Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: DVD Roundup - Two Hits and a Misfire Worth Taking Note Of

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

DVD Roundup - Two Hits and a Misfire Worth Taking Note Of

In the seventies, it was Woody Allen (Annie Hall). In the eighties, it was the Abraham and Zucker Brothers (Airplane!) crew. In the nineties, it was the Farrelly Brothers (There's Something About Mary). So far, 21st century American comedic cinema has been the domain of Judd Apatow and his repertory. While Apatow's other 2008 releases (Drillbit Taylor, Pineapple Express, and Step Brothers) suggest that he and his company may be starting to spread themselves a little thin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall helps bolster his claim to the comedy throne. Like two of his earlier successes, The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005), and Knocked Up (2007), this film mixes the romantically relatable (Jason Segel's ill-advised decision to stay in Hawaii even after discovering ex-girlfriend Kristen Bell is also there) with the hilariously profane (just about anything concerning scene-stealer Russell Brand). The results are that it comes off feeling a lot kinder to its characters than either film, and even a little funnier than Knocked Up, if not the home run that Virgin ended up with when it was at bat. Segel not only stars in it, but wrote the sweet-hearted screenplay that makes this one an instant classic definitely worth adding to the DVD collection. Another famous director lending his name to film productions, Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), might want to think again before lending it to movies such as Hell Ride. Written and directed by Larry Bishop, whose biggest claim to fame is the fact that he is the son of the late Rat Pack-er Joey Bishop, the film tries to hit the clever Tarantino tone with its pseudo-hard-boiled dialogue. Only Bishop ain't no Tarantino as the following lines poor Leonor Varela (Blade II) is saddled with demonstrate:
Wanna f--k? Trust me, after I give you the bad news, you ain't gonna wanna f--k. Ever. Again. F--k me good one more time before you never wanna f--k again. I'm the messenger of misery, baby. Let's f--k first, then I'll deliver my miserable message.
And how did Bishop get Varela to appear in this film? How did he get David Carradine, Dennis Hopper, Vinnie Jones, and Michael Madsen to appear in this overwrought and underwritten tale of "bikers, brotherhood, and bulls--t"? Maybe it's the Tarantino connection, or the Rat Pack one. Either way, Hell Ride is definitely trading on someone's name and it isn't Larry Bishop's. For true biker fans, forget this DVD, and catch the cult hit Sons of Anarchy on FX. You'll thank me for it. A recent classic film finally made its debut on DVD this year. Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) is about the development of a touching relationship between two cellmates in a fictional South American country. Political prisoner Valentin Arregui is played by the late Raul Julia, a signature role that he is probably best remembered for. Flamboyantly gay Luis Molina is played by William Hurt, a role which he won the Oscar for. As Arregui is tortured through the course of the film, he grows accustomed to listening Molina tell the story of a romantic movie he once saw. The fact that it takes place in a fascistic idea of the perfect society becomes secondary to the safe harbor it proves to be to Julia's revolutionary idealist through his painful stay in prison. Hurt is mesmerizing as Molina, presenting a well-rounded gay man at a time when homosexual characters were rare in mainstream cinema, and certainly absent among Oscar-winning roles for actors. Molina is kind, funny, intelligent, charismatic, deceptive, and most importantly, all too human. The film is worth a second look considering its relevancy to current events.

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