It seems very clear to me that movie studios don’t have any clue how to market any of Jonathan Levine‘s film s so far. I’ve been waiting to see All the Boys Love Mandy Lane for what seems like forever. It has suffered delay after delay. And the current plan is to release it in August. I think Senator is hoping that the buzz from Levine’s second film The Wackness will direct filmgoers to Mandy. One thing is for sure, this gritty rip-off of the Funny Games poster (which premiered on Shock) probably isn’t the right direction. I mean, how much money did Funny Games make exactly? $1.29 million?

Film Blather says “What distinguishes it from the slasher flock, however, isn’t its kills, but its smarts: the extent to which it taps into the high school psyche and recontextualizes its usual sex-alcohol-and-drugs temptations.” Cinematical’s James Rocchi calls it “the best modern slasher flick since Scream.” Watch the first ten minutes of the film on YouTube.

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This Week in DVD is a new column on /Film compiling all the latest info regarding new DVD releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Fry’s.

The Good

THE SIGNAL
Good horror films are a rarity nowadays, so whenever a notable entry in the genre comes out I like to make sure it gets noticed. The Signal is one such a film. It’s a brutal excursion into three very tonally different tales (combining elements of comedy and satire) detailing the takeover of a mysterious transmission that’s being sent through every cell phone, radio and TV and is turning people into psychotic killers. Not everyone will be able to look past its problems though (such as the weak ending), as proven by the somewhat mixed audience/critic reaction.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: An audio commentary, an alternate beginning, and deleted scenes.

BEST PRICE
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
N/A $19.99 $13.99 $19.99

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? 2-Disc Deluxe Edition
Where? Best Buy

EXCLUSIVE DEAL:
What? Bonus access to behind-the-scenes footage.
Where? Circuit City

THE BUCKET LIST
Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman team up in director Rob Reiner’s tale of two dying geezers who head off on a road trip to enjoy all the wild experiences they missed out on when they were young and able. It’s said to be schmaltzy, predictable, and not just a little bit manipulative, and yet the film’s undeniable charm and two terrific performers manage to supersede any of the film’s shortcomings. Think of it as the male equivalent of a chick flick.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: Not much, disappointingly. Just a John Mayer music video and an interview with the film’s screenwriter, Justin Zackham.

BEST PRICE
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
$16.99 $15.99 $13.99 $13.99

JOHN ADAMS
The acclaimed seven-part HBO mini-series is coming to DVD, giving an inside look at the life of John Adams, which includes everything from the lead-up to the American Revolution to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. And with Paul Giamatti in the role of John Adams, and Laura Linney as his wife Abigail, the film’s impressive cast only further propels this insight into U.S. history to greatness.
Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: Included on this three-disc set are an interview with David McCullough (the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography on which the series is based), a behind-the-scenes documentary, and an on-screen historical guide for each episode.

BEST PRICE
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
$34.99 $34.99 $34.99 $49.99

The Bad

JUMPER
(Available as single-disc and 2-Disc Special Editions)
You’d think an action sci-fi flick exploring teleportation abilities from the director of The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith would equate to fun times, but alas, Jumper has proven that is not the case. It’s an incredibly slapdash effort, with minimal action sequences, cringe-worthy dialogue, and the worst performance you’ll ever see from Hayden Christensen (and that’s including his work on the Star Wars prequels). Skip it.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: The single disc edition comes with an audio commentary and two making-of featurettes, whereas the 2-Disc Special Edition also holds six deleted scenes, two additional featurettes, an animated graphic novel, and a digital copy of the film for download.

BEST PRICE*
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
$16.99 $15.99 $13.99 $13.99

*Does not include 2-Disc Edition, which costs $22.99 at each of the listed stores (excluding Circuit City, where it costs $21.99).

WITLESS PROTECTION
With each progressive Larry the Cable Guy movie, the box office intake seems to be getting lower and lower, so hopefully the end of his worthless career is near. In the meantime, here’s his latest shitfest, Witless Protection. You can tell how funny it will be based on that knee-slapper of a pun in the title. Almost as clever as Made of Honor.
Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: Three featurettes.

BEST PRICE
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
$19.99 $17.99 $17.99 $19.99

FUNNY GAMES
Michael Haneke’s extremely pretentious shot-for-shot remake of his own movie is just as much a middle finger to American audiences as the original film was, except this time you don’t need the subtitles on to understand how condescending it is. Outstanding performances from Naomi Watts and the two psychopath characters aside, this film adds up to nothing more than a worthless, miserable two hour torture session against the viewers (and their patience). Haneke would say that’s the point, but that doesn’t make him any less of an asshole for making it. Twice!
Blu-ray? No.
Notable Extras: None.

