You Kill Me
(Alliance Atlantis, 2007) D: John Dahl, w/ Ben Kingsley, Téa Leoni. Rating: NNNN , DVD package: NNN This outstanding romantic comedy for grown-ups emerges naturally from a gritty thriller about an alcoholic hit man sent from Buffalo to San Francisco to dry out.
Ben Kingsley does his usual fine, understated job as Frank, who knows nothing but drinking and murder. Téa Leoni matches him as the woman he meets through his new funeral parlour job. She plays it with the bleak reserve and casual cleverness of the best noir heroines.
Together, they're reminiscent of the great movie couples, say Bogart and Bacall, only they're not selling sex and glamour.
John Dahl, who has directed some good thrillers, notably The Last Seduction, keeps the gangster movie tone throughout, so the humour pops out in unexpected ways.
That's an entirely appropriate approach to some very odd comedy. The reaction of attendees at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting when Frank admits his profession is priceless.
There aren't many extras, but writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have interesting things to say about comedy in the commentary they share with Dahl.
EXTRAS Director and writers commentary, making-of doc, effects comparison. Wide-screen. English, French audio. English, French, Spanish subtitles.
(Hollywood, 2007) D: David Goyer, w/ Justin Chatwin, Margarita Levieva. Rating: NNN , DVD package: NNN
The invisible wasn't a hit in theatres and didn't get good reviews: it was mis-hyped as a mystery, which it isn't. But it's worth a rental for its unusual story that feels darker at the finish than the uplifting redemption the score tries to sell.
At the very end of high school, popular but lonely rich kid Nick (Justin Chatwin) is beaten to death. His spirit latches onto young thug Annie (Margarita Levieva) as the only person who can save him. But she has her own unravelling life to deal with.
It's quiet and soft conventional filmmaking with low-key acting. Chatwin acquits himself well enough as the hero, but Levieva's ice-cold presence gives the movie most of its power.
All this is done without supernatural effects, a nice change from all the current CGI excesses, keeping our attention on the emotion, where the story really is.
Co-writer Mick Davis's commentary is all about emotion. His direct, heartfelt approach is a rarity and makes a nice contrast to director David Goyer's remarks about lighting and what the scenes are supposed to do.
EXTRAS Director and co-writer Christine Roum commentary, Davis commentary, deleted scenes. Wide-screen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles.
Elvira's Movie Macabre
(Shout, 1981-85) w/ Cassandra Peterson. Rating: NNN DVD package: n/a
Gamera, Super Monster
(1980) D: Noriaki Yuasa, w/ Mach Fumiake, Yaeko Kojima. Rating: NN
They Came From Beyond Space
(Shout, 1967) D: Freddie Francis, w/ Robert Hutton, Jennifer Jayne. Rating: NN
The movies aren't the point here. The host is.
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, oozed onto late-night TV screens in 1981 to host a package of cheeseball chillers that turned her into a continent-wide cult hit. She looked like a gothboy's wet dream, all long legs, big cleavage and bigger hair. Then she opened her mouth and turned into the trailer trash next door. Millions of guys like me stayed up late just to catch her 10 minutes of intro, extro and intrusions.
Shout Factory has put out six of these double bills, priced right at $13.59 on amazon.ca. They're the same crappy prints of crappy movies originally broadcast, with no extras.
All you get is the option to watch the movie without Elvira, and why would you want to?
Gamera isn't crappy so much as nuts. The tale of a giant jet-propelled turtle defending Earth against monsters is wall-to-wall wackiness and multiple monster mash, all ineptly yet ambitiously done and fuelled by berserk music.
They Came From Beyond Space features stiff, expressionless British actors as scientists zapped into stiff, expressionless zombies by space invaders. Dull talk gives way to mild zaniness at about the 5-minute mark.
EXTRAS Gamera: wide-screen. Beyond Space: full frame, cropped.
Night Of The Living Dead 3D
(Alliance Atlantis, 2006) D: Jeff Broadstreet, w/ Sid Haig, Brianna Brown. Rating: NN , DVD package: NNN
Those of us who worship 3-S as the glittering godhead of glorious gimmickry rejoiced at the thought of Night Of The Living Dead. Then we watched it and wept. It's flat as a pancake just when it should be flinging guts, ghouls and girls in our eyes.
"We didn't want to make a gimmicky movie," says the director on his informative but glee-free commentary. For pity's sake, somebody hand this man a clue.
They changed the story a little. The walking dead trap our heroes on a dope grower's farm, and Sid Haig, who's turning into a downmarket Vincent Price, pops up as a demented undertaker who might have accidentally started the whole thing. But it's the same zombie show it's always been, and there's no reason to remake it unless you're going to top the original. These guys don't come close.
That said, the 3-D mostly works well, and they do break the picture plane now and then to shove stuff in your eyes - not the red, wet stuff you hoped for, but it's better than nothing.
The behind-the-scenes extras are interesting and surprisingly honest: no money, the 3-D is a backer's gimmick, a backbreaking shoot.
EXTRAS Commentary; making-of and 3-D docs; writer, director, Haig Q&A; four pairs of 3-D glasses. Wide-screen. English, French audio. English, French, Spanish subtitles.
Coming Tuesday, October 16
(Dreamworks/Universal, 2007) Big machines become other big machines and things blow up a lot.
A Mighty Heart
(Paramount, 2007) Fact-based story with Angelina Jolie as journalist Daniel Pearl's wife on the hunt for her kidnapped husband.
Grindhouse: Planet Terror
(Alliance Atlantis, 2007) Director Robert Rodriguez has big fun with big guns.
The Jazz Singer
(WB, 1927) Outstanding three-disc edition of the first-ever talking film, loaded with hours of rare material.
= Critics' Pick
NNNNN = excellent, maintains big screen impact
NNNN = very good
NNN = worth a peek
NN = Mediocre
N = Bomb