Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Demko's DVD shelf

I'm still not sure I ever want to spend two hours with a live Al Gore, but on film he turned out to be remarkably charming, so I just have to make his "An Inconvenient Truth" my DVD pick of the week.

We got two docos here in Macon this summer, this one and "Wordplay." Though I enjoyed the latter quite a bit, I was thoroughly entertained - and terrified - by what is essentially a lecture from Mr. Gore about what could definitely be the end of the world.

What makes this all more than bearable is that he's often funnier than I imagined possible. If only he showed this wit and charm on the campaign trail ... well, we don't wanna go there. Just rent his great movie.

Da Ali G Show

It's easy to forget that before he became the world's most popular antisemitic Kazakh journalist, Borat was simply a character on Sacha Baron Cohen's very funny "Da Ali G Show," on HBO here in the states. All 12 episodes hit DVD today.

Ali G took aim at hip-hop like Borat does the rest of the world, and often hit his target. As a bonus, if my memory serves me right, you can see appearances from Bruno, the Austrian fashionista who Baron Cohen will play as his next big-screen character. There's also bonus footage of Borat at the Hamptons Horse Show and the American Patriotism Event, plus an Ali G interview with Noam Chomsky. In my book, that alone makes this well worth a rental.

OK, from here on out, it's "special edition" releases of movies I really like. I've become increasingly wary of these repackagings, so proceed with care.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

I'd highly recommend this "50th Birthday Deluxe Edition" simply to show kids an example of the great movies the people they look to and respect keep turning into trash.

As a bonus, in addition to this Chuck Jones classic, you get the TV flick "Horton Hears a Who" (which I just adore and, of course, will be getting its own wretched update next summer. Will it ever stop?) Do your part by showing younguns these two great flicks in their original beauty.

A Fish Called Wanda

It's sometimes hard to believe, but this 1988 flick was a solid reminder that John Cleese can be a very funny man. This week it gets a 2-disc Collector's Edition.

I'm still not exactly sure how Kevin Kline got an Oscar nomination for this clueless crime caper, because it's Michael Palin who steals every scene he's in as the stuttering would-be jewel thief, and Jamie Lee Curtis is also in top form.

Cleese will soon be back in a big way, since he's written the script for the next Aardman flick, some kind of craziness set in the time of cavemen. Take your chance now, surely packed with extras, to see him again at his post-Python best in this flick.

Oldboy: 3-Disc Special Edition

Warning: For Park Chan-wook revenge is a dish best served very brutal and very bloody. In this second installment in his "Vengeance" trilogy, which won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, a mad scientist turns a deprivation expirement into an unrelenting campaign of torment. Choi Min-Sik plays his victim.

I know this sounds a lot like "Hostel," "Saw" or any other of the recent gore-shlock flicks you can think of, but there's a lot more going on here than that. It's often darkly funny, and Min-Sik just gives a bravura performance you won't soon forget.

One notable extra that's at least as obsessive as the movie itself: "The Autobiography of Oldboy," a 212-minute video diary from each of the 69 shooting days. Definitely not sure I could watch that in one sitting, but it must be fascinating.

Cinema Paradiso

I normally have a low tolerance for schmaltz, but Giuseppe Tornatore's sentimental gusher about movies gets me every time. This week it gets a "Two-Disc Deluxe Edition" that includes both the U.S. release which won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and the much longer (174 minutes!) cut he released later. Like with "Almost Famous," the shorter version is definitely better to me, but you can decide for yourself.

I had to check the IMDB to be assured that the great Phillippe Noiret, who plays the paternal theater projectionist in "Cinema Paradiso," is indeed still alive and still making movies at age 77. Huzzah.


Carrie Lofty said...

OldBoy made my week when I saw it last year. Really incredible. That link is my review. I have Lady Vengeance lined up in my viewing queue.

Now come see my book teaser :)

Anonymous said...

Wow. How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Horton Hears a Who both? I think I know what I'll be picking up for holiday viewing...

Anonymous said...

'Bout time for Cinema Paradiso, lol!!
I moved to the US when i was 7 or so. My hometown in Italy was alot like this. He really captured it.

Dr J said...

Your point about Kevin Kline winning the Oscar has caused me something of a flashback. I remember thinking that year that the Best Supporting Actor category was by far the most interesting, and that only Kline didn't fit on the list of nominees. I like Kline, quite a lot most of the time, but that year he was badly outclassed by Alec Guinness (Little Dorrit), River Phoenix (The Mosquito Coast or Running On Empty, I can't remember which anymore), Martin Landau (Tucker) and Dean Stockwell (for his brilliant turn in Married To The Mob). KK was the only one I couldn't see earning it-- so, of course....

Wanda remains a very funny movie, an Ealing kind of comedy with a much, much meaner streak.

Reel Fanatic said...

You're definitely right there, Dr. J .. I know it has its detractors, but I just adore Tucker, so I would have voted for Martin Landau from that list

Anonymous said...

Sadly, Noiret just passed away today. Indeed he was a marvellous actor

Chalupa said...

Glad to see somebody else remembers Da Ali G Show. Absolutely hilarious. I loved the Chomsky interview and when Bruno does "the worm" all the way down the runway.

I also thought Old Boy was pretty amazing. Speaking of revenge, have you seen Battle Royale or Battle Royale 2? They're directed by Kinji Fukasaku.

Reel Fanatic said...

I have seen Battle Royale, Chalupa, and as sick as it is, it's awfully weirdly wonderful ... I didn't realize there was a Battle Royale 2, so thanks for the heads up!

Chalupa said...

While I somehow enjoyed Battle Royale, just like you, I didn't really like Battle Royale 2. Maybe it's because I saw them a day or two apart. It just seemed like the classic "beating a dead horse" in the form of a sequel.

Reel Fanatic said...

Ah ... thanks for the clarification ... I'll avoid it

Akshun J said...

Man I had no IDEA that Oldboy was a trilogy! I'm getting the other two THIS WEEK! Thanks!

--Akshun J

Reel Fanatic said...

Definitely do so, soon, Akshun .. they all rock!

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