Now that Thanksgiving is done, the holiday shopping rush has officially commenced. In order to help you shop for those on your list with more eclectic tastes, we’ve compiled some of the best offbeat DVD and Blu-ray releases of late. We’ve even arranged them so that you can present your loved ones with one gift for each of the 12 Days of Christmas. Here’s what they should expect…
“12 Angry Men”
Title: 12 Angry Men
Company: Criterion Collection
12 Angry Men is the preeminent courtroom drama. Legendary director Sidney Lumet crafts an unbearably tense, remarkably humanist depiction of strangers coming together to decide another man’s fate. As you would expect, Criterion’s high-def transfer is absolutely gorgeous.
Special Features Include: Frank Schaffner’s 1955 television version, production history, archival interviews with Sidney Lumet, new interview with screenwriter Walter Bernstein, “Tragedy in a Temporary Town”—teleplay directed by Lumet, original theatrical trailer
“A Show Boasting An 11 Season Run”
Title: Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII
Company: Shout! Factory (Release Date: 12/6)
If you’re already a fan of MST3K, there is absolutely no reason why you wouldn’t want to purchase this set. If you are on the fence about the show, these are some of the funniest episodes as yet released. The titles themselves are hysterically bad: Time of the Apes, Mighty Jack, The Violent Years, and The Brute Man. Shout! Factory’s animated menus and plethora of special features continue to pay sincere tribute to fans.
Special Features Include: Interviews with Delores Fuller and Kathy Wood, “The Making of MST3K” (1997 Sci-Fi Channel Special), 4 exclusive mini-posters by artist Steve Vance
“10 10 Different Kinds of Adventure”
Title: The Adventures of Tintin: Season One
Company: Shout! Factory
Before you rush off to the theaters this holiday season to see Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin, check out the animated series on which it was based. Join Tintin and his trusty canine pal Snowy as they solve mysteries and go on fantastic adventures. Here's our review.
“9 Shades of Red and Blue”
Title: Red vs. Blue Season 9
Company: New Video Group
Red vs. Blue comprises some of the best parody available online and now it can once again be viewed in the comfort of your living room. Based on the popular Halo videogame series, Red vs. Blue demonstrates action chops just as adept as its comedic timing.
Special Features Include: Director’s commentary, special videos and PSAs, outtakes, deleted scenes, cast interviews, and behind-the-scenes videos
“8 Hookers with Whom to Play Doctor”
Company: Synapse Films
If you are looking for a twisted take on the classic story of Frankenstein, you could not get any more twisted than Frank Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker. When a young scientist’s fiancé is cut to pieces by an errant lawnmower, he must harvest spare parts from a select group of ladies of the evening to put her back together. The scene in which he sizes up eight such ladies for his unholy creation is outlandish, crass, and hilarious.
Special Features Include: Audio commentary, three featurettes, photo scrapbook, and theatrical trailer
“7 Teams Racing for Glory”
Title: The Cannonball Run
Company: HBO Studios
The Cannonball Run is a schlock classic available for the first time on Blu-ray. Directed by ’s Hal Needham, the film weaves the whacky tale of seven teams competing in a cross-country race. The cast list alone should entice you to check out this film; Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Roger Moore, Farrah Fawcett, Adrienne Barbeau, Jackie Chan, and Peter Fonda just to name a few.
“6 Featured Women-In-Cages Films”
Title: Machete Maidens Unleashed
Company: Dark Sky Films
It's one of the most entertaining documentaries on cult genre film you will ever see. Directed by Mark Hartley, this doco catalogues the very strange history of genre films from The Philippines, both native and made by Roger Corman’s visiting production company. Corman was known for his nefarious women-in-cages films and several of them were filmed in The Philippines.
