May 18, 2010

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

Also this week: Walkabout, The Messenger, Gamera, GravyTrain

Highlight of the Week
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (CAV) From Dokken to dude who played Super Freddy in The Dream Child, almost no one is left out in the most comprehensive doc about any horror franchise, ever. Clocking at an insanely ambitious four hours, all eight Freddy features plus one surreal syndicated series are explored with staggering depth that never gets tiresome. This project often surpasses its own subject in terms of giddy inventiveness (love the stop-motion intros) and sheer amusement (love the unintended gay subtext in Freddy’s Revenge). Freddy-philes who felt burned by last month’s pitiful reboot should make nice by ordering this indispensable exposé off Amazon or the film’s official website ( Who needs sleep when you also get four additional hours of extras including extended interviews, a 10-minute version of the series and a bonanza of featurettes featuring fans, props and the Angry Video Game Nerd.
Also Available 
Walkabout (Criterion, E1) In what many believe to be cinema’s high-water decade, Nicolas Roeg ranks as a principal trailblazer of the 1970s. Following his brilliant co-directorial debut, Performance, Roeg achieved full-blown auteur status with his 1971 film about two siblings abandoned in the Australian outback who are met by an Aborigine youth on his walkabout. What follows is an existential parable about disparate worlds, set against a haunting backdrop. Walkabout remains a challenging sit-through with an eerie resonance that demands repeat viewings. Criterion’s long-awaited reissue marks the first time this film has been made available in proper widescreen, and their Blu-ray presentation has earned my early vote as one of the year’s best. Like the movie, it is flawless. Extras: vintage commentary with Roeg and actress Jenny Agutter, excellent hour-long doc on Aborigine actor David Gulpilil, new interviews with Agutter and the director’s son, Luc Roeg (who plays the young boy). 
The Messenger (Alliance) Emotions run deep in Oren Moverman’s filmmaking first that looks into the lives of two US Army officers assigned to deliver grim news to relatives of fallen soldiers. Gruelling as it may seem, The Messenger is also a quietly uplifting non-weepy and a terrifically acted road flick. Ben Foster’s pissed-off yin plays well against Woody Harrelson’s hard-living, Oscar nom–worthy yang, while love interest Samantha Morton’s dowdy presence befits Foster’s equally wounded stature. Assured direction paired with what is essentially an actors’ script makes this a bummer trip worth taking more than once. The film’s stark, understated palette looks richer than one would assume on Blu. Extras: cast ’n’ crew commentary, doc on real-life notification officers, behind-the-scenes, fact-filled Q&A.
Gamera: The Giant Monster (Shout! Factory) Show of hands from all you kaiju eiga buffs. Let’s reiterate, who here likes huge, flying turtles that eat and breathe fire? Since you obviously do, scoop up this big-in-Japan beast in all its uncut, non-dubbed glory. Shot in marvelous monochrome, 1965’s Gamera was clearly influenced by 1954’s Gojira. Case in point: atomic explosion awakens Gamera from arctic slumber, Gamera stomps all over Tokyo, military shoots Gamera into space via rocket, sequels ensue. Well, close enough. Extras: super-detailed commentary, franchise retrospective, nice booklet. 
GravyTrain (Alliance) It’s no fun pooh-poohing on a ’70s-style indie cop-romp shot in Niagara Falls, written, directed and starring a Canadian twosome and featuring Tim Meadows with his Ladies Man lisp. Hot off the tail of much less painful precursor Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way Of The TosserGravyTrainplays like the most primitive television comedy sketch ever, only with more dick jokes. Extras:commentary, making-of, bloopers, Life of a Sock: a Suppledick production.