Sunday, December 30, 2007


LIFE 101
Monarch Home Video

Congratulate me, I just met my next wife! The preciously perky Ami Dolenz--yes, she's Monkee Mickey's daughter--lights up this modest '60s coming-of-age tale. In fact, all the scenery in this movie is of interest, because it was shot extensively on the University of Maryland campus by Davidsonville, Md., physicist/real estate tycoon/low-budget auteur Redge Mahaffey. After the opening theme--Ted Nugent and the Amboy Duke's most excellent "Journey to the Center of the Mind"--things slow down a bit, but co-star Corey Haim turns in a surprisingly unpretentious performance. And gals, I understand he's available as well. PAUSE

Orion Home Video

Congratulate me, I just met my next wife! Fresh from her triumph as a giggly teen in Clueless, Stacey Dash puts on--and takes off--an adult wardrobe to vamp and lip-sync her way through this tepid erotic thriller. You can tell it's an erotic thriller because everything looks like Lakeforest Mall after hours. Both Eros and thrills are seriously undermined by co-star Dan Gaulthier's unfortunate resemblance to Jim Carrey--not allrighty then. And maybe I missed something while fast-forwarding to the good parts--of which there are only three, none particularly good--but it seems as if my betrothed got away with murder--of her husband. Hmmm.... EJECT.

MCA Universal Home Video [CC]

Darkman's first outing was basically "Phantom of the Batcave," and this sequel has also fallen victim to the Batsuit Syndrome: Goodbye, Liam Neeson, hello, Arnold Vosloo (Hey, we laughed first time we heard the name "Schwarzenegger," too). Stepping into the bandages as disfigured, semi-deranged scientist Peyton Westlake, Vosloo has a certain appealing Connery coarseness. Unfortunately we see more of his real (i.e., fake) face than his hooded one. This is really Larry Drake's show, and as Robert Durant--so evil even the flaming high-speed helicopter crash of D-I didn't kill him--Drake mugs so fiercely you'd swear HE has the rubber head. Despite lines like "Only I am allowed to wear my face!," and much unashamed cigarette smoking, II doesn't have the comic zip of the Sam Raimi original. Which is irrelevant, because the trailer already alerted us: Coming soon--Darkman III: Die, Darkman, Die. Another unlikely scenario. PAUSE for Halloween.

Columbia Tristar Home Video

If you laughed the first time you heard the name "Vosloo," you'll REALLY laugh when Björn Jörundur Friöbjörnsso is on screen. This Icelandic comedy proves that from bitter cold comes a fine dry wit. An impossibly convoluted shaggy dog tale, "Control" revolves around Björn's need to retrieve a TV remote control for his demanding Mum so she won't empty the bathtub and kill his goldfish. Accomplishing this odd but simple task somehow involves "the most experienced gang in Iceland"--who take their cues from comic books--Monopoly-playing soft-drink bootleggers, sleepy metalheads, incompetent kidnappers who can't tell right from left ("So what?" they counter) and pettiness beyond belief--all the more enjoyable because, deep down, we know it CAN happen here. Of course, quirky songbird Björk sings the closing theme, as she probably does for all Icelandic films. PLAY.

SMV Enterprises

Defining the line between clever and stupid, professional wisenheimers Johnny Brennan and Kamal are not everyone's cup of obnoxiousness. Obviously produced as an MTV special that proved too real for the "Real World" network, the Jerkys add surveillance-camera voyeurism to their usual audio outrages. The result is "Candid Camera" without Allen Funt's disingenuous pretense that it's all good fun. Funny it is, but good? After all, we're laughing because it's such utterly bad behavior: Commandeering the PA in a grocery store to mock the customers, confusing tour bus patrons and pestering MTV interns. Well, that last IS fairly worthwhile, especially when they yank an earnest MTV receptionist's feminist chain--she instantly cries sexual harassment. No, honey, it's just jerkiness. PLAY

Active Home Video

The best thing about this dubious endeavor is the ironic cast it gives to the FBI warning at the beginning of the tape. After quickly suggesting that one avoid getting a ticket in the first place, the producers pad the following 29 minutes with more of the blatantly obvious. The most interesting advice comes from a psychologist who prescribes humanizing any cop encounters by imagining John Law standing there wearing only a swimsuit and a funny hat. Yeah, tell THAT to the judge. EJECT.

New Video

It may sound like a horror show to sit and watch a man beset with untreatable pancreatic cancer, but this smile-filled interview with the author of "Pennies From Heaven" and "The Singing Detective" is one of the most life-affirming 70 minutes you may spend. Facing his impending demise with a flask of liquid morphine and packet of cigarettes, Potter seems the healthiest, most vital, most thoroughly alive person on the planet. Utterly clear-eyed about himself, Potter brightly discusses his life, work, politics, death and the importance of "nowness." He died mere weeks after this recording, but left a more enlightening TV chat than any Baba Wawa soft-focus flatter-fest. PLAY.

Next: Tickle Me, Clint

No comments: