April 13, 2010


Also this week: Red Cliff, Pirate Radio, Nightmare On Elm Street Collection, The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind

Highlight of the Week 
Defendor (Alliance) In all likelihood, comic-geek chic is going to reach a new zenith when two trendy adaptations, both shot in the GTA, visit our cineplexes: this weekend’s ultraviolent Kick-Ass and August’s hipsterrific Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Keeping that in mind, Defendor could not have dropped at a more fashionable time. Shot in a faux-seedy Hamilton, Canuck actor-turned-filmmaker Peter Stebbings’ self-reflexive spin on super-heroism is at once a gloomy satire and a surprisingly tender nod to Taxi Driver. The film gets away with its odd charm partly thanks to wonderfully maniacal performances by Woody Harrelson, as a mental-midget vigilante, and Elias Koteas as his criminal fixation. Forget Tony Stark, 2010 is all about Ontario’s trinity of surreal superheroes. Extras: commentary with Stebbings, producer Nicholas Tabarrok, Harrelson and co-star Kat Dennings, five swell featurettes, deleted scenes, blooper reel.

Also Available

Red Cliff: Extended Version 
(E1) Perhaps owing to the financial flop that was Steven Soderbergh’s Che, North American distributors opted to release the most expensive Asian production ever in a drastically abridged (read: butchered) form. Nevertheless, “Red Cliffs Notes” garnered some attention and made several top-of-the-year lists. Those who held out for a more intact version are rewarded for their patience with this definitive and monstrous 288-minute cut of John Woo’s super-stylized historical saga. It’s also available in mighty high-def, so don’t feel sore if you missed the silver-screen run. And Woo’s insanely grandiose battle sequences are legitimately spectacular even by early Woo standards. Extras: making-of, storyboarding featurette, behind the scenes, Woo interview, more.  
Pirate Radio (Alliance) Based roughly on Britain’s unlawful nautical radio stations of the swinging ’60s, Pirate Radio (known asThe Boat the Rocked when it was initially released in a longer UK cut) is a smashing concept, but what we have here is a dully sanctimonious, rarely insightful Brit-com. Despite the film’s eclectic ensemble cast, fronted by cool cats Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Nighy, you will probably want to jump ship somewhere around the 40th cutesy montage featuring generic, shrieking hippie hussies. Extras: groovy commentary with director Richard Curtis, producer Hilary Bevan Jones and actors Nick Frost and Chris O’Dowd, ungroovy deleted scenes.

Nightmare on Elm Street Collection 
(New Line) This Elm Street enthusiast bitterly recalls the opening sequence from Scream, where Drew Barrymore declares “the first one was [scary], but the rest sucked.” (Surely she never saw Dream Warriors.) Despite that winking assertion — Wes Craven conceived the Scream franchise too, FYI — all six sequels plus oneFriday the 13th–fusion should keep viewers awake, because there’s no other horror icon quite so stupidly amusing as Freddy Krueger. Before the questionable-looking Elm Street reboot arrives in theatres April 30, get your Freddy fix by spinning this budget-friendly collection in one sitting. (And don’t nod off, lest you be eaten and spat-out like poor Johnny Depp.) Extras: select commentaries, non-state-of-the-art 3D glasses for the Freddy’s Dead climax, jump to a nightmare, more.

The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind
 (Warner) If you frankly don’t give a damn about revisiting 1939’s classic among classics, you may still want to check out this Christopher Plummer–narrated doc about David O. Selznick’s tumultuous efforts turning Margaret Mitchell’s novel into one of the most beloved strips of celluloid ever. I suggest shelling out for the 70th anniversary ultimate edition that includes this nugget among other riches. Extras do not get their own extras.