BEST PRICE
Target Best Buy Circuit City Fry’s
$19.99 $19.99 $19.99 $19.99

Also available this week…
The Other Boleyn Girl – High Noon (2-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition) – The Grand – The Boondocks (Season 2) – The List – Home Improvement (Season 8) – Soap (The Complete Series) – Hawaii Five-0 (Season 4) – The Odd Couple (Season 4) – Otis – 7th Heaven (Season 6) – Army Wives (Season 1) – American Gangster (Season 2)

What are you planning to rent or buy this week?

The Specials


Exclusive: Exclusive bonus disc with The Other Boleyn Girl. Deluxe Edition has production notes, exclusive package artwork, and more. $22.99

$10 – 300, Knocked Up, Ocean’s Thirteen, National Treasure (2-Disc Edition), The Pursuit of Happyness, and more…

$7.50 – Batman Begins, Old School, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and more…


Exclusive: CD audio book included with purchase of The Other Boleyn Girl.

$12.99 – Charlie Wilson’s War, I Am Legend, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Across the Universe (2-Disc Deluxe Edition), Superbad (2-Disc Unrated Extended Edition), Spider-Man 3, 3:10 to Yuma, and more…

$6.99 – The Departed, Casino Royale (2-Disc Edition), Shooter, Mr. Brooks, Apocalypse Now (The Complete Dossier), Troy (Director’s Cut), Zodiac, and more…


Exclusive: 2 free movie tickets to see The Happening with purchase of any 2 of the following $7.99 movies…

$7.99 – I, Robot, 28 Days Later, Transporter 2, The Day After Tomorrow, X2, Fantastic Four, Die Hard, Die Hard 2, Die Hard: With A Vengeance, Predator, and more…


$5.99 – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Matchstick Men, Syriana, Sleepers, and more…

$6.99 – The Hitcher, Meet the Parents, American Pie, The Chronicles of Riddick, and more…

$8.99 – There’s Something About Mary (Collector’s Edition), The Transporter, Ice Age: The Meltdown, and more…

funny-games.jpg

Saw films are below par.”

Brooklynite actor Michael Pitt has come a long way from starring on Dawson’s Creek, and in the current issue of Giant magazine he delivers, in context, some particularly vapid-funny-traditionally-hipster quotes about the Saw franchise, U.S. soldiers and people who won’t/don’t “get” the March remake of Funny Games.

On his film preferences…

“I don’t even know what Saw or Hostel are. Are they like Texas Chainsaw Massacre? I guess I’m drawn to things like Lawrence of Arabia.”

And then he adds…

“[Audiences that don't like Funny Games] can kiss my ass. I hope they do [get angry with] Funny Games. It challenges you. If you’re not up to the challenge, go see Saw.”

And not to get Fox News-y, but coming from Pitt, “one of the faces of Emporio Armani and a friend of author J.T. Leroy,” this quote equating being a soldier to regression is ridiculous…

“People think that, until you’ve killed someone or had someone shoot at you, you’re not a grown-up. Going to war isn’t growing up; it’s moving backwards.”

 

Sundance Movie Review: Funny Games

Funny GamesFunny Games is not a movie I would wish upon anyone I care about. People complain about movies like Hostel and SAW, referring to them as Torture Porn, well then Funny Games is Psychological Torture Porn. And by that I mean boring, and stupid. Why anyone would remake this film I will never know. Director Michael Haneke remakes his film from 10 years prior, and from what I understand the new film is almost shot for shot the same. What’s the point? The story involves two psychotic young men who take a family hostage in their vacation home.

Funny Games would work better on the stage, than on the screen. The whole film is shot in wide master shots which sometimes last for over 5-minutes without a single cut. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not standing up for the MTV-style editing which has taken over today’s films. I just think that cinema should be cinematic. And there is nothing cinematic about Funny Games. Most of the violence happens off screen.

The two psychotic young men break through the fourth wall and talk to the audience. At one point, one of the hoodlums grabs a remote control and rewinds the movie to negate what had just happened. There are so many things wrong with this movie. Maybe I just don’t get it. Another critic tried to explain to me that Funny Games is a response to films like Hostel. That the two young mad men are taunting you, because you came to see blood, and they’re going to give it to you, but not how you expected. Im sure I just don’t get it. That has to be the explanation, right?

