for "Open Season." Terribly familiar? Yes, but often fun nonetheless.

Martin Lawrence works best for me when you don't actually have to see him, and he has a voice tailormade for comedy. Kutcher, on the other hand, just sounds like Bobcat Goldthwait throughout, and had me wondering why Boog didn't just eat him at the onset. Of the supporting animal cast, reliable hands Billy Connolly, as the leader of a band of Scottish (naturally) squirrels, and Patrick Warburton as the king buck are very funny.

The rather obvious messages about working together and not shooting animals (two things that are A-OK in my book) are never beaten into the audience. Whereas "Cars" ground to a halt in the middle as Lightning had to learn how to act right, our critters here manage to adapt without stopping the action for too long at any point.

How are the jokes? For the most part fit for all audiences. Given the Scottish squirrels, I suppose the "Braveheart" bit was kind of obvious but still worked for me.

There was one jarring bit near the end that I'll give away (at least I warned you.) At the end, as Boog and Elliott are sharing a bit of male bonding, Elliott blurts out "bros before does." As I was laughing louder than I probably should have, I heard the young fellow behind me, who had until that point been laughing just as loud, ask his mother "what does that mean?" Luckily for her, when she didn't respond, he quickly let it go.

It does make you wonder why they would put a joke like that in a PG movie, but nothing shocks me nowadays. Soon enough, that youngun will be old enough to get it, but hopefully I'll never be too old to enjoy silly but fun flicks like "Open Season."

Friday, September 29, 2006

Robert Downey Jr., action hero?

On the surface, the idea seems more than a little ludicrous, but I have a feeling this just might work.

Director Jon Favreau has tapped Robert Downey Jr. to don the suit of "Iron Man," the Marvel superhero coming to the big screen. Filming is set to begin in February.

Why Downey? Well, Iron Man was never meant to be a Superman kind of hero. He's a conflicted man, not endowed with any superhuman powers when not in the suit of Iron Man.

The character, billionaire industrialist and Tony Stark, is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon. Using his cunning to build a high-tech suit of armor and escape captivity, he of course then uncovers a sinister plot with global implications, and becomes our hero.

A superhero who can act? Sounds great to me. And it's often easy to forget with his cartoon private life, but Downey surely can act. My favorite role of his has to be Terry Crabtee in "Wonder Boys" (man, do I love that movie).

The comic debuted in the 1960s, with Iron Man's origin involving Stark being a prisoner of the Viet Cong, but the movie version will be set in the current geopolitical climate (which is, if anything, just as messy).

This should be just plain fun.

"Volver," "Banquet" get Oscar push

Following close behind Mexico's naming of "Pan's Labyrinth" as its Oscar hopeful, things are suddenly getting very crowded in the foreign-language category. Now, Spain has tapped Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" (huzzah!) and China has named "Banquet" as its pic.

Though such movies never play first-run in my little corner of the world, I definitely plan to catch up when I go to New York for the Thanksgiving weekend, and "Volver" is at the top of my list of must-sees. I really didn't care for Pedro's last flick, "Mala Educacion," but with the help of Penelope Cruz and Carmen Maura, this one seems like a real return to form. I can't wait to see it.

"Banquet" ("Ye Yan") is a loose adaptation of Hamlet featuring the star power of Ziyi Zhang and Daniel Wu. I'm sure it's good, but without having seen either of them, I was definitely pulling for Yimou Zhang's upcoming palace epic "Curse of the Golden Flower," starring Li Gong and Yun-Fat Chow (yes!).

Even so, with these three almost certain to make the cut to the final five on Oscar night, this should be a very hot competition.

Smigel snags Fox series

Robert Smigel has been, for me, the only reason to tune in to "Saturday Night Live" for the last few years. Now he's getting his own animated series on Fox, and it sounds like the perfect project for his skewed view of the world.

Being written in partnership with Greg Cohen ("King of the Hill"), the show is described as a parody of suburban life using the animal kingdom. Anyone who saw the antics of the animals on Smigel's short-lived Comedy Central series "TV Funhouse" knows that this could be crazy fun.

Even better is, whenever this is ready, it will apparently bump "The War at Home" from Sunday nights on Fox. Good riddance. I have plenty of time for Michael Rappaport, but this show is stupid, mean and, most importantly, simply not funny.

"I'm a Cyborg" trailer

I know this has gone on a bit long today, so anyone who made it to the end deserves a reward. Well, this is the best I can do.

Twitch has posted the trailer for Chan-Wook Park's new movie, "I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK" (Saibogujiman kwenchana). It has no subtitles, but I'm not sure it would make much more sense if it did. It's all gorgeously confusing, so I can't wait to see what finally comes of it.

Click here to see for yourself, and let me know if it makes any more sense to you than it did to me. Peace out.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Queen Scarlett?

This can't be good for world peace. After Kirsten Dunst's rather disastrous turn as French icon Marie Antoinette, it now seems that Scarlett Johansson will be playing "Mary Queen of Scots."

To be fair to Kirsten and, more importantly, Sofia Coppola, "Marie Antoinette" is an ambitious, stylish disaster, but a disaster nonetheless. I can't see even that much good being said about this latest project for poor Scarlett.

If I have my history right, Mary had about as much luck with being royalty as Marie. Though she at one time claimed the crown of four countries - Scotland, France, England and Ireland - she was never able to get along with the actual queen of England at the time, Queen Elizabeth I, and ended up being executed at age 44.

I could be wrong, but I just don't see Scarlett having the class to pull this off. I haven't much liked her in anything except "Ghost World" and "Lost in Translation," but I've been proven wrong many, many times before.

Melanie Johansson - Scarlet's mother and manager -- will produce the film along with Alexandra Milchan and Donna Gigliotti. WTF? Scarlett needs her mommy to finance her films? No director has been named to this impending train wreck as of yet.

"Buffy" alum update

OK, it's all good news from here on out today, I promise.

Though Sarah Michelle Gellar has found megasuccess in genre pics (but still can't seem to be able to afford to eat more than once every three days), her fellow "Buffy" stars haven't been so lucky.

Nicholas Brendon, Alyson Hannigan and Charisma Carpenter, among others, have popped up again on television several times, with mixed success. And David Boreanaz, of course, has a Fox (I think) show called "Bones." It seems now, however that James Marsters, aka Spike, has weaseled his way into a bona fide big-screen flick.

He has joined the cast of the Alcon Entertainment drama "P.S., I Love You." joining already-named cast members Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler. The adaptation of the best-selling Cecelia Ahern novel is about a grieving young widow who discovers her late husband has left her a list of tasks revealed in 10 monthly messages that are intended to ease her out of grief and transition her to a new life. Marsters will play the late husband's best friend.

Congrats indeed, Mr. Marsters.

Del Toro gets respect

And an even heartier huzzah to Guillermo del Toro, whose "Pan's Labyrinth" has been selected as Mexico's foreign-language submission for the 79th Annual Academy Awards.

The dark fantasy set in Franco's Spain has already garnered kudos at Cannes, and if I'm not mistaken, it's also a key offering at the New York Film Festival. Few directors deserve all this success more than Mr. Del Toro. If you haven't seen his "Devil's Backbone," do yourself a favor and rent it today.

"Veronica Mars" and "Everyone Hates Chris" premieres

The CW has posted online the premieres for the new seasons of "Veronica Mars" and "Everyone Hates Chris."

So far, I've only had time to check out "Veronica Mars," and I'm happy to report that, to use a technical term, it rocks. Along with Veronica, Wallace, Logan and Mac are all back as our heroine heads to college (though she commutes, oddly enough.) I won't give anything else away, except that Veronica and Logan are apparently, once again, some sort of couple or other.

Tune in to find out what happens when it premieres Tuesday night at 9 after "Gilmore Girls." "Everyone Hates Chris" premieres Sunday, in the graveyard 7 p.m. slot while everyone is still watching football. Best of luck; I'm afraid you'll need it.

Or, even better, you can click here to watch both premieres right now, and as usual, please feel free to let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

World Cup flashback

There's absolutely no movie news that catches my fancy, and I have no desire to think about going to work today, so instead I'm flashing back to happier times: the World Cup. These photos come courtesy of my brother, Paul, who has not updated his blog, linked at the top of my links list, since July, meaning these photos and more are still up there.

We made our home base in Koln, famous for, among many other things, kolsch, the beer they like to serve in these fairly tiny glasses.

This shot of Paul and I (I'm the rather heavyset dude on the left), was taken at a beerhall called Paffgen, where we met many fine folks and drank too many of those tiny beers. If you emptied your glass and failed to put a coaster on top of it, they would bring another one before you even had time to think about it.

But lest anyone think we just drank beer, here's proof that we actually did go to the U.S. games.

This is the platform to board the train to the U.S.-Czechoslovakia match in Gelsenkirchen. It was even crazier than it looks here. I was never scared while in Germany, but this definitely made me nervous (however, because the Germans were unfailingly nice people throughout our trip, I won't make any tasteless remarks about people being packed into trains in Germany.) The match, of course, was also a nightmare.

Here's me, on the right, surely singing some terribly jingoistic song before we laid down to the Black Stars of mighty Ghana. After the match I was pissed about that ridiculous penalty called on Oguchi, but looking back now, Ghana was simply the better team that day.

