DVD Picks of the Week: June 23rd, 2009

I’m pretty excited tonight. Tomorrow I begin my summer job. The same summer job I’ve had the last four summers. Now, I’ll actually have some money pouring in to my bank account that I can spend on DVDs. Let’s take a look at what today has to offer.

Waltz With Bashir [DVD][Blu-ray]

Waltz With Bashir is by far the best release on my personal list this week. It was undeniably one of the most fascinating and ambitious films of 2008, a sheer mind-blower full of style and meaning. It is many things construed in to one. Documentary, fiction, history and most importantly, animation. Waltz With Bashir is carried by a strong story from a strong storyteller and an even stronger art style. The choice to animate the film lets filmmaker Ari Folman look back on his time spent in the Israeli army during the year 1982 in a no holds barred, nonrestrictive fashion. Haunting imagery is surrounded by a stunning score as Folman brings the horror of war right to your eyes by way of his unique directorial choices. This is a must see film for fans of documentary, animation and history alike. I’ve already got my copy enroute from Columbia House.

Last Year at Marienbad [Criterion DVD][Criterion Blu-ray]

When I took history of film at CCSU a few semester ago, most of the films shown to my class were films I were either already familiar with, or had some notion as to what they were. One film that was strange and unknown to me was Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad. The film is considered to be one of the more important of its kind in the film. My knowledge of Resnais and this film isn’t too deep, so forgive me. What I saw in class was a stunningly strange film, exactly like a surreal dream. It sure did get my tongue wet for more. Luckily, Criterion has finally brought this film to us in America in great form. On both standard and Blu-ray formats, Last Year at Marienbad is now here for everyone to experience. From all I’ve read and all I’ve seen this is one essential title to view and own.

Hobgoblins [DVD]

I’m going to be straightforward here. This is a pretty terrible film. When you’re movie is best known for being featured on one of the greatest episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you know you’ve done wrong (or maybe right, in some sick twisted way). I mean who could forget the garden tool fight scene!? Hobgoblins was a terrible film directed by a horrible man named Rick Sloane (he went on to make six (!!!) films in the Vice Academy series), but the guys at MST3K were able to make the best out of it (the entire episode is watchable here). I can’t get over the fact that a special edition of this film has been released. And why now? It’s not like they could be marketing a 2009 sequel to this piece of shit, right? Oh…wait…

Hobgoblins 2 [DVD]

That’s right folks, it’s true, there is indeed a 2009 sequel! What in their right mind would make them think there’s a market for this? I guess the original film has fallen into a sort of deep cult status thanks to the riffing it received. Even so, the original film is painful to watch on its own, and I’m only guessing the sequel is similar. Whatever, we’ll see. Maybe the guys at Rifftrax will pick up doing a Hobgoblins 2 riff just for old times sake. One can only hope so. If you don’t feel like watching the entire MST3K episode of the original Hobgoblins, check out this video below that features some of the episodes best moments.

My Dinner with Andre [Criterion DVD]

I kind of had to look hard through the piles of crap coming out this week to find something strong enough to get all of our minds off the two Hobgoblins films, and I think I might have done it. Of course, it is a Criterion release, no real surprise there. The other film they’re releasing this week is Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre. Like Resnais, I am sort of embarrassed to say that Malle is another director I really haven’t gotten the chance to explore thoroughly. I’ve got Elevator to the Gallows on the absolute top of my Netflix queue, so that is most certainly a start. I don’t know much about this film, but it sounds fascinating. After reading Criterion’s description of the film (Actor and playwright Wallace Shawn sits down with friend and theater director André Gregory at an Upper West Side restaurant, and the two proceed into an alternately whimsical and despairing confessional on love, death, money, and all the superstition in between) I can safely say this seems like a hell of a stimulator.

In what was a really weak day for releases, let’s just get to the rest of the stuff.

What else comes out this week:
Confessions of a Shopaholic/[Blu-ray], Reba: Season 6, Inkheart/[Blu-ray], Pink Panther 2/[Blu-ray], The Girls Next Door: Season 5, The Code/[Blu-ray], Tom and Jerry: The Chuck Jones Collection, Catlow, Dragon Hunters/[Blu-ray], The Pianist [Blu-ray].

What to stay away from: Most likely Pink Panther 2. Heard it was terrible. Unnecessary sequel to an unnecessary remake.

Short but sweet week, really. There were some great titles to hit shelves today. And then Hobgoblins.


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