Pin It
Submit to Reddit

Red and Alice in Wonderland among new home entertainment releases 

ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1951). Despite the existence of over two dozen film versions of Lewis Carroll's classic tale, an alarmingly small number have been wholly satisfying — my vote for the best adaptation is Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer's creepy 1988 stop-motion-animated Alice, with honorable mention going to 1985's Alice offshoot Dreamchild (with Ian Holm marvelous as Carroll and Coral Browne as an elderly Alice). This animated Disney take on the story might be the most famous screen version (although Tim Burton's so-so live-action approach might eventually supplant it), but it's hardly the most satisfying. Sandwiched between the releases of the lovely Cinderella and the similarly overrated Peter Pan, this proved to be a box office flop, though a couple of re-issues in the 1970s and '80s allowed it to earn a bit more bank. But the deliriousness of Carroll's visions — to say nothing of his witty wordplay — don't jibe with the inherent wholesomeness and comparative straightforwardness of the traditional Disney toon flick, and despite the studio's attempts to be more hip and less traditional than usual, the result is a picture of interesting visuals but limited charm.

Blu-ray extras include a visual companion guide to the film; "I'm Odd," a newly discovered Cheshire Cat song; a deleted scene; a vintage behind-the-scenes short; the Mickey Mouse cartoon Thru the Mirror (presented, like the film itself, in stunning hi-def); the interactive game Painting the Roses Red; and much more.

Movie: **1/2

Extras: ***1/2

RED (2010). One of the better action spectacles of recent vintage, RED is a smart, slick endeavor that gets added mileage from its cast of seasoned screen vets. How seasoned? The arithmetic mean of the five top-billed stars' ages is 59; throw 93-year-old supporting player Ernest Borgnine into the equation, and the calculator starts to overheat. Based on the DC comic book, this plays like a wink to Danny Glover's classic line from the Lethal Weapon series: "I'm too old for this shit." In RED, these aging ex-agents (played by Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren) are definitely not too old for the challenges placed in front of them, all of which stem from the fact that they've been marked for termination for shady reasons. Frank Moses (Willis) is one of these former CIA hotshots trying to save his own skin, a task made more difficult by the fact that he also has to protect the innocent woman (a winsome Mary-Louise Parker) inadvertently mixed up in these dangerous dealings. By employing imagination in all facets of the production, this manages to avoid being lumped together with another recent home entertainment title with AARP credentials: the generic, geriatric The Expendables. Besides, in a celebrity smackdown between Sylvester Stallone and Helen Mirren, my money's on the great Dame.

Blu-ray extras include an interactive option allowing for scene-specific interviews, commentary and trivia; audio commentary by retired CIA Field Officer Robert Baer; and 10 deleted scenes.

Movie: ***

Extras: ***

SHOCK CORRIDOR (1963) / THE NAKED KISS (1964). Two of The Criterion Collection's earliest titles — a pair of Samuel Fuller pulps first released by the outfit in 1998 — have been brought back in new editions.

The notorious cult classic Shock Corridor, added to the National Film Registry in 1996, finds self-satisfied newspaper reporter Johnny Barrett (Peter Breck) angling for a Pulitzer Prize by pretending to be insane in order to enter a mental institution and solve the murder of one of the inmates. His stripper girlfriend (Constance Towers) thinks it's a bad idea and is proven right once Johnny begins his own descent into madness. Evocatively shot by Stanley Cortez (The Night of the Hunter) and serving as a fascinating microcosm of an America driven mad by its own eager embrace of war, racism and fear, Fuller's appropriately lurid picture includes scenes that manage to be simultaneously risible and disturbing (e.g. "Nymphos!").

The Naked Kiss is even better, exposing the hypocrisies of small-town USA in flagrantly Fullerian style. Shock Corridor co-star Constance Towers delivers a fine performance in a meaty role: She plays Kelly, a prostitute who, after beating the hell out of her pimp in the movie's delirious opening scene, ends up in a little burg where local police captain Griff (Anthony Eisley) sleeps with her and then informs her that her kind isn't welcome in his city. He helpfully steers her to the bordello across the river, but suddenly deciding she wants a new life, she instead lands a job overseeing crippled children at the local hospital and soon finds herself wooed by the town's wealthiest citizen (Michael Dante). Will it all be uphill for Kelly now? Not so fast. The Naked Kiss is absorbing from first frame to last, with some marvelously pulpy dialogue ("I'm pretty good at popping the cork if the vintage is right," Griff tells Kelly in a loopy bit of double-entendre) and a few genuine shocks in the narrative.

DVD extras on Shock Corridor include 1996's The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera, an hour-long documentary on Fuller (featuring Tim Robbins, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch); a half-hour interview with Towers; and the theatrical trailer. DVD extras on The Naked Kiss include three TV show interviews with Fuller (from 1967, 1983 and 1987) totaling 68 minutes; a half-hour interview with Towers; and the theatrical trailer.

Shock Corridor: ***

The Naked Kiss: ***1/2

Extras: ***

YOU AGAIN (2010). There's a lot about You Again that's instantly disposable, from its generic title to its bland leading lady to a storyline that's as weightless as a sponge cake. But leave it to the old pros in the cast to prevent this from completely sinking into the abyss of immediately forgotten comedies. Kristen Bell, only fitfully succeeding in making an impression, plays Marni, who's shocked to learn that her brother (Jimmy Wolk) is marrying Joanna (Odette Yustman), the girl who made her life an endless hell back in high school. Everyone in Marni's family thinks Joanna is the greatest, so Marni makes it her mission to expose her as malicious and deceitful. For her part, Marni's mom (Jamie Lee Curtis) is aghast when she discovers that Joanna's aunt is a former school chum (Sigourney Weaver) with whom she had a falling-out decades ago on prom night. The Marni-Joanna clashes offer little that's new, so the fun is in watching those exquisite older actresses, Curtis and Weaver, square off against each other. Throw in the always-welcome Victor Garber as Curtis' husband, an amusing Kristin Chenoweth as a spirited dance instructor, and a cameo by a former Dallas star that almost made me fall off the couch, and you may want to give You Again a chance. But only if Mean Girls isn't presently available via Netflix.

Blu-ray features include 11 deleted scenes; a 7-minute featurette with director Andy Fickman on the set; and a 3-minute behind-the-scenes cast interview spoof.

Movie: **1/2

Extras: **

Pin It
Submit to Reddit


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Creative Loafing encourages a healthy discussion on its website from all sides of the conversation, but we reserve the right to delete any comments that detract from that. Violence, racism and personal attacks that go beyond the pale will not be tolerated.

Search Events
items in Creative Loafing Charlotte More in Creative Loafing Charlotte pool

© 2018 Womack Digital, LLC
Powered by Foundation