Sam Spade roaming Ridgemont High
Sam Spade roaming Ridgemont High

Orange Pulp

Rian Johnson's feature debut as writer-director will wind up as one of the year's best films. A film noir partially shot in Johnson's San Clemente home town and set in a modern-day high school, it's Sam Spade roaming Ridgemont High; kids get doped up and knocked up and even rubbed out while speaking pulp-novel slang, but the gimmick never distracts. No doubt the performance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt has something to do with that; as Brendan Frye, the gumshoe in tennis shoes, his deadpan delivery of Johnson's dialogue keeps Brick from playing like a joke. The DVD has some 20 minutes of deleted-extended scenes, but they're unnecessary; Brick's perfect, and listening to the filmmaker and actors' commentary or watching the excised footage ruins a detective story you need to solve yourself. 

We also recommend: The Apartment; Double Indemnity: Special Edition; Elizabeth I; House: Season 2; Kicking and Screaming; Sketches of Frank Gehry; This Island Earth;
Veronica Mars: Season 2.

Editor's note—Despite careful checking before press time, it appears that the distributor of A Fish Called Wanda: Special Edition—our OnDVD pick that went live on July 27—has yet again cancelled the release at the eleventh hour. No subsequent release date has yet been scheduled.

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