BLOGS

I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 27, 2011

by admin December 27, 2011 4:05 pm
I Want My DVD: Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Do you still want to be losers like them?

Glee: The Concert Movie
Had it been released following the show's freshman year, when it was still the popular new kid on the block, Glee: The Concert Movie's relentlessly laudatory tribute to the FOX show that inspired it would probably feel more timely. But coming on the heels of a largely underwhelming second season (and right before the debut of what's been an even more problematic junior year) the movie almost seems to take place in an alternate reality where Glee is still the hottest thing on television. In between concert footage filmed at two performances of last summer's Glee Live tour, the film features testimonials from devoted Gleeks, who credit the series with giving them inspirational figures they can look put to for guidance in their own lives. These true-life stories are mostly charming, if oddly integrated into rest of the feature. But that's not as odd as the way the young cast is forced to stay in character both on and off-stage while the cameras are rolling. (The odd artificiality of this conceit reaches its apotheosis when Kevin McHale rises from Artie's wheelchair to perform "Safety Dance." Why not just let him stay standing throughout the show? It's not like the show's fans don't already know that he's not actually disabled.) As for the musical numbers themselves, they're performed with a lot of energy (and a fair amount of lip syncing) and offer up a playlist of newer hits ("Teenage Dream" and "Born this Way") as well as standard pop chestnuts ("Fat Bottom Girls" and "Jesse's Girl") that's designed to appeal to both the show's young fans and the adults that got dragged into chaperoning them to this spectacle. A year ago, Glee: The Concert Movie would have felt timely. Now, it just feels like a time capsule.
Extras: Unseen performance of "Friday"; extended performances of "Ain't No Way" and "Happy Days Are Here Again"; introductions from Jane Lynch's Sue Sylvester that were part of the stage show but eliminated from the movie; and a featurette that takes viewers backstage to hang with the hard-working cast.

Hostel Part III
Speaking of time capsules, remember when torture porn was the face of American horror, with franchises like Saw and Hostel topping the box-office charts? Well, those days are thankfully done and gone. Saw is on ice (for now at least) and the latest Hostel installment is getting a perfunctory direct-to-DVD release. That's about right for this bargain-basement production, which doesn't even have the over-the-top gore that lent the first two installments a kind of car-wreck quality. This time around, the action shifts from Eastern Europe to Vegas, where four pals on a wild bachelor party weekend stumble upon an underground club that offers gamblers the opportunity to torture innocent victims for a price. Clearly shot on the cheap, the movie feels like a made-for-late-night-cable production, right down to the wooden acting, laughable script and contractually obligated bits of brief nudity. Even if you liked the original Hostel, this one is sure to sour you on the franchise for good.
Extras: A commentary track from director Scott Spiegel and star Kip Pardue.

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
How could a movie that stars such generally reliable comic talents as Jason Sudeikis, Martin Starr, Lucy Punch and Lake Bell go wrong? According to us, it's due to an odd emphasis on the characters' boring personal problems and nasty (as opposed to funny) sex scenes. Instead of renting A Good Old Fashioned Orgy this weekend, we stand by our recommendation that you Netflix Instant the superior orgy episode of Party Down instead. (For your reference, the title of that hilarious half-hour is "Nick DiCintio's Orgy Night.")
Extras: A commentary track with Sudeikis and the film's directors; deleted scenes; a gag reel; and a featurette about the best way to film an orgy.

The First Grader
If nothing else, The First Grader deserves credit for being a film about Africa that's told from the perspective of native Africans, instead of white European or American outsiders. The title character (played by Oliver Litondo) is an 84-year-old veteran of the Mau Mau uprising who decides to take advantage of his government's new decree guaranteeing universal education by showing up for the first day of first grade along with a gaggle of six-year-olds. The faculty is reluctant to give him to admit him, but an idealistic teacher (Naomie Harris) decides to take a chance (and take on her angry bosses) by giving the elderly pupil a seat and a pencil. The set-up is a little too predictable, but the movie's heart is in the right place and its pronounced sentimental streak manages to be mostly sweet rather than cloying.
Extras: A making-of featurette and a short documentary about the real-life story that inspired the film.

Also on DVD:
In a generally weak year for horror movies, the potentially franchise-killing Final Destination 5 and the reportedly unwatchable Apollo 18 were widely regarded as two of the most horrifically awful scary movies. Because someone out there apparently demanded it, Uwe Boll sequelized his fantasy epic In the Name of the King with the direct-to-DVD release In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds, with Dolph Lundren stepping in for original star Jason Statham, who wisely lost Boll's phone number. Just as his quietly effective dramatic turn in The Descendants seemed to nudge Matthew Lillard back into relevance, along comes the stoooopid sex comedy The Pool Boys to push him back into his previous role as a teen movie has-been.

And to close this week's column with a movie that's actually good, Alex Cox's superb 1986 musical biopic Sid & Nancy, starring Gary Oldman as wild child rocker Sid Vicious and Chloe Webb as his equally crazy girlfriend Nancy Spungen, gets the Blu-ray treatment. Because high-def is the only way to experience this stylish, sordid tale of two doomed lovers on a high-impact collision course with death.

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