BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM (20th Century Fox, 2002) D: Gurinder Chadha, w/ Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley. Rating: NNN
This is a well-packaged presentation of Chadha's unexpected hit, the story of an Anglo-Indian gal who defies her conventional mom and follows her dream to play football. To think that after films like My Beautiful Laundrette and My Son The Fanatic, the Anglo-Indian cinema has come to candy-coloured ethno-cultural hijinks and "you go, girl" homilies. Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley (Pirates Of The Caribbean) do have real screen presence, though, and I hope they move on to better parts. Of course, I thought that about Archie Panjabi after seeing her in East Is East, and here she is playing the heroine's bitchy, materialistic older sister. Both wide-screen and full-screen versions are available; the banner's bottom front on the box, so you don't get the full-screen by mistake.
DVD EXTRAS Director/writer commentary, a dozen deleted scenes, making-of featurette, international trailer gallery and, for fun, the music video for the bhangra-inflected version of Hot Hot Hot that plays over the closing credits. English, Spanish, French versions; English and Spanish subtitles.
MOONLIGHT WHISPERS (Kino, 1999) D: Akihiko Shiota w/ Kenji Mizuhashi, Tsugumi. Rating: NNNN
this is a japanese teen romance with a twist. Takuya is madly in love with his fencing partner, Satsuki. She's interested. He was born to be tortured, and she has the emotional thumbscrews. Moonlight Whispers manages to see teen love as essentially sado-masochistic, though neither party here has the emotional intelligence to see what their relationship is. All Satsuki knows is that making Takuya miserable makes her happy, so she does so with a vengeance, including shutting him up in a closet while having sex with other guys.
It's a tremendous-looking film. Cin-ematographer Shigeru Komatsubara shot The Eel, Dr. Akagi and Warm Water Under A Red Bridge for Shohei Imamura - which unearths the buried subtext of most teen romances and examines it as if it were a strange insect. Excellent transfer.
DVD EXTRAS Director interview, theatrical trailer. Japanese with English subtitles.
THE TERROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (Wellspring, 1977) D: Calvin Floyd, w/ Leon Vitali, Per Oscarsson. Rating: NNN
this bare, "realistic" adaptation of
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a Swedish-Irish co-production, may be the most faithful interpretation of the novel. Rather than laying on the gothic atmosphere, it has slightly grainy colour, reminiscent of contemporary films like Werner Herzog's The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser, and a wrenching performance by the great Swedish actor Per Oscarsson as the Monster. It's reasonably priced, and would score much higher if it weren't for Wellspring's mastering of the disc, which suffers from occasional frame shudders and some inconsistency of the colour in the night sequences. Excellent booklet essay, though. Leon Vitali, who plays Frankenstein, has a very interesting resumé: he spent most of his time working with Kubrick as a casting agent and assistant.
DVD EXTRAS Theatrical trailer. AN EVENING WITH THE PETER GREEN SPLINTER GROUP - IN CONCERT (Eagle Vision, 2003) D: Perry Joseph, w/ Peter Green. Rating: NNN
when eric clapton left john may- all's
Bluesbreakers, Mayall hired Peter Green as his replacement. When Green left Mayall to form his own group, he took Mayall's rhythm section, bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, and founded Fleetwood Mac. He also wrote Black Magic Woman and gave it to Carlos Santana. He then took a lot of LSD-25, went on a journey to find God and never really came back. In the interview included on this DVD, he has the remote stare of a psychiatric in-patient. After a very long retirement, Green came back to music, dug deep into the blues and still plays like England's best blues guitarist. This DVD isn't much of a visual experience - it's a bunch of middle-aged guys on a bare stage - but it's a terrific blues record, with a little Elmore James, a little Robert Johnson, some of Green's own classics and a lot of very fine guitar work. Over two hours of music, and thus cheaper than picking it up on CD. For fans of classic blues.
DVD EXTRAS Interviews, additional tour footage, discography.
THE TICK (Columbia TriStar, 2001) D: Barry Sonnenfeld, w/ Patrick Warburton, Liz Vassey. Rating: NNNN
we've moved very quickly from TV shows with massive followings and long runs issued in season boxes to some very short-lived series indeed. Columbia TriStar has actually announced (for November) My Big Fat Greek Life - all seven episodes. There was no market for the show on TV, or it might have lasted longer.
On the other hand, there's the nine-episode cult item The Tick, created by Barry Sonnenfeld from Ben Edlund's comic strip. It has a few fanatical supporters.
The Tick stars Patrick Warburton (Seinfeld's Puddy) as "the big blue bug of justice" in a strange world where superheroes, instead of having secret identities, lounge around their ratty apartments in costume. It's a remarkably odd and uneven series, but it does have some giddy highs. In the hilarious episode called The Funeral, they discover that America's greatest hero, The Immortal, isn't; and in Arthur Needs Space, the Tick can't figure out why his sidekick wants to spend time with his dream girl.
DVD EXTRAS Episode commentaries, TV spots, DVD-ROM extras.
ALSO THIS WEEK
THE LION KING: PLATINUM EDITION (Disney) Disney issues one title a year in its Platinum series. Sleeping Beauty, Beauty And The Beast and now a two-disc SE of The Lion King.
MAN WITHOUT A PAST (Seville) Aki Kaurismäki's deadpan comic masterpiece (winner of the grand prize at Cannes, FIPRESCI film of the year) about a man who tries to rediscover his life after getting bopped on the head.
THE MARK OF ZORRO (Fox Studio Classics) Tyrone Power in the classic swashbuckler against Basil Rathbone. Great fencing scenes
= Critics' Pick
NNNNN = excellent, maintains big screen impact
NNNN = very good
NNN = worth a peek
NN = Mediocre
N = Bomb