Tuesday 4 May 2010


SLACKER ON DVD's is a round-up of this weeks most notable releases on DVD and Blu-Ray, along with some of the less notable ones too.
More after the jump...

Arriving 11 years after the original cult hit, this sequel sees the MacManus brothers returning to Boston to clear their name after a local priest is murdered. This is pretty much a rehash of the first film with a few new elements that don't necessarily work. All Saints Day tries to add a mythology to the series, with Godfather 2 style flashbacks, showing Billy Connolly's character as a young man entering a world of crime that would forever steer his children's lives. Clifton Collins Jr appearing as comic relief, and Julie Benz as a smart-ass FBI agent are the two major new characters, both of whom are more charismatic that the one-note brothers. Despite being more Irish than Louis Walsh doing the Riverdance on the Blarney Stone, it's Scotsman Billy Connolly who's the best thing about this movie, bringing some weight to the story and mystique to his character, despite barely reaching 15 minutes screen time. If you're a fan of John Woo's heroic bloodshed films or if you're one of the crowd who considers the original to be a classic, you may find things to enjoy here, but for anyone new to the series it's hard to care about the brother's cause.

For a couple of years now i've been hearing about a ridiculous movie called 'The Room'. It's directed by and stars a man of indeterminate European origin, and is supposed to be so bad that it's become a Plan 9 from Outer Space for the new millennium. People gather to have screenings of it and laugh at the terribleness of it all. I've been dying to see it for myself, but it's only available in America. Well, that blow has been softened now, because i've seen Ripple Effect.
This may look like some sort of futuristic thriller with some big name actors, but it's really the story of a struggling  Fashion Designer called Amer Atrash (played by director Philippe Caland) who is struggling with the secret that he once hit a man with his car, confining him to a wheelchair. He decides to track that man down and make amends with him. This is one of those peculiar projects where a director has cast himself as the lead in his own movie, without seeing acting ability as a pre-requisite. Unfortunately, he's almost as bad an actor as he is a director.
How he managed to get Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, and Oscar nominees Minnie Driver and Virginia Madsen to appear in this film is beyond me. I've come to the conclusion that they all must have accidentally wandered into a Nazi themed orgy once, and Philippe Caland was there taking pictures.
The most absurd aspect of this film is trying to pass this guy off as a fashion designer. He dresses terribly throughout the entire movie, never far away from his stupid little hat or Pauly Shore surfer attire. Maybe the filmmakers knew their limitations and were subliminally stating the quality of the film in the name of the main character, ATRASH. Honestly.
In terms of story, Atrash basically goes out into the desert with wheelchair bound Forest Whitaker much to the disapproval of Whitaker's wife, Minnie Driver. There he finds himself, a pompous overblown Frenchman with appalling fashion sense.
This movie does have a genuinely hilarious ending involving, but not limited to, sepia flashbacks, potential drownings, a large black man diving out of a wheelchair and a Frenchman at sunset dropping to his knees on a beach in despair.

I would also like to add that i think this movie should be seen by everyone on the planet, so that these mistakes never need to be made ever again.

"Saw meets Seven" says the quote on this DVD. The fact that it's made by the director should in no way sway your feelings about his impartiality. He really wants that to be true. Starring Mark Thompson and Teri Polo as a couple of hard-nosed cops who always look like they're at the end of a 20 hour shift, there's a serial killer on the loose and they have to capture him so he stops killing, obviously. This is basically an episode of a procedural show like CSI but a bit less gruesome and with lower production values. The cover looks nasty enough, but i'm not sure if that guy even appears in the movie. I don't think i've ever seen Mark Thompson in anything before, but he seems to be auditioning to cover Mark Harmon's NCIS vacation time. Of the supporting cast Mark Pellegrino walks in and completely signposts his characters intentions straight away. The only thing that doesn't give away the ending immediately, is some particularly confusing flashback sequences. You'll be totally unsure as to who they're meant to relate to.

John Rabe was a businessman living in Nanjing in the 1930's. After the Japanese started to attack the province, Rabe along with a number of other foreign businessman took it upon themselves to open up their land for the fleeing Chinese refugees. History is always written by the winners of the battle, and folk hero or not, John Rabe was still a Nazi. This film sets out to be another Schindler's List, but by skipping over Rabe's dubious political allegiance taints its motivations. His Nazi party membership is mentioned, mainly in conversations with the German Jew also in the safe zone, Dr Rosen, but isn't explored enough. Hollywood biopics do this all the time, but i'd have hoped for more from this international production. That said, there is still a good story to be told here, and Rabe and his associates did achieve some good by helping the refugees. Some of the imagery is unsettling, namely the scene where scores of Chinese figuratively and quite literally hide behind the Nazi flag. I hope that actually happened because that's propaganda that would made Leni Riefenstahl proud.

There is a good ensemble cast of international actors, namely Steve Buscemi and Daniel Bruhl, and plenty of good drama, even if it does vilify the Japanese somewhat. If you enjoy WWII films then this is a fairly solid two hours.

DVD of the week? Seriously, it's terrible, but Ripple Effect is a unique experience.

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