THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:
THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX
2009; $17.95-$27.95, PG
Director Wes “Rushmore” Anderson’s first-ever stop-action animated feature is a marvel. A straight-up telling of the seminal Roald Dahl story with terrific voice-talent (especially George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray) and suitably scruffy furred characters. Mr. Fox, a former pro chicken thief who gave it up for his marriage, sets out on “one last job,” incurring the wrath of three farmers who join forces in an all-out war on him and his critter-neighbors. One of the best flicks we’ve seen in a coon’s age; our highest recommendation.
THE T.A.M.I. SHOW
1964; $16.95-$19.95, UR
A new Collector’s Edition of the first great event in rock history. In 1964, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium hosted this first-ever “mega concert” featuring a few little bands you might have heard of. Like who? Oh, how ’bout The Beach Boys? The Rolling Stones (featuring the late Brian Jones)? James Brown? Chuck Berry, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Jan and Dean, Lesley Gore and more! And they were all backed by Phil Spector’s infamous studio wildmen, “The Wrecking Crew,” including such greats as Glen Campbell and Leon Russell! A wonderfully restored time capsule of America’s greatest musical era; a must-own.
2008; $22.95, UR
A disturbing doc, and a big hit at SXSW Film Festival, about self-confessed German war profiteer, Fidelis Cloer. He’s reaping enormous benefits selling armored cars in Iraq and Afghanistan — to both sides — and considers himself the perfect capitalist. His conclusions are hard to argue with, even when they mean death to soldiers and civilians alike. And the worse things gets, the more money he makes. Good stuff.
2009; $29.95, UR
A welcome gay spoof of those awful Lifetime Channel For Women movies. A trio of happily married gay L.A. couples are thrown into turmoil when one of them — secretly developing a new TV series — opens their home to a struggling young man — secretly an aspiring actor who learns of their project! This leads to nekkid gay guys, comic double-dealing and sexy seductions galore.
2008; $12.95-$21.95, R
Part 1 of John Woo’s masterwork, based on “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” a 14th-century novel that tells the true tale of a massive battle that lead to the unification of China 2,000 years ago. An evil prime minister leads an army of 800,000 men to crush the forces of kindly Liu Bei, and it all comes down to a single encounter at the Yangtze River pass called Red Cliffs. Tony Leung stars as Zhou Yu, possibly the greatest military tactician in history, who guides Liu Bei’s troops. Simply extraordinary in both scale and substance, and the most expensive movie ever made in China. Recommended.
2008; $23.95, UR
Generally speaking, we’re not big fans of arty French films, though there are exceptions — like this wise bio-drama about the frumpy, middle-aged cleaning woman who almost overnight is recognized as one of the world’s greatest painters. A bit preachy and Catholic at times, but truly mesmerizing; the winner of six French “Oscars.”
1977; $14.95, UR
For those of us of a certain age, the ’70s were the Age of Custom Vans. Everyone drove a van or wanted to, and the competition to make yours unique was a national obsession. The hand-painted murals alone could cost thousands of dollars … on a vehicle with a Blue Book value in the low hundreds. In this, one of the few movies dedicated to this craze, a van-head enters his solar-powered creation in Freakout, the annual SoCal auto festival. Truly excruciating to watch (guess you had to be there) with a cameo by Charles Bukowski.
THE AFRICAN QUEEN
1952; $18.95-$38.95, UR
One of the greatest movies ever made is given a well-deserved, frame-by-frame digital makeover, resulting in a truly extraordinary Blu-Ray experience. John Huston, of course, directs Katharine Hepburn as she single-handedly redeems drunken lout Humphrey Bogart, and together they take on the Third Reich in his broken-down boat. The perfect combination of action, romance, comedy and adventure. Simply a must-own.
THE BLIND SIDE
2009; $27.95-$35.95, PG-13
Sandra Bullock is excellent in this wildly over-hyped movie, the true tale of an enormous, homeless young black man grudgingly adopted by a pasty-white suburban family and the lessons they learn. Frankly, it’s your basic Lifetime movie-of-the-week done with better talent and more style, but as good a PG-13 family drama as has ever been made.
THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS
2009; $18.95-$23.95, R
George Clooney is in his element as the whacked-out “psychic spy” — or, as he puts it, “Jedi warrior” — in this tale based on a real military program that attempted to train soldiers to use psychic powers to walk through walls, read minds and kill at a distance. Ewan McGregor basically runs around looking amazed as the journalist who stumbles into this nest of loonies, and Jeff Bridges is drop-dead hilarious as the hippy-dippy leader of the program. We laughed our asses off.
2009; $18.95-$29.95, UR
James Caviezel and Ian McKellen star in this unwanted, unnecessary and unentertaining update of the classic ’60s series about a spy who finds himself in “The Village.” Demand the original.
ZOMBIES OF MASS DESTRUCTION
2009; $16.95, R
Yeah, just one of the 536 zombie movies to come out this week, but done with lots of heart (and entrails and eyeballs and …), and a perfect balance of comedy, scares and action. A well-done indie effort; part of the After Dark Horrorfest, now in its fourth year. We liked it.