Drafthouse Films (the distribution arm of Alamo Drafthouse) releases its inaugural home video (DVD/Blu-ray) through Image Entertainment, starting with The FP (6/19) and Bullhead (6/26), the latter from Belgium and also rightfully nommed for a best foreign film Oscar. The FP stands for Frazier Park a small community north of Los Angeles. In a dystopian future (is there any other?) youth gangs in FP battle for supremacy by dancing off with an interactive video game, just like you see in arcades with the foot moves wired to the game. Everybody looks like they’re attired for a cut rate Road Warrior convention; the sets are industrial and cage like, and quite frankly its value lies in its campiness. Some curiosity factor extras show a post screening Q&A when the film screened in Frazier Park.
Bullhead on the other hand is a keeper, a superb although adult film that displays the division in Belgium between French speakers and Dutch speakers. A tale of childhood trauma merges with grown-up retribution, all set within a plot that involves mobsters, cops and an illegal hormone black market. The protag Jacky (Matthias Schoenaerts) defines conflicted, so ugly he seems deformed yet as the story unfolds he becomes the humane center of the film while all the other characters take on increasing bad traits.
A couple of other direct to home films, while not on the same level as Bullhead, impressed me through the anti-likeable characterizations of their respective lead actors. Some Guy Who Kills People (Anchor Bay, 7/3) stars Kevin Corrigan, longtime supporting guy in all those Scorsese films, as a taciturn misanthrope who was abused in school by jocks. Years later said jocks are turning up dead. Corrigan does a great slow burn and while he may not be Hollywood’s idea of a leading man he totally carries SGWKP; Barry Boswick also chews scenery as a sheriff. Black Limousine (Anchor Bay, 7/10) features David Arquette as a movie composer who while renown has ended up broke, divorced and working as a driver. BL has that weird low-rent Hollywood vibe as far as apartments and studio scenes and overall takes us into Arquette’s head in more surreal ways as he starts to lose it. Bijou Phillips co-stars. BL impressed me with its use of music, and since the film is about a composer that was a plus. The intrigue where Arquette becomes a driver for a celebrity who might be his ticket back to the guild was fraught with corny twists.
Not on a lighter note, A Necessary Death (MPI, 5/29) plays like a documentary but since it concerns a person who willingly agrees to kill them self on camera is more of a fictionalized docudrama, not unlike Catfish (2010). A Necessary Death, which played at SXSW a couple of years ago, works as a genre film with a surprising end even though you know it’s fakey. You don’t really want this to be real; the disc includes an alternative ending and deleted scenes. The director Daniel Stramm went on to helm The Last Exorcism.
If you want more of Kelly McDonald after Brave in The Decoy Bride (IFC, 6/26) she plays a wee lass who returns to her hometown, a small village off the Scottish Coast. More charming than anything else, The Decoy Bride has McDonald becoming involved in a secretive celebrity marriage taking place on the island. David Tennant and Alice Eve co-star. The lilt of the Scottish accent gives TDB a sweet flavor, while Eve speaks in an American accent quite well.
Kino Classics constantly provides “the discerning viewer” what they want, lots of obscure Fritz Lang and Buster Keaton. On July 10 Kino releases Keaton’s first feature starring role The Saphead. It’s kind of a revelation to see Keaton stone face in a film he didn’t direct. That path lay in front of him, with admittedly better movies, while this film merely establishes his presence on screen. Keaton plays the scion of a wealthy family who experiences misadventures on his way through society. One great extra contains a lengthy audio track of Keaton in 1962 at a dinner party talking and singing a bunch of songs with what sounds like a ukulele. Perhaps not oddly, this 1920 movie exists in two version both of which are similar yet no single take is alike. Both are included on the disc.
All the discs were reviewed on Blu-ray except A Necessary Death and Black Limousine.
— Michael Bergeron