This Week in DVD is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.
Please don’t take the commentary on the movies and TV shows too seriously, as they’re meant not to be reviews but rather previews that include the general thoughts and ramblings of a twice-committed DVD addict. The categories represent solely the author’s intentions towards the DVDs at hand, and are in no way meant to be a reflection on what he thinks other people should rent or buy. So if he ends up putting a movie you like in the “Skip it” section without having seen it, please keep in mind that the time you could spend leaving a spiteful but ultimately futile comment could instead be used for more pleasant things in life. Like buying DVDs.
Jean-Claude Van Damme has made some pretty questionable career choices, but whether you love or hate the guy, you really have to admire the ingenuity on display in JCVD, which is very much a response to that rather misguided career. In the film he plays himself: a broke, out-of-luck actor who’s battling for the custody of his daughter. But when he’s thrown into a real-life hostage situation, the world sees a side of Van Damme they’ve never seen before. Marking the first ever Van Damme flick to be ranked ‘fresh’ on Rotten Tomatoes, the meta, self-referential and utterly unique JCVD has been praised heavily for Jean-Claude’s touching and deeply personal performance, which—much like the depicted storyline—also shows a side of him that the world’s never seen before. Blu-ray? Yes. Notable Extras: Deleted scenes.
The International Watch List is just like The Black List but instead of unproduced screenplays, over fifty US film executives and their assistants vote on their favorite foreign-released films released in 2008. Thanks to QuietEarth, we have the full list below. I haven’t seen all of the selections (or the majority for that matter), but the ones I can personally attest for include: Let The Right One In, JCVD, Kisses, The Good The Bad and the Weird, Sleep Dealer, Treevenge, and I Love Sarah Jane (which you can watch here). I absolutely hated Hunger, but I seem like one of only a few that has had such feelings. Check out the full list below. I’ve already added a bunch of them to my Netflix queue.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
Tomas Alfredson Cinetic Media / Christina Bazdekis
Oskar, a fragile 12-year-old boy, is regularly bullied by his stronger classmates but never strikes back. The lonely boy’s wish for a friend seems to come true when he meets Eli, also 12, who moves in next door to him with her father. A pale, serious young girl, she only comes out at night and doesn’t seem affected by the freezing temperatures.
Pascal Laugier ICM / Nathan Ross & Robert Lazar
Young Lucie is found half-naked, filthy, starving and nearly catatonic, unable to describe the horrors she has endured. Hospitalized, she learns to function once again with the help of Anna, another young victim of terrible abuse. The girls quickly develop a strong bond, and though they try to protect each other, Lucie continues to be haunted by the specter of her violent past. Fifteen years later, with the help of Anna, Lucie sets out to wreak vengeance on the family she suspects of being the sadists responsible for her torture. Lucie’s violent acts set into motion a downward spiral of pain and despair for the two heroines.
BEFORE THE FALL
F. Javier Gutiérrez Paradigm / Marc Helwig
Life as we know it ends in three days. The leaders of the world have just announced that a comet is hurtling toward Earth. No one can stop it, and the object is so immense that there is no hope for any of us to survive. Unfolding against this terrifying backdrop is the story of a small family in a Spanish village, a simple group with a troubled history. A disturbed man from their past wants nothing more than to bring misery to the family, targeting the smallest, most vulnerable members of this clan. When he is released from prison—the impending global catastrophe has unleashed all kinds of chaos—the terror deepens. The world’s ending in three days? That may not seem like soon enough for one family.
Matteo Garrone ICM / Jeff Berg & Nathan Ross
Power, money and blood: these are the “values” that the residents of the province of Naples and Caserta confront every day. They have practically no choice, and are forced to obey the rules of the “System,” the Camorra. Only a lucky few can even think of leading a “normal” life. Five stories are woven together in this violent scenario, set in a cruel and ostensibly invented world, but one that is deeply rooted in reality.
Hong-jin Na Information unavailable
A serial killer is preying on call-girls from various escort agencies. In the midst of police indifference and incompetence, Jung-Ho, an ex-cop-turned-pimp must dust off his old flatfoot skills to find the killer and save the life of one of his girls who has gone missing.
When I first heard about JCVD, I imagined a b-list action comedy like My Name is Bruce. When I finally saw the film at Fantastic Fest in Austin, I was shocked to find that the film is actually a character drama about a down on his luck b-list action star who steps into a bad situation. It’s a movie about a guy who plays the hero on the big screen, but not in real life, and what happens when he is put in a situation which forces him to step up. The most surprising thing about JCVD is that it totally goes against every preconception you have about Jean-Claude Van Damme. You might even leave the theater talking about his performance. Seriously. The American trailer for the film was released on Yahoo over the weekend. Watch it below and tell me what you think in the comments.
Official Plot Synopsis: Being Jean-Claude Van Damme is tough. Sure, he is an internationally recognized celebrity (and possibly the world’s most famous Belgian), but this star seems to have fallen from grace with a recent history of direct-to-video flicks. But the “Muscles from Brussels” is back! In JCVD, Van Damme plays himself – with all his foibles in plain view – in this comeback story of a screen hero who has been on the receiving end of kicks that are getting harder and harder to take. Directed by Mabrouk El Mechri, JCVD is a rollicking action-comedy that explores the nature of fame.
Yesterday morning, I caught Cinematical‘s James Rocchi off guard, and after totally butchering the pronunciation of his last name (hey, for the last two years I’ve just been calling him “James”), I got his opinion on Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom and JCVD. Eric D Snider also makes a quick cameo appearance. Sorry for the lackluster video quality, the theater was very dark, and apparently the Flip ultra camera doesn’t work well in extreme low light conditions.