The headline my brother put on this photo was "caution: jackasses," but I'll use our more formal title: the Minnesota Volunteers. From left, our ragtag band of travellers was made up of Andy, Bruce, Charlie, me, Tom Donovan, Neal, Amy and Paul. Fine folks all, who were kind enough to adopt me for this trip.

Bruce, by the way, along with being an all-around good guy, maintains the most thorough blog of world soccer news I've come across. Called Du Nord, it is also contained in my links list to the right. Check it out and enjoy.

Thank you for indulging me in this flashback. I really needed it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Demko's DVD shelf

Before I get into the DVDs today, a quick plug for three cool screenings happening today at the Douglass Theatre in downtown Macon.

First, at noon, comes a free screening of two music docos "Jimi Hendrix plays Monterey" and "Shake! Otis At Monterey." Jimi and Otis - what better way could you find to spend your lunch hour (or two)? And it's free to boot.

Later in the day, the Douglass is offering two screenings, at 5:30 and 7:30 of Al Gore's thoroughly terrifying "An Inconvenient Truth." Though the movie is essentially one lecture by Mr. Gore about global warming, it's actually quite entertaining, and Mr. Gore shows more charm and humor than I thought he was capable of. This is the first time's it played in Macon, and it's only $5, so definitely check it out.

As far as DVDs, there's other stuff being released today, but I'm gonna stick with the horror stuff, which is all fairly great.

"Frankenstein" and "Dracula"

Where better to start then with a double feature of two really creepy creatures? These movies, and the stories they sprang from, started with one key premise that modern horror flicks seem to have forgotten: The monster should be as interesting as it is menacing.

James Whale's "Frankenstein" set the bar higher than any of its successors thanks to two magnificent performances from Boris Karloff as the monster and Colin Clive as Dr. Frankenstein. Supplements include two commentaries, one with Rudy Behlmer and one with historian Sir Christopher Frayling; "Karloff: The Gentle Monster" featurette; "The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster" featurette; Feature-length documentary about Universal Horror; "Monster Tracks" interactive pop-up trivia; "Frankenstein Archives" poster and still galleries.

Bela Lugosi got to use more style to play Bram Stoker's "Dracula" later in 1931 (note, that's "Dracula," not "Bram Stoker's Dracula" - big difference.) The coolest thing about this 75th anniversary edition is the option to watch the film accompanied by Philip Glass' music, performed by the Kronos Quartet. There's also "Dracula: Spanish Version" (1931), which was shot at night on the same sets as the Lugosi classic by George Melford. Other supplements include commentaries by film historian David J. Skal and by Steve Haberman, screenwriter of "Dracula: Dead and Loving It"; "Lugosi: The Dark Prince" featurette; "The Road to Dracula" featurette; "Monster Tracks" interactive pop-up trivia; an introdution to the Spanish Version by Lupita Tovar Kohner; the Universal Horror documentary and a poster montage.

"A Nightmare on Elm Street"

One worthy heir to these great creepers was Robert Englund's Freddy Krueger, and this week the original "Nightmare" gets a new special edition from Infinifilm (the ladies may remember this one also featured a certain young man named Depp.) Though he later became a cartoonish character, Englund's Krueger, a child killer who returns from the dead to torment teens in their dreams, is thoroughly terrifying in this first flick. Supplements include a commentary by director Wes Craven, stars Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, and director of photography Jacques Haitkin; Alternate ending(s); and three featurettes, "Never Sleep Again: The Making of A Nightmare on Elm Street," "The House That Freddy Built: The Legacy of New Line Horror" and "Night Terrors: The Origins of Wes Craven's Nightmares."

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Tobe Hooper's 1974 slasher, with its masked boogeyman modeled on Ed Gein, has more in common with today's gore-first approach to horror, but it still stands up over time. With a new version hitting theaters soon, this two disc set was inevitable, and it's loaded with intriguing extras. They include two commentaries, one by actors Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Allen Danziger, and art designer Robert A. Burns, and one by director Tobe Hooper, cinematographer Daniel Pearl and actor Gunnar Hansen; two documentaries, the 73-minutes "Texas Chain Saw Massacre: The Shocking Truth" and the 74-minute "Flesh Wounds"; a tour of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre house before and after remodeling, conducted by Gunnar Hansen; deleted scenes and outtakes; a blooper reel; outtakes from "The Shocking Truth" and still galleries.

"The Dead Zone - Special Collector's Edition"

Both director David Cronenberg and star Christopher Walken were surprisingly subdued for this 1983 Stephen King adaptation. Walken plays a schoolteacher who wakes from a five-year coma with a gift for second sight that comes in battering shocks. At the risk of offending all partisans of "The Shawshank Redemption," which also has its charms, this one remains my favorite King adaptation, and it was tailormade for Cronenberg's style. Supplements include four featurettes, "Memories From The Dead Zone," "The Look of The Dead Zone," "Visions and Horror From The Dead Zone" and "The Politics of The Dead Zone."

"Gilmore Girls" returns tonight

I awoke this morning to the distressing news that AICN's Hercules, who has been a strong supporter of "Gilmore Girls" from the beginning, says the new season premiere sorely misses show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who left at the end of last season. His exact words: "like 'West Wing' without Sorkin." Ouch. I'll still tune in tonight for the seventh season premiere on the CW at 8, of course, and I encourage any fans of witty dialogue and colorful characters to do the same. Peace out.

Monday, September 25, 2006

City of Men?

How could something this cool have passed me by? I must really be slipping.

At Variety this morning, I stumbled across the rather cryptic note that Paramount has picked up distribution rights for a sequel to Fernando Meirelles' "City of God," entitled "City of Men." No word was given on whether or not Meirelles is involved, but as far as I can tell he is not.

Further investigation revealed that "City of Men" was a Brasilian miniseries following the characters from the movie, released in 19 episodes in 2003. Meirelles apparently directed a couple of episodes, and at least Douglas Silva is a holdover from the movie cast. Wow. This sounds like it was made just for me, so it got instantly added to my Netflix queue.

As for what exactly Paramount has acquired, I'm still a bit confused (it is, after all, rather early Monday morning.) If anyone knows more about this, please let me know.

Box office fallout

Is the megasuccess of "Jackass: Number Two" just a sign that we're all getting stupider? Probably, but so what.

In truly great news for a Monday morning, "Jackass" took in $28 milliion over the weekend, "Jet Li's Fearless" finished a strong second with $10.5 million (look just below for my review), and "All the King's Men" barely finished in the top 10.

Huzzah. If you haven't seen the numbers yet, let me put this in proper perspective. Finishing at No. 7 and bringing in only $3.8 million, it got beat by previous entries "Gridiron Gang," "Everyone's Hero" and even "The Black Dahlia," and only beat out the sublime "Little Miss Sunshine" by $1 million. A hearty thanks to everyone who just said no to this thoroughly unnecessary remake.

What's up this week? Not much good. Two Ashton Kutcher movies, in fact. "The Guardian," which apparently stars Kevin Costner and Kutcher, not Costner and Whitney Houston, as Coast Guard rescuers, and "Open Season," an animated flick in which Kutcher gets to mug with Martin Lawrence. Of the two, the second sounds slightly more promising, but I think I'll probably just say no to both.

Instead, I'll go for Todd Phillips' "School for Scoundrels," in spite of some negative buzz (yes, I know, this is yet another remake.) With Billy Bob and Napoleon as the leads, and Jacinda Barrett as the requisite eye candy, I've got to at least give it a chance.

"Studio 60" reminder

As solid as Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" did in its premiere on NBC last Monday, it still got beat rather handily by its lead-in, a friggin game show.

It deserves much better. In tonight's episode, which an AICN spy says is better than the nearly flawless pilot and was written by Sorkin, we get to see the first skit new writers Matt and Danny come up with for the show. Folks, I've said it before, but this show, at least so far, is funnier and smarter than anything out there except "Gilmore Girls" (which returns tomorrow night!) Please, please, tune in tonight.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Jet Li's Fearless

Until seeing "Fearless," I have to confess I had only heard Ronny Yu's name as the director of "Bride of Chucky." While that one certainly has its comedic merits, it didn't lead me to expect what he could deliver here.

In yet another example of movie-marketing genius, this one is seemiingly being pitched to the same target audience as "Jackass: Number Two": Young men. While I haven't been considered young for some time now, I'm sure I will eventually see both movies, but doubt there will be tremendous crossover audience.

That's because, despite the ads and trailers promising an epic battle between Jet Li, as Chinese champion Huo Yuanjia, and four champions representing the foreign powers dominating China in the early 20th century, that's not what this is about. Well, it sort of it is, for about 20 minutes or so at the beginning and end.

In between it's something we haven't seen told this well for many years. In short, its the story of the warrior, and what it means to be a real one in the Chinese tradition of wushu. And it's a role Jet Li was born to play.

As such, the story will seem very familiar. Cocky champion falls from grace, recovers in the outback while learning humility, and then returns in triumph. But knowing they're working on well-worn turf, Yu and writer Chris Chow keep the biographical saga of the warrior Huo moving at a brisk pace.

Even so, there is as much emphasis on the redemption of Huo as there is on his exploits in the ring. It's in these quiet moments that Li proves, given the chance he rarely is by Western directors, he can be a great actor, able to speak volumes with very few words. He's helped here by great contributions from Yong Dong, as Huo's lifelong friend Nong Jinsun, and the charming Betty Sun, as the blind woman who helped him through his time in exile.

