Death Proof (Weinstein Company)
OK, boo and hiss to the Weinsteins’ decision not to release the complete, underrated and underpatronized Grindhouse experience to DVD. (At least not yet.) While I’m not sure how Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror will play divorced from its nudge-and-a-wink omnibus context, Death Proof should be a strong experience on its own. Tarantino’s idea of girl talk may be more than a bit indulgent, but he backs it up with one hell of a car chase. And who doesn’t want to see the “missing reel” that includes Vanessa Ferlito giving Kurt Russell a lap dance?
Buy it from Amazon.com: Grindhouse Presents, Death Proof – Extended and Unrated (Two-Disc Special Edition)
The Boss of it All (Genius Products)
It’s not one of Lars Von Trier’s finest accomplishments, but this is a pleasantly insinuating workplace comedy about an actor who’s hired by a company’s CEO to pretend to be the absentee boss, since said executive wants too badly to be liked to cop to his own unpopular decisions. It manages to be some kind of indictment of European capitalism as well as a bleak joke at the expense of Denmark (in a running gag that’s reminiscent of the anti-Danish epithets spouted by characters in Von Trier’s horror miniseries The Kingdom, an Icelandic businessman looking to purchase the company continually makes contemptuous disparaging remarks about the Danes). I thought that the weird, spastic camera style that sometimes leaves actors only partially in-frame, or out of frame altogether, was meant as an imitation or parody of the handheld style of The Office, but it turns out Von Trier shot this with something called Automavision — a sort of computer that controls a camera on a tripod, telling it when to pan, tilt and zoom. Von Trier’s talents don’t tend toward humor, and although he claims this is light comedy, it plays as more of a self-aware Brechtian satire. Not bad at all.
Buy it from Amazon.com: The Boss of It All
Says Melissa Anderson, writing for Time Out New York, “[Director Robinson] Devor uses the verdant Pacific Northwest to make the unimaginable–here, a Boeing executive’s death from a perforated colon after having sex with a horse–seem dreamlike and, at times, astonishingly beautiful.” And Manohla Dargis notes, “… it is precisely because Mr. Devor refuses to acknowledge the murkiness that clings to every frame in his film, because he refuses to engage with the world beyond that of the zoophiles, that they seem like creatures from some never-ending night.” Hmm.
Buy it from Amazon.com: Zoo (Widescreen)
Lucky You (Warner)
Warner Bros. sat on this Vegas-based snoozefest for a year and a half before finally dumping it into theaters as counter-programming against summer juggernauts like Spider-Man 3. That strategy might make sense if Lucky You were the Eric Bana/Drew Barrymore romance the studio is selling. But this is a guy movie, a straightforward, low-key drama about the relationship between estranged father-and-son poker players (Eric Bana as Junior and Robert Duvall as Senior). Billie (Drew Barrymore) is the girlfriend who offers Huck the kind of stability he’s incapable of embracing. And that’s about all there is to it, despite the promise of a father-son showdown at the World Series of Poker. Huck wins big and loses bigger; Billie dumps him until he wins her over (and over) again. It may be impossible for Duvall to give a completely bad performance, but Bana and Barrymore lose their struggle with dialog dominated by increasingly cheesy poker platitudes.
Buy it from Amazon.com: Lucky You