Coolest extra: Alternate opening sequence (DVD); "The Roommate: Next Generation Of Stars" featurette (Blu-ray only)
Complex says: Christian E. Christiansen (yes, that's his real name) and the team behind The Roommate deserve some kind of award. Seriously. Somehow, they’ve turned what should’ve been a foolproof recipe for cheap titillation into a hottie-filled bore that couldn’t arouse the horniest of teenage boys.
Apparently unaware of the project’s inherent sex appeal, Christiansen and company opted to drain this insipid Single White Female knockoff of all its fun. This idea-less clunker stars the very hot Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) as a psychotic co-ed who becomes obsessed with her even-hotter new roomie, played by Friday Night Lights co-star Minka Kelly. You see, Meester’s character lost her sister when she was little, and she’s longed for that kind of bond ever since, and, in Kelly’s character, she sees.... OK, nevermind. The Roommate is puddle-deep.
With its litany of lazy jump scares and inept characterization (Meester shifts from cute to crazy seemingly out of nowhere), The Roommate trudges through the checklist of awful-thriller-moviemaking clichés at a sluggish pace. And, worst of all, it’s never once sexy. Call us superficial, but a movie starring Meester, Kelly, and Alyson Michalka as co-eds who lie in bed together and take part in shower scenes should stimulate something other than hatred.
Buy it now: The Roommate
Coolest extra: “Tools Of The Trade: Inside The Action” featurette (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: Jason Statham may be unimaginative in his role choices, but you can’t say that he doesn’t bust his ass to make completely derivative action movies. As seen in his latest, the quasi-remake The Mechanic, the "Stath" never skimps on the high-octane stunts, weapons training, and brute fisticuffs; he’s pretty damn good at what he does, even if, like in this mediocre showcase of stylized violence, the actual flick underwhelms.
In this one-note revenge story, Statham plays an assassin (or “mechanic”) who teams up with his mentor’s son (Ben Foster) after the teacher is murdered. The Mechanic could’ve been so much more. Statham, when he’s not dodging bullets or diving away from firestorms, is actually a serviceable actor (see: The Bank Job), while Foster, who’s stolen many a scene in flicks like 30 Days Of Night and 3:10 To Yuma, is just flat-out good.
Had director Simon West approached The Mechanic with the touches of, say, a narrative filmmaker, Statham and Foster’s unique skills would’ve been ripe for some dramatic lifting. But, as it is, West’s by-the-numbers pic only pays attention to the explosions and anarchy. If you’re the type who prefers Rambo over Rocky, that’s good news; everyone else is advised to spend 90 minutes reading a book.
Buy it now: The Mechanic
Coolest extra: Alternate ending (DVD/Blu-ray combo only)
Complex says: For all of its masterful elements and classic respect, director William Friedkin’s 1973 horror game-changer The Exorcist has also inadvertently hurt the genre. It’s a frivolous argument, no doubt, but ponder this: Without The Exorcist, horror fans wouldn't have had to endure all of the horrible exorcism flicks that have come in its wake. Namely, The Rite, a real snooze that was exorcised out of theaters faster than one can say “You suck” this past January.
Billed as Anthony Hopkins’ return to his Hannibal Lecter days, The Rite is more comparable to last year’s The Wolfman, another genre hack-job in which the esteemed Welsh actor chews scenery while dreaming about his paycheck. Here, he plays a radical exorcist who mentors a young priest-in-training (the vapid Colin O’Donoghue) as they attempt to rid an Italian teenager of her demons.
Director Mikael Hafstrom (1408) rehashes all of the prerequisite exorcism tropes, such as crazy-voiced subjects talking dirty, eyeballs rolling into the backs of heads and bodily contortions, with an additional employment of cats to supply telegraphed “Boo!” moments. At one point, a possessed Hopkins says, “Whatever, dude.” We couldn’t agree more, bro.
Buy it now: The Rite
ESPN Films: 30 For 30 (Limited Edition Collector Set)
Coolest extra: Various director’s commentaries and deleted scenes for each included film (DVD)
Complex says: The first thing about ESPN Film’s second edition of 30 For 30 DVDs is the price: $90—what a bargain! That’s 30 documentaries at what’s basically three bucks a piece. You can’t beat that, sports heads.
Though, to be fair, ESPN’s 30 For 30 franchise isn’t just for Sportscenter junkies; with each film centered more upon the compelling narratives than simplistic in-game archival footage, the movies included in this set have wisely been made accessible for all viewers.