This being a Jet Li movie, of course, what fighting there is is first-rate. Though some of the acrobatics still defy reality, this isn't the wire-fu that makes Zhang Ziyi fly through trees. It's just great, well-choreographed kung fu action.

And the ending, which I won't give away here, completes the journey for Huo, and indeed for Jet Li. It has Mr. Li going out, if this really his last kung fu epic, exactly how he should. As a true warrior.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Perrotta hot in Hollywood

Author Tom Perrotta, who dissected the hell that is high school with his scathing satire "Election," is heading back to class.

His new book, "The Abstinence Teacher," due out soon, has already been picked up by Warner Independent Pictures for adaptation. Details are still sketchy, but the central character is a school nurse under pressure from conservative forces to teach her students abstinence. Sounds perfect for Mr. Perrotta.

A quick look at the IMDB shows Mr. Perrotta's books have a quick pipeline to Hollywood, and why not? He creates interesting characters who you can instantly relate to, and he writes easy but still interesting reads.

Along with "The Abstinence Teacher," two other Perrotta works are on the way. "Little Children," based on his 2005 novel and his own screenplay, is directed by Todd Field and debuted to mostly rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival. Definitely keep your eyes on that one.

Even better, it seems my favorite Perrotta book, "The Wishbones," is also in the works for next year. No casting details yet, but the story of the members of a wedding band resisting as best they can the need to grow up is a comedic gem. I've read it twice since my brother gave it to me for Christmas, and it's still fresh in my mind.

Now, if D.C. scribe (and writer for "The Wire") George Pelecanos could just get this kind of respect ...

What to watch?

This being football season in the South, my Saturdays are mostly tied up in Athens (like this weekend with the game vs. Colorado.) I'm not complaining, mind you, just stating a fact.

That leaves only one day for watching movies, which means choosing one new flick. Which one will it be this weekend?

Not "All the Kings Men." My ill will toward this unnecessary remake has been affirmed by a sound critical thrashing, so I'll be staying away.

Not "Flyboys." After "Freaks and Geeks," I wish James Franco only mad success, but this one just looks downright silly, even if it will have great flying sequences.

Not "Jackass: Number Two." "Jackass" is hands down one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, and judging from the trailer for this one, especially the dude getting his tooth pulled by a car, it should be even crazier. Maybe next week, or else on DVD for me.

That leaves ... "Fearless." I love Jet Li, so this was really a no-brainer. Judging from the advance word of both fans and critics, he goes out on top with his performance as real-life martial arts legend Huo Yuan Jia. I can't wait to see this one Sunday afternoon.

So, there you have it. What, if anything, will you be going to see this weekend? Feel free to let me know.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Disney going on Jungle Cruise

Disney can never be faulted for not knowing when it has a good thing going.

Now that everyone in the world has seen its "Pirates" movies, the mouse has jumped on another ride-to-flick route, this time with the "Jungle Cruise."

Can you picture it? A cruise through the deepest jungle, encountering piranhas, gorillas and anything else the imagination can cook up. It's genius, and I have to admit I'll almost certainly be there to see it.

With "Smallville" showrunners Al Gough and Miles Millar in negotiations to write and run the potential franchise, there will be no end in sight for this one.

Now, if they could only encounter Col. Kurtz ...

Revenge of the ... plagiarists?

There's a scene in the sublime "American Splendor" when Harvey Pekar's co-worker at the hospital (I think his name was Toby) is so excited when "Revenge of the Nerds" comes out that he drives several hours to see it (with Harvey and his lady friend in tow.) It's a charming sequence, but who knew "Nerds" obsession could go this far?

It seems noted genius "McG," he of the two Charlie's Angels flicks, is also obsessed with "Nerds," to the point that he needs to make his own. He's producing a remake of the 1984 comedy, with Kyle Newman set to direct and someone named Katie Cassidy to star as, well, I'd assume some kind of Sorority girl (she apparently beat out out Lindsey and Jessica for this rather dubious prize.)

I'm done ranting about unnecessary remakes, but if any one else out there wants to, please feel free. I'd just like to point out that, if this sinister project comes to fruition, there will be five "Nerds" movies (one through four, plus this.)

Paired with the "Police Academy" goldmine you've got two of the most durable movie franchises in Hollywood history. God bless America, I guess.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Favorite political films

In honor (or dishonor, depending on your perspective, of Steven Zaillan's remake of "All the King's Men," I offer to you this Wednesday morning the list of my 10 favorite political movies (or at least the 10 that strike me very early in the morning.) For me, the term "political" has a very broad meaning, so you might find some stretches here, but hey, it is my list after all.

"All the King's Men"

With the new movie opening Friday, why not start here. I simply can't grasp why anyone would want to remake what is, in my opinion, the single greatest American political film. Broderick Crawford just oozes menace as Willie Stark, and you can tell throughout his performance that this couldn't be anywhere but the American South. (As an aside: Is there even one Southerner in the remake? How many times am I going to have to watch Jude Law mangle the dialect of the place I have chosen to call home? This must be stopped now!)

I first had to read Robert Penn Warren's great novel as an assignment at Catholic U., and this is one instance where the movie manages to surpass the book. If you haven't seen it, do so soon.

The "House of Cards" trilogy

Ian Richardson's Francis Urquhart (aka F.U.), who rises from the ranks of Conservative party whip to British prime minister in this BBC gem, is so evil that he verges on being a cartoon. It's Richardson' remarkable performance and a strong sense of the cutthroat nature of British politics that makes this 11-hour-or-so series work so well.

4 Little Girls

Though there are plenty of great Spike Lee films to choose from, this is the one I've seen more than any other. He shows surprising restraint in telling the tragic tale of the bombing of 16th Street Church in Birmingham, Ala., and only near the end does he let this compelling flick delve into the land of talking heads.

Sunshine State

It's also hard to pick just one Jon Sayles movie, but this one just works for me as a great ensemble drama about what we're doing to the world around us. Maybe it was because I had just been to visit my brother in Fort Lauderdale, but when I saw this it just spoke louder to me than any of Sayles' other fantastic flicks.


Robert Altman is, for me at least, a maddeningly uneven director. "Nashville," however, has him at the top of his game, weaving interlocking stories and characters together to paint a vivid picture of America. And the ending is one of the best-staged crowd scenes you'll ever come across.

The Quiet American

Though Michael Caine does seem to be in every other movie that comes out nowadays, he still does manage to occasionally stumble upon a good one, like this Phillip Noyce adaptation of Graham Greene's novel. Noyce wisely keeps it set during the Vietnam War, but this one still speaks volumes about current American foreign policy without clobbering you over the head.

Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.

I first saw this flick about a young lady from Brooklyn who finds her dreams of going to college dashed when she gets pregnant on the channel run by the programmers at UGA. Maybe it was meant as a cautionary tale for students, but what it really is is a frankly funny and direct debut from writer/director Leslie Harris. According to the IMDB, she never made another movie, but her one and only is well worth checking out.

Duck Soup

It's hard to choose among the many great political satires out there, but with proper respect given to "Dr. Strangelove" and "Election," my heart always goes back to the Marx Brothers. The tale of the warring republics of Freedonia and Sylvania has lost none of its relevancy or humor in the 76 years since it first debuted.

City of God

I've raved about this one several times in this space, so I'll keep it short. Fernando Meirelles' striking story about street kids in Brasil has a truly unique look and feel. If you haven't seen it, do it now and thank me later.

Fog of War

No director I've found can make a simple interview as compelling as Errol Morris. His subject here, former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, shows little remorse as he describes his long engagement with the American war machine. It's chilling to watch, but you won't be able to turn away.

So, there you have it. As you can see, I like my political movies with a Southern accent, but not exclusively. I'm certain there are plenty of great ones i've omitted. Please feel free to contribute some of your favorites, and have a great hump day.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Demko's DVD shelf

You can tell a TV series is truly great when, even in a season when things truly start to fall apart, it's still the best show on the air.

For me, that's the case with "Gilmore Girls," which definitely lost its way in season six, out on DVD today, and then lost its creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino, at the end of the season. Even with these troubles, it's still packed with priceless "Gimore" moments, particularly the wedding of Lane Kim and axeman Zach.

As fans will remember, the season ended with Luke, after being a weenie for the entire season, rightly rejecting Lorelai's offer to elope, and Lorelai running back into the arms of Christopher. Next week will finally bring new episodes so we can find out what really happened.

But you can get your fix in the meantime with these 22 episodes on six discs. Even if you're late to the party, it's one well worth crashing, and definitely my pick of the week.

Hard Candy

This one played for a few nights at downtown Macon's Capitol Theatre, and I'm glad I managed to catch it then. It's definitely on a tough subject, with a minor (Ellen Page) entrapping and then torturing her would-be suitor (Patrick Wilson) after they meet on the Internet. The movie wisely avoids any "Hostel"-style gore and instead turns into a fairly first-rate psychological thriller in the vein of Polanski's great "Death and the Maiden," and young Ms. Page is terrific.
Supplements include a commentary by director David Slade and writer Brian Nelson; another commentary by actors Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page; deleted and extended scenes; and two featurettes, "Creating Hard Candy" and "Controversial Confection." If your sensibility can take it, I definitely recommend this one as my pick from this week's new releases.