Special Features Include: Commentary and trailers
“5 Heroic Stories”
Title: Marvel Knights Collection
Company: Shout! Factory
Fans of Marvel’s extensive catalogue of heroes will love this collection of motion comics from some of today’s leading genre authorities. The collection features motion comic stories of The X-Men, Iron Man, Black Panther, Spider-Woman, and Thor. Particularly recommended are Iron Man: Extremis by Warren Ellis and Adi Granov and Astonishing X-Men: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday.
“4 Dysfunctional Siblings”
Title: Our Idiot Brother
Company: The Weinstein Company (Release Date 11/29)
Format: Blu-ray & DVD
Though predictable in many ways, Our Idiot Brother is more personable than a good many of Paul Rudd’s typical comedic fare. The film also features dynamite supporting performances from Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer, and Elizabeth Banks.
Special Features Include: Director’s commentary, deleted and extended scenes, making of featurette
“3 Unlikely Heroes”
Title: Three Amigos
Company: HBO Studios
Finally available on Blu-ray, Three Amigos contains one of cinema’s most impressive comedy team-ups. Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short play three phony Hollywood heroes in this unquestionable classic. If you don’t already own this film, or even if you only own it on DVD, now is the time to get your little buttercups down to your local electronics store and pick up this Blu-ray today. Also check out our interview with director John Landis.
Special Features Include: Cast interview with Martin, Chase, and Short, deleted scenes
“An Evil Part 2”
Title: Evil Dead 2 (25th Anniversary Edition)
Company: Lions Gate
In 1987, Sam Raimi managed to accomplish the impossible; he created a horror sequel that many fans actually preferred to the original. Evil Dead 2 has never looked better and this release is an absolute must-have for any horrorphile.
Special Features Include: Commentary with writer-director Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel, and effects artist Greg Nicotero, “The Gore the Merrier” featurette, Evil Dead: Hailed to The King videogame preview, theatrical trailer, still galleries, and talent bios
“1 Terrifying Train Ride”
Title: Horror Express
Company: Severin Films
Horror icons Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing join forces with the great Telly Savalas in this fantastic 70s fright fest. A creature being transported by train breaks free and begins taking victims left and right. Horror Express is exquisitely shot (something emphasized by Severin’s phenomenal Blu-ray transfer), eerily claustrophobic, and incredibly exciting.
Special Features Include: Interviews with director Eugenio Martin, producer Bernard Gordon, star Peter Cushing, and composer John Cacavas, theatrical trailer
Robbie Williams won best male singer at the MTV Europe Music Awards on Thursday, Reuters reports. The British singer, who won the best song award last year, gave a bleak acceptance speech, saying his earlier claim to be "living the dream" turned out to be wrong. "I'm very humbled to receive an award from MTV once again. Last year I was very arrogant with my acceptance speech," he said. "This year it's completely different." He closed his address by saying, "Live the nightmare."
Also at the MTV Europe Music Awards, virtual band Gorillaz, who picked up the best song award for "Clint Eastwood," spoke out about the current bombing in Afghanistan. According to Reuters, lead singer Damon Albarn sported a CND T-shirt and told the crowd, "This is the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Bombing the poorest countries in the world is wrong."
Members of the British band Depeche Mode said that the Sept. 11 hijack attacks had hardly affected European musicians and concertgoers, Reuters reports. The group's keyboardist Andy Fletcher said that because Europeans had had more experience with terror attacks than the United States, they were able to get on with their lives more quickly. "It's not to say the attacks are not awful," he said. "But we are more used to it in Europe."
Recording companies and musicians reached an agreement Wednesday to pay artists' royalties from cable, satellite, and Internet broadcasts directly to the artists rather than to the recording companies, Reuters reports. The agreement means artists and copyright holders will be able to collect money, rather than have their record labels collect for distribution.
A superior court judge has ruled that Lisa Agbalaya's lawsuit accusing James Brown and his company of sexual harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and retaliation could proceed to trial, The Associated Press reports. The judge, however, dismissed one section of Agbalaya's lawsuit that accused the 68-year-old singer of discriminating against all female employees.
