Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DVD Releases: August 18, 2009

This week, the tweens should be happy as Hannah Montana comes out, horror junkies should be satisfied with The Last House on the Left, and documentary fans should be good with Tyson. Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha gets another DVD release – this time of Criterion Blu-Ray, and I would encourage anyone with a Blu Ray player to pick up this masterpiece. Other than that, not much – not even ones that I missed. I am looking forward to catching up with Season 3 of Dexter though.

Hannah Montana: The Movie **
Yes, I saw the Hannah Montana movie, and although I would love to put all the blame on seeing it on my lovely wife, I cannot honestly do so. I’ll admit it, I occasionally watch the TV show. It is not exactly high art, but it is an enjoyable little program. The movie is essentially an hour and half long episode of the TV show. Stretched into that length though, the movie loses some of the charm of the TV show. Also, I must say that I was annoyed at the way they sold the movie as being where Hannah/Miley has to choose between her two identities, and then cops out at the end - presumably so that the TV show can continue to run. But whatever. Fans of the show are going to get what they want. Miley Cyrus is a charming young actress, and she does a fine job. Just do not expect her to be performing any of the songs from the movie at next year’s Oscars. For my original review please see: http://davesmoviesite.blogspot.com/2009/04/movie-review-hannah-montana-movie.html

Last House on the Left ***
The 1972 version of the movie put Wes Craven on the map. It was an extremely violent remake of a Ingmar Bergman classic about an innocent young woman who is raped and murdered by a gang of thugs, who then come to her parents house, unknowingly of course, to get shelter from the rain. This new version of the movie, tells essentially the same story. Director Dennis Illiads handles the movies visuals amazingly well, and the performances, especially by Sarah Paxton as the victim, are wonderful. The film is difficult to take - the rape sequence in the movie is brutal and unrelenting and the violence that ends the film is graphic in the extreme. Yet, this is not meer torture porn, this is a movie that makes us uneasy, but then it should. This is not a movie for everyone, but for horror fans, it is a must. One of the best horror remakes of recent years. For my original review please see: http://davesmoviesite.blogspot.com/2009/03/movie-review-last-house-on-left.html

Tyson *** ½
Mike Tyson has been in the news a lot this year. From the tragic death of his daughter, to his hilarious cameo role in the surprise hit The Hangover. But the documentary Tyson provides a rare glimpse into his mindset and his life in his own words. Having the director of the film be James Toback, a longtime friend of Tyson’s is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because Tyson seems to mistrust everyone, so he would only open to one of the few people he does. It is a curse because Toback does not push Tyson quite as hard as he should on some things (Toback simply seems to accept Tyson’s explanation of the divorce from Robin Givens , the rape conviction, and biting Evander Holyfield’s ear). But if you ever have wanted to hear Mike Tyson tell his story, the way he sees it, not necessarily the way it happened, than Tyson is a must see. For my original review please see: http://davesmoviesite.blogspot.com/2009/05/movie-review-tyson.html

Older Movies
Kagemusha (1980) ****

Akira Kurosawa is one of the great masters of cinema in history. Over the course of his career, and it was a long one full of great movies. But when his career was winding down, he could no longer get the money he used to get, and he got so bad, that he tried to kill himself. But in 1980, George Lucas (who used Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress for the basic story structure and characters in Star Wars) and Francis Ford Coppola got enough money for Kurosawa to make Kagemusha. This is one of the most visually stunning films of Kurosawa’s career. He was a director who mainly worked in black and white, but his masterful control of color in Kagemusha is awe inspiring. The film is not as good as Kurosawa’s next film - Ran, which would be his final masterpiece - but it much better than anything else on video this week.

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