I've never been a fan of John Waters. In fact, I thought the guy was dead. But I suspect that his latest effort will try even his ardent admirers' patience. Sexploitation films definitely have their place in cinema history; but peppering such a film with name talent—albeit B-list talent like Tracy Ullman and Johnny Knoxville—is a misguided attempt to lend legitimacy to a genre that's best left in the underground. It's like putting a fancy sign on a porn store.
Halle Berry revived the comics' most seductive villain in 2004. Aside from a new midriff-revealing leather catsuit (meow!), there's little to recommend this movie, which produced a hairball at the box office.
This avant-garde documentary traces the weeks of rehearsal leading up to a 2000 play by playwright and director Sam Shepard, based on his relationship with his own alcoholic father. Shepard assembled a cast that included Nick Nolte, Sean Penn, and Woody Harrelson, and while it's interesting to watch these pros prepare for their curtain call, they all seem to get along too well to make this more than an occasionally interesting behind-the-scenes look at live theater. The best drama—whether fiction or reality television—comes from conflict, but there's none to be found here, despite the disc jacket's claim that the play's characters "set off a powder keg of emotions so explosive that the actors themselves are drawn into the fray." This is just dull, and even Shepard appears to be dozing off during some of the script-reading sessions. The best moment comes when Harrelson and Penn, apparently competing with Nolte for the title Most Scruffy Looking Actor, bust each other's chops on some of their past film choices (yes, Shanghai Surprise comes into the conversation).
When I was in high school, long before VCRs became disposable, I struggled to stay awake into the wee hours to watch The Twilight Zone on various cable TV Superstations. Never mind that I'd seen most of the episodes. A friend and I planned to write a book about the series, so we lost sleep in the name of research.
Martin Balsam, Joseph Cotton, E.G. Marshall, James Whitmore, Jason Robards. Directed by Richard Fleischer and Kinji Fukasaku. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 4.1. 144 minutes. 1970. Fox Home Entertainment 2001317. G. $24.98.
Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, Terence Stamp, Valerie Perrine. Directed by Richard Donner. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1. 154 minutes. 1978. Warner Home Video 1013. PG. $24.98.
Jude Law, Joseph Fiennes, Ed Harris, Rachel Weisz, Bob Hoskins, Ron Perlman. Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1. 131 minutes. 2001. Paramount Home Video 33862. R. $29.99.
Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Giancarlo Giannini, Gary Oldman, Ray Liotta, Frankie Faison. Directed by Ridley Scott. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital, DTS 5.1. Two discs. 131 minutes. 2001. MGM Home Entertainment 1002321. R. $29.98.
Clint Eastwood, John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Dylan McDermott. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic). Dolby Digital 5.1. 127 minutes. 1993. Columbia TriStar Home Video 52317. R. $29.95.