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle

Dangerous wit Dorothy Parker probably never should have been brought to the big screen, but Jennifer Jason Leigh pulls it off nearly flawlessly in this little flick from director Alan Rudolph. Joining her around the Algonquin table in this 1994 flick were Campbell Scott as Robert Benchley and Matthew Broderick as Charles MacArthur, joined in a great ensemble cast by Peter Gallagher, Jennifer Beals, Andrew McCarthy, Wallace Shawn, Martha Plimpton, Sam Robards, Lili Taylor, James LeGros, Gwyneth Paltrow and Nick Cassavetes.

Supplements for this new edition include a commentary by director Rudolph; a video interview with composer Mark Isham, and a bonus documentary, "Would You Kindly Direct Me to Hell? The Infamous Dorothy Parker."

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

This sympathetic but never mawkish portrait of troubled singer-songwriter Johnston also had a brief run at the Capitol earlier this year. Though Johnston is a hero to many "alt-rock" stars, who stop by to testify about his appeal, his schizophrenia can also make him dangerous, and the movie never shies away from that.

The fairly substantial supplements include deleted scenes; a Sundance world premiere featurette; "Laurie and Daniel Reunion" featurette about Daniel's reunion with his high school sweetheart; WFMU broadcast featurette; "Cinema of Daniel Johnston," featuring movies made by the artist himself; "Daniel's Audio Diaries," personal recordings of Johnston; and a commentary with director Jeff Feuerzeig and producer Henry S. Rosenthal. If you like movies that delve into the creative process, I can't recommend this one highly enough.

Chucky: The Killer DVD Collection

The world may not really need a box set of Chucky's exploits, but admit it, we've all seen at least one of these movies, and probably liked them quite a bit. The best ones blend horror and humor for a very fun concoction.

For some reason, however, this set apparently doesn't include the original "Child's Play" movie. Was it not good enough even for Chucky's standards? But it does have "Bride of Chucky," the absolute best flick in the series, plus "Child's Play 2," "Child's Play 3," and the, for now at least, final installment in the series, "Seed of Chucky," where the demonic spawn of Chucky and Tiffany bring the killer dolls back to life.

Supplements for "Bride" include a commentary by director Ronny Yu, a commentary by actors Brad Dourif and Jennifer Tilly and writer Don Mancini, and "Bride of Chucky Spotlight on Location" featurette. With "Seed of Chucky" you'll get a commentary by writer/writer Don Mancini and actress Jennifer Tilly; "Conceiving the Seed of Chucky" featurette, and a clip of Jennifer Tilly on "The Tonight Show." I can't see myself possibly springing for this set, but it will make for a fun rental.

"My Name is Earl - Season One"

It's truly a sad statement on the state of TV that this karmic comedy was lauded so highly simply for being funny. It definitely delivers dark laughs aplently, however, and Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Emmy nominee Jamie Pressly and Eddie Steeples (Crabman!) are all great in it. Lee was the second biggest Emmy snub this year, behind Lauren Graham of "Gilmore Girls," and packaged with "The Office" it gave NBC the funniest hour of TV in the post-"Arrested Development" landscape.

Not surprisingly, the extras for this one are a bit askew. Among them are the DVD exclusive mock "lost pilot" "Bad Karma," an alternate reality version of the show where Earl takes the path of vengeance with alarming results; commentary by creator Greg Garcia, stars Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee, and others on five episodes; commentary by the mothers of Greg Garcia (Natalie Garcia), Marc Buckland (Mary Buckland), Jason Lee (Carol Lee) and Ethan Suplee (Debbie Suplee) on the episode "Dad's Car;" "Karma Is A Funny Thing" blooper reel; "Making Things Right: Behind The Scenes Of My Name Is Earl" featurette, and deleted scenes. Believe me, your karma can't afford to skip this comic gem.

"The Personal Best Of Monty Python's Flying Circus"

Last but definitely not least comes this release from the vaults of the world's funniest defunct comedy troupe (with all due respect to runners up The Kids in the Hall.) Collected on six discs are skits from "Monty Python's Flying Circus" selected by (respectively) Eric Idle, Michael Palin, John Cleese and Terry Jones, plus animated segments selected by Terry Gilliam and a salute by the surviving five members to the late funny man Graham Chapman, featuring his best work on the show.

In addition to the episodes you'll get clips from "Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl;" "Behind the scenes of John Cleese's Personal Best;" the 20-minute animated featurette "A Retrospective of Python's Animation;" "Personal Second Best" featurettes from Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Graham Chapman; six 15-Question, 15-Ton Megaquizes; Python Troupe biographies and selected credits, and an introduction by the stars. If I really need to twist your arm to at least rent this one, you don't laugh nearly often enough. Just do it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get ready for work. Peace out.

Monday, September 18, 2006

TIFF winners

Congratulations to the seven winners at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, which definitely feature some films to put on your radar.

Swarowski Cultural Innovation Award

This first-time award honors the innovation and audacity of one of the fest's Visions titles as selected by a jury of major visual artists. The winner is Özer Kiziltan's "Takva - A man's Fear of God," which follows a 45-year-old single man whose core belief in - and fear of - God is put to the test. The jury consisted of London-based multimedia performance artist Beth Derbyshire, filmmaker and photographer Olivo Barbieri, and Copenhagen-based artist Jesper Just. Honorable mention goes to Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth's "Khadak."

The three big prizes at the festival, as far as I can tell (never having had the pleasure of attending), are the People's Choice Award, the Fipresci Prize, voted on by a jury of international critics, and the Diesel Discovery Award, voted on by all the critics in attendance.

People's Choice Award

This went to "Bella," written and directed by Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, which tells the story of two individuals whose lives converge and turn upside down on a single day in New York City. Honorable mentions go to first runner-up, Patrice Leconte's "Mon Meilleur Ami," and second runner-up, Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck's "Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing." Perhaps if the projector hadn't malfunctioned, Sasha Baron Cohen's warmly received "Borat" would have gotten more love in this category.

Fipresci Prize

Critics being critics, they went directly for controversy. The winner was Gabriel Range's "Death of a President" "for the audacity with which it distorts reality to reveal a larger truth." The 2006 jury consists of jury president Klaus Eder (Germany), Géza Csá kvári (Hungary), Esin Kücüktepepinar (Turkey), Oscar Peyrou (Spain), and Norman Wilner (Canada).

In case anyone hasn't heard about this one, it's apparently about the (fictional, of course) assassination of George W. Bush. I'm sure it raises some important issues, but personally I don't want to kill the president. Torturing him for several hours would be enough for me.

Diesel Discovery Award

Joachim Trier's "Reprise" was the recipient of this one. Trier's feature filmmaking debut is the comedic portrayal of two young men whose shared dream of becoming a writer is trampled upon by reality, "Reprise" is Trier's feature filmmaking debut.

The last three awards go to Canadian flicks, and why not?

Citytv Award for best Canadian first feature film

This award went to Noël Mitrani for "Sur la Trace D'Igor Rizzi." Laurent Lucas stars as Jean-Marc Thomas, a former professional soccer player who leaves his native France for Montréal in search of solace and comfort after the death of his Québécois ex-girlfriend. Turning to petty crime in order to pay the bills, his life continues to spiral downward to the point where he accepts a job as a hitman.

This one sounds like just plain fun to me, even if it is a little depressing.

Toronto-City Award for Best Canadian Feature Film

This award went to Jennifer Baichwal's documentary "Manufactured Landscapes," a portrait of Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky. Baichwal and cinematographer Peter Mettler followed Burtynsky while he travelled the globe shooting landscapes transformed through commercial recycling, manufacturing and industrial production. Honorable mention goes to Reg Harkema's "Monkey Warfare."

These two prize-winners were selected by a jury of film industry professionals made up of director Jean-Marc Vallée; Nick James, editor of Sight & Sound; film and television writer Karen Walton, and actress Anna Paquin.

Short Cuts Canada Award

This award for short films went to Maxime Giroux for "Les Jours," an exploration of loss in the days that follow a tragic death in the woods.

And now for something completely different ...

Mr. Darcy, meet Mr. Abu-Jamal. In what just might be the oddest couple yet, Colin Firth is producing a documentary, "In Prison My Whole Life," which tells the story of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther on death row for the murder of a Philadelphia police officer.

Mr. Abu-Jamal's guilt or innocence is a topic best not tackled here, since I don't know all the facts of the case. What I do know is that I love documentaries that offer a unique view of the world, which Mr. Abu-Jamal certainly must have.

Another great documentary about a prison journalist is "The Farm," which tells about the lives of Wilbert Rideau and other inmates in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison. If you haven't seen it, I recommend it very highly.

Enough from me for today. It's Monday morning, and I'm afraid there's not much I can do about that. Peace out.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The Last Kiss

Going into this week I had every intention of seeing Brian DePalma's "The Black Dahlia." As late as yesterday morning, I still had my mind set on that plan.

So what happened? I started reading the reactions of people who had already seen it, which I love to do. And almost everything I read, from fans rather than critics, said this was just a stinker, and I didn't think I could take that.

So I punted on making the decision myself and did something I should do more often; I called my neighbor and asked her if she wanted to go see a movie Sunday afternoon. On the other end of the line there was a long a pause (never the reaction you're looking for), and then she said "yes, but I get to choose the movie.

