[dvdish] Super, Thanks for Asking

Reviews of Confessions of a Superhero, the Hunting Party, Adrift in Manhattan, and Sex and Breakfast

Confessions of a Superhero (Arts Alliance)
As one of those quoted on the package ("A more beautiful documentary you're unlikely to find"), I can only reiterate my earlier praise: Matt Ogens' doc, about mortals dressed as superheroes trolling Hollywood Boulevard for tourists' loose change, is stunning to look at—the proverbial visual feast best seen on home video, if only for access to the "pause" button that allows for lingering admiration. But the tale's as terrific as the telling: Ogens finds four folks—dolled up as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Hulk—who moved to LA only to discover that beggars can't be choosers on the boulevard of broken dreams. Less hilarious than heartbreaking, the "heroes" demand your sympathy: the Hulk's occasionally homeless, Wonder Woman's stuck in a bad marriage, Batman's a mess, and Superman . . . well, he just thinks he's the son of Sandy Dennis. (RW)

The Hunting Party(Weinstein)
Sadly overlooked during those best-of-'07 recaps, Richard Shepard's darkly comic feature about war-torn journalists heading back to the killing fields of Bosnia and Serbia was a smart, cynical thriller. Richard Gere, disheveled and disgraced, is the TV-news whore hunting for a war criminal everyone says they want but aren't actually looking for. Terrence Howard is along for the ride as Gere's cameraman/sidekick on a sabbatical, along with peach-fuzz-faced Jesse Eisenberg as the son of a somebody. Shepard smartly adapts Scott Anderson's Esquirearticle about war correspondents on summer vacation—it's practically Three Kings set in Eastern Europe. Among the bonuses: Anderson's original story and an interview with the journalist, scant deleted scenes not worth the look-see, and a well-done making-of. (RW)

Adrift in Manhattan(Screen Media)
There are so many problems with New York—overpriced apartments, crowded subways, bum dung—that it seems overkill to burden the characters of this movie with such trifles as the death of a child, blindness and a disintegrating marriage with a lesser Baldwin. Oh, yes, this is one humdinger of a bummer, complete with long takes of urban ugliness inserted between tragedies. Central among the intertwining stories is a grieving Heather Graham, who has lost the son she bore with William Baldwin and is now being stalked by a young photographer. It feels a little cheap to use the boy's death to explain Graham's big blue mopey eyes, or to justify a steamy sex scene that earns Adrift its unrated status. And don't get your hopes up: Even the sex is kinda creepy and sad.(JH)

Sex and Breakfast (First Look)
Here's a talky sex comedy/drama about three people and a slug-lipped hobgoblin—no, wait, that's Macaulay Culkin!—who give group sex a go. It's better acted than it is written—and better written than it is directed. And it needs more sex; there's more indie-folk montages here than uglies getting bumped. Eliza Dushku stands out as one-half of a bored couple. She transmits a lot of emotion in a mere glance, and the film's endless close-ups provide time for plenty of those. Culkin, too, is a fine actor, but brother, is he strange-looking! There are worthwhile moments (particularly funny is a ménage a trois gone wrong, thanks to some strong weed), though Dushku's boredom is understandable: If these people ever did anything besides focus on themselves, maybe they wouldn't have such trouble in the sack. (JH)


Our top DVD picks scheduled for release this week: America! The Complete Series (RHI); Barney Miller: The Complete Second Season (Sony); Best Actress Collection (Fox); Best Picture Collection (Fox); Blonde Ambition (Sony); Butterfly Collectors (Koch Vision); The Catherine Cookson Anthology (Koch Vision); ER: The Complete Eighth Season (Warner Bros.); The Game Plan (Disney); Hawaii Five-O: The Third Season (Paramount); Inside the Smiths (Mams); The Jeff Corwin Experience: Season One (Animal Planet); The Kingdom: Series Two (Koch Lorber); Make Room for Daddy: Season 6 (S'more Entertainment); The One That Got Away (Koch Vision); Saw IV(Lionsgate); Sydney White (Universal); Swamp Thing: The Series (Shout! Factory); Third and a Mile (ESPN); This Sporting Life: The Criterion Collection (Criterion).

 
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