The Top 5 DVD's of the Week 3/30/10

PICK OF THE WEEKSherlock Holmes (DVD/Blu-ray)


It took Guy Richie a lot longer than expected to move from the art house to mainstream entertainment, especially considering that the films that established him were crime stories that played like gangbusters. But I guess that’s what happens when you marry Madonna. Sherlock Holmes was a big fat hit, and it’s got fun lead performances, and not much else. As Jeremy Smith said, it’s a big 1980’s action film for better or worse, but it delivers well enough, and Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law make a good pair of dashing leads. It may be vacuous, but ain’t nothing wrong with that.


RETRO– The Killer (Blu-ray)


The world has moved away from John Woo, and it’s not entirely fair. Woo changed the face of action, and the influx of Hong Kong talent into America made their visual style seem faddish and in some ways it ruined Hong Kong cinema, or at least dilapidated it (there’s also the handover, and some other factors). But when you go back to The Killer, there’s no denying the kinetic energy of this movie and it is Woo at his best. He is simply one of the greatest directors of action, along with Sam Peckinpah, Walter Hill and John McTiernan. This is a film that I watched the first ten minutes of (on video tape, natch), and stopped it so I could get my brother and father. We then watched it in awe, and then I rewound the tape and watched it again. It was and is next-level shit. Unfortunately this release is not full 1080p, but 1080i, which makes this not definitive.


RETRO – Collateral (Blu-ray)


In terms of Michael Mann, this is probably his most commercial movie, and probably his most formulaic, but it’s a marvel of filmmaking regardless. This also falls squarely into the “three good scenes and no bad ones” school of filmmaking. You’ve got the opening short movie with Jamie Foxx and Jada Pinket-Smith (and that glorious Groove Armada cue), you’ve got the scene where Foxx pretends to be a hit man in front of Javier Bardem, and you’ve got the shoot out in the Korean nightclub where Tom Cruise takes out a number of people to techno music. On top of the scene where Cruise and Foxx go visit Foxx’s mother in the hospital. Or perhaps the best exchange of the film: “You killed him!” “No, I shot him, the bullets and the fall killed him.” The ending - from the car crash to the credits – there is a sense of  “okay, well” but it works, and feels right, even more so than the ending of Mann’s Heat, which similarly has its leads in what amounts to a western stand-off. It’s also one of Tom Cruise’s best performances, and even if you found him to be obnoxious, none of that matters here, because it’s such brilliant against-type casting.


NEWSteven Seagal Lawman: The Complete First Season (DVD)


Do you need a reason to buy this?


NEW – Smash Cut (DVD)


I’m going to say something shocking: People like watching porn. Who would guess? And when Sasha Grey made The Girlfriend Experience, it gave the media a chance to take one of porn’s pinkest poodles and put her on display. But – like most instances of this – Grey as a sex object had more appeal than Grey as an actor or person, and I’m sure more people have seen Grey rogered than they did her mainstream debut. Grey will surely continue acting in films like Smash Cut, though – like Lindsay Lohan at this point – the curiosity factor may be very marginal if she isn’t inserting something phallic into one or more of her orifices. Grey knows exactly what she is, and doesn’t seem to be as clueless as most porn stars are portrayed (there was a rash of documentaries about porn stars at the turn of the century that suggested misguided and sad women who wrecked their bodies, etc.), but filmed porn as a legal business has been with us for forty years now, and there have been more and more women in the industry who seem okay with getting filmed doing explicit sex acts and taking the cash, and such may lead not to sad ends, but a life of leisure with good stock options and a healthy portfolio. It’s good for her, and for society as a whole – all things – but as for her mainstream art, the jury’s still out.

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