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Out This Week (In The US): Deadpool, The Witch, Kindergarten Cop 2 & more



Deadpool – There’s a reason that Deadpool was one of the biggest hits of the year: because it’s freaking awesome. I would love to be the dissenter and find some snobby critical reason to despise it — actually, no, I would hate to do that — but the film is way too much fun to complain about. The great thing is, if you’re familiar with the Deadpool comic book character (which I am), the film stays very true to said character; but if you’re not familiar with him at all, it won’t matter because the film defines him in a way that makes you instantly feel like you’ve known him forever. It’s over-the-top, vulgar, violent, bloody, and funny as hell — so not for the kids — but, man, is it a good time. I can’t recommend this one highly enough!

The WitchThe Witch is an odd one. On the one hand, it’s one of the best reviewed horror films of the past few years, with several critics proclaiming it the second coming of horror. But it pretty much fizzled out at the box office, I think largely because the advertising was so vague that people didn’t really know what to expect from it. And I’m not really going to tell you much more about it, because I think it’s definitely a better film when you don’t know much about it. I will say that I liked the film (although not as much as some critics, apparently), and I really appreciated the fact that it has high production values and strong performances, putting it a definite notch above most of what passes for horror these days.

Kindergarten Cop 2 – Okay. So, I liked this movie. Is it great? Not really? Is it anywhere near as good as the original Kindergarten Cop? Not Really. Is Dolph Lundgren as good as Arnold Schwarzenegger? Not really. But with all that said, the film works as long as you don’t expect too much from it. The story is effectively exactly the same as the first film, but there are some jokes that get pretty topical: peanut allergies, gluten free foods, time outs, etc. For a direct-to-video movie, I have to say it’s pretty enjoyable, and that’s more than you get from a lot of DTV flicks these days. Worth a rental if you’re bored.

The Untouchables: The Complete SeriesThe Untouchables is a show I remember from my youth — in reruns, of course. I remember many a Saturday afternoon where, with nothing better to watch, I settled into these “old” TV shows. I had always been fascinated by Elliot Ness and his Untouchables, so that was a show I enjoyed watching right from the start. I can’t say I was fanatical about the show, but I did enjoy it. Revisiting it now, I have to say that the series holds up fairly well. The Untouchables is interesting because it’s 1950s television set in the 1930s, so it comes across as both authentic and stylized-realistic at the same time. This new box set includes all four seasons of the show in one nice, compact package — that’s 118 episodes on 31 discs — making it a real value for fans.

Also available on Blu-ray & DVD this week:

