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DVD slight return

Submitted by MBergeron on August 17, 2011 – 2:44 amNo Comment
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Here’s a look at some DVDs that just hit the street with an eye geared towards classics as well as some current releases that should’ve played wider theatrically.

The Bang Bang Club stars Ryan Phillippe as a photojournalist risking death for glory in combat zones. The Pulitzer and contract work for major newspapers would seem a worthy goal, but at what sacrifice of your personal dignity? The main action is specifically set in South African townships between 1990 and1994 and based on a real quartet of photojournalists who documented events culminating in the Apartheid government crackdown during the ’94 elections. Gripping and mostly true to life.

Meet Monica Velour headlines Kim Cattrall as an aging porn star who hooks up with a geek who’s obsessed with her. A kind of dramedy where mobile home reality clashes with Napoleon Dynamite style dementia. Exceptional performances from Cattrall and in a small role Brian Dennehy.

Super goes further than any caped crusader fighting crime film in deconstructing the myth of the superhero. A dorky dude whose wife has left him for a gangster and who himself is somewhat of a religious zealot retreats into a world where he becomes Crimson Bolt. CB dresses in a cheap looking costume and tells crime to shut-up. Rainn Wilson perfectly suits this character. The guy’s crazy, he goes around hitting people in the head with a monkey wrench because they cut in line. The entire tone is one of reality yet everything’s played for laughs under the direction of James Gunn. Ellen Page plays a chick that works at a comic store that wants to be CB’s sidekick. Super is a totally psychotic film. In other words you probably want to see Super as fast as possible.

Omnibus: American Profiles is a two-DVD set featuring a bevy of the top names in arts, science and fiction being interviewed by Alistair Cookie in this anthology series from the 50s. Sure it’s in black-and-white and often static but the conversation exceeds anything you could imagine taking place on the boob tube nowadays. Luminaries include Frank Lloyd Wright, Pearl Buck, William Faulkner, James Thurber, with many more. The discs are divided into people and places, with locations like Grand Central Station having its own episode. Another place episode, New York Night People shows a late-50s bohemian scene that hits all the right retro notes.

Zonad is a simple comedy that revolves around a small Irish village and an escaped mental patient. The portly fellow steals a pair of leotards, dons a helmet and tells the people of the village that he’s from outer space – and they believe him. The humor on display reminded me more of Benny Hill than say Monty Python, but Zonad still exudes quaint charm.

Breaking Glass from 1980 stars Hazel O’Connor as the lead singer in a punk/new wave band. After failing the usual auditions the band hits big and rises to the top. Along the path Breaking Glass becomes more and more cynical. A very young Jonathan Pryce plays the band’s sax player.

David Holzman’s Diary (1967) created history in its wake. DHD’s influence (lots of young adult in New York ennui) was apparent on independent films that came afterwards. As helmed by Jim McBride DHD unwinds as a kind of mockumentary where the lead, David Holzman natch (L.M. Kit Carson) films his life with a 16mm camera.

Watching the film now you realize how it prophesized the whole videotape-your-life-and-put-it-on-Youtube phenomenon. One hilarious sequence has Holzman filming himself watching Star Trek. There are also extras that feature three of McBride’s short films. Lots of nudity and ‘60s idealism.

- Michael Bergeron

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