The story is lined with plot holes (beware of spoilers). For instance, they finally get the cell phone working and it conveniently runs out of batteries (someone should send an email to John August to explain why this is bad screenwriting). So the married couple are staying at this vacation house for at least a week, yet all she brought along was a car charger? Does she put the phone in the car at night to charge the phone? The husband gets through to 911 for a quick few seconds before being cut off, yet the police don’t show up at the house? And why the hell didn’t they try to escape in the boat? They have a freaking boat in the backyard, but the wife decides to run into the street where the f’n killers are likely to find her.

/Film Rating: 0 out of 10

Sundance 2008

Yesterday Sundance announced the competition films for the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Today the Institute has released the rest of the line-up, which will play out-of-competition sections of Premieres, Spectrum, New Frontier, and Park City at Midnight. Highlights include:

  • The previously announced opening night film In Bruges starring Ralph Fiennes and Colin Farrell.
  • The Great Buck Howard starring Colin Hanks as a law school dropout who answers an advertisement to be a a washed up illusionist’s (played by John Malkovich) personal assistant. Emily Blunt and Tom Hanks also star.
  • Visionary director Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind, about a man (Jack Black) whose body accidentally becomes magnetized unintentionally erases every tape in his friend’s (Mos Def) video store. The pair set out to remake the lost films in a film about the magic of movies and filmmaking.
  • Bill Maher’s directorial debut, Sleepwalking, about a young man who is faced with the prospect of losing his abandoned young niece to a foster home. Nick Stahl, AnnaSophia Robb, Charlize Theron, Dennis Hopper, and Woody Harrelson, star.
  • Morgan Spurlock’s follow-up to 2004′s Super Size Me, Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? follows Spurlock’s quest to fint the world’s most wanted man.
  • Smart People, a romantic dramedy about a a widowed professor who gets an unexpected visit from his adopted brother. Dennis Quaid, Sarah Jessica Parker, Thomas Haden Church, and Ellen Page star.
  • American Beauty screenwriter Alan Ball’s directorial debut, an adaptation of Towel Head. The film follows the life of a 13-year-old Arab-American girl who is forced to live with her father. I saw this film at Toronto and it has the same underlying energy of American Beauty. Aaron Eckhart, Maria Bello, Toni Collette, and Summer Bishil star.
  • U2 3D: A 3-D presentation of U2′s global “Vertigo” tour.
  • Barry Levinson’s adaptation of What Just Happened? stars Robert DeNiro, Bruce Willis, Sean Penn, Catherine Keener, Stanley Tucci, John Turturro, Kristen Stewart, and Robin Wright Penn. The movie follows two weeks in the life of a fading Hollywood producer (De Niro) who’s having a rough time trying to get his new picture made.
  • XX/XY director Austin Chick’s new film August, about two brothers fighting to keep their start-up company afloat on Wall Street during August 2001, a month before the 9/11 terrorist attack. Josh Hartnett and Adam Scott star.
  • The Duplass Brothers return to Sundance following their acclaimed 2005 low budget indie film The Puffy Chair. Baghead explores “the minutiae of relationship dynamics in this in-depth study of a group of desperate actor friends. And a bag. And a head.”
  • Cashback director Sean Ellis’s horror thriller The Brøken starring Lena Headey (300) as a woman who sees herself driving by in her own car on a busy London street. Stunned, she trails the mystery woman as events take an eerie turn into a living nightmare.
  • Michael Haneke’s American remake of Funny Games starring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt..
  • Quentin Tarantino presents Larry Bishop’s Hell Ride, a “bloody, sexy tale of motorcycle revenge” starring Larry Bishop, Dennis Hopper, and Michael Madsen
  • Otto; or Up With Dead People, a movie about a lonely gay zombie searches for love and meaning in contemporary Berlin.
  • Spainish writer/director Nacho Vigalondo’s Timecrimes follows a man accidentally travels back to the past, only to meet himself there and encounters a series of mysteries that all lead to an unthinkable crime. I’m a sucker for Time Travel.

Check out the full announcement/line-up after the jump.
Read More »

Funny Games Movie Trailer

Funny Games

I must reluctantly admit that I have yet to see Funny Games, the home invasion horror/thriller from Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke. The film got some great reviews and was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival in 1997. Time Out described it as “a masterpiece that is at times barely watchable”.

Warner Independent hired Michael Haneke back to direct an American remake of the the film, starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth as a wealthy couple who are trapped and tormented in their Hamptons vacation home by a pair of vicious psychopaths. Check out the trailer after the jump, and tell me what you think.

Read More »

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