August 12, 2009

The Class

Also this week: I Love You, Man, 17 Again, Gigantic

Highlight of the Week

The Class (Sony) Dramas about high-school teachers butting heads with inner-city students are as played as Coolio’s Dangerous Minds anthem. Even so, this was the first French flick to win the Palme D’Or at Cannes in over 20 years. Theoretically familiar as it may seem, Laurent Cantet’s pseudo-doc rendition of genuine high-school prof François Bégaudeau’s semi-autobiographical novel Entre les murs will have you re-evaluating genre conventions whilst giving new thought to the question: high-school teacher, qu’est-ce que c’est?  Extras: commentary with Cantet and Bégaudeau over two scenes, dense making-of, actors’ portraits and workshop footage. 

Also Available

I Love You, Man (Paramount) Love or hate it, our generation is currently facing a new renaissance of comedy owing mostly to Judd Apatow and his expansive militia. This one deftly marries lowbrow laughs with highbrow self-awareness to produce a post-brow sensibility. See Paul Rudd projectile vomit and Jason Segel mercilessly spew dick/fart/Lou Ferrigno jokes, but rejoice in the film’s novel approach to bromantic comedy, a concept invented by others yet perfected by these guys. Extras: commentary with co-writer/director John Hamburg and Rudd and Segal, making-of, outtakes, deleted/extended scenes, gag reel.  

17 Again (Alliance) Igby Goes Down writer-director Burr Steers returns behind the camera with a ludicrously premised Big in reverse, where Matthew Perry yearns to relive his high-school athlete status and win the scholarship he passed on years ago. His wish becomes reality thanks to a supernatural janitor and some whirlpool thingamabob (Zoltar the automated fortune teller was waaay more convincing, btw): Perry morphs into Zac Efron and teenage girls thus morph into raging nymphos. Uncanny DVD parallel of the week: I Love You, Man and 17 Again both feature Reno 911!’s Thomas Lennon and Spoon’s “The Underdog.” Extras: nuffin’.

Gigantic (E1) An indie-quirk romance that fails on many levels, particularly in the painfully unremarkable chemistry between Paul “this is what you follow up There Will Be Blood with?” Dano and Zooey Deschanel. Don’t even get me started on the incoherent interludes involving Zach Galifianakis as a hobo who frequently beats the living snot out of Dano. (500) Days of Summer this ain’t. Extras: commentary, interviews, deleted/alternate scenes.