Ha. I decided not to reveal that that was just what I wanted, and just let her decide. It came down to "I don't wanna see any football movie with a professional wrestler in it" and "I want to see that Zach Braff movie." "The Black Dahlia" never even entered the conversation, which was fine with me.

I kind of wanted to see "that Zach Braff movie" too, so that was that. I like Zach Braff. "Garden State" was great and "Scrubs" is even better (note to TV programmers: the packaging of two back-to-back "Scrubs" episodes, when it is on at all, is brilliant; keep it up.)

I know he annoys a lot of people. At times he can look so smug that you just want to smack him, and at others he just looks chronically constipated. But I find him funny, and that's enough for me.

In "The Last Kiss" he plays a character much less likable than he was in "Garden State" or "Scrubs." Basically, he's a heel, but not the cartoon heel you find in most movies. He's just a dude who, when told by his girlfriend of three years (Jacinda Barrett) that she is pregnant, makes the worst possible decision. Well, actually, several of them, and I'm not giving much away by saying it doesn't go smoothly.

It's definitely not a romantic comedy, but as a story about two people trying to make a difficult relationship work, it worked for me. I actually wanted them to work it out, whereas in this summer's other romantic downer, "The Breakup," I just wanted to kill the two leads and put them out of their (and my) misery.

Barrett is very good as the other half of this couple in crisis. About 15 minutes into the movie, my companion elbowed me in the gut fairly hard and whispered "that's the chick from "The Real World." It took me a while to place her, but she was indeed the wannabe actress Jacinda, I believe from the London series. Well, she's a pretty good one in this flick, and I expect big things from her in the future.

Rachel Bilson from "The OC" is the requisite other woman, who hits on Braff at a wedding and leads him, very willingly, astray. She's suitably seductive, and I liked her very much in the scene at his office where she finds out exactly what she's gotten herself into.

As we were walking out of the movie, I asked my friend what she thought. Her first response: "What an asshole." Staying quiet to make sure she wasn't talking about me, I waited until she followed that with "I liked the movie quite a bit, but if Braff keeps this up he's gonna turn into Woody Allen, and that would just be gross."

Well put. So we both liked the movie, and agreed that Braff does well playing the heel. He's no Woody Allen, in either the good or bad sense, but I like him, and this flick, nonetheless.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Day two with the Dawgs

Has Brian DePalma really managed to craft James Ellroy's great book into a horrible movie? Given the 30 percent positive rating "The Black Dahlia" has received over at Rotten Tomatoes, I fear it may be true, but I won't find out for myself until Sunday.

Today, it's back to Athens for UGA's second home game, against another unmatched foe in UAB. Before the start of the Mark Richt era, these games were some times more interesting than they ever should be, but under his guidance the Dawgs usually take care of business early and often.

The interesting thing, of course, will be the first start for Matthew Stafford, aka the greatest college quarterback since (insert favorite college quarterback here). He managed to survive the heat in Columbia, so I'm looking forward to him having a huge day at this coronation.

Anyways, if you've managed to see "The Black Dahlia," please tell me what you thought about it. I'm eager to find out if the fans, once again, liked a movie a lot more than the critics.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Mr. Peabody and Sherman?

Apparently this is the week to mess with things that made our childhoods fun. Following on the heels of the announcement about "Horton Hears a Who" comes word that Dreamworks will make an animated feature based on Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

This one doesn't fill me with nearly as much dread as "Horton," perhaps because the duo, unlike Horton, haven't already starred in their own flawless film. And also because their globe-trotting adventures were always my favorite thing about "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show."

One last sign of hope is that "Lion King" director Rob Minkoff is being brought on to co-write and direct. Though this will be digitally animated, Minkoff clearly understands that a good story is worth at least much as the latest technology.

But there are, of course, warning signs. "The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle," the live-action "movie" made about our heroes, was simply too awful to describe fully in a blog linked from a family newspaper. And though, as you may have figured out, I see many, many, movies, even I didn't bother with "Dudley Do-Right."

But it's Friday morning, so I'm gonna just stay positive for now and hope for the best. Feel free to let me know what you think.

New project for De Niro

After years now of trying (and often succeeding) to be a funny man, Robert De Niro appears to be headed back to more familiar turf with "The Winter of Frankie Machine."

"Ocean's 13" screenwriters Brian Koppelman and David Levien have been hired to adapt the Don Winslow novel for Paramount Pictures. The project is about a mob hitman who gave up the game for a quiet life as the proprietor of a bait shop. When the son of a mob boss asks for his backup to help resolve a dispute with another Mafioso, he agrees, only to find he's been set up for a hit.

Sounds like a perfect setup for De Niro, but I guess we can't really judge yet; the book doesn't even come out until Sept. 26. So, Mike Judge's apparently-quite-funny "Idiocracy" can only play in about five cities before hitting DVD, but a book nobody's seen yet get's A-list screenwriters and Robert De Niro? Sheesh.

Even so, this could definitely turn out to be great, so keep your eyes on it.

Thanks DBT's

I close today with a hearty word of thanks to the Drive-By-Truckers, who brought the rock show to Macon and brought our often-sleepy town to vibrant life for a few hours last night.

Telegraph music critic Maggie Large will soon be giving the full lowdown in her great blog Amped, but here are just a few impressions from what turned out to be a fantastic night.

I knew it was going to be something special when Patterson Hood opened the show by saying "this song turns 5 years old today" before tearing into "Ronnie and Neil." It turned out it was also Mike "Stroker Ace" Cooley's 40th birthday, so the Jack Daniels was flowing even freer than usual.

If I had written the set list, it would have looked muck like it did for this show at the Capitol Theatre. The highlight, for me, was "Dead, Drunk and Naked" followed rightly and directly by a blistering "Guitar Man Upstairs." Patterson was even more talkative than usual (thanks, Mr. Daniels), and he reminded us that the epic "Southern Rock Opera" came out five years ago this week (on Sept. 12, 2001, oddly enough.) The show was heavy on "SRO" songs both great ("Women Without Whisky") and not-so-great ("Get Your Ass on the Plane.") It was nice to hear so many old favorites again from the band in top form.

In a quieter moment, Jason Isbell delivered the soulful protest "Dress Blues," followed directly by a Tom T. Hall song about Vietnam. A very strong statement and a surprisingly good song by Mr. Isbell.

They closed the opening set with a rousing run through "Buttholeville," which I've decided not to take as a shot at Macon. As we filtered out of the theater at 1 a.m. with the feedback from "Angels and Fuselage" still filling the room, it wouldn't have mattered to me if it was; they brought the rock, and for once Macon responded in kind with a huge turnout.

In DBT news, Patterson announced the guys and gal will be in residence at the fabulous 40 Watt in Athens for two shows Nov. 3 and 4, so mark your calendar and make plans now. I'll see you there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

I know the critical love for this one is already at fever pitch, but having seen the pilot, I have to add my input: Believe all the hype and tune in Monday night.

Phil Ramati, the Telegraph's TV Guy, has a more in-depth critique of Aaron Sorkin's new "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," but he was also kind enough to give me a preview copy of the pilot, which has already debuted on the Web.

What's good? Well, almost everything. Think back to the first season of West Wing. When it was just President Bartlett's green staff trying to figure everything out. The dialogue was fast and funny, and it's just as good here.

The casting is also pitch-perfect. I've never appreciated Amanda Peet as much more than an extremely pretty face, but she really shines here. As the new studio president who finds her top show falling apart on her first day, she just has a look in her eye that keeps you guessing as to what she will from minute-to-minute. It's a real breakthrough performance.

Just as good are two very familiar TV faces, Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford, who are brought in to save the show. They share a professional and personal (though purely hetero) bond that you feel right from the outset, and you feel like you've known them for years. The only weak link is Steven Weber, who struggles to shed his lightweight "Wings" persona to play the heavy and can't quite deliver. Sarah Paulson and D.L. Hughley round out the main cast, and will surely be given more to do as the show unfolds.

The format should allow for a different "guest host" each week. For week one it's Felicity Huffman, and we know that Lauren Graham of "Gilmore Girls" is coming soon for more than one episode. It should be fun to see who turns up on what is easily this fall's most promising show. Welcome back, Mr. Sorkin.

"Horton" calls Carrey, Carell

I'm not sure what trauma Jim Carrey suffered in his childhood that drives him to keep ruining the best things from mine, but if therapy is what he needs I'll be glad to pitch in for the bill.

Already having conspired with Ron Howard to suck all the fun out of "The Grinch," he now has his eyes on another Dr. Seuss gem, "Horton Hears a Who."
Carrey has been cast as the voice of Horton and Steve Carell will join him as the mayor of Who-ville in a CGI-animated feature film of this classic tale from 20th Century Fox Animation.

For anyone who missed or has forgotten the original 1970 TV movie directed by the late, great Chuck Jones, Horton is an elephant who discovers there is a microscopic community of intelligent beings called the Who's living on a plant that only he can hear. Recognising the dangers they face, he resolves to keep them safe, even though none of the other animals believe his story.

Like many of the good doctor's best stories, it has a lot to say about how we treat the world around us, but I'm not hopeful any of that will make it into this new, thoroughly unnecessary version. Whereas Mr. Jones had the good sense to use a teleplay by the doctor himself, remake directors Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino will work from a script adaptation written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio.

