The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal)
Far and away the best action movie of the year was The Bourne Ultimatum. Director Paul Greengrass, cinematographer Oliver Wood, and editor Christopher Rouse push the shakycam aesthetic to the extreme and come up with something almost avant garde: the Hollywood set piece as pure sound and motion, physical and psychological violence communicated in visceral, visual terms. Will the smaller screen tame the vigorous whip pans and fast cutting that made some viewers physically ill? Maybe. It might also magnify the failings of the film’s last act, which falls back disappointingly on talking-heads exposition. Still an exciting way to spend the evening — and way more fun than the similarly gripping United 93 — with the hint of a post-9/11 subtext and a hugely satisfying final shot (but do catch up with its two predecessors first if you’ve managed to not yet see them).
Buy it from Amazon.com: The Bourne Ultimatum (Widescreen Edition) or The Bourne Ultimatum (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) [HD DVD]
Masters of Horror: Season 1, Vol. 4 [Blu-ray]
Normally I’d urge you to steer well clear of this hit-or-miss horror anthology series, which underwhelmed the horror-fanboy community when it originally aired on Showtime in 2005 and 2006. But this high-definition Blu-ray Disc, which can be had from online retailers for less than $20, includes both of the series’ high points in a single volume: Joe Dante’s “Homecoming,” about the zombies of Iraq War veterans who rise from the grave to vote the Bush Administration out of office; and Takashi Miike’s nutty “Imprint,” which I reviewed last year. Neither one is a masterpiece, but they’re both well worth watching if you’re a horror fan, and right now you can get them in high-definition for less than they’d cost on standard DVDs. The third and fourth segments, “Chocolate” from director Mick Garris and “Haeckel’s Tale” from director John McNaughton, are forgettable, but essentially free with the purchase.
Buy it from Amazon.com: Masters of Horror: Season 1, Vol. 4 [Blu-ray]
Moolaadé (New Yorker)
One of my great blind spots is African cinema, specifically the films of Senegal’s late Ousmane Sembene. I plan to start catching up with this, his 2004 film dealing with female circumcision. Yeah, I know. But Scott Foundas, in the LA Weekly, calls it “quite possibly the most buoyant,
exuberant film ever made on such an unpleasant topic.” Looking forward to it. I think.
Buy it from Amazon.com: Moolaadé
Two-Lane Blacktop (Criterion)
I’ve had this on my to-do list forever, and the release of a new Criterion DVD seems like a good opportunity to mark it off. James Taylor and Dennis Wilson (!) star. “The plot is so thin it barely exists,” says Dennis Lim in the Los Angeles Times, “but Two-Lane Blacktop exerts a hypnotic power all the same.”
Buy it from Amazon.com: Two-Lane Blacktop
Styx: Caught in the Act (Live)
Just want to say that of all the music videos I devoured when I was in high school — including stuff like 9012LIVE (directed by Steven Soderbergh!), Billy Joel Live on Long Island, and that Duran Duran compilation that led with the uncut “Girls on Film” video directed by Godley & Creme — this is the one that I would least like to revisit as a grown adult.
Buy it from Amazon.com: Styx: Caught In The Act (Live)