Monday, January 6, 2014

New Release Tuesday!!! (1/7/14)

As is often the case with The New Year, there are not a lot of new releases worthy of your attention this week.  That being said, Drafthouse Films has an astonishing film, Criterion has a disc for every classroom, and a personal favorite gets trudged through yet another Director's Cut.  The next few weeks promise a lot more Classic Cinema, but 2014 is taking its time in bringing the Essentials.


The Act of Killing:  Despite ranking #2 on my Top Ten Films of 2013, I was not originally planning on purchasing this brutally painful documentary.  It's not really the type of movie you drop in the player on Saturday Night; Joshaua Oppenheimer's inside look into the mindset of torture & murder during the 1960s Indonesian communist exterminations is probably the most disgusting thing I've ever subjected myself to, and it's a harrowing experience.  I certainly recommend every human on the planet to participate.  But do you need to own it?  Does it need to sit on your shelf?  Will high definition add to the experience?  Well, what really sends this into the MUST BUY category is the producer's commentary featuring the great mad director Werner Herzog.  I don't just want to hear what Herzog has to say in regards to the emotionally undercover filmmaking Oppenheimer had to commit, I need to hear the documentarian overlord assault these fiends with his beat poetry logic.  This is one of the rare occasions (especially these days) in which a commentary necessitates the purchase.  At the very least, you should find a copy to rent.  Again, not a fun-time movie, but one of those rare "important" documents that's worth the unease as it inspires serious conversation.


The Wicker Man - The Final Cut:  I'm not really sure the world needs another cut of The Wicker Man (especially considering I just suffered through an abysmal Director's Cut of The Warriors - see next Week in Dork for details), but I'm certainly curious.  Director Robin Hardy claimed in an Entertainment Weekly interview that the restoration is "100 times better."  Bold talk.  I can't imagine anything revelatory here and reviews of the film have been mixed, but is that backlash on the new edit, or can modern audiences even tolerate an oddball pagan film with such murky morals?

Throne of Blood:  Criterion's first big release of 2014 is this blu ray upgrade of my favorite Macbeth adaptation.  During that brief & wild time in which I taught 8th grade English, I discovered that the best way to get kids pumped on Shakespeare was to attack them with some badass samurais.  Toshiro Mifune dips into madness with Rashomon, but his General Washizu is the ultimate expression of power lust CRAAAAAZY.  Sure, it doesn't help that his beast wife Isuzu Yamada cracks so easily herself.  Macbeth is an ugly little tragedy, accentuated to perfection by Kurosawa's grand vision.


We Are What We Are:  This one slipped by me in 2013, but as I saw it pop up on multiple genre Best Of lists, I found myself drawn in by their lurid praise of the slow burn.  From the director of Stakeland, We Are What We Are sounds a lot like the "Home" episode of The X-Files, a cannibal tale that gives me nighttime shivers to this very day.  What is it about the consumption of human flesh that drives us all so buggy?  I can chow down on cow all day long as long as it's compacted into a nice, clean Big Mac.  But the very idea of snapping into a real-deal finger sandwich gives me the no-no-no-nos.  Uck.


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