It’s New Release Tuesday and here are your best bets:
The Last Song: Inexplicably bestselling author Nicholas Sparks crafted his latest masterpiece as the basis for a film to star tween sensation and increasing poor role model Miley Cyrus. That’s bad enough but even worse than that is the fact that the film follows the exact same template as almost all of Sparks’ other work (a young couple meet and fall in love but a tragic set of circumstances conspires to keep them apart. Love eventually conquers all). That’s a combination of blatant cash grab and fundamental lack of effort that I simply can’t abide. Also starring Liam Hemsworth, Greg Kinnear, and Kelly Preston.
Alternate Suggestions: If you’re looking for a coming of age film that actually attempts to convey the pain and wonder of that time in person’s life, you should definitely check out François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. The film is a near perfect chronicle of youth in transition and a seminal film of its age, so in many ways it’s the polar opposite of The Last Song. For a more recent example of extremely well done teen drama, check out Winnie Holzman’s ground breaking Television series, My So-Called Life. The sadly shortly lived show followed Angela Chase (Claire Danes) as she navigates growing up smart and passionate in mid 90’s suburban America. It’s one the most realistic and heartfelt takes on adolescence ever made.
Special Features: Director and producer commentary, set tour, and a Miley Cyrus music video and an essential making of for that video.
Furry Vengeance: Another film in which Brendan Fraser wastes his box office cache on a tepid children’s film, this time following a dopey real estate developer who comes into conflict irritatingly feisty forest animals who attempt to defend their homes by sabotaging Fraser in increasingly irritating ways. Yes, George of the Jungle and Journey to the Center of the Earth made a lot of money but for every one of those successes there’s a Looney Toones: Back in Action or an Inkheart. Fraser works as a semi-goofy action hero but he’s not a great dramatic actor and he’s not a great romantic lead. Hacky kiddie fair with overly laden morals (environmentalism is good, in this case) and just a waste money and effort for all concerned. Also starring Ken Jeong, Brooke Shields, and Angela Kinsey.
Alternate Suggestions: If you want to watch an awful children’s film with serious tonal issues, give 3 Ninjas a look. It’s directed by Jon Turtletaub, the man behind the National Treasure franchise and fellow 2010 bomb The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Its half Karate Kid rip off and half terrible 1990’s crime movie. Since it’s an early 90’s family film, it could be ironically described as “tubular” and “radical”. For another awesomely trashy gem from the period, you should give (VHS only) Josh and S.A.M. a rent. It’s the story of two young brothers who run away from home in the aftermath of their parent’s traumatic divorce and encounter a series of even more traumatic circumstances after the elder brother Josh convinces Sam that he is secretly a government super soldier. They encounter and almost kill a man claiming to be their real father and nearly die during a police chase in Salt Lake City. The film was rated PG-13 for “kids in jeopardy” and only made $800,000 at the domestic box office. Both are highly recommended.
Special Features: Deleted scenes, gag reel, a single featurette and director and cast commentary which will be heartbreaking because it was recorded before the movie was released and all the participants will be blissfully unaware of how poorly the film will be received. There’s always a lot of totally unjustified optimism with doomed movies like this. Wouldn’t it be better to record the commentary after the film bombs? It would given the filmmakers a chance to vent and unmitigated bitterness is always more entertaining than baleful cluelessness.
The Good The Bad The Weird: An excellent post-Tarantino take on Sergio Leone greatest film. Seriously, this is one of the best films released in America this year. Read my full review here.
Alternate Suggestions: If you haven’t gotten around to see The Weird‘s most obvious inspiration, the 1966 classic The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, you should. Like, right now. You it owe to yourself see one of the most influential films in the Western genre. For another great East/West fusion movie, you’ll want to check out Sukiyaki Western Django. It’s directed by outlaw auteur Takeshi Miike (Audition) and actually features Quentin Taratino in cameo role. It’s a quasi prequel to Sergio Corbucci’s Django with the plot from A Fistful of Dollars and an all Japanese cast speaking phonetic pronounced English. Its tons twisted fun.
Special Features: Three featurettes, four interviews, Cannes highlight reel, and theatrical trailer.
All of the releases mentioned here have links to their respective Amazon pages but you can also visit Cleveland area Blockbusters, Family Videos, and redboxes for these and other new releases.
Mario blogs regularly at A Polemic Killer Room