If anyone with more power than me is willing to step forward and stop this madness, please do so now before it becomes too late.

Meirelles to go blind

In much, much better news, director Fernando Meirelles is returning to Brasil to make his third feature film, "Blindness." It will be based on the 1995 novel by Portuguese Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago about an epidemic of blindness that sweeps through an unnamed contemporary city and pushes society to the brink of breakdown.

The premise holds much promise, and Meirelles can do no wrong in my book. His debut, "City of God" was, without exaggeration, like nothing I had ever seen before. It's an ultra-real look at the life of street kids in Brasil that somehow manages to sustain an otherworldy look and feel throughout. If you haven't seen it, Netflix it now and thank me later. "The Constant Gardener," based on John Le Carre's novel, was a first-rate political thriller and a troubling look at what's happening in Africa today.

With this new project, set to begin shooting soon in Sao Paolo, Mr. Meirelles is certain only to garner more well-deserved acclaim.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Demko's DVD shelf

To start off with anything else today would just be a crime. After years of sitting on the vault doors to keep them firmly shut, Georgie Lucas has finally released the theatrical versions of "A New Hope," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi" on DVD.

These three movies have had more impact on some people than any movie ever should, but put in proper perspective they're still pretty damn good. "Empire" stands the tallest, with "A New Hope" a close second and "Jedi" beginning the slide to what would come later.

There's not much I can tell you about these you don't already know. The main thing I remember is that we were on vacation in California when "Empire" came out, and my parents gave up most of a day so my brother and I could stand in line for what seemed like forever to see it. How could you not be hooked on movies after that?

Along with the theatrical versions, of course, you'll get Lucas' bastardization of each flick, side-by-side in dual disc format. I don't think my feelings toward his reworking of these great flicks will grow any warmer, but it will be interesting to view them together (so you can, of course, see Han shoot first, then Greedo.)

The supplements for each flick include a commentary by George Lucas, Carrie Fisher and others, a XBox Playable Game Demo and Lego game trailer.

Sure, Mr. Lucas has built up some ill will by sitting on these gems for so long, but just admit it; you'll be there right beside me, gobbling these up.

"Goal!" "The Miracle Match"

"Goal! The Dream Begins" is a movie so cheesy it should never work, but somehow it does, very well. The first in a planned trilogy, it stars Kuno Becker as Santiago Munez, a soccer-mad Latino in L.A. who gets scouted to join Newcastle United in England and suddenly finds himself in a whole new world. You can feel the implausability of it all as you're watching, but if you just give in to its infectious spirit, I guarantee you'll enjoy a rousing sports flick. This would have easily been my pick of the week if not for that certain other trilogy of flicks.

Supplements include "The Beautiful Game," a featurette about world soccer; "Behind the Pitch," a making-of featurette; the Happy Mondays music video "Playground Superstar," and a "Golden Moments of the FIFA World Cup" featurette ( I can only assume this won't include Zisou's disgraceful headbutt in the 2006 final - I think we've all finally seen enough of that.)

Soccer cheese of a much more rank variety is offered up in the rather putrid "The Miracle Match," which was once titled "The Game of Their Lives." By any name, it's a lousy flick that belittles one of the greatest accomplishments in U.S. soccer history, its 1-0 victory over England in group play of the 1950 World Cup. This is indeed one of history's greatest upsets, but it's only cheapened here with horrid acting and even worse storytelling. Avoid at all costs.

Inspector Lewis

I'm a sucker for PBS' Mystery series, and Inspector Morse was always one of my favorite gumshoes. Now that he's dead, his old partner Inspector Robert Lewis (Robert Whatley) walks the beat with a new partner.

This time, he's on the case of a murder in Oxford that may have ties to an old Inspector Morse case. It's as good as almost anything in the Mystery canon, and well worth a rental.

The Office - Season Two

I can still remember watching the pilot for the American version of "The Office" and just scratching my head. For those who may have forgotten or missed it, it was pretty much a word-for-word re-creation of the British show's pilot, and was just creepy to watch. Since this misstep, the series has distinguished itself in its own right as the funniest thing on TV right now (after the death of "Arrested Development.) Steve Carell was just robbed on Emmy night for his work here.

The season two set includes 22 episodes on four discs; commentary on 10 episodes by the actors, writers, directors and producers; deleted scenes; the "Faces of Scranton" video (from the episode "Valentine's Day"); fake PSAs; Webisodes from and a blooper reel.

"TAPS - 25th Anniversary Special Edition"

I'm sure this one doesn't live up terribly well over time, but i'm still looking forward to seeing if I like it as much as I did when I was 11 years old.

For anyone who's forgotten, this one stars Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn and Tom Cruise as military academy cadets who take control of their school after they learn it's about to be closed and sold to a real estate developer, and George C. Scott (naturally) as the academy commander. It's all pretty ridiculous, but Penn's performance definitely shows he was well on the way to becoming a one-of-a-kind screen presence.

Supplements for this special edition include a commentary by director Harold Becker; "Sounding the Call to Arms: Mobilizing the Taps Generation" featurette; "The Bugler's Cry: The Origins of Playing Taps" featurette and TV spots.

"Beavis and Butt-Head Do America- Special Collector's Edition"

I've been railing to anyone unfortunate enough to be within earshot about the shoddy treatment of Mike Judge's "Idiocracy," but that's a different subject for a different time. Today's it's all about this very funny animated adventure, in which our two philosopher kings hit the road to find their stolen TV set. It's all extremely crude, of course, but what can I say ... I liked it quite a bit.

Supplements for this new edition include a commentary by director/creator Judge and animation director Yvette Kaplan; "The Big Picture" retrospective making-of segment; "We're Gonna Score!" featurette with Judge and composer John Frizzell; "The Smackdown" montage; "Celebrity Shorts"; TV spots and teaser trailers.

But enough from me for a Tuesday morning. I hope you found something here worth watching. Peace out.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Finally, Peter Jackson's "Hobbit"?

There's news (and speculation) about four of my favorite directors today, so this week is starting out pretty well in my little corner of the world.

First, the big kahuna. It was revealed at this morning that MGM CEO Harry Sloan has plans for several tentpole pics, including THE HOBBIT WITH PETER JACKSON! (Also included were much less exciting plans for sequels to "The Pink Panther" and "The Thomas Crown Affair," plus "Terminator 4," but those just pale in comparison.)

The catch? Well, apparently there are several. First of all, according to Aintitcool, where, unlike me, they apparently have Mr. Jackson on speeddial, MGM hasn't even talked to the director about this yet. While he said would of course be interested, with directing "Lovely Bones" and producing "The Dam Busters" (and maybe others), Mr. Jackson's plate would seem to be pretty full at the moment.

Secondly, the rights to "The Hobbit" are a bit jumbled. Though MGM owns the distribution rights, somehow New Line owns the rights to make the film, so any project would have to be a partnership between the two studios (which certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility.)

I get excited just thinking about the possibility of a GOOD "Hobbit" movie. It's definitely my favorite story in Tolkein's canon, probably because I grew up learning to play the piano to those silly Rankin-Bass songs. This seems destined to come together somehow, hopefully sooner rather than later. I'll keep you posted as soon as I hear more.

Spike returning to "NoLa"

Due to the fact I neither bother to pay for HBO nor own a video tape that's less then 5 years old, I have yet to see Spike Lee's documentary about Katrina's devastation of New Orleans. When I asked my good friend Beth MacFadyen to tape it for me, I only got back a mangled tape.

I will see it soon (I'm gonna check after I finish this post and, if I can, move it to the top of my Netflix queue.)

Now, however, comes not-terribly-surprising news that Spike isn't quite done telling the story of what happened to the Crescent City. According to the Hollywood Reporter, he has signed on to develop a scripted drama for NBC set in New Orleans. Titled "NoLa," it will explore the post-Katrina lives of New Orleans residents from different social and economic backgrounds.

"It's a show about the city trying to rebuild itself and the people who are trying to put their lives together," Lee said.

The best news for the city: "NoLa" will be filmed on location in New Orleans.

"We don't have to build sets," Lee said with irony. "Things there still look like the city's been bombed out."

No word yet on when we might actually get to see this, but count me at least as excited to see it happening. Spike invokes strong emotions in everyone, but the one thing you can't call him is boring. I can't wait to see what he does with the many stories still waiting to rise up from N'awlins.

Casting for Tarantino's half of "Grindhouse"

It seems like Quentin and Robert Rodriguez have been working on "Grindhouse" for at least five years now. I'm sure that by the time it's finally ready the hype will be unbearable, but I'm still fairly confident whatever comes out of this mess will be a lot of fun.

Now comes news that the cast for Tarantino's half, "Death Proof," has been finalized with the additions of Michael Bacall ("CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), horror director Eli Roth and newcomer Omar Doom. Add them to the already announced Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Rose McGowan, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Marley Shelton, Tracie Thoms and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and you've got a pretty cool ensemble (Russell stepped in a while back to replace Mickey Rourke.)

What I've been able to decipher about the story, however, doesn't sound that exciting. All I know is that Russell will apparently have a literally "killer" car, a la Christine.

