If it's crap ... We'll tell you
THE HITMAN DIARIES: CHARLIE VALENTINE (DVD)
Does this title indicate further hitmen diaries to follow? Believe it or not, I hope so, because director Jesse Johnson's direct-to-dvd crime thriller is, budgetary restraints notwithstanding, pretty darn tight. Raymond J Barry plays the (sub)title role, an old mob guy who wants to retire with one last job, but badly bungles it. Since the job involved ripping off a big mob boss, you know he's gotta beat feet. He goes on the run and hooks up with his estranged son (Michael Weatherly) who is a small-time thug and aspires to be like his old man...to his detriment. This thing has some pretty cool twists and turns, really well done (but shockingly violent) action sequences, and even a fantastic performance from Barry and Weatherly's own boss (Steven Bauer). It's well worth a look for folks who like a good story along with their excessive bloodshed.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The Hitmen Diaries: Charlie Valentine
MOULIN ROUGE (Blu-Ray)
This is one of those titles that came out this week that made me make a high-pitched 'squee' noise when I got it in the mail. Yes...I'm one of those folks, falling on the 'love it' side on this Baz Luhrmann musical that passionately divides viewers, perhaps more so than any other film. Ewan McGregor is Christian, a young author, fresh to the lovably sinful wonders of the Moulin Rouge in France at the turn of the century (the previous one). He's dazzled by its displays of wanton delights run by the colorful Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent) but none of it sends him into anywhere near as much of a tizzy as its centerpiece, the luscious courtesan and dancer, Satine (Nicole Kidman). The experienced performer is jaded to the attentions of love-struck men, but Christian's heartfelt arguments for love over commerce end up winning her heart. Unfortunately for them, she's promised to a calculating rich duke (Richard Roxburgh) who is in a position to close down the dance hall if he doesn't get his way. Filled with medleys of modern songs all altered to fit the musical atmosphere of the film, "Rouge" is amongst the most stunning visual and audio treats ever set to film, chaotically intoxicating to the last...at least in my book. For those who share the same reading habits, this new edition's transfer was personally overseen by the director, right from the original negatives, and it looks and sounds Spectacular Spectacular on Blu. Add to that ALL KINDS of new never-before-seen footage, a PIP track, and even all the ported over DVD stuff has been upgraded to HD. Essential.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Moulin Rouge! [Blu-ray]
NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (Blu-Ray and DVD)
I feel like less of a buff and more of a horror buffoon for never having seen the cult classic original version of this film that came out in 1988. And now, after having watched this remake, I wish I had waited and watched the original first. The story follows a group of cantankerous sex-crazed young folks who get locked into an old house after the Halloween party being thrown there by entrepreneur Angela (Shannon Elizabeth) gets shut down by the cops. Turns out, every Halloween night, some demons, who were so bad they were actually kicked out of hell, get a chance to possess anyone in the house, and if they get seven, hell's a poppin'. "Night of the Demons" scores big at points with the creative and well-done gore, but it's not even mildly frightening. Director Adam Gierasch simply tries too hard to make it into a rock 'n' roll affair, swamping the action with loud (and often bad) metal and punk tunes, and while that might have worked for "Return of the Living Dead", it's just irritating here, even if you DO feature a Linnea Quigley cameo and use a song by 45 Grave. It's all rather colorful, in this world of elaborate Halloween parties and all of its women who carry around gigantic milk factories on their chests, but it's not a teensy bit clever. Let me put it this way: Edward Furlong is in it. Yeah. Furlong AND Elizabeth. The only scary thing about this film is how direct-to-dvd it is merely by the casting decisions.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Night of the Demons [Blu-ray]
Now you wanna talk about a party film...well...okay, a stoner party, to be sure, but DisneyNature's new HD release of their documentary "Oceans", for those purposes, is superlative. Let's be clear: this Pierce Brosnan narrated film is virtually useless for someone looking for a documentary that's going to impart some useful information about what goes on under the sea. Much like their previous effort, "Earth", this one is speaking to the younger kids, trying to impart a sense of wonder in them, hopefully leading to them becoming oceanographers or scientists or something, instead of what I fear this entire generation of children currently aspire to be when they're grown: reality television stars. I found "Earth" to be on the dull side, but let's face it...the oceans are way cooler, weirder, and generally, trippy as hell. Disney, in the tradition of their light and fluffy documentaries of decades past, has an admirable goal and their new team is getting much better at it as they go. And besides, I just ordered this XL pizza because I KNOW I'm gonna NEED it about half way through watching this again. For you folks asking about what's so great about the home version, there's some neat 'live blu-ray' features with new docs popping up to watch on the first of every month. Neat stuff, that.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Disneynature: Oceans (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)