Holy Crap, Did He Just Do That?!
Thailand's Tony Jaa has made clear his plan to take Jackie Chan's crown as the king of holy crap, did he just do that?! He's about halfway there. Though Jaa is devoid of Chan's charisma, his hyperathletic kickboxing style will make your jaw drop; here's a movie to watch like porno, with one hand on the fast-forward button (and the other on the popcorn, thank you very much). The four-minute, single-shot fight scene is worth the rental, as are several others—most notably the one where Jaa fights motorcyclists and the one where he goes on a bone-breaking spree. There's even more in the deleted scenes, or you could watch the international version that's on the second disc (not recommended). The docs are worth watching as well, mostly to learn that, yes indeed, he really is doing that.
Also Releasing Jan. 23:
May 6th. May 6th has what the cynical among us would call a "hook": This tale about the murder of a real-life Dutch politician had just wrapped up when director Theo van Gogh was real-life murdered by an Islamic extremist. The frisson produced by this collision of events makes this movie a must-see in some circles. Fortunately for those not into complete ghoulishness, this frantic conspiracy thriller is worth watching without its morbid pedigree. It follows a paparazzo who happens to be nearby when prime minister candidate Pim Fortuyn (a friend of van Gogh's) is gunned down. American viewers may have a hard time unraveling the conspiracy and Dutch politics at the same time, but it's worth a try. The documentary about van Gogh's murder gives an even deeper view into Amsterdam culture and politics, despite the obvious axe-grinding that powers it. (JH)
The Animation Show, Volumes 1 & 2. In his introductory essay to this two-disc comp-romp through Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt's favorite shorts, writer Taylor Jessen tells us that "making animated shorts is totally ridiculous." He's got a point: There's about as much money in these things as there is an audience for them. Without Judge and Hertzfeldt, these shorts—some trippy, some dopey, some erotic, some exotic, some jes' plain ol' dumb-ass, but all worth a few minutes—would have languished as webcast outcasts. They all deserve better, even if the highlights for most will be Judge's original Office Space short and Hertzfeldt's interstitials starring self-aware creatures who look like cotton balls; sometimes you just want your cartoons to make you giggle. But fact is, there ain't a dud on here. Even the how-tos and making-ofs are worth a peek. (Robert Wilonsky)
Border Radio. The first feature from Allison Anders, Kurt Voss, and Dean Lent was meant to play as film noir—a post-heist pic starring an existential loner figuring shit out while on the lam. Only after the UCLA trio began populating their black-and-white SoCal so-long-goodbye with LA punks—Chris D. of the Flesh Eaters as Our Hero, X's John Doe as dickweed Dean, Blaster Dave Alvin as . . . uh . . . Dave—did they rethink their project. The result is less a moving picture than a series of beautifully composed snapshots of a scene that vanished pretty much while the movie was being made. It's a deadpan mess that plays like French new-wave cinema caught up in American new-wave music. Don't watch for plot; listen instead to the rock talk and punk pluck that keep things moving. (RW)
Other notable releases: Clerks II; Council of the Gods; Die You Zombie Bastards; Dreamland; Employee of the Month; Gridiron Gang; Grim Reaper; Her Minor Thing; La Moustache; Lucky Number Slevin; Monroe: Class of '76; Pulse; Rotation; Seven Swords; Space Academy: The Complete Series; The Sting; The Street: The Complete First Two Seasons; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning; That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana: Mixed-Up Mashed-Up Edition; Undisputed II: Last Man Standing
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