Details, at least for me, are even sketchier on Mr. Rodriguez's half of this. Titled "Planet Terror," it will star Freddy Rodriguez (wtf!), McGowan, Josh Brolin, Naveen Andrews, Shelton, Michael Biehn, Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas (again, wtf!), Jeff Fahey and Michael Parks. Beyond the cheesily great title of this one, I have no idea what it's about. If anyone knows more than me on either half of this, please feel free to spill the beans.

Tarantino apparently began shooting "Death Proof" in August in Austin, and Rodriguez has already completed principal photography on "Planet Terror." Their take on '70s exploitation films is set to released on Easter weekend - April 6, 2007.

Whatever comes out of this mess should at least be a fun build-up to the summer onslaught. Here's hoping it turns out better than I'm starting to fear it will.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saying goodbye to Erk

I had tentatively planned to go see "The Protector" today, since I can think of few ways to better pass a couple of hours than by watching a man kick massive ass because someone stole his elephant. Instead, however, I'm going to do something I've never done before: Go to a funeral for someone I've never met.

That someone is Erk Russell, the famed Georgia Southern and Georgia football coach who died Friday in a car accident after suffering a stroke.

So why am I driving all the way to Statesboro for this? I'm not sure. I suppose it's because I love college football, and there are few figures who have loomed larger in that arena than Mr. Russell. How many college coaches can say they've won four national championships? Mr. Russell can, with three as head coach at Georgia Southern and one as defensive coordinator for UGA in 1980. For this he deserves my respect.

And, I must admit, I'm going for the sheer spectacle. Not many people get to have their funeral in a football stadium (Paulson Stadium at his beloved Georgia Southern). I know this sounds corny as hell, but it should just be a massive outpouring of love for this great man, and I want to be a part of it.

So, no movies for me today. Have a great day one and all.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


If ever there were a movie that needs to be cut right in half, "Hollywoodland" is it. And, it pains me to say, Ben Affleck shines as brightly in the good half of this one as Adrien Brody sinks in the other.

If director Allen Coulter (of "Sopranos" fame) and writer Paul Bernbaum had simply set out to make a biopic about TV's original Man of Steel, George Reeves, I'm certain they would have succeeded on a grand scale. They have the perfect ally for that in Mr. Affleck.

I haven't much cared for Big Ben in any flick since "Chasing Amy," but as George Reeves he rediscovers something he has been missing for years: Charm. In "Hollywoodland," he looks and acts exactly like a budding early-days movie star, cocky at first then suitably less so as his career starts to sag. And he's aided by Diane Lane in top form, perfectly seductive as Reeves' paramour, who just happens to be the wife of a powerful movie studio executive, played with relish by Bob Hoskins.

When Ben and Diane are on screen, there is a natural chemistry, and the script delivers something I wasn't expecting, laughs. If this were a biopic about George Reeves, I'm sure I would be giving it a rave review right now.

But mssrs. Coulter and Bernbaum aspire to much more than that. In a rather weak attempt to make this into a film noir, they give us several theories about the demise of Mr. Reeves, who died from a shot to the head in 1959. The widely accepted one is that he committed suicide.

The other possibilities would have been much more interesting if they were explored with any depth, or if they had a more willing accomplice than Mr. Brody. As the P.I. investigating the case, he never much seems to care about any of the leads he's pursuing, so neither did I.

It never comes close to real noir territory, instead seeming to settle for a sort-of off-gray. Next week comes another attempt, with even more star power and better source material: Brian DePalma's "The Black Dahlia," based on the great true-crime book by James Ellroy. I hope they have more luck than Mr. Coulter did here.

Now, if you'll excuse me, Penn State and Notre Dame are about to kick off. Peace out.

Friday, September 08, 2006

R.I.P Erk Russell

This is a sad day indeed in the Bulldog Nation.

Former Georgia Southern head football coach and University of Georgia defensive coordinator Erk Russell died Friday after a car accident. According to East Georgia Regional Medical Center, he was pronounced dead on arrival at about 9:10 a.m. The hospital CEO said he didn't die from injuries sustained in the crash, but instead most likely from a stroke just before the accident.

For those who don't know the legend of Erk Russell, it truly looms large in Georgia football history. He served as the defensive coordinator at UGA for 17 years, and was on hand for the national championship season of 1980. After that season, he left to become the head coach at Georgia Southern, reviving a program that had been dormant since 1941. He led the Eagles to three 1-AA national championships, in 1985, '86 and '89.

Anyone who loves college football knows this is a sad day, and not just in the state of Georgia. I could go on and on about this great man, but instead let me close with a letter he wrote to his players on that fabled 1980 UGA squad:

Gentlemen: (linemen)

The football season of 80' will be my seventeenth as a Georgia Bulldog. During this time there have been many thrilling Saturdays of competition, each with it's individual memories, because each game has it's own personality. There are two Saturday traditions and experiences which have remained basically the same throughout the years for me and I would like to share them with you. The first one concerns the RAILROAD TRACK CROWD.

These are my people because they love the Dogs almost as much as I do. Oh, I know they do some crazy things- like turn over our opponent's buses sometimes and now and then they throw one another down the bank and into the street below. But they stamp out Kudzu and they pull for us to win and that ain’t bad. If you can get off the bus to cheers of THE RAILROAD TRACK CROWD and walk down those steps to the dressing room and not be inspired to play football as best you possibly can, something important is missing beneath the Georgia jersey you wear. It is impossible not to be inspired. They choke me up! The season of 1980 will be the last for THE RAILROAD TRACK CROWD.
A great Georgia tradition will have passed with the new addition to our stadium. The view from the tracks will be no more. Your team will be the last Georgia Team to be greeted and cheered by the RAILROAD TRACK CROWD.
Wouldn't it be fitting if their last team was also the best Georgia Team ever. Think about it! Another Saturday tradition which has meant so much to me over the years can be stated very simply. "THERE AIN'T NOTHING LIKE BEING A BULLDOG ON SATURDAY NIGHT-----AFTER WINNING A FOOTBALL GAME."

I mean like whipping Tennessee's ass to start with, then ten more and then another one. This is the game plan. We have no alternate plan.

Erk Russell

No alternate plan, indeed, Rest in peace, Mr. Russell

Ellen at the Oscars? Sheesh

I'm a sucker for the Oscars, so I'll definitely tune in anyway when they return Feb. 25, but this news doesn't give me much hope they will be entertaining.

Ellen DeGeneres has been tapped to host the next broadcast. Though this will be her first Oscar gig, Ellen has hosted the Grammy and Emmys multiple times.

Before I say anything remotely mean about Ms. DeGeneres, let me just clear something up first: I have absolutely no problem with Ellen as a person, and could not care less what she does in her personal life. My problem with her, and this is the bottom line for Oscars hosts, is that she's simply not funny.

Granted, she will surely be less caustic than Jon Stewart, Chris Rock or David Letterman, but will also be a lot more boring. Apparently Mr. Stewart's remark about how Jude Law can't act crossed the line last year (admit it ladies, do you really watch a Jude Law movie to analyze his acting skills? I didn't think so.)

So, unwilling to take even the gentlest barbs, they've picked someone who will surely pucker up and kiss any ass they ask her to. My prediction, however, is she will be very popular with the in-house audience, and will begin a hosting run to rival that of Billy Crystal.

Who would I rather have? Well, I normally don't tune in for much of the Emmys, but I did this year because Conan O'Brien was consistently funny in his hosting gig. Though I realize he kisses just as much ass as Ellen on his show, he brings a just-manic-enough presense to the whole thing that just makes it more enjoyable to watch. He would be the perfect host for the Oscars next year.

Oh well, I guess it could be worse. At least it's not Jay Leno. Feel free to defend Ellen or sound off on who you would rather see hosting Hollywood's big night.

"Casino Royale" trailer

After the last several Bond flicks, you can only count me as lukewarm at best about the return of James Bond. The latest trailer, however, has me inching toward positivity, and at least has me ready to give it a chance.

What works? The look of the whole thing should be a real return to form. It looks low-tech, as Bond should be, and Monte Carlo is the perfect setting. As for Mr. Craig, I'm warming to him in the role too, after a series of post-Connery duds.

And a word of praise for Eva Green, if I may. After seeing her in "The Dreamers," Bertolucci's well-intentioned mess of a movie, I knew she would be huge soon. She has the perfect look for a Bond girl, so I can only wish her well in the role. Halle Berry, while not nearly as bad as Denise Richards, just couldn't cut it.

But enough from me for today. To enjoy the fairly long new trailer, click here, and of course let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

"The U.S. vs. John Lennon" clip

It's been a pretty good year thus far for documentaries, with "Wordplay" and "An Inconvenient Truth" ranking among my favorites so far. Opening everywhere (well, we'll see about that) on Sept. 29, however, will be one that should blow those two away.

"The U.S. vs. John Lennon" explores the transition of John Lennon from lovable beatle to anti-war crusader, and how it brought on the wrath of Nixon. Just seeing the trailer a few months ago, of course to the tune of "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)," was enough to give me chills.

Though I'm definitely psyched to see this, I know it's gonna be more than a little depressing. Who do we have today that's even remotely dedicated to more than the pop life? Bono? I guess he's about as close as we'll come, but he's only a pale shadow to me.

But back to this flick. The kind folks at have posted an exclusive clip. From this footage alone you can see that filmmakers David Leaf and John Scheinfeld did a thorough job of researching their subject. Click to see for yourself here.

