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.
One of the films that stuck with me since the Toronto Film Festival was the South Boston crime drama (yes, another one) What Doesn’t Kill You. Based on a true story of two childhood friends who turn to crime to get by. The film opens in a flash forward, with a trio of gangsters pulling a armored car robbery outside a small strip mall. But things go wrong when a Cop shows up. While the first 25 minutes might be confusing and incoherent, the family drama that follows is actually pretty wonderful.
But the film is really about the struggles a neighborhood gangster thug who is trying his hardest to rehabilitate, in a world where everything he knows, he learned from the streets. A haunting score by composer Alex Wurman (who you might remember from John August’s The Nines) and a screenplay co-written by Boston native Donnie Wahlberg, who also provides a small supporting performance. It’s certainly not this year’s The Departed, or even this year’s Gone Baby Gone, but hey, its probably worth checking out. And how can you go wrong with Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke? Check out the trailer below.
What Doesn’t Kill You hits limited theaters on December 12th 2008.
Ten years ago, the Boston film scene was almost non existent. Most films that were set in the bay state were actually filmed on soundstages in Canada and Los Angeles. Good Will Hunting was probably the biggest modern film to have shot in the area, and even then, the lack of tax incentives pushed the majority of the production out of state. The occasional indie film like Next Stop Wonderland dared to do what Hollywood couldn’t, that is until Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese came to town. It’s funny how much things have changed in the last decade. As South Boston has taken the center stage, the Boston-story seems to have become a subgenre of the gangster film.
Brian Goodman‘s What Doesn’t Kill You is the latest entry of the Southie tales. Based on a true story of two childhood friends who turn to crime to get by. The film opens in a flash forward, with a trio of gangsters pulling a armored car robbery outside a small strip mall. But things go wrong when a Cop shows up. Paulie (Ethan Hawke) rips off his ski mask and walks towards the police man with his gun blaring. Freeze frame.
“One thing that always stuck with me on the street; Never do armored trucks.”
We then cut to many years earlier, and are told the non-glitsy story of how the brothers became involved in organized crime, which involves picking up an envelope and stealing boxes of cigarettes from the back of a delivery truck. The editing in the beginning of the movie is really incoherent, and I hate to say it, could probably have been better told through a montage. Fifteen years later Brian (Mark Ruffalo) is in a dysfunctional marriage with Amanda Peet, staying out until the later morning hours. Brian has become both an alcoholic and a druggie, trying to score some quick cash before the last batch runs out and the duo have been reduced to kidnapping a poodle for a $5000 pay day.
What Doesn’t Kill You begins like a really bad version of Goodfellas. I had pretty much given up on the film in the first 25 minutes because of it’s low-fi approach. Boy was I wrong. The problem is that the film isn’t a South Boston Gangster film, but instead a family drama that takes place in this Southie gangster setting. This becomes more apparent when Brian and Paulie are arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. What Doesn’t Kill You is about Brian’s return to the real world, and his struggle to stay clean for his wife and two children. You want Brian to find a legit job, but this is harder than it sounds when all you know is the quick score and all your friends are degenerates. And with the opening reveal of the armored car robbery, we know where the story must eventually head. The armored car robbery is the ticking time bomb underneath the table that Hitchcock always talked about.