April 1, 2010

The Killer

Also this week: An Education, Sherlock Holmes, Vampyres, Collateral, Under the Sea, Bigfoot

Highlight of the Week
The Killer (Alliance) John Woo’s finest spent a good part of the ’00s as an out-of-print Criterion title that sold for hundreds on eBay — same with his almost-but-not-quite-as-prestigious Hard Boiled. Both movies are now available in affordable “ultimate editions.” Even sweeter, The Killer is also out on high-def — the best way to watch Chow Yun-Fat mow down hundreds of mobsters in a slo-mo-tastic climax that remains one of the most spectacularly orchestrated shootouts in the history of film. Old-school extras: Woo interview and Q&A, five deleted scenes, brief locations featurette.
Also Available
An Education (Sony) See it once for Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan’s breakthrough role as a precocious ’60s schoolgirl who falls for a dashing and much-older hustler, played adequately by Peter Sarsgaard. Alfred Molina also supplies appeal as the overbearing father who is increasingly seduced by his daughter’s sophisticated love interest. A mediocre Nick Hornby adaptation (of the memoir by Lynn Barber), it does very little to convey its tiresome message about doomed intergenerational romance and making the grade. Extras: so-so commentary with director Lone Scherfig, Mulligan and Sarsgaard, making-of, red carpet footage, deleted scenes.
Sherlock Holmes (Warner) Guy Ritchie’s action-heavy revamp is a slicker, dumber reinterpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s snazzy sleuth and his second-in-command. Not surprisingly, Robert Downey Jr. and, better still, Jude Law are first-class charmers. It’s a unique brand of lowbrow and a worthy rainy-day rental for the Blockbuster bracket. You could do a lot worse… god knows Ritchie has. Extra: a meh making-of. Blu-Ray extra extra:picture-in-picture stuff.

Vampyres (Blue Underground) Fans of sordid Euro-lesbian vampire erotica should get a kick out of this minor ’70s cult classic that is neither as scandalous nor impressive as its reputation makes out. But its chilly atmosphere and sufficiently sleazy content is doubly appreciated in high-def. Fun fact: the vampire’s lair is none other than famed gothic mansion Oakley Court, which was also used in Rocky Horror and several noteworthy Hammer horror titles. Extras: director and producer’s commentary, interviews with stars Marianne Morris and former Playboy centerfold Anulka Dziubinksa.
Collateral (Paramount) This Blu-raise of Michael Mann’s sorta-forgotten 2004 thriller is a nice addition to our week’s selection of confused contract killers. A novelty in its time, Collateral was partially shot on high-def digital video, and this transfer is a marked improvement that the film rightly deserves. It’s also nice to revisit pre-meltdown Tom Cruise as a silver-haired/suited badass. And wasn’t Jamie Foxx nominated for an Oscar for this? He was, wasn’t he? BD extras: Mann commentary, making-of, deleted scenes, more.
IMAX: Under the Sea (Warner) Who needs Avatar when the coolest IMAX visuals are swimming under our ocean’s surface? A very un-Jim Carrey Jim Carrey narrates this curt 40-minute doc that’s both educational for kiddies and, like any nature doc worth its salt, stoner-friendly. BD extras: quickie IMAX featurette, five expedition docs.   
Bigfoot (Troma) Attention sasquatchsploitation buffs! America’s most beloved indie studio is releasing this mind-blowingly cut-rate 2006 non-gem that next-to-no-one has seen. Bigfoot includes typical Troma trappings like a piddly budget, endearing lo-fi f/x, abysmal acting, gore galore and, did I neglect to mention, BIGFOOT VISION! Extras: commentary, making-of, Tromatic trailers.