War films detailing the loneliness, camaraderie, fears and moral questionings experienced by those in battle and on the home front are nothing new. French filmmaker Serge Bozon's 'La France' is no exception in that regard, though a series of jaw-dropping surprises transform the film into a wartime chronicle unlike any ever filmed.
The Baader Meinhof Complex, a 2009 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee, continues this introspection, charting the rise and fall of the Baader-Meinhof Group, the inner circle of the hard-left terrorist organization The Red Army Faction, which besieged Germany and much of Europe from the late 1960s through the late ’70s.
Penelope Spheeris knows youth culture. From her notorious Punk and Metal docs to big studio successes like Wayne’s World, she has made a mark as a filmmaker with an eye for the looks, tastes and attitudes of America’s young.
A scruffy, harelipped guy runs a lit candle across his naked body. The flame makes him wince in pain and whisper laughter. The laughs continue as he begins to masturbate furiously, eventually ejaculating a stream of fire high into the air. This shock opens Hungarian director György Pálfi’s Taxidermia, and it sets the tone perfectly.
Tim Burton’s latest has catapulted Lewis Carroll’s most famous creation back into the cultural limelight. Capitalizing on this, Infinity Entertainment Group has released a bare-bones single-disc assemblage of related shorts and features that span the history of cinema — some adhering closer to Carroll’s vision than others. Though raggedy, the collection contains a few gems.
Five years after the original, martial-arts whiz Tony Jaa returned to the world that made him famous, co-directing a follow-up with Ong Bak scripter Panna Rittikrai. Though touted as a prequel, Ong Bak 2: The Beginning holds zero ties to its progenitor — other than being a first-class martial-arts showcase.
Charles Bronson is Britain’s most dangerous prisoner. No, not the badass American actor of Death Wish fame. Charles Bronson is the nickname of Michael Peterson, a criminal incarcerated in the British penal system for the past 34 years — 30 of which have been spent in solitary confinement.
Year-end “best-of” lists give me the jitters. Yes, I know: poor Phil. It’s true, though. Ranking 12 months’ worth of DVD releases is an overwhelming task. Worse still is the mad rush to watch as many as possible as the year fades in an effort to catch an overlooked title. The stacks of unwatched screeners that skyscraper over my desk only compound the nerves.
Australia immediately stirs the imagination. Outback regions populated by Aborigines and exotic animals. Free spirits devoted to surf and sand. Apocalyptic, anti-authoritarian warriors tearing up the landscape with hellcars.
It is Halloween night. You’re gathered with friends for a movie marathon chocked full of remorseless axe-wielding madmen, brain-munching ghouls and unspeakable monsters. Your companions howl as horror builds and body parts fly, but you’re blind to it all with hands clamped tight across the eyes.