Amongst the set’s best entries: “Without Bias,” which details the cocaine overdose death of NBA superstar in the making Len Bias; “The U,” focused on the University of Miami's awe-inspiring bad boy football program; and “The Two Escobars,” which shows how interspersed crime and sports were in Colombia during the 1990s. Honestly, we could list all 30 but that seems a bit excessive. Just do yourself a favor and add this one to the collection.
Red, White & Blue
Coolest extra: Making-of featurette (DVD)
Complex says: Simply put, Red, White & Blue is a movie that deserves to be seen. Though, we should warn you, it’s about as pleasant as a jackhammer to the groin.
Written and directed by England native Simon Rumley, Red, White & Blue follows the connected lives of three lost souls: Erica, a depressed girl (Amanda Fuller) who sleeps with men just to feel loved; Nate, a troubled man (Noah Taylor) who was discharged from the Iraqi war; and Franki (Marc Senter), one of Erica’s loser jump-offs. How Rumley’s script plays out is best left to the viewer’s eyes, but we will say this—by the end of Red, White & Blue, we were shell-shocked, exhausted, and, most importantly, heavily impressed.
The first half of the movie is presented in sweeping montage, a series of loosely tied scenes that flow by like dreamscapes and helped in part by a haunting organ score. It’s a clever tactic on Rumley’s part, disarming viewers before ramming them in the guts with profound heartache, ferocious acting, and unpredictable brutality.
Despite the fact that it flew under everyone’s radar, Red, White & Blue was one of 2010’s best movies. It’s a difficult film to categorize; at times, it’s quietly romantic, in other instances it’s poignantly dramatic, and throughout the final act it’s devastatingly horrific. However one classifies it, though, the bottom line is that Red, White & Blue is independent filmmaking of the highest order.
Buy it now: Red, White & Blue
Beverly Hills Cop (Blu-ray)
Coolest extra: “A Glimpse Inside The Casting Process” featurette (Blu-ray)
Complex says: First, the bad news: this new Blu-ray version of Beverly Hills Cop, 1984’s highest-grossing movie, is pretty much a washout, only adding a lame photo stills gallery to the pre-existing features first included on the 2002 standard DVD release. Why the folks behind this re-mastered edition couldn’t spring for a new Eddie Murphy interview, or, shit, even a Judge Reinhold sit-down is beyond us.
But here’s the good news: Beverly Hills Cop is still as entertaining and funny as ever, reminding us that Murphy was once one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood. It’s astonishing, in some ways, to watch him in action as this action-comedy’s hero, Axel Foley, and think that he’d one day lose all of his earlier spunk and degrade himself in junk like Norbit.
In Beverly Hills Cop, he runs shit, exuding tons of charm, firing off endless one-liners, and scoring with racially charged humor that never feels hokey; the bit in which Foley checks into a posh hotel remains hilarious. The supplements on this Blu-ray are lame, but the movie itself is definitely worth another look, especially with its crispy new transfer.
Buy it now: Beverly Hills Cop (Blu-ray)
Diabolique (Criterion Collection)
Coolest extra: Selected-scene commentary by French-film scholar Kelley Conway (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: Within circles of horror fanatics, acclaimed French director Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques (more widely known as Diabolique) is hailed as one of the genre’s best works. Alfred Hitchcock, the “master of suspense” himself, admitted to the film’s huge influence on Psycho, and it’s easy to see just how Hitch drew guidance from this creepy flick. Patiently told and thick with dread, Diabolique is the rare black-and-white horror standard that’s still eerie as fuck today, complete with a rather brilliant twist ending that’ll leave you floored.
Two women, a boarding school master’s wife and his mistress, plot to kill their mutual lover, drowning him in a bathtub and then tossing his corpse into the school’s never-used swimming pool. Just as the ladies are about to breathe sighs of relief, though, dude’s body disappears; his wife, the most vulnerable of the two conspirators, begins seeing little clues that he’s still alive, such as his ghostly figure standing in the background of a photograph (one of the movie’s freakiest images).
Per usual, the Criterion Collection has assembled a great restoration package, though this one’s strictly for cinema nerds. The most interesting of the disc’s features are a selected-scene commentary from noted French movie brain Kelly Conway and an exclusive video interview with veteran horror journalist Kim Newman. Even if the names Conway and Newman fly right over your head, though, Diabolique itself shouldn’t. Horror-thrillers don’t get much darker, nor better, than this.