A series of TV commercials aimed at boosting New York City's tourism were previewed at City Hall Thursday. One ad features Woody Allen ice skating at Rockefeller Center, Barbara Walters auditioning for a Broadway show and Henry Kissinger sliding into home plate at Yankee Stadium wearing a suit and tie. Other ads feature Billy Crystal, Robert De Niro and Yogi Berra, AP reports.
HBO is in talks with documentarian Peter Kuhnhardt to make a film about New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and how he and his City Hall team handled the Sept. 11 crisis, Variety reports. The film will help raise money for the Twin Towers Fund, formed by Giuliani.
Mark Wahlberg and Hugh Jackman may be starring in Intermedia Films' Pride and Glory, Variety reports. The project centers on a three-generation family of New York City cops torn apart by revelations of a corruption scandal.
Nicole Kidman is in negotiations to star in Revolution Studios' The Forgotten. According to Variety, the project follows a man and a woman in their 30s who join forces to search for answers to the unsolved abduction of children.
Ben Stiller and his Red Hour Films banner have signed a three-year first-look deal with DreamWorks. DreamWorks reportedly paid $2.6 million to Warner Bros. for Stiller's next project, an adaptation of Budd Schulberg's novel What Makes Sammy Run. Stiller will direct the film and star as hustler Sammy Glick.
In an interview published on Thursday in TV Guide, Michael Jackson said he will build a computer school on the grounds of his Neverland estate so his children, Prince, 4, and Paris, 3, won't have to go "into society." Jackson also plans on making a movie with Liza Minnelli about two struggling entertainers trying to make it, Reuters reports.
Fox's new drama 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland failed to beat out ABC's cop drama NYPD Blue in the Tuesday night battle for ratings, Variety reports. While 24 posted decently, a November sweeps premiere opposite NYPD Blue and NBC's Frasier proved too tall an order. Network execs admitted to being surprised that more viewers did not sample the new show.
So just how saucy is Aussie Nicole Kidman now that she's a single gal again? The latest tabloid rumors out of London have her romping in the altogether with Brit pop sensation Robbie Williams--but you can forget a steamy star-crossed romance. It seems that if indeed Nic was naked--and her reps say she wasn't--it was a purely professional move.
According to London's Daily Star, the titillating titian-tressed actress appears wearing little but a glittering diamond necklace, matching diamond handbag and a dazzling smile in the video for her duet with Williams on "Something Stupid," a remake of the 1960s hit performed by Frank Sinatra and his daughter Nancy. The video, set in the 1950s, is reportedly far steamier than anything the Eisenhower Era ever saw on TV, and the singers' vocals reportedly reflect a sinuous sexual chemistry.
Other tabloid accounts, however, have Kidman more demurely costumed in a mauve lace Collette Dinnigan evening gown with green sequins that was flown in from her native Australia especially for the shoot, topped off with a multimillion-dollar necklace
"No, she's not nude," Kidman's publicist said, without ruling out the suggestion of nudity, however, or even the elaborate Dinnigan dress: "They don't want to ruin the surprise." Indeed, Capitol-EMI, Williams' (and, for many years, Sinatra's and Martin's) recording label, is keeping the video under wraps until Williams' new Rat Pack-retro album Swing When You're Winning bows Nov. 19.
On it, the pop singer covers a plethora of tunes made famous by the likes of Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole and Bobby Darin. In addition to his song with Kidman, Williams also duets with stars including Rupert Everett, Jon Lovitz and Jane Horrocks (Little Voice).
The actress first publicly flexed her vocal chords for Moulin Rouge earlier this year. But it's the video that's got everyone wondering if anyone will actually be listening, given that she's reportedly showing more flesh on camera than she's shown her ex Tom Cruise in the last year.
Kidman's certainly proven she's comfortable with her whippet-thin, alabaster bod, having displayed it amply on film in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut and on stage in the Sam Mendes-directed play The Blue Room. Meanwhile, in his groundbreaking video for "Rock DJ," the well-toned Williams strip-teased his way down to his black bikini briefs--and beyond, removing his skin, his muscles and his vital organs.
