Awaken, my binary underlings and together we shall scour the home entertainment universe for film and TV releases that would bring the sofa-dwelling, nacho eating Gods themselves to their very knees! Um… Well, actually, no. Because this week, again, the new release schedule is so clogged with shit that you’re probably better off going to Dyno-Rod than HMV. This will not stand, Hollywood! Are you listening? People like me (handsome professionals) spend their life trying to help the Average Joe pick between the wheat and the chaff of your notoriously patchy “product”. But when you give us nothing but unmitigated bum-pastry, what am I supposed to do? Tell people to do something else? Like what? Read a book? You’re putting me and everyone like me (handsome professionals) in a very sticky situation. If people realise that there is a world outside, away from the occasionally entertaining morsels you sling in our bowls, they may decide to go visit it and never come back. And I’m ill, too. I mean, come on, throw me a bone; just a little something to make it worth my time cracking open at least one sleep-encrusted eye. No? Think of the people! Let’s just say I suggest that they give BLOOD CREEK a miss. Directed by former hairdresser Joel “I killed Batman” Schumacher and starring future Superman Henry Cavill, this pile of toss is a revenge actioner that somehow also manages to take in Third Reich experiments into the occult, farming and that bald fellow from Prison Break that was such a camp baddie in Blade Trinity (it also acts as an illustration of how jobs taken when you need to pay the rent can come back and haunt you when you’re living the high life; as well as Cavill, this pile of poo-poo also features man of the moment Michael Fassbender).
What if people do the right thing and steer clear of this tripe – which, I should point out has been knocking around the vaults since 2009 under the title Town Creek – what exactly do you suggest they do instead? An evening course in bakery? Paintball? No. They’ll riot again and this time it’ll be your mansions they come for, your classic car collections; your swimming pools – normally packed to the brim with topless Victoria’s Secret models that drink cocktails and splash each other playfully – will be shat in by JD Sports-attired hooligans with more fists than teeth and a hard-on for criminal damage. I haven’t enjoyed a Schumacher film since D.C. Cabs (a.k.a. Street Fleet, starring Mr T) but I was an idiot infant then and I’m not about to recommend one now. What else have you got?
HOLY ROLLERS, eh? This is the week’s big new release? Jesse Eisenberg’s first post-Social Network movie left many people cold with it’s based-on-a-true-story antics about an orthodox Jew who gets entangled in a drug smuggling outfit. It sounds meh to me, move on. RIO? Animated bird hi-jinx starring Eisenberg (again) and the future Selina Kyle Anne Hathaway? Not good enough, Hollywood, not good enough by a long chalk. Next.
THE HIKE? What is it? A horror, you say, OK, who’s in it? Tamer Hassan?
CONSPIRATOR? OK. That sounds a little more like it. James McAvoy and Robin (“The Princess Bride”) Wright. I’m listening. It’s about a conspiracy surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Ok… Did I not tell you I was feeling unwell? What are you trying to do? I’m sure it’s well acted and that but come on. Give me something with a little oomph, you know, a bit of urrgh. THE CALLER, starring Bill (“True Blood”) Moyer? You’re taking the piss now. Another mystery caller film is about as necessary to my life as a second arsehole. Get out. Go on, go. I’ll do this on my own.
Dammit, even this weeks TV is pretty poor: BODY FARM series 1? Unless Keith Allen is suggesting we go “round the back” with a lecherous grin, I’m not interested in anything he has to say. PLANET DINOSAUR could be all right but the special effects look barely improved since Walking With Dinosaurs and that was about forty years ago. A four disc re-issue of Gervais and Merchant’s original THE OFFICE hits us to commemorate its 10th anniversary; extras include apparently a “20 minute pre-pilot”. Erm… Nice. And HOUSE OF ANUBIS is some Goth-lite bobbins from Nickelodeon. Kids in cloaks? Not awesome, guys. Yeesh. I am groping around in the dark for some hope but all I seem to find is the end of my tether, swinging forlornly in the breeze like a camel’s love-rope. I need something to restore my faith in life, in the intrinsic goodness of humanity and – most importantly – in Hollywood.
And here it is… The only – and by only i mean ONLY – good films released this week are all re-issues. Old films. That’s right, Hollywood has finally run out of good films to make so they’re just putting the old ones out again. Ah, but what old ones they are. The mighty JURASSIC PARK TRILOGY finally gets an outing on Blu-Ray this week. Now this is more like it: dinosaurs, huge set pieces, Jeff Goldblum in spectacles doing his, well um, heh, jumpy, erm, pausey, heh, um scientist, well, um thing; this is just what I need. Yeah, OK, the sequels are not as good as the original, but they both have a great set piece or three and the original is a multiplex masterpiece from a time when the hotdogs were huge and we still believed that Arnold Schwarzenegger could save us. If I had seen Jurassic Park as a five year old, I firmly believe I’d be a palaeontologist today. Or at least a bastard-mad inventor opening a dinosaur theme park (either of which would be preferable to waking up at three in the afternoon knowing that I had to wade through a mile-high pile of direct to DVD nonsense, with a banging headache and a growing death wish). Other classics re-issued include: a new special edition of Cary Grant’s CHARADE, a re-issue of Lamberto Bava’s seminal DEMONS, a 2-disc version of Peckinpah’s STRAW DOGS (for all those who didn’t have enough rape in their lives already) and another chance to catch Thailand’s BANG RAJAN and Korea’s BROTHERHOOD.
Also out – and this is where things finally get sublime – are not one, but two Akira Kurosawa boxsets. Ahh, I can feel the relief flowing over me. This must be how hippies feel when they get their solar panels installed. Bliss. Akira Kurosawa, simply put, is a film god; films full of life, humour, action, adventure and just plain joy. The five DVD CLASSIC COLLECTION boxset features THE LOWER DEPTHS, RED BEARD, DODES KA-DEN, I LIVE IN FEAR and the perfect IKIRU; the four DVD CRIME COLLECTION boxset includes STRAY DOG, THE BAD SLEEP WELL, HIGH AND LOW and DRUNKEN ANGEL, the first of Kurosawa’s many collaborations with the iconic Toshiro Mifune. These two, along with the already available SAMURAI COLLECTION (which includes my near enough all-time favourite film YOJIMBO as well as it’s sequel SANJURO, Macbeth re-telling THRONE OF BLOOD, the Star Wars inspiring THE HIDDEN FORTRESS and last, but not least, the still jaw-dropping SEVEN SAMURAI) make up a large part of one of cinemas greatest bodies of work. As loved as they are by critics, these films are not stodgy, dated historical artefacts; they are alive, vital and beautiful. Buy these and you’ll need nothing else. If the boxset is too much for you to spring for, I advise you start with Yojimbo, Ikiru and Stray Dog for a taste of everything. But then go and get Seven Samurai and bask in its splendour. And Sanjuro, too. Oh, and I almost forgot about the perspective-chewing Rashomon. Then, to learn more, get Donald Ritchie’s excellent book The Films of Akira Kurosawa…
Ok. Enough with the Akira Kurosawa. There are more new releases, but this sidetrack into cinematic perfection has had the effect of lifting my spirits a little and I want them to stay lifted. So, with that in mind, I’m going back to bed.