January 27, 2010

Paris, Texas

Also this week: Whip It, The Invention of Lying, The Toolbox Murder's, Troma's War

Highlight of the We

Paris, Texas (Criterion) Among his New German colleagues, Wim Wenders stands out as the most American in spirit. While it wasn’t a unanimously praised hit by any stretch, fans of his ’70s output tend to dismiss 1984’s Paris, Texas as lightweight Hollywood fare. Yet this once-divisive film has aged remarkably well, proving to be a Wenders classic after all. (Kudos to writer Sam Shepard as well.) Though he’ll never top Repo Man, Harry Dean Stanton delivers one of his defining performances as a lost-and-found loner navigating the mythic American landscape with the intent of locating his estranged wife, played with equal aplomb by Wenders favourite Nastassja Kinski. With the director’s supervision, Criterion has done an excellent job restoring another of his cult masterpieces. Also available in Blu, this is an early contender for high-def title of the year. Extras: oldie-but-goodie director’s commentary and deleted scenes, new half-hour Wenders interview, interviews with Claire Denis and Allison Anders, booklet of essays, more Wenders.  

Also Available

Whip It
 (Fox) Sour sports be damned! Drew Barrymore’s filmmaking debut is pretty damn enjoyable, impressive even, and not only because it was shot by Wes Anderson associate Robert Yeoman and edited by Paul Thomas Anderson collaborator Dylan Tichenor. The script takes its share of detours (indie-boyfriend and harsh-mom subplots don’t have to be this painfully protracted), but Barrymore and her cast supply fresh flair. One could argue that Barrymore is more adept with food fights than heartfelt drama. Extras: nine deleted scenes. 

The Invention of Lying
 (Warner) In Ricky Gervais’ Liar Liar–inversing new comedy, the motto goes: if you have nothing nice to say… by all means, say it. Flattery and fiction is unthinkable until sad-sack Gervais manages to muster one universe-altering fib after another, resulting in the affections of Jennifer Garner. A neat premise allows for some biting takes on religion, social norms and the rom-com formula, but as the narrative novelty begins to fade, it degrades into schmaltz. Extras: short film, making-of, amusing featurette on Ricky Gervais Show co-host Karl Pilkington, more. 

The Toolbox Murders
 (Blue Underground) Supposedly based on true events — and not to be mistaken with Tobe Hooper’s in-name-only remake no one saw anyhow — this 1978 beaut was one of many titles banned in the UK for obscenity. In today’s climate, you can watch it uncut and, as of this week, in non-sleazy looking high-def. After the masked-man-who-inventively-slaughters-nubile-women-with-various-tools first act, the film switches gears and gets more wacky and less slashery. Admirers of gratuitous splatter and nudity are in for a treat.
Extras: producer, DP and actor commentary, interview with toolbox victim (and porn starlet) Marianne Walter, promos.

Troma’s War (Troma) Considered a sorta highpoint in the Lloyd Kaufman canon that includes sorta seminal hits The Toxic Avenger and Sergeant Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., Troma’s 1988 Rambo-spoofing charmer used a budget that reached slightly beyond the parameters of most Tromasterpieces. By common standards, it makes an episode of Lost look like Avatar 2, but when our posse of Tromaville plane-crash survivors stumble upon a band of shit-stirring terrorists, goofy shootouts (and even goofier accents) abound. Extras: Kaufman commentary, Kill-0-Meter, Post-Tromatic actor reunion, interviews.