On his official website, Williams recounted his nervousness over collaborating with one of Hollywood's hottest actresses. "So I've got this meeting on Saturday, at two o'clock with Nicole Kidman and the arse fell out me world for a couple of days, so how am I going to get through this and not look like an idiot, or try to lick her face?" Williams said, "She was shy and she was nervous and it was nice to see that I'm not the only one that's shy and nervous."
If the rumors are true, it sounds like both stars got over their initial bouts of the shys in a big, big way.
It's a very light week in role call land. What a shame--there's not one sexy star I can talk about (trust me, this is a problem here at Hollywood.com). But I do have the freakish pop singer/superstar category covered. Honestly, what is wrong with Michael Jackson? Boy, I'd really like to go into it, but there's too much to talk about and I just don't have time. Let's focus on the casting choices he's made for his new video "You Rock My World" for now. He's snagged Marlon Brando (who replaces Robert De Niro), some of the cast from The Sopranos, Benicio Del Toro and Chris Tucker to play some parts, and I just have one question--what do you think Jackson did to entice talent like that? Maybe he's paying them buckets of money. Maybe they feel sorry for him. Nevertheless, Jackson, whose career is really taking a turn for the worse with spiraling record sales and little public interest, has decided to return to his glory days by producing this $30 million video, jam-packed with big names--basically making up for a pretty average pop tune none of the radio stations want to play. It's sad, really.
Director and special-effects aficionado James Cameron has decided to concentrate on comic books--and once again, water--for his next project. He will be developing a live-action version of the comic book Fathom, which follows a beautiful young girl named Aspen Matthews. Aspen is found on an abandoned yacht with no memory of her past. Don't you just hate that? You're on a yacht, you're having fun and then--wham! You forget everything. But I digress... The girl grows up, becomes an Olympic swimmer and a marine biologist. During her research she discovers not only a mysterious underwater race but her own water-based powers. This is right up Cameron's alley; he simply loves the water, doesn't he? With his films The Abyss and Titanic, he's getting a name for himself filming epic water adventures. He's even doing a series of underwater specials for ABC with the late Jacques Cousteau's son, Jean-Michel. Someday, I'll have to ask him what his fascination with the deep blue sea is.
Sammy Davis Jr. only wished he could have starred in the latest unbelievable script coming out of Hollywood. Take a gander at this: apparently, talent/literary house The Endeavor Agency has decided to get a little rat-happy. They are hawking a remake of the 1971 rodent-infested Willard written by Glen Morgan and writer-director James Wong. You remember Willard, don't you? That happy story about a socially persecuted young man who gets back at his co-workers with a blood-thirsty rat, starring Bruce Davison. Right. On Tuesday, the agency created a stir by sending the reworked spec script around town, in a cage--with rats. Now, tell me what studio executive is going to pass something like that up? DreamWorks principals Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg and Miramax co-chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein were among some of the recipients of the lovely "package." Where's the rat poison?
Michael Cimino is returning to the director's chair with a new project, Man's Fate, a drama set in Shanghai against the backdrop of the Chinese revolution. Based on French author Andre Malraux's novel La condition humaine (The Human Condition), the film follows several Europeans living in Shanghai and the emotional bonds they develop during the tragic turmoil of the onset of China's Communist regime. Cimino is looking at several A-list actors, including Johnny Depp, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Malkovich, Uma Thurman and French actor Alain Delon. Poor Cimino. His career started so big with the Academy Award-winning The Deer Hunter, but has been forever stamped with the ugly label of directing the classic textbook-case flop Heaven's Gate. He'll never be able to shrug this off, unless he directs another Oscar winner. Maybe Fate will be his ticket out of the Gate.
And in television...
