Pick Of The Week: New
Magic Mike (Warner Bros.)
Just the existence of Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh’s male stripper movie, is cheering enough, given that the Gentleman’s Club-to-Chippendales ratio on film is approximately a billion to one. Despite Channing Tatum’s ascendency as a Hollywood star and the presence of charismatic beefcake Matthew McConaughey in support, Soderbergh only got $7 million to make the film—a clear sign that major studios will spend heedlessly to attract a male audience, but don’t trust that women will show up to movies that might appeal to them. $113.7 million later, Magic Mike is the sleeper hit of the summer, a funny and playful backstage (and onstage) look at a Tampa club that doubles as a stealth companion piece to Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience, another movie about people selling their bodies in a down economy. The bad news about the DVD/BD? No Soderbergh commentary track.
Pick Of The Week: Retro
Sunday Bloody Sunday (Criterion)
“You don’t have to lay an egg to know what it tastes like,” film critic Pauline Kael once said, defending her profession. But Kael’s contemporary at The New Yorker, Penelope Gilliatt, laid a pretty good one with her script for 1971’s Sunday Bloody Sunday, John Schlesinger’s forward-thinking follow-up to Midnight Cowboy. Chronicling the painful fallout from the love triangle involving a young artist (Murray Head) and the man (Peter Finch) and woman (Glenda Jackson) who love him, the film was far ahead of its time for its mature examination of polyamory and still looks great 40 years later. Schlesinger didn’t survive to contribute to this Criterion edition, but the features include an illustration of a 1975 audio interview. Full review to come next week.
Don’t Break The Seal
Tyler Perry’s Witness Protection (Lionsgate)
Eugene Levy and Denise Richards play husband and wife in Tyler Perry’s latest crapfest. That might sound strange on the surface, but it gets stranger: Richards would seem to be typecast as the gold-digging trophy wife to Levy’s rich corporate executive, but in fact she’s utterly devoted to this man 24 years her senior and they can presumably resume their vigorous sex lives in the viewer’s imagination once Levy’s legal troubles are over. The convoluted plot has Perry’s Madea character protecting Levy and his family from the mob after he agrees to testify against them in a money-laundering case. The featurettes on the DVD/BD are short and Madea-centric.
Blade Runner: 30th Anniversary Collector’s Edition (Warner Bros.)
Hey collectors: Time to throw out those crappy “Ultimate Collector’s Edition 25th Anniversary” DVDs—not to mention the super-crappy director’s cut and theatrical cut DVDs of the past—and lay down some cash on one of the new collector’s edition Blu-rays. We mean that only half-sarcastically: It’s annoying to be told that an “ultimate collector’s edition” is garbage five years later, but the three-disc BD has five different cuts of Blade Runner (including the workprint cut), plus a 1000-plus image HD stills archive, and a fancy booklet full of photos and production art. And the four-disc version, for just $20 more, will make sure fans never watch anything else again.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Fox)
Sure, it’s not likely to get as much respect as Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Lincoln biopic with Daniel Day-Lewis, nor will it likely deserve as much respect, either, but this slick, silly alternate history about Lincoln the vampire slayer is still a film. And isn’t that enough? (Short answer: No.)
Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (Universal)
What would happen if the world was coming to an end and people knew roughly when it was going to happen? In Abel Ferrara’s 4:44 Last Day On Earth, the answer is “bicker and order Chinese delivery.” The exceedingly mild Seeking A Friend takes a broader view that’s nonetheless insufficient and unimaginative, though cameos by funny people like Rob Corddry, Gillian Jacobs, Patton Oswalt, and others give it a lift.
The Ambassador (Alamo)
For his last film, The Red Chapel, Danish documentary provocateur Mads Brügger and two Danish-Korean collaborators posed as a theater troupe in order to enter and perform in North Korea. That would seem like an impossible act of follow, but The Ambassador finds Brügger in the Central African Republic inquiring, in his Borat-like way, about becoming a blood-diamond smuggler.
Take This Waltz (Magnolia)
Sarah Polley’s follow-up to Away From Her tries to complicate rom-com formula by adding idiosyncrasies to the love triangle between a married couple (Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen) and a neighbor (Luke Kirby) that encroaches on their relationship, but it doesn’t add up.
Fear And Desire (Kino)
Stanley Kubrick hated his first feature, a shoestring B&W war adventure, but apologists and completists feel otherwise. Who’s right?