If it's crap ... We'll tell you
ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (Blu-Ray)
This is one of those titles I was offered for review that I'd never heard of, but fuck it: it's science fiction, it's a Criterion Collection Blu-Ray, and it even has Adam West in it to boot. For about five minutes it has Adam West, but Batman beggars can't be choosers, I suppose. Byron Haskin, who famously directed "War of the Worlds", made this retelling of the original Robinson Crusoe novel in 1964. It's pretty much the same exact same story, just substitute "Mars" for "Island" and add in a 'need to figure out how to keep breathing' issue, a seriously irritated monkey, and multiply by ridiculously bad science to the nth power (its original theatrical poster touted it as 'scientifically accurate', lol), and you've got this fun and colorful slice of classic, yet very silly, sixties sci-fi. And because it's Criterion, it looks and sounds great, and there's some fun bonus features, like a clips music video to a song that Victor Lundin (who played "Friday" in the film) regularly performed at sci-fi conventions about the film (it's gloriously awful), commentary by the actors and crew, and a comparative look at the 'science' of the film as opposed to ACTUAL science. They should put that extra in the "Left Behind" movies as well.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Robinson Crusoe on Mars (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
TOP SHOT - SEASON ONE (DVD)
Oh History Channel, you do SO amuse me with your shows that you somehow manage to squeeze under the increasingly loose definition you use for the word, 'historical'. Now add Reality Shows into the growing list of questionable interpretations of the term that they've uncomfortably crammed into their line-up. The show features some nobody from a more popular reality show (Colby Donaldson, who didn't even win on his show) acting as host to two teams of gun nuts who are gradually eliminated from competition in a series of shooting contests until only one probably mentally unbalanced contestant is left. Whee. I mean, I like to go shoot guns as much as the next guy (I do live in Texas, remember?) but this is just a bizarre experiment in trying to make reality television even more dull than it already is. But, I suppose, what's more American than combining their #1 favorite form of televised entertainment with their #1 favorite Constitutionally protected hobby? Shouldn't Glen Beck be hosting this?
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Top Shot: The Complete Season One
ANIMAL KINGDOM (Blu-Ray and DVD)
I still don't get what all the fuss is about. Once again, Korey and I found ourselves on opposing sides about this 2010 Australian crime film that to me was just dull, and to him (and, to be fair, a good amount of other critics as well) was completely gripping. I don't know about "Goodfellas" as the box cover announces as a fair comparison, but I'll hand it to you that I might just not have been in the mood. James Frecheville plays a monotonously stoic kid who, after the heroin overdose of his mother, has to go live with his Aunt (Jacki Weaver, who is definitely the best thing in the film and got a Best Supporting Actress nod for the role) and her family who are all criminals, the oldest one of whom is currently in hiding from some definitely not by-the-book police who are looking for him. The story here is certainly compelling enough, but director David Michôd's style is considerably too dry and imitatively 'cinema verite' for my tastes, Frecheville plays his part so flatly as to evoke no interest in his character whatsoever, and its tragedy I found entirely unsympathetic. But don't take my word for it: it's at 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and won a slew of prizes. I've been wrong before, I'll be wrong again. Whatever. I'm gonna go watch "Young Justice".
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Animal Kingdom [Blu-ray]
A WOMAN, A GUN, AND A NOODLE SHOP (Blu-Ray and DVD)
I actually got to see this neat Chinese remake of the Coen Brothers movie "Blood Simple" this year in the theater, but we never got around to recording a review for it. Acclaimed director Zhang Yimou, who you might know from his films "Hero" or "Raise the Red Lantern" takes the twisty little murder film, and moves its setting to a small noodle shop in a desert town in, um, some time long before now. Predictably, it's a gorgeous looking affair, as Yimou fills the drab desert world with unexpectedly bright colors and is not miserly with his inventive use of filters and camera work. Much has been made of his choice to turn the story into more of a screwball comedy, and not all commentary on such has been positive, but with the exception of some stuff that's obviously too culturally based to resonate here, AWAGAANS (what, you didn't think I was gonna write it out again, did you?) succeeds both in it's laughs and, just like in the original, in its abrupt dark turn in the final third. Hey, even the Coens loved it!
--CLICK HERE TO BUY A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop [Blu-ray]