Archive for the ‘New on DVD’ Category

“EXPORTING RAYMOND” (Available Aug. 2 )

When “Everybody Loves Raymond” ended its run after nine years and 210 episodes, creator Phil Rosenthal began thinking about whether his TV show about a bickering but basically loving middle-class family might translate to other cultures.

After all, “The Nanny” became a hit in Europe with casts of various nationalities. Why not “Raymond”?

With that in mind Rosenthal agreed to help a Russian TV network develop its own version of “Raymond.” Rosenthal brought along a video crew to document the progress, and the result is “Exporting Raymond,” a fish-out-of-water real-life comedy in which the Hollywood mover and shaker gets a sobering lesson in how the rest of the world operates.

"Everybody Loves Kostya"...the Russian "Raymond"

OK, I don’t want to make Rosenthal seem like some sort of boorish Tinsel Town heavy hitter. (more…)

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"Zonad"...it's not another "Once"

“Zonad” (Now available)

Everybody who follows pop music has heard of the one-hit wonder.

Same thing can happen in movies.

A couple of years back Irish filmmaker John Carney had an international hit with “Once,” a modest mini-musical about a Dublin street busker who falls for an immigrant girl.

They end up making beautiful music together…so beautiful that “Once” won the Oscar for best original song.

I loved “Once”; thought it may have been the year’s most satisfying film.

But Carney’s followup, just out on DVD, suggests that “Once” was indeed a one-time-only deal.


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Lambert Wilson and Michael Lonsdale in "Of Gods and Men"

“OF GODS AND MEN” (Now available)

Terrific movie.
Infuriating DVD packaging.

“Of Gods and Men” is one of the year’s finest films. This French release, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes last year, centers on the monks of the Tibehirine Monastery in Algeria’s Atlas Mountains, who in 1996 were abducted by Islamic revolutionaries then waging war against the government.

Several months later the monks’ severed heads were returned to the monastery for burial.

Happily, this isn’t a film about dying. Rather, Xavier Beauvois has made a movie about living. (more…)

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Rutger Hauer goes postal in "Hobo with a Shotgun"

“HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN” (Available July 5)

Is it a good bad movie? A bad good movie?

“Hobo with a Shotgun” muddies the distinctions.

It’s based on a fan-created faux trailer that won Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse Trailer Contest, which means that from the outset this tale of a hobo (Rutger Hauer) who single-handedly cleans up a corrupt, crime-riddled city is packed with over-the-top violence and bad (deliberately so, one hopes) acting.

After all, the Grindhouse concept embraces the lurid tackiness (more…)

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Carla Gugino and Timothy Olyphant in "Elektra Luxx"

“ELEKTRA LUXX” (Now available)

I’ll watch Carla Gugino in anything (“Spy Kids” movies excepted); apparently I’m not alone in this.

Which may account for the straight-to-video success of 2009’s “Women in Trouble” and now this sequel, “Elektra Luxx.”

Both comedies feature Gugina — ravishing in blond wig and cleavage-challenging fashions — as Elektra Luxx, a legendary porn star. This new entry finds Elektra retired from the skin game and pregnant with the baby of a recently deceased rock star.

The films — both directed by Sebastian Gutierrez — are story thin and smarm rich. Basically they’re a series of loosely-related comic episodes (more…)

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“DELIVER US FROM EVIL”   (Available June 28)

This gritty Scandinavian thriller clearly was inspired by Sam Peckinpah’s seminal “Straw Dogs” (which, perhaps not coincidentally, is the subject of an American  remake set for September release).

It begins as a sort of dysfunctional family drama. Johannes (Lasse Rimmer) is a well-to-do lawyer who has returned to his small hometown in Jutland’s lowlands. He’s got a sexy wife, a couple of kids and lots of big-city ideas that the brutish locals find amusing and somewhat irritating.

Among these primitives is Johannes’ ne’er-do-well brother Lars (Jens Andersen), an over-the-road trucker who, while fumbling with a cell phone, drives over a local woman. Hiding her body near the highway, (more…)

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“ERASING DAVID” (Available June 28)

In this hugely thought-provoking doc from Britain, filmmaker David Bond kisses his child and pregnant wife goodbye and attempts to disappear.

His goal: to elude for one full month a pair of  professional investigators  he’s hired to track him down.

For anyone who has ever though it might be cool to simply pack it all in and live off the information grid, “Erasing David” will be a sobering reality check. (more…)

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A balloon the size of a football stadium will lift the BLAST telescope array above Earth's atmosphere to photograph deep space.

The science is hands on and way out there in two recent documentaries just out on DVD:

“BLAST!”:  The title stands for “balloon-bourne large aperture submillimeter telescope” which, I’ll grant you, doesn’t sound all that sexy.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Paul Devlin’s documentary is about a group of astrophysicists who hope to photograph deep space by using a massive balloon — it’s the size of a football stadium — to lift a sophisticated telescope above our atmosphere. There it can drift for several days, taking pictures of parts of our universe never before seen.

Most of the team members — professionals and grad students — hail from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Toronto.

Devlin’s film follows months of preparation as the telescope is hand crafted. Then his cameras tag along (more…)

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“God Went Surfing with the Devil”

The surfing documentary has been a cinema staple ever since Bruce Brown’s “Endless Summer” back in 1966, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like “God Went Surfing with the Devil,” professional skateboarder Alexander Klein’s heady blend of Middle Eastern politics and wave-catching abandon.

Klein’s doc follows activists with Surfing4Peace who are attempting to do their small part for world peace by shepherding a shipment of surfboards into Gaza. They envision Arab enthusiasts joining their Jewish counterparts in riding the waves of Gaza’s sandy beaches.

Sounds like an easy enough task, (more…)

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For a long time gay cinema had basically one story: the coming-out tale.

But the liberalization of public attitudes about homosexuality (for most people under age 40 it’s simply not an issue) has meant that a “gay movie” now can be many things.

At the center of the Peruvian feature “Undertow” (on DVD May 31) is a same-sex relationship, but you’d be doing the picture a disservice by pigeonholing it as a gay movie.

Writer/director Javier Fuentes-Leon packs this feature with all sorts of good stuff. It’s a very realistic (more…)

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