November 25, 2009


Also this week: Funny People, Heat, Rome, Mad Dog Morgan, Night of Death!, Cheerleaders Wild Weekend

Highlight of the Week

Gomorrah (Criterion) Matteo Garrone’s Scorsese-endorsed crime epic rightfully earned tall praise at Cannes in 2008, where it won the Grand Prix (festival speak for silver medal). From Tony Montana–quoting small-timers to a tailor in the crime-controlled fashion industry, Naples’ nastiest mob organization holds a disturbing amount of influence in this stark multi-narrative. Criterion’s extras-loaded release sports a hour-long making-of, interviews with Garrone, actor Toni Servillo and writer Roberto Saviano, deleted scenes and more. Criterion’s high-def catalogue just got another solid notch in its belt. (Also available in Blu.)

Also Available

Funny People (Universal) Apatow’s latest took excessive heat for being indulgent, overlong and overstuffed. While it may not have been the The 40-Year-Old Virgin-style coup some were expecting, the title is not misleading and home viewing will make for more favourable viewing thanks to non-interruptive bathroom breaks. Two-disc extras: Apatow/Sandler/Rogen commentary, four-part doc, gag reel, Line-o-Rama, behind-the-scenes of “Yo Teach…!,” more.

Heat (Warner) Get pumped for the imminent release of Michael Mann’s Public Enemies by revisiting one of his finest achievements, now on Blu-ray and looking as pristine as the day you saw it on 35mm. Or just watch it for the stunning action choreography and all-star cast. Extras: Mann commentary, docs, deleted scenes.

Rome: The Complete Series (Warner) HBO’s acclaimed age-of-empires saga gets the complete series treatment in both standard and high-def editions. That’s two seasons of bloody good melodrama and – being as this is not TV, it’s HBO – bloody good sex. Rome if you want to. (Should’ve closed with a clever Latin proverb.) Extras: commentaries and featurettes. Blu-ray extra extras: interactive on-screen guides.

Mad Dog Morgan (Troma) Dennis Hopper starred in this 1976 Australian “Oz-ploitation” oddity during the peak of his psychedelic Hollywood hiatus. No doubt owing to this, Mad Dog Morgan is something of a lost masterpiece, and Troma’s reissue will hopefully introduce more viewers to the trippiest bushranger they’ve never seen. Extras: conversation with Hopper and writer/director Philippe Mora, interviews, featurettes. 

Night of Death! (Synapse) This is crass filmmaking on all fronts (and I write that with the sincerest affection). Filled with softcore smut, wonderfully ham-fisted performances and cannibalistic gore that would make H.G. Lewis proud, RaphaĆ«l Delpard’s 1980 French rarity comes recommended to a very select crowd. Synapse knows their shit — and you can take that any way you like. Extras: nah.

Cheerleaders Wild Weekend (Scorpion) Cheerleader-sploitation reigns supreme in what, along with Mad Dog Morgan and Night of Death, is this week’s ’sploitation triple bill. Marketed in 1979 as a good-time party movie starring Kristine DeBell, one-time star of Alice in Wonderland: An X-Rated Musical Fantasy, things quickly turn unsexy when the cheerleaders are kidnapped by jock-terrorists. When retro boobs are on display, who’s complaining? Extras: commentaries, interview, more wildness.