Hey friends, Shep here with this week’s edition of New on the Shelf, and it’s a pretty slow week again, but there are some lesser-known gems out there that are worth a look.
On the downside this week, there’s January’s Bride Wars, the atrocious-looking albeit popular chick flick starring two Oscar nominees who should have known better, Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway. As with most movies of its ilk, reviews were pretty hellacious, but it found an audience nevertheless. It looks terrifyingly superficial–a movie that doesn’t quite realize that it’s about a couple of characters who want to get married just because they want a big pompous wedding and not because they’re…y’know…in love or anything. Or maybe it does realize and it just doesn’t care. Hudson and Hathaway are two best friends who turn rival when their weddings accidentally get scheduled on the same day and only one of them can have the date. I didn’t see it, but my money’s on a great big double wedding at the end of the movie.
And there’s also Hotel for Dogs, otherwise known as the movie for people who thought Marley and Me was too highbrow. It’s about a couple of mischieveous kids who start up a hotel service for stray dogs. I guess to save them from the villainous dog-catcher or something. Aw, hell, I’m being too cynical. I’m sure I would’ve totally gone for this one as a kid. It may not be much, but it’s a movie about dogs and there was a day and age where that was good enough. Why not now? Maybe there are traces of Homeward Bound II or something. But I have to say that the one kid on the cover has an exceptionally punchable face. (Click the image to enlarge it–you’ll see what I’m talking about.)
Also hitting shelves is The Uninvited, February’s horror film starring David Strathairn (a step down from Good Night and Good Luck), Emily Browning, and Elizabeth Banks as the quintessential evil step-mom. It’s a remake of the Korean horror film A Tale of Two Sisters, which I remember seeing a long time ago and kind of liking but right now I remember absolutely nothing about it. I’m not much for the Asian-brand horror of late and the countless remakes that they spawn. Back in the day Asian horror gave us great films like Onibaba and even more recently we’ve had Takashi Miike’s awesome Audition. Now everything’s all about haunted toasters and shit.
And then we’ve got an interesting little picture that I’ve yet to see called JCVD. For those wondering, the JCVD stands for Jean-Claude Van Damme. (Were you really expecting anything else?) Taking quite the high-brow leap from his direct-to-video action pictures, Van Damme plays himself in this French film where he gets caught up in a bank robbery hostage situation and the cops think that he’s the one who did it. To free himself from this sticky situation, Van Damme must make like the action star we all know and love and kick some ass! Do you think he can do it? I think he can! And I plan on finding out ASAP.
Other releases this week include: Nagisa Oshima’s 1973 film, In the Realm of the Senses will be released by Criterion as well as his 1978 film Empire of Passion and Stephen Frears’s The Hit, also there’s What Doesn’t Kill You, starring Ethan Hawke and Mark Ruffalo, While She Was Out, starring Kim Basinger, Nothing But the Truth, with Kate Beckinsale and Matt Dillon, The Martyrs, a horror film, and a direct-to-video sequel by the name of Legally Blondes as well as rereleases of most of the films in the Beethoven franchise, and The Jetsons Movie.
Blu-Ray releases this week include Bride Wars, Hotel for Dogs, JCVD, What Doesn’t Kill You, and both of the Oshima films from Criterion. Other new Blu-Ray additions include The Reader and The Da Vinci Code.
My pick for this week is Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo’s 1971 film of his own 1939 novel, which finally gets a DVD release in the United States. This film is one of the most devastating, powerful, and wholly depressing films I think I’ve ever seen. That aside, it really is a good movie with a very strong anti-war message.
Timothy Bottoms plays Joe Bonham, who was horribly injured in WWI and lost his arms, legs, ears, eyes, mouth, and nose. He lays in his hospital bed having hallucinations, flashbacks, and heavy conversations with Jesus (as played by Donald Sutherland) and his father (played by Jason Robards). When he’s awake, he tries to make sense of what’s going on around him, but is unable to hear or communicate with anyone. He has no real means of keeping track of time and no way of letting anyone know that he just wants to be allowed to die. It’s certainly the most disturbing and effective anti-war film you’ll ever see.
The film won the Grand Prix at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival and Metallica famously used footage from the film for their music video for “One.” It will be released on Tuesday on DVD.
All titles will be available Tuesday, April 28. Keep an eye out for ‘em.
And buy Johnny Got His Gun on DVD HERE.