I recently found the following quote from actress Marley Shelton (she’s terrific as the creepy nurse with the blonde hair and black eye make-up) that explained a thing or two about Planet Terror: “[Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino]
really co-directed, at least Planet Terror. Quentin was on set a lot.
He had notes and adjustments to our performances and he changed lines
every once in a while. Of course, he always deferred to Robert on Planet Terror and vice versa for Death Proof. So it’s really both of
their brainchild.“ So that’s why I enjoyed Planet Terror, oh, an order of magnitude more than anything else I’ve seen that Rodriguez directed! (Happy note: according to reviews, the “missing reel” gag—one of the best laughs I’ve ever had in a movie theater—is still missing from the film on this DVD.)
Buy it from Amazon.com: Grindhouse Presents, Planet Terror – Extended and Unrated (Two-Disc Special Edition)
A Mighty Heart (Paramount)
OK, the world may well have been suffering from Angelina Jolie fatigue when it decided to ignore this Iraq-War-themed drama en masse, but that title was a big mistake. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m thinking there’s no way a freaking Michael Winterbottom movie lives up to the movie-of-the-week cum Hallmark card suggested by those words. Says Walter Chaw of the director, “I think he’s amazing even when he fails.” This is almost certainly worth a look.
Buy it from Amazon.com: A Mighty Heart or A Mighty Heart [HD DVD]
I had to chuckle when I saw the highlighted “User Comment” for this at IMDb: “Don’t shy away from Transformers …. this is in no way a kids’ movie.” Are we so debased as a cinemagoing society that even the most chowderheaded among us can gesture in the direction of the new Michael Bay movie and declare it cinema for grownups? Spare me. Transformers is nothing if not a kids’ movie. That’s its great accomplishment. It is, for a good portion of its running time, very nearly a gloriously silly adventure film about a boy and his first car (which happens to be a shape-shifting robot from outer space). The good bits of Transformers are so good that I really do wish Bay hadn’t sent it off the rails in the final reels with a massive rock-em-sock-em sequence that’s staged and executed on such a scale that it’s not just hard to tell what’s going on, but almost impossible to figure out how Shia LaBeouf can possibly have skin in such an oversized robot smackdown. (And alleged looker Megan Fox is so stiff and interchangable with any other babe du jour she may as well have been cast as a robot.) Still some good fun to be had, especially if you like VFX movies (a genre in which this is state-of-the-fucking-art), up until the point where Bay stops the action for a shampoo-commercial quality slo-mo glam shot.
The Reaping (Warner)
Back in April, for the White Plains Times, I wrote, “The Reaping is a remarkably straight-faced yarn with a largely nondescript cast led by two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as a former minister turned professional miracle-debunker who’s called in to investigate a river turned red with human blood. It’s surprisingly well-photographed, but in the end you’re still stuck with the story, which is a too-elaborate bait-and-switch involving a local girl who may or may not have killed her brother. Unsurprisingly, the film culminates in Swank’s rehabilitation from atheism.” The visual effects are pretty nice — but if you like this sort of thing, odds are you’ve seen this sort of thing before.