Little joy in tale of ’70s rocker
Like many wrecks that line the fast lane’s soft shoulder, there’s something simultaneously repulsive and strangely alluring about casting an eye into the mangled cockpit of lost soul Ian Curtis, the lead singer of late-’70s Brit band Joy Division — played here by Sam Riley.
Flowery notions of romantic death mingle with the rancid fumes of grim reality, leaving us a little lightheaded by the final frame, but oddly inspired by one man’s ability to re-create himself from scratch — only to fall victim to his own persona. It’s a familiar story, especially in the corpse-laden annals of rock ’n’ roll, but director Anton Corbijn finds a new way through old terrain in his debut feature Control.
Samantha Morton and Annik Honoré also star in this memorable and cult-worthy film that captures the nihilist mood of an era. DVD features include feature commentary by director/producer Anton Corbijn, The Making of Control, a conversation with Corbijn, stills gallery, extended performances, three music videos from Joy Division and The Killers, two trailers and more.
For the better part of 20 years, Joy Division’s story was the exclusive terrain of depressive music geeks, pop mavens and aging alternative music lovers. Then in the space of one year, Ian Curtis’s pop martyrdom became the subject of not one, but two major films: Control being one, and this documentary from Grant Gee being the other. Excellent companion pieces, Division offers up the archival footage that spawned Control director Anton Corbijn’s vision, as well as real interviews with Ian Curtis and the band. The documentary can’t match the immediate dramatic power of the narrative, but taken as a double feature, the films grant the viewer unprecedented insight into a single band — and an entire musical movement. DVD features include Transmission music video, over 75 minutes of added interview footage and more.
If the idea of Matthew McConaughey romping around shirtless on a beach gives you hives, then this tinny romantic comedy co-starring Kate Hudson demands a full bottle of calamine lotion before the opening credits. The problem isn’t a lack of physical good looks, it’s the complete lack of fresh lines and a credible chemistry between the two leads — who are playing a recently divorced couple who stumble into an ancient buried treasure — and a group of nasty thugs. The stupid story is one thing, but when a romantic comedy is neither funny, nor romantic, it’s in big trouble, making Fool’s Gold nothing but leaden. DVD features include Flirting with Adventure, The Chemistry Between Two Charming Contemporary Stars, and gag reel.
UNDER THE SAME MOON (LA MISMA LUNA)
A young boy attempts to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in the hopes of being reunited with his mother, but his voyage into the land of the free and the home of the brave turns out to be far more dangerous than he thought. Kate del Castillo and Adrian Alonso star in this film directed by Patricia Riggen that proves the desire to make a new life in America has become a universal ambition. Sweet — and often saccharine — the story may suffer from cliché, but it hits all the required tear-jerker marks. DVD features include The Murals of Under the Same Moon and The Making of Under the Same Moon.
WELCOME HOME ROSCOE JENKINS
Martin Lawrence faces off against Cedric the Entertainer and James Earl Jones in this flat comedy about a talkshow host who returns home for his parents’ 50th anniversary and comes face to face with his shameful past. Despite its subtle attempts at recreating stereotypes, the film never does ditch the lowest common denominator and resorts to cheap, lowbrow, sexist gags to build up dialogue. Some fleeting moments of drama do little to salvage this well intentioned but poorly executed comedy. DVD features include alternative opening, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes and more.
MISHIMA: A LIFE IN FOUR CHAPTERS
Paul Schrader directs this 1985 impressionist take on Japanese playwright Yukio Mishima — the highly regarded author who took his own life through ritual suicide, seppuku, in 1970. His death set off a firestorm of publicity in Japan and to some degree, brought the issue of gay rights to the forefront of the literary world as Mishima had a gay lover, as well as a wife and children. Schrader dramatizes the whole story with actors (Ken Ogata plays Mishima) for a satisfying narrative, but one that often feels a little forced and precious. DVD features include digitally remastered, audio commentary with Paul Schrader as well as composer Philip Glass and more.
Richard Gere plays a civil servant obsessed by his own job: Keeping track of violent sex offenders. When his obsession leads to criminal behaviour, his new female partner (Claire Danes) is forced into the position of accidental psychiatrist and saviour. Despite a decent idea, the movie never develops a sustainable storyline because it continually changes its focus. Too many characters and an obvious red herring drain the film of all potential suspense, leaving the two central players drifting in and out of performance comas. DVD features include trailer, trailer gallery and more.
Anyone who loves a good heist movie will find some time for this average, but oddly charming, hidden gem about a major diamond robbery in London starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore. Set in the 1960s, the film follows young female executive Laura Quinn (Moore) and her failed bids to rise through the executive ranks of a major diamond broker. When Laura discovers she’s about to be fired for no good reason, she’s approached by the company’s janitor with a proposal: help him get the codes for the vault, and they can split the proceeds. The plan reaps rewards, but when the looted rocks disappear into thin air, Laura is left to solve the case on her own. Great period production design and Caine’s undeniable talent add a little shine to this otherwise mediocre effort. DVD features include exploring the facets, behind the scenes footage, trailer gallery and more.
LES CHANSONS D’AMOUR (LOVE SONGS)
Ah oui, l’amour! Proving the French have their own take on just about every genre, Les Chansons D’Amour is the kind of romantic comedy you’d never find in Hollywood. Featuring a full musical soundtrack, as well as a storyline involving a ménage à trois and a premature and tragic death, this film from Christophe Honoré doesn’t really conform to any expectation — which accounts for all its charm, as well as its most frustrating elements, including a disjointed storyline and an odd emotional transition between pre-tragic and post-tragic circumstances. DVD features include original songs by Alex Beaupain, widescreen and more.
MY MOM’S NEW BOYFRIEND
Meg Ryan dons a fat suit. Antonio Banderas plays an art thief. Colin Hanks wears a badge, and once more, the ever-talented Selma Blair has nothing interesting to do in this lame example of formulaic filmmaking. Hanks is assigned to watch his mother when she starts dating a noted criminal mastermind, but when he’s forced to listen to her sounds of passion he’s put in a tough family situation. Absolutely unbelievable in every way, My Mom’s New Boyfriend has few redeeming moments, but thanks to Banderas, it’s not a complete Oedipal disaster. DVD features include deleted scenes and more.