Usually I stick with the movies, but this television role call caught my eye. Actress Juliette Lewis is going to make a guest appearance on ABC's Dharma & Greg, playing Jenna Elfman's childhood friend. Now, what the heck happened to Juliette Lewis? It used to be that when a movie actress started doing television, it meant their careers were going downhill. This isn't the case anymore, with the advent of cable and the quality of material being put on television. However, in Lewis' case, we may be looking at old times. If it were Friends or Fraiser, that would be one thing but Dharma & Greg? She came out like gangbusters when she started her career with Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives and Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, and especially in her heart-wrenching performance in Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear. But then came The Evening Star and The Other Sister, and, well, you see where I'm going. Lewis on Dharma & Greg is just an interesting step on what still could be a promising career--if she got a better agent.
We respect that the Writers Guild of America awards are really important and prestigious and stuff, but what we really respect is that they make winning the office Oscar pool a heck of a lot easier.
"American Beauty" To whit: If you've got a chance to pick "American Beauty" for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar or "Election" for Best Adapted Screenplay, do it. Both films took top honors in their respective categories Sunday night at the 52nd Annual WGA awards, handed out at twin ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles.
The "Beauty" trophy went to scribe Alan Ball, the "Election" one to co-screenwriters Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor. All three men have the chance to repeat at the 72nd Annual Academy Awards on March 26 at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium.
"Election" In taking the best original screenplay prize, Ball defeated Paul Thomas Anderson ("Magonlia"), M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense"), David O. Russell ("Three Kings") and Charlie Kaufman ("Being John Malkovich"). All but Russell are up for the Oscar. (Mike Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy" is the Academy's wild card.)
The "Election" team downed screenplays for "The Insider," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "The Cider House Rules" and "October Sky." Again, all but one ("October Sky") are in competition come Oscar night. The only screenplay "Election" won't have gone head-to-head against is the one for "The Green Mile," the surprise Academy nominee.
The WGA Awards also honor TV. We'd tell you that HBO's "The Sopranos" and NBC's "Frasier" took top honors for drama and comedy series, respectively, but that wouldn't help you with your Oscar handicapping, now would it?
Maybe when the Emmys roll around, we'll send you a reminder.
In other award-show news from an award-show-filled weekend:
-- "ER" was named favorite TV drama and "Everybody Loves Raymond" favorite TV comedy at the 2nd Annual TV Guide Awards on Sunday in Los Angeles. Other key winners: Martin Sheen, tapped Favorite Actor in a New Series for NBC's "The West Wing" and Amy Brenneman, honored as Favorite Actress in a New Series for CBS' "Judging Amy." Overall, hardware in a whopping 25 categories -- from Favorite Soap ("Days of Our Lives," NBC) to bestest pet (Eddie the dog from "Frasier") -- were handed out. Awards were voted on by regular ol' TV Guide readers, explaining why The Guy From "Jag" (David James Elliott) beat out Emmy favorites such as Dennis Franz ("NYPD Blue") for Best Drama Actor.
-- Hip-hop trio TLC hopped to it with two wins -- for best R&B group and best R&B/soul album ("Fanmail") at the 14th Annual Soul Train Music Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles. Mary J. Blige also took multiple honors -- for best R&B/soul album by a female solo artist ("Mary") and the Sammy Davis. Jr. Award for the top female entertainer of the year. Old-timers Whitney Houston and the Guy Who Used to Be Called Prince were singled out as artists of the just-wrapped decade.
-- "Being John Malkovich" has been deigned the Best Stoner Movie of 1999 by the high-minded folks at High Times, a magazine (and Web site) devoted to all things, um, medicinal. Other winners of High Times' first-ever Stony Awards include: Michelle Williams, Kirsten Dunst and Dan Hedaya for Best Pot Scene for "Dick," and Sarah Polley, Katie Holmes and Nathan Bexton for Best Tripping Scene for "Go." ("Go" also took best movie and best director honors. Sounds like an endorsement.) Oscar favorite Kevin Spacey was named best actor for lighting up in "American Beauty." Winners presumably were determined per the polling of a smoke-filled room. A very smoke-filled room.