If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Even though I've always been a huge fan of "The Three Musketeers", for some reason, I've never gotten around to any version of author Alexander Dumas' OTHER most famous work until now. There have been no less than 11 versions of this book made into films, and lots of sequels, spin-offs, and renamed adaptations, but this is the 2002 version with Jim Caviezel in the titular role, and as a first-timer to the story, it completely swept me into its world of adventure, swashbuckling, love, and long-simmering revenge. Guy Pierce plays the Count's former best friend/current betrayer and nemesis, fully devoted to the character's sliminess, and Richard Harris makes a great mentor for the imprisoned Caviezel. I don't want to say too much if you've never read/seen the story yourself, but there's a reason why it's considered a classic.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The Count of Monte Cristo [Blu-ray]
HESHER (Blu-Ray and DVD)
2011's "Hesher" is a hard film to pigeonhole. While it's definitely an indie dramedy of sorts, it's not the sort of indie role you usually see Joseph Gordon-Levitt take on, playing the anarchistic and unpredictable metal head of the title, nor does Natalie Portman, as the uncertain and insecure Nicole, seem to be on comfortably familiar ground. And hell, Rainn Wilson is practically in "Leaving Las Vegas" as far as he seems to be concerned. The story follows the disintegrating remains of a family, barely functional after the death of the mother. Despondent Dad (Wilson) and young T.J. (Devin Brochu) are forced to live with a senile grandmother (Piper Laurie) and life seems to be on hold, like the dust motes floating motionlessly in the dingy home they share. T.J. in an act of random and unfocused, anger, ends up disturbing and ruining the squatting spot of Hesher, so he decides that he's going to live with T.J.s family, and everyone is too far gone in there to put up much of a fight about it. "Hesher" is a coming of age story for T.J., as he has to deal with unrequited feelings for Portman's mousy grocery clerk, anger against his terminally depressed father, and the struggle to become a man being accelerated by having to deal with the often dangerous antics of Hesher, who has more-or-less reluctantly taken on a big brother role, albeit poorly, for the kid. It's not often outright funny per say (except for the clever use of some of the musical cues and metal 'stings'), but it's as unpredictable, original, and interesting as Hesher himself. At least that's what I thought, anyway. Check out the...
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Hesher [Blu-ray]
INCENDIES (Blu-Ray and DVD)
Although this 2010 nominee for Best Foreign Film is Québécoise, it largely takes place in the Middle East, as in order to fulfill the requisites of her estranged mother Nawal's (Lubna Azabal) will, her daughter Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) follows her path backwards to her origins in the East, in order to find, as directed, a brother that Jeanne and her twin (Maxim Gaudette) didn't even know they had. Jeanne has an uphill battle in front of her to get information out of reticent Lebanese Christians and Palestinians (two groups who decidedly don't like each other, to say the least) and an array of dangerous war criminals, and perhaps she would have better off never knowing at all. But, as her mother's goodbye letter says, the truth must be known, no matter how bad it is, and wow...is it bad. Shocking, enormously emotionally complex, and layered as all hell, "Incendies" isn't for general audiences by any means. It's going to intimidate some, anger others, and just plain bore those looking for a fast-paced mystery as the plot description seems to indicate. But there's a remarkable work of art here that's unafraid to challenge its own audience on multiple levels, and maybe not always in a way that's healthy for it as a narrative: it's non-linear structure (it flashes back and forth from Nawal to Jeanne's point of view and with little in the way of warning or transitional elements) is often confusing, reprehensible acts of horror abound, and viewers are asked to find a way to make peace with those things. I'm not sure I'm 'adult' enough to do that, but I think the whole point might be the contemplations that are sure to follow just by the act of asking.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Incendies (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU? (Blu-Ray)
It's been a long time coming, this 2000 Coen Brothers comedy masterpiece on Blu-Ray, and although there's hardly the dearth of extras a title this big deserves, certainly the impressive HD upgrade makes it a must-own. For those of you out there who still haven't gotten around to watching it, "O Brother" is a screwball comedy version of Homer's "The Odyssey" transported to Depression-era times. Ulysses (George Clooney), Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson), and Pete (John Tuturro) are three escaped criminals on the lam who are trying to make it to the money Ulysses hid from an armored car robbery before the valley it's been hidden in is flooded to create a new lake. Along the way they are helped by and opposed by a bizarre variety of characters, themselves based loosely either on Homer's various characters or famous figures from the period in history, most notably Tommy Johnson (Chris Thomas King) who is clearly based on blues forefather Robert Johnson, Stephen Root as the blind owner of a radio station who records the boys singing the unforgettable (and Grammy winning) "Man of Constant Sorrow", and John Goodman as a dangerous one-eyed bible salesman. And don't even get me started on the Sirens. Ah, the Sirens. I could go on and on gushing about all the things that makes "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" as great as it is, but I'd be doing a disservice to those who haven't seen it yet and have waiting in front of them the thrills of the wonderful discoveries within it that lie in wait. Suffice it to say, this new blu is essential whether you're already a fan questioning whether or not to upgrade, or a newcomer.--CLICK HERE TO BUY O Brother, Where Art Thou? [Blu-ray]