  • The Merchant Of Venice – I’m generally not a Shakespeare fan, but the one work of his I have a soft spot for The Merchant of Venice. So even though I won’t go out of my way to watch a production of one of the Bard’s plays, I also couldn’t pass up a chance to see Sir Laurence Olivier play Shylock, my favorite Shakespeare character. Along with Joan Plowright, he stars in this stage adaptation which is being released on DVD for the first time. It looks a bit aged, but there’s no denying that the performances are terrific. Worth a watch for Shakespeare fans.
  • Transformers Robots In Disguise: Season 1 – This is an interesting show. It’s still not what I want to see from the Transformers franchise, but I also understand that I’m not the target audience for the show either. This iteration is sort of a mix between the overly cartoony Transformers Animated show (which I really didn’t like) and the more serious story lines and style of something like Transformers: Cybertron. Kids will like it for sure. Adults? I’m not entirely sure. I thought it was pretty decent, but nothing I’m gonna go out of my way for.
  • Dementia – This tense thriller takes a page from the Misery playbook, but it focuses on a veteran who’s suffered from a stroke and is now at the hands of disturbingly dark nurse; instead of a writer and, well, Kathy Bates. There are some tense moments to be found, and it doesn’t rely too heavily on any really graphic violence, so for the most part the film works. The performances are solid as well. It’s less of a horror film than a suspense thriller, and that’s actually one of the things I liked about it.
  • Cop Rock: The Complete Series – On the one hand, you have to respect the fact that a successful television producer like Steven Bochco had the audacity to try and launch a musical TV series set in a police precinct. On the other hand, you do kind of have to wonder, “What the hell were you thinking?!?” Cop Rock isn’t terrible by any means, and there are parts that are actually enjoyable (although dated), but you really have to dig on musicals to get into this, I think. I will say that I know the show had its fans, and that’s why I love Shout Factory. There is someone out there who’s going to be beyond excited to finally get this show on DVD after more than two decades.
  • The Facts Of Life: The Final SeasonThe Facts of Life was a fact of life for just about anybody who grew up in the ’80s; I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who couldn’t sing (or at least hum) the opening song. While the show hasn’t aged all that well, there are glimmers of what made it so popular here. The show did tackle some decently After School Special-type topics, such as teenage sex, shoplifting, teen marriage, and even homosexuality, so it wears its morals on its sleeves, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Still, despite all the flaws, it’s still a fun show and a great nostalgia trip, and The Facts of Life: The Final Season will make many fans happy, even if its far from the show’s nadir at this point.
  • I Saw What You Did – Joan Crawford in a William Castle camp thriller? Yep. This was later in Crawford’s career, around the same time as her Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Still, despite the cheesy connotations that come with Castle’s name, this is a surprisingly good thriller, very similar to When a Stranger Calls or similar fare. The camp factor is evident, but Crawford is still awesome as you’d expect, and the suspense keeps you interested until the end. A fun flick if not quite a classic.
  • The Films Of Maurice Pialat: Volume 1 – This Blu-ray multiple feature collection includes four films: Mouth Agape, Loulou, Graduate First and Love Exists. To be fair, Love Exists is more like a bonus feature; a documentary on the director himself. But what you will find in the actual movies is a lot of thought, pain, hurt, love, and hate. Pialat didn’t make light fare; his films are heavy, precise, and often bleak. I can’t say I really loved watching the French auteur’s work, but I can certainly appreciate the work that went into them and the obvious high quality of the performances and filmmaking talent. Loulou is probably my favorite of the three, not as dark as Mouth Agape but more linearly satisfying than Graduate First. Still, for fans of the director, this is a very nice collection.
  • Masterpiece: Mr Selfridge – Season 4 – Jeremy Piven playing an American pioneering capitalist in turn of the century London? Sign me up for that. It sounds like exactly my kind of show. And I’m not sure exactly where Masterpiece: Mr. Selfridge Season 4 goes wrong, but it does. Piven, who is usually a great actor, is kind of terrible here. He says everything Really Loudly, and he puts on this smile throughout the show that feels purposefully faked but also awkwardly unnatural in a way it’s not supposed to. The show feels a little too much like it’s trying to echo Downton Abbey, and ultimately, it just doesn’t work for me.
  • Carol + 2: The Original Queens of Comedy – I never knew that Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball teamed up for a television comedy special, but they did. This was towards the end of Lucille Ball’s career and towards the beginning of Carol Burnett’s, and somehow it seems to have been lost to the TV gods until now. I wish I could say that it’s an absolute blast of comedy gold, but it’s not. It is, however, still relatively funny and it’s a real treat for fans of either of these two great ladies, simply because of the rarity of the special. On top of that, you get two other comedy specials added on as a bonus. Pretty cool.
  • Susan Slept Here – Debbie Reynolds and Dick Powell star in this May-December romance film that makes it’s Blu-ray debut courtesy of Warner Brothers print-on-demand service, The Warner Archive ( When a writer comes into temporary guardianship of a teenage delinquent, she has some ideas about how she’d like their relationship to progress. That sounds creepy when it’s boiled down to a one-sentence blurb, but it’s not. This is kind of old-school Hollywood, much more akin to a Doris Day/Rock Hudson films than it is to something like Lolita. Debbie Reynolds is fantastic – as is Dick Powell – and the film is a lot of fun.
  • Blondie of the Follies – Also from the Warner Archive, Blondie of the Follies is a fun throwback from the earlier days of Hollywood, and although Marioin Davies and Robert Montgomery take the lead roles, the names that will catch people’s attention more will be early film superstar Billie Dove and musical legend Jimmy Durante. The film is light and throwaway but it’s actually a lot of fun. It’s full of romance and dancing, melodrama and comedy, and fans of classic Hollywood will really enjoy it.
  • A Yank at Oxford – Even though this film isn’t one of the more famous entries of classic Hollywood, it was a huge hit in the middle of the last century. Released by The Warner Archive, this film tells the story of Robert Taylor, a small-town sports hero who goes to college at Oxford who has a hard time fitting in until he falls in love. I’ll be honest, I had only just barely heard of this film, but I really enjoyed it. Maureen O’Sullivan plays the romantic interest and there’s a good mix of college drama and semi-sports film at work here, making it a very enjoyable viewing experience.
  • MGM Limited Edition and Fox Cinema Archives: The Power of One, Breaking Up, Sunchaser – From Fox/MGM’s library of print-on-demand DVDs (available through most major online retailers like, the studios have released a couple of dozen films to DVD for the first time. I got the chance to review a few of them. Morgan Freeman and a young Stephen Dorff star The Power of One, from director John G. Avildsen (Rocky, The Karate Kid). This was actually the film that first brought Stephen Dorff to my attention, and I’ve been a big fan of his ever since. Ostensibly a boxing movie, it also has some political overtones and is much more about overcoming adversity than simply boxing. I’ve always enjoyed this film and I was glad to see it issued on DVD for the first time. Breaking Up is an interesting film. It stars Russell Crowe and Salma Hayek, both before they were famous, in what looks like it started out as a romantic comedy but instead ended up a pretty hard drama. The title tells you what it’s about, but I think the film would have been better if it had lightened up a bit. Still, it’s great to see an early film from Crowe and Hayek where they co-star. Sunchaser stars Woody Harrelson in a drama from director Michael Cimino. He plays a young up-and-coming doctor who gets kidnapped by a terminally ill-patient and taken in search of a miracle cure. Like most CImino films, it’s a bit heavy handed, although Harrelson shines in an early performance that was probably one of the first hints that he had a dramatic range beyond what he had to offer on Cheers. Worth a watch for Harrelson fans, but a bit too heavy for casual viewing.

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