An ongoing attempt to make sense of the onslaught of new swag that people want you to buy. Should you? I’ll try and help.
My main problem with Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd is that I want to know what he’s got against the chorus. I mean, honestly, he stripped all the chorus parts out of the musical. And I’ll just say this for the cast: if Depp and Carter were singers as good as they are actors, then the movie would have been amazing. Let’s just leave it at that. Actually, no, I’ll just say one more thing: standout of the “known” players? Sacha Baron Cohen. Hands down. This two-disc set, out from DreamWorks, is reasonably outfitted, although there’s no commentary. You get a behind-the-scenes bit, a historical featurette, a featurette on London, a featurette on the original musical, and more. Not bad, but I would love a commentary, if not from Burton, then at least from Colleen Atwood and Dante Ferretti, the costume and production designers. Because Burton’s films are never, ever hard to look at. As long as you’re good with pale people wearing lots of black. But that’s Burton. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
Cloverfield is headed for DVD and it’s good to see a new giant monster movie set in the U.S., shakycam or not. But then again, the shakycam from Blair Witch didn’t bother me, so maybe I’m not a good judge of such things. That’s right, shakycam is fine, but if I try to read in the car? Oh man, just kill me. Anyway, Abrams’ movie monster. While some have been unhappy with the handling of the monster I just think conceptually it’s fascinating enough to warrant at least a rental. And I do agree that we could have done with a bit less talking and more splode. But hey, at least this monster didn’t magically change sizes! I’m looking at you, Sony Godzilla. This Paramount release comes with deleted scenes, alternate endings, outtakes, a making-of bit, featurettes and a commentary from director Matt Reeves, plus more. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
The thing that drew me to Middletown, out on DVD from BFS Entertainment, is Matthew Macfadyen. Most people probably know him from one of the most recent Pride & Prejudice adaptations, but for me he’s Tom Quinn from Spooks (MI-5 on this side of the pond). In this, he plays a priest who’s returned home after a long stint of missionary work away. Trouble is, he’s a bit of an extremist when it comes to sin and whatnot, putting him at odds with his father, brother and sister-in-law. The film works on the strength of its performances, and it’s good that they’re strong, because there’s not much else going on here. Fans of the actors might want to rent. No special features. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan’s big heavy book on John Landis is dense with content and relatively light on pictures. So a lot of its heft is due to the interviews with the likes of David Cronenberg, Joe Dante (whose section is called “When Someone’s Idea of Anarchy Wasn’t Fucking a Pie”), Dan Aykroyd, the Zucker Brothers, Harold Ramis and scads more. But that’s what you’d expect with a book written by a full-on film historian. Of course, the pics that are here, some of them are from Landis’ personal collection, so that’s excellent. And Landis is just such an excellent subject–I’ve enjoyed his films for years and also enjoyed his attitude. As I’ve noted before, he can discuss grisly movies with such boyish glee that it’s positively endearing, if nothing else for the thought, “Man, you like this stuff even more than I do. Well, damn!” This is out from M Press. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)
From that book to another book that has scads of art (and it’s what a fan would want), it’s Unfilitered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi. And I know a lot of people give his Lord of the Rings shit, but man, when I was kid I only barely knew what rotoscoping was. And didn’t care, because there were dudes with swords fighting orcs. Rock. On. Of course, it’s a shame that what most people know him for is given such short shrift in the book. Probably due to rights issues, but there’s art all around Rings but no art from the film itself, to the point where I thought I had missed something. That being said, it’s a great book for Bakshi fans as it covers everything else fairly extensively. Hardback out from Universe Books. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)