July 8, 2009

Lonely Are the Brave

Also this week: Near Dark, Knowing, Push, Peanuts Collection

Highlight of the Week

Lonely Are the Brave (Universal) Adapted by Spartacus scribe and Hollywood Ten hero Dalton Trumbo from the novel by Edward Abbey, David Miller’s 1962 urban cowboy chase flick is as viscerally engaging as they come. Everything about this release is first-class: a pristine transfer of Philip Lathop’s black and white widescreen photography, the exceptional score by Jerry Goldsmith (who also scored the quasi-remake, First Blood) and quality performances from Kirk Douglas, a fresh-faced Walter Matthau and Gena Rowlands. Also notable is how Douglas has cited this as his favourite of all his films, high-praise considering such competition as Minnelli’s Lust for Life and Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. Extras: two tribute featurettes, one for the film and another for late composer Goldsmith. 

Also Available

Near Dark (Lionsgate) Kathryn Bigelow’s 1987 vampire odyssey arrives in a newfangled barebones edition to either a) tie-into the release of her extraordinary new film The Hurt Locker or, more likely, b) to con unaware viewers into thinking it bears semblance to Twilight (see deceptive cover art). Either or, it’s a bona fide cult classic that contains some of the finest vampire content you’ve likely never seen. Rent it. Love it. Purchase the extras-loaded two-disc Anchor Bay edition instead. Extras: re-read this review. 

Knowing (E1) It’s tough to pinpoint the exact moment when Nicolas Cage’s acting went from credible to incredibly bizarre. And while Alex Proyas (the impressive Dark City, the unimpressive I, Robot) isn’t the most reliable directorial contender, he manages to turn a low-rent B-movie concept into something greater than its screenplay merits. Knowing is arguably worth viewing for its small selection of nifty thrills, just check your expectations at the door. Extras: Proyas commentary, making-of, featurette on apocalyptic theory. 

Push (E1) As if superhero cinema overload wasn’t enough, along comes something that attempts to form a fresh mythology from recycled elements of nearly every comic book franchise. Director Paul McGuigan crafts several adequate sequences set against a somewhat intriguing Hong Kong backdrop, but when push comes to shove, the sum of these parts is instantly forgettable. (To its credit, unsettling moments of Dakota Fanning getting sloshed and swearing like a sailor amuse.) Extras: commentary with McGuigan and actors Fanning and Chris Evans, brief featurette on the “science behind the fiction,” deleted scenes with optional commentary.   

Peanuts 1960s Collection (Warner) Cool down with this six-pack of Charles Schulz’s Emmy-adorned television specials airing between 1965 and 1969. While A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown have seen numerous appearances in previous releases, Here’s Your Dog, Charlie Brown and It was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown make late but great debuts on this super-charming two-disc set. Extras: mini doc on the life and times of jazz musician slash Charlie Brown theme composer Vince Guaraldi.