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Here’s a true win-win situation. Director Steven Soderbergh, whose latest (last?) film Behind the Candelabra premieres May 26 on HBO, has taken to the web to do some good. He’s launched a site called Extension 765 where you can buy original props from films like Ocean’s Eleven, Ché, Traffic and Erin Brockovich with all proceeds going to the Children’s Aid Society of New York. He’s also selling his original photography, many of which are tests from the same films, also for the charity.

Everything is rather pricey, of course, but you’d get a one-of-a-kind item while also doing some good. Read More »

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This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

Rent It

GAMER
The ADD-infused style that suited writers/directors Neveldine/Taylor so well on the Crank films doesn’t quite work to their benefit in Gamer, a futuristic sci-fi action flick which exposes their shortcomings as filmmakers. The film is a mess, blundering through one set piece to the next, with little sense of what the film as a whole is trying to achieve. There’s something to be said for energy and enthusiasm though, of which they clearly have plenty. The movie remains watchable even when you’re not exactly sure what it is that you’re watching. The mindlessness of the action is balanced against a scathing, cynical depiction of what the world has become, and that angle provides the film with just enough to help separate it from the hordes of other futuristic sci-fi actioners that it so clearly evokes. Also, it has Rocky Balboa’s son playing a character named Rick Rape, and a musical number featuring Michael C. Hall. So, yeah… it has that going for it.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – An audio commentary with writers/directors Neveldine/Taylor and actors Amber Valletta, Alison Lohman, and Terry Crews, an Inside the Game multi-part making-of documentary, a First Person Shooter: The Evolution of Red featurette, and a never-before-seen theatrical trailer cut by the filmmakers. Blu-ray – Includes everything on the DVD, as well as an I-Con Mode interactive feature, Gamer Cheat Codes (interactive specialized scene-specific audio and video commentary accessible throughout the film), and a digital copy of the film.

BEST DVD PRICE
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Amazon – $16.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
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$22.99 $22.99 $22.77
Amazon – $22.99

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soderbergh-1

Yesterday a tipster wrote in to Jeff Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere to say that Steven Soderbergh is going to direct a play for Cate Blanchett’s theatre company in Sydney, Australia. And, indeed, on the Sydney Theatre Co website there’s a small printed exchange between Blanchett and Andrew Upton, the co-creative directors for the company, announcing an untitled stage project. Details and more after the break. Read More »

Weeds Season 5 Trailer

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Note: This post contains spoilers from the prior season. With the season finale of AMC’s crystal-meth drama, Breaking Bad, airing this Sunday, the season premiere of Showtime‘s Weeds arrives right in time to [insert a tired pun for TV addiction]. Scheduled for June 8th, season five finds Mary Louise Parker‘s drug-dealing California mom/widow, Nancy Botwin, pregnant with the child of Esteban (Che‘s Demián Bichir). In keeping with Nancy’s breezy who-needs-a-plan-or-a-401K style, the baby was a surprise. That would be fine if Esteban, a mayor in Mexico, wasn’t a control-freak lording over an elaborate black market of cocaine, firearms and human traffic.

Oh yeah, and Nancy and Esteban both know that she narc’d on his operation to the DEA, so the baby may or may not be her lifeline. In an unexpected bit of casting, Alanis Morrissette, will play her obstetrician in more than half the episodes this season. The latest promo trailer is after the break. It emphasizes the long-going mixture of gritty dead-end plotlines and la-la-la grace and humor that makes Weeds enticing and fun, yet famously imbalanced.

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UPDATE: 09/10/08: IFC ultimately purchased the domestic rights to Che, not Magnolia Pictures. It will run for one week in December, and then be released in January via on-demand.

Word from the TIFF via the NY Post is that Steven Soderbergh‘s $60 million 4-hour-plus Che Guevara biopic, Che, has finally been picked up by Mark Cuban’s Magnolia Pictures for a U.S. theatrical release. Take note: the company has chimed in and called the deal “premature,” though no denials have been issued. If so, we’ll update accordingly.

It’s speculated online by the NYP‘s Lou Lemnick and others that Magnolia will release the film—re: not films?—this December to qualify for the Oscar race. So, this means Che, or its two-part presentation, The Argentine and Guerilla, will not likely hit theaters in 2008 beyond NYC and L.A. However, Lemnick does hear that they’re “already booking theaters.”

Until now, many speculated that HBO would pick up the (so far) moderately divisive Benicio Del Toro-starrer for an exclusive premiere on television. Slashfilm’s editorial crew has remained hopeful of a theatrical release since Cannes. Peter favored a release for Che, while I thought the film would find more eyes and exposure as a two-part event a la Kill Bill. Of course, we’re talking four hours of heavy subtitles and history not generally taught in American high schools, so it’s a challenge either way. I do hope Magnolia targets demographics beyond the prestige-pic crowd.

Discuss: Would you prefer to see Che with an intermission or released separately as two parts? Do you think the film’s box office chances are nil? How should Magnolia market the film to get the biggest audience?

Che Bootleg Trailer

A bootleg trailer for Stephen Soderbergh’s two part Che Guevara biopic Che has hit the interwebs. The Benicio Del Toro film which premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival in May has yet to find a domestic distributor. It certainly seems like a hard sell, especially as two films. I think I’d rather see a four-hour cut the combines both films. Check out the trailer below in it’s dark flickery goodness. And as always, tell me what you think in the comments.

