Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Demko's DVD shelf

Yes, I realize that "Superman Returns" and at least 15 other combinations of the Superman flicks come out today on DVD, but you don't need me to tell you about that.

Instead, here's a short list of the three titles that catch my eye this week.

First up, and my pick of the week, is easily "Clerks II." People tend to either love or hate Kevin Smith, and I definitely fall into the former camp. Though I refused to follow him to "Jersey Girl," I've gladly delighted in the juvenile depths of "Mallrats" and even "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back."

But, of course, he was never better than with "Clerks." This sequel, while it could only pale in comparison, manages to still be very funny as our heroes have only moved so far as to be working at the fast-food joint Mooby's (after, of course, burning down the Quick Stop.)

It loses its way in the third act as clerks Brian O'Halloran and Jeff Anderson overact through a painful prison sequence, but Rosario Dawson is a welcome addition. The funniest stretch for me, among many high points, was Randal's rather misguided but passionate defense of the term "porch monkey."

Smith could never be accused of scrimping on the DVD extras - did anyone really need 90 minutes of deleted scenes from "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back? - and this one is no exception. You'll get two commentaries, one by Smith, producer Scott Mosier and director of photography David Klein, and one by Smith, Mosier and actors O'Halloran, Anderson, Trevor Fehrman, Jennifer Schwalbach and Jason Mewes; deleted scenes with introduction by Smith; "Back To The Well: Clerks II" 90-minute making-of documentary; "A Closer Look at Interspecies Erotica" featurette (inevitable with Smith, I guess); bloopers, and 10 Train Wrecks: Video Production Diaries.

Like Kevin Smith, I'm not planning to grow up anytime soon. Regress with him yourself for 90 minutes or so with "Clerks II" and just enjoy the laughs.

"Where Angels Fear to Tread"

I should have taken the chance to see Damen Helen Mirren in "The Queen" last weekend, but you can get your fix on DVD this week with this fine E.M. Forster adaptation. In the story, a recently widowed English woman (Mirren) impulsively marries a dashing younger Italian man (Giovanni Guidelli) and her relatives (Helena Bonham Carter, Rupert Graves, and Judy Davis) rush off to save the family reputation, only to be swept up in the complications. This is all funnier than it might sound, and makes for a very appealing period flick.

"Monster in a Box"

When Spalding Gray jumped off the Staten Island Ferry in January 2004, the world lost a master of a dying art: the monologue. "Swimming to Cambodia" had more verve than this latter offering from documentarian Nick Broomfield, but as you watch Gray recount the story of his attempts to write a manuscript and the bizarre tangents his life underwent in the process you see the demons that drove his life and art, and it's fascinating to watch.

Philippe Noiret nous a quitté

That may be old news to the rest of the world, but that's the headline that hit me hardest this morning on

Philippe Noiret, who is best known to American audiences for his roles in "Cinema Paradiso" and "Il Postino," made 125 films before passing away on Thanksgiving day at age 76.

One other movie of his that sticks out in my mind is Louis Malle's "Zazie dans le Metro." In this crazy little movie about a young girl's (Catherine Demongeot) exploration of Paris, Noiret played her enabling uncle Gabriel. In Raymond Queneau's novel and in the movie you see the same spirit that much later inspired Jean Pierre Jeunet's "Amelie," and Noiret was definitely in on the fun.

Like Robert Altman, he died while still at work. He had just finished work on a film titled "3 Amis." If bad news also comes in threes, I can't imagine what will come next.


Anonymous said...

I heard about Philippe Noiret. So sad. I loved his performance in Cinema Paradiso.

Anonymous said...

It seems as if the great ones are all dying at once lately. Robert Altman, then Betty Comden (who with Adolph Green wrote the screenplay for Singin' in the Rain, among many other things), now Phillippe Noiret. He was truly a great actor.

Chalupa said...

Glad to see another Kevin Smith fan. Sometimes I have problems justifying Smith to certain people I know, but it's just so good. Yeah he's crass and crude, but it's so smart and hilarious at the same time.

Reel Fanatic said...

For me, Chalupa, crude but extremely witty is just the perfect combination, and very few do it better than Mr. Smith, when he's on