(Alliance Atlantis, 2005) D: Stuart Gordon, w/ William H. Macy, Rebecca Pidgeon. Rating: NNNN
Edmond is William H. Macy's show all the way. He's in every scene, almost every shot. He's utterly convincing and captivating with an extraordinary range of emotion that includes but is not limited to rage, terror, mealy-mouthed weaseling and hardcore heartbreak.
He goes through most of this in one night, a middle-management milquetoast who walks out on his wife and his life to go looking for he knows not what. He finds sex and violence and, as David Mamet, author of the play and screenplay it's taken from, points out in his laconic commentary, "he confuses the two." Along the way, Mamet also takes shots at sex and commerce, race relations, religion and philosophy. It's a dark story and, occasionally, a very funny one.
The cast is filled with Mamet regulars including Joe Mantegna and Rebecca Pidgeon, who brings an almost concealed bitter agony to the abandoned wife. The cast clearly know and love the material and, even though no one but Macy is on screen for more than two scenes, everyone gives rich, nuanced performances.
Director Stuart Gordon, before he became known for horror movies, launched Mamet's writing career when he mounted Sexual Perversity In Chicago, Mamet's first play. He's as in touch with the material as the cast, and does a stellar job of keeping this from feeling stagebound.
Extras Director and cast commentary, Mamet commentary, making-of doc, deleted scenes. Wide-screen. English, French soundtracks. English, French subtitles.
That's My Bush!
(Paramount, 2001) creators: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, w/ Timothy Bottoms, Carrie Quinn Dolin. Rating: NNN
There's good news and bad news. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the brains behind South Park, don't like sitcoms. They say so in one of their brief episode commentaries. So they've parodied the sitcom clichés by leaching all the humour out of them, which makes them seriously unfunny, but not in the ordinary way of bad sitcoms. No, this is intentional. It's meta-unfunny which plays exactly like the regular kind. That's the bad news.
The good news is that Parker and Stone do like ridiculous farce, so about halfway through, each episode lifts off to a loonyland that's very close to South Park. In the best of the eight, Bush, with the help of Jack Kevorkian, disguised as the First Lady, tries to kill his old, smelly cat, but Laura thinks the pussy he's referring to is hers. In another, he vaporizes a chunk of Austria while trying to steal cable. Then there's the walking, talking aborted fetus. Outstandingly tasteless and hilarious.
This isn't the Bush-bashing you might expect. The show was conceived and shot before the Iraq invasion, so Bush is played as the standard well-meaning sitcom moron rather than, say, a vicious moron. Still, there are weird echoes when the pro-choice/anti-choice forces square off, or Arab terrorists burst into the Oval Office.
Timothy Bottoms does a good Bush, and the supporting actors seem to be having a great time. TV veteran Kurt Fuller (Detective Barton on Desperate Housewives) is a standout as cynical adviser Karl Rove.
Extras Parker and Stone mini-commentaries on each episode, somewhat longer cast commentaries. Full-frame.
(Columbia, 1984) D: Brian De Palma, w/ Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith. Rating: NNN
As empty-headed stylists go, Brian De Palma is one of the best, and he's in fine form here in a thriller that makes little, if any, rational sense but delivers some terrific suspense sequences and one outstanding performance.
Melanie Griffith had been acting for about 10 years when she took on the role of porn star Holly Body, who gets drawn into a murder plot thanks to the voyeuristic obsession of an unemployed actor (Craig Wasson). Griffith took the role and ran with it, imbuing what could've been a standard fantasy woman with brains, dignity, her own sense of humour and an unforced sexuality that doesn't need to sell itself.
She more than makes up for the moments that go thud, most notably the ill-timed grand romantic kiss. De Palma is refreshingly honest about those in the nice retrospective making-of doc.
Viewing it today, it's hard to believe that Griffith and the film were reviled for the mix of sex and violence. In its day it was a shocker. Now it plays as a good thriller and 80s period piece.
Extras Good retrospective making-of docs with extensive director and cast interviews. Wide-screen. English, French soundtracks. English, French subtitles.
Coming Tuesday, October 31
Mission: Impossible III
(Paramount, 2006) Here's the two-disc special edition for those of you who can't get enough of the amazing secrets revealed. They used green screen, wire work and CGI, okay? In stores October 30.
The Human Factor
(MPI Home Video, 1975) Hollywood veteran Edward Dmytryk (Murder, My Sweet) directs George Kennedy in a revenge thriller.
The Last Detective: Series 2
(Acorn Media, 2006) Solid UK crime drama with acclaimed TV star Peter Davison as the low-key copper.
CSI Miami: The Complete 4th Season
(Alliance Atlantis, 2006) Forensic fun for the fans.
= Critics' Pick
NNNNN = excellent, maintains big screen impact
NNNN = very good
NNN = worth a peek
NN = Mediocre
N = Bomb