Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco comes out in a Criterion Collection Blu-ray (7/24) that includes commentary with Stillman and stars Chloe Sevigny and Chris Eigeman, a short featurette, and an audio clip (about 20 minutes) of Stillman reading from his own satiric novelization of the film. Seeing this film after about 14 years, as well as seeing Stillman’s first film since 1998 earlier this year (Damsels in Distress), brings to the fore his singular penchant to entertain with sharp dialogue. It’s the kind of text that advances the narrative as opposed to expository dialogue that brings the viewer up to date. The transfer preserves DP John Thomas’ colorful photography. The night scenes, the walking and talking, the denunciations are presented so naturally that you accept this early 80s milieu of privilege at face value even while grasping the bigger story in retrospect. Stillman’s debut Metropolitan, also shot by Thomas, gets the Criterion Blu-ray treatment in addition. Metropolitan earned Stillman an Oscar nomination for screenplay. In a marked contrast to Last Days, Metropolitan features the same verbose style of dialogue but the actors are not recognizable stars (save for Eigeman). It becomes obvious in the rear view mirror that Stillman, with his debut in 1990, was one of the major directorial talents to launch in that decade. Extras include outtakes and alternative casting.
ATM (7/31, IFC) has a screenplay by Buried writer Chris Sparling, and if that’s not enough to warrant a view of this claustrophobic thriller that takes place entirely in a small building in the middle of the night, then consider the excellent three person cast that includes Alice Eve, Josh Peck, and Brian Geraghty. The trio find themselves trapped inside a glass walled ATM center with a stalker preventing them leaving. The stalker keeps out of range of security cameras while his prey keep making mistake after mistake. ATM has both tact and balls and should’ve been a theatrical release rather than a dvd direct. Brake (7/24, IFC) also seems to be influenced by Buried, only with a bigger box. A secret service agent (Stephen Dorff) awakens after abduction locked in a clear box in the trunk of a car. As the stakes escalate it becomes apparent he’s at the center of a terrorist outbreak. The action stays confined to the trunk, which is the biggest trunk in cinematic memory. Brake doesn’t surpass Buried for claustrophobic tension but does have some clever twists on its way to a startling ending.
Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog (7/10, Music Box) celebrates a Labrador Retriever from his birth to being paired as the eyes of a blind man. From Japan, a country that honors animals in ways unique and pure, in Japanese with English subtitles. Quill knows how to be a movie for dog lovers without the mawkishness usually afforded such efforts.
Klown has to be one of the funniest raunchy man bonding films that’s come down the trail recently. The film resulted from a six season Dutch television series. The Blu-ray is scheduled for September but will be available on VOD, iTunes and select theatrical (the closest Klown is playing is Austin) starting July 27. Klown follows two decidedly dorky dudes who in a mid-life crisis travel across their land seeking the “tour de pussy.” Frank Hvam and Casper Christensen star and debauch in ways unthinkable in American films. Just when you think they can’t outdo the previous perversion, they do. The Fantastic Fest website has a link to one of the episodes from the show (written by Lars von Trier).
Not quite as raunchy as Klown but lewd, rude and occasionally nude is the British television show that ran three seasons starting in 2008. The Inbetweeners: The Complete Series (7/17, Entertainment One), seems to be based on Superbad as it follows teen lads in their constant quest for beer and trim. A movie version of Inbetweeners opens domestically in September.
When Ewan McGregor and Eva Green meet cute it happens to coincide with a worldwide epidemic that robs people of their various senses. Under David McKenzie’s direction Perfect Sense (5/22, MPI) touches on topical issues and imagines a disease of smell and sound, although the film avoids the larger tragedy of such a malady as suggested by Fernando Meirelles’ Blindness (2008). Equal amounts of romance, sex, comedy and drama ensure Perfect Sense finds a welcome reception.
All of the discs were reviewed on Blu-ray except Quill and The Inbetweeners.
— Michael Bergeron