 

Che

Today, director Steven Soderbergh‘s four hour subtitled Che Guevera biopic, Che (presented as two films entitled The Argentine and Guerilla) premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Online, critical reception is already momentously loud and divided, in a “Here we go…” way. And as you might expect, the film(s)’s questionable commercial prospects and controversial depiction of the Argentine revolutionary, as played by an uncanny Benicio Del Toro, have some critics waiting it out and chatting about the terrible sandwiches given at intermission instead. However, Cinematical‘s Kim Vonyar is incredibly stoked on both films and believes that Soderbergh is a lock for the festival’s top prize, the Palm d’Or

“Consensus among many of the very smart people I know here at Cannes (well, except for Variety, apparently) is that Che will almost definitely win the Palm d’Or, and if Benecio del Toro doesn’t win the Best Actor Oscar come January, there’s something wrong with the world.”

Stunned by Soderbergh’s DV auteurism, Cinematical’s James Rochhi observed in the first full-length review around, that the biopics’ style, tone, character study and story choices are all open for heavy debate (umm, that’s cool, I agree with him), but says that Oscar talk for Del Toro is also certain. In summation, he proclaims…

“Bold, beautiful, bleak and brilliant, Che’s not just the story of a revolutionary; in many ways, it’s a revolution in and of itself.”

Put that in your pipe, eh? Sounds sweet. In his own way, Jeffrey Wells has stepped out as one of the first supporters/gushers of both films, calling The Argentine “brilliant” and Guerilla “killer.”

“[The Argentine] is what I’d hoped for and more. The tale is the tale, and it’s told straight and true. Benicio del Toro‘s Guevara portrayal is, as expected, a flat-immersion that can’t be a “performance” as much as…I don’t know, some kind of knock-down ass-kick inhabiting. Being, not “acting.” No sentimentality, very straight. Oh, God…the second half is starting right now…”

Note the phrase, “it’s told straight and true,” because many historians, college students, Cubans, critics and Slashfilm readers (I’m predicting…) will inevitably take issue with Soderbergh’s decision on what to leave out and what to include from the man’s combative, violent life and ethos. Another reason why these subtitled films are a hard sell. Variety’s Anne Thompson [no linkage] doesn’t dive into the films’ politics, but she was nonetheless underwhelmed and glum. She believes the majority of the press on hand reacted similarly…

“‘A folly.’ ‘A mess.’ ‘Great.’ These words came from some of the critics coming out of Steven Soderbergh’s four-hour 18 minute Spanish-language Che Wednesday night. At the end there was slight applause; no boos. My own description: noble failure.”

She adds that “Benecio [sic] del Toro gives a great performance…” but she’s particularly down on the direction of the second film, Guerilla, saying, “Soderbergh isn’t interested in the things that compel moviegoers to engage with characters: drama, psychology, motivation. He doesn’t dwell on the relationship between Che and Castro. He doesn’t tell you how ‘Ernesto’ turned into ‘Che.’” This works against the frenetic industry buzz that Spoutblog has thoroughly documented; that site points out that the films are being pitched to buyers separately…

“Rumor has it that the second half of the story is currently in better shape than the first; it remains to be seen what would be lost if half of Che was demoted to straight-to-DVD.”

Please, let’s hope this doesn’t happen. I don’t think the Interwebs (or Che) could survive the weight of so many blog tears and life-hating, unedited diatribes. We’ve posted a new video clip from Che (The Argentine half) below. It doesn’t reveal much, but it gives you an idea of the camera work and Soderbergh’s depiction of jungle warfare. One thing is for sure, Che’s t-shirt posse won’t be going away anytime soon (feh!).

Discuss: How do you think these films will be shown domestically? How does one sell four hours of Che? Honestly, who cares, it’s fantastic these films were even made (for $65 million) no matter how you feel (or don’t) about the man in question or how good they are.

Che

With the Festival de Cannes kicking off later this week, a bunch of new production photos have surfaced. First up is Steven Soderbergh‘s Che, a pair of films (The Argentine and Guerrilla) starring Benicio Del Toro as Argentine revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara de la Serna.

Che

The running time for the two films combined is a whopping 268 minutes, or four and a half hours long. Let’s take a look at the newly released official plot synopsis:

PART ONE
On November 26, 1956, Fidel Castro sails to Cuba with eighty rebels. One of those rebels is Ernesto “Che” Guevara, an Argentine doctor who shares a common goal with Fidel Castro – to overthrow the corrupt dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.
Che proves indispensable as a fighter, and quickly grasps the art of guerrilla warfare. As he throws himself into the struggle, Che is embraced by his comrades and the Cuban people. This film tracks Che’s rise in the Cuban Revolution, from doctor to commander to revolutionary hero.

PART TWO
After the Cuban Revolution, Che is at the height of his fame and power. Then he disappears, re-emerging incognito in Bolivia, where he organizes a small group of Cuban comrades and Bolivian recruits to start the great Latin American Revolution.
The story of the Bolivian campaign is a tale of tenacity, sacrifice, idealism, and of guerrilla warfare that ultimately fails, bringing Che to his death. Through this story, we come to understand how Che remains a symbol of idealism and heroism that lives in the hearts of people around the world.

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