Lennon's example is sadly even more relevant today than he was back then, so I hope this one finds a large audience.

Terminator TV taking shape

I've been holding off on this one because I'm just terrified it's gonna suck hard. We'll see about that, but it seems "The Sarah Connor Chronicles" has taken on enough momentum that it just might be unstoppable.

For anyone who missed the recent news, Warner Bros. and Fox TV are developing this project, which will take place between Terminators 2 and 3, and will focus on the relationship between Sarah and John Connor. (Though without, apparently, Salisbury, Md.'s, favorite native daughter, Linda Hamilton. What the hell's up with that?)

I can only get lukewarm at best for this, especially since it sounds like a family drama rather than an action piece. At CHUD today, however, they have an interview with show helmer Josh Friedman in which he shared some details.

“I would like to be able to explore as many different avenues of Terminator mythology as possible,” he told CHUD. “I think to do a show that is a completely Terminator-less environment would probably not be, in the long run, a wise move or the most interesting thing.”

He continues: “I always go back to The X-Files, which I think did a good job of balancing close-ended stories with mythology stories,” Friedman said. “The show will certainly not be a close-ended, procedural adventure of the week show. I would say it’s going to be a hybrid. It’ll be somewhere in between – it’s not going to be a Terminator of the week show, but it’s also not going to be soap opera.”

"I read the talk backs, and people are pissed. They don’t want you to mess with it. The internet has a love/hate thing with the properties they love – they want more and they want it done well, but they hate it if Cameron’s not involved. All I ask is that people withhold judgment until they see it. I think it’s pretty fucking cool."

Well, he is the man with this, at least for now, so we'll have to take his rather emphatic word for it. Friedman is also the screenwriter for DePalma's "The Black Dahlia," hitting everywhere next Friday, so he soon may be catching even more heat.

I'm just hoping against hope that something good comes out of all this mess.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Gospel according to Buffy?

I know Buffy has her devoted followers, but this upcoming series in Macon seems to take that to a whole new level.

Coming up at St. Francis Episcopal Church will be "The Gospel According to Buffy the Vampire Slayer," a series of adult education classes revolving around the rather fantastic series and its waif-thin heroine. For anyone in Macon or the surrounding area who wants to come, the sessions will be at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday, beginning Sept. 14 and running through Oct. 26, with, of course, a wrapup session on All Hallows Eve.

I don't know about you, but to me this sounds liks just plain fun. Buffy worship may be way beyond the norm of human behavior, but as a model for studying right and wrong you could certainly do worse, especially since, despite her superpowers, our heroine often made astoundingly bad choices.

Each session will feature the viewing of one full episode, followed by a group discussion. An inside source tells me the first will be that freaky one in season six where Buffy gets thrown for a mindtrip by the evil geeks and ends up thinking she's in a mental institution and has invented the whole slayer thing in her mind. A great place to start the discussion, I would say. In case you need any more incentive, those of you who are old enough will be able to buy a beer, and there will a dedicated blog for those who want to keep the talk going on into the night.

The church is located at 432 Forest Hill Road. For more information, contact

Buffy and beer? Man do those Episcopalians know how to throw a party.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Demko's DVD shelf

You can call it Samurai day here, and more specifically Toshiru Mifune day, and how can that be a bad thing?

Seven Samurai

The only thing that worries me about this new, three-disc release of Kurosawa's masterpiece is that it will add fuel to the (yet another) remake rumors I've been hearing for years now. Shame on anyone considering this.

This one already has its deserved Criterion kudo-set, but this new edition adds tantalizing extras to the classic tale of a fighting force recruited to save a suffering village from marauding bandits. Extras include: An all-new, restored high-definition digital transfer; two audio commentaries: one by film scholars David Desser, Joan Mellen, Stephen Prince, Tony Rayns and Donald Richie, and the other by Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck; a 50-minute documentary on the making of Seven Samurai, "It Is Wonderful to Create"; My Life in Cinema, a two-hour video conversation between Akira Kurosawa and Nagisa Oshima produced by the Directors Guild of Japan; "Seven Samurai: Origins and Influences," a new documentary looking at the samurai traditions and films that impacted Kurosawa's masterpiece; theatrical trailers and teaser; a gallery of rare posters and behind-the scenes and production stills; and a booklet featuring essays by Peter Cowie, Philip Kemp, Peggy Chiao, Alain Silver, Kenneth Turan, Stuart Galbraith, Arthur Penn and Sidney Lumet, and an interview with Toshiro Mifune.

Whew! Now that's a deluxe treatment! But no movie I can think of is more worthy of it, so this one is my lock of the week.

Toshiro Mifune - The Ultimate Collection

No image from "Seven Samurai" gets seared in your mind faster than the entrance of Toshiro Mifune, with his eyes seemingly swollen with simmering rage. Get your fill of this great actor in this new box set of five of his samurai classics.

This comes from the IMDB: In "Samurai Assassin" (1965), directed by Okamoto Kihachi, he's a scruffy swordsman who joins a secret sect plotting to assassinate the Emperor's advisor, who has built himself up to become the most powerful man in Japan. "Samurai Banners" (1969), from director Inagaki Hiroshi, is a sweeping story of two men attempting to build an empire in 16th century Japan. In "Red Lion" (1969), he plays a common stablehand who returns to his village impersonating a great military officer just as the corrupt governor has kidnapped a number of locals. And finally, Mifune revives his beloved rogue samurai character Yojimbo in "Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo" (1970), his only showdown with Shintaru Katsu's legendary samurai character, and in "Incident at Blood Pass" (1970), hired for an assignment so mysterious that he isn't even told what it is.

I have to confess I haven't seen any of these, so it should make for a fun week of viewing chez moi.

Gojira/Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Monsters just don't get any badder than the O.G. himself, no matter how many pretenders have followed in his footsteps.

Now, in a two-disc set, we get both the original Japanese flick, "Gojira," which had both an anti-Atomic bomb message and references to Hiroshima, and the first American version, "King of the Monsters," which includes new footage featuring Raymond Burr.

If it weren't for "Jackass" (more on that later), this would definitely be my fun video pick of the week.

Brazil and Amarcord from Criterion

Terry Gilliam's sci-fi mindtrip has already gotten the three-disc treatment from Criterion, so consider this single-disc version still packed with extras a gift to those of us on a budget.

This new version features Gilliam's definitive version of the film, culled from materials in numerous different release cuts, in a newly restored high-definition master and a remastered soundtrack. You'll also get a commentary by Terry Gilliam and a booklet with an essay by Jack Mathews.

Amarcord, Fellini's carnivalesque portrait of Italy during the Fascist period, also gets the Criterion treatment this week, in a two-disc special edition. If you spring for this one, you'll get a commentary by scholars Peter Brunette and Frank Burke; a deleted scene; "Fellini's Homecoming," a new 45-minute documentary on the complicated relationship between Fellini, his hometown, and his past; a video interview with star Magali Noël; Fellini's drawings; "Felliniana," a presentation of "Amarcord" ephemera; audio interviews with Fellini, his friends and family by Gideon Bachmann; trailers; and a booklet featuring a new essay by Sam Rohdie and Fellini's 1968 memoir, "La mia Rimini."

All the King's Men

Count me as skeptical-turning-toward-cautiously-optimistic that the upcoming remake of this true American classic won't suck hard. Even if it does, at least it has brought us this special edition of what is, in my opinion, America's greatest political film.

If you don't already own Robert Rossen's flick based on Robert Penn Warren's novel, featuring a blistering performance from Broderick Crawford as the populist firebrand Willie Stark, I'd recommend this highly. But if you already do, this set will offer little reason for an upgrade. The main extras are all about the new film, including interviews with James Gandolfini, Jude Law and Anthony Hopkins, plus the theatrical trailer.

United 93

Though I readily concede Paul Greengrass' retelling of the flight of United 93, the plane that crashed in a Pennsylvania farm field on 9/11, is a masterful piece of filmmaking, it's also something I never need to see again.

Call me a wuss, but I had to turn away from the screen at several points during the third act, knowing too well how it would all end. If you'd like, you can read my original review here.

If you haven't seen this one, it's definitely worth a rental. Supplements include a commentary with director Greengrass; "United 93: The Families and the Film" featurette and memorial pages.

Jackass - The Movie

And now for something completely different ... I had never seen the show "Jackass" (that's my story, and I'm sticking to it) when my brother called to tell me he had just seen the movie and it was just about the funniest thing he had ever seen. And I have to agree.

In this new edition most surely inspired by the upcoming "Jackass" sequel, you'll get four minutes of extended scenes added to the original film; Two commentaries, one by star Johnny Knoxville, director Jeff Tremaine and cinematographer Dimitry Elyashkevich, and another by the cast of jackasses; "The Making of Jackass The Movie" MTV special; outtakes; 27 minutes of additional footage; "Too Hot for MTV" additional footage, and, of course, an inside look at "Jackass Number Two."

If you like your humor, rude, crude and straight for the gut, jump at this one.

Fraggle Rock

HBO brought us this musical trip with Jim Henson's creations, a delight for children and adults alike. This set contains the 24 episodes from season two of the show's five-year run.

And with that, I sign off. A lot of titles to choose from this week, so I hope you found something to check out. Now, if you'll excuse me I have to return to work after a rather enjoyable holiday weekend. Peace out.