Killers take R & R in beautiful Bruges
“In Brugesâ€ could just as easily be called â€œGangsters in Wonderland.â€
The pitch-black comedy-drama kicks off after a volatile London crime boss (Ralph Fiennes) orders two hit men (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) to lay low in Bruges, the oldest medieval town in Belgium, when a hit goes bad.
The fairy-tale-like city gets almost as much screen time as the stars.
Years ago I spent a week in this charming town of lazy canals, old architecture, lace-making and great beer; all the sorts of things (except for the beer) that make the coarser killer (Farrell) think heâ€™s landed in hell.
His attitude leads to most of the quirky humor in this brew of bloody murder, mayhem, odd-couple comedy (with the excellent Gleeson as a more refined hit man), romance and moviemaking.
The story doesnâ€™t always gel â€” some of the humorâ€™s forced, and Farrellâ€™s whining grates â€” but it picks up near the end with splashes of violence and poignancy. (Warning for those with refined sensibilities: the â€œFâ€-word runs rampant.)
Extras: A must-see (Iâ€™m biased) canal-boat ride through Bruges; other looks at the city and its history in making-of and background shorts; deleted scenes; gag real; more.
â€œThe Spiderwick Chroniclesâ€ is the most entertaining DVD Iâ€™ve seen this month. Based on a childrenâ€™s-book series, the exciting saga is fast-paced, frothy and fun â€” perfect ingredients for screenings in a house with no air-conditioning.
The story centers around twin boys (both played by Freddie Highmore) and their older sister (Sarah Bolger) after they move into a secluded, rundown mansion with their mother (Mary-Louise Parker) when she and their father separate.
The obstreperous twin blames mom and acts out, so he gets blamed for the strangeness that hits the house â€” personal items disappear, noises come from the walls.
Investigating, he finds a hidden room containing his late, great uncle Arthur Spiderwickâ€™s (David Strathairn) â€œField Guide to the Fantastical World Around You.â€
The book is filled with sketches, observations and mythology that open his eyes to the world of fairies, brownies and deadly goblins surrounding the house â€” and after the book for the power it contains.
Adventure ensues, with plenty of frights, humor, fantasy and suspense.
Extras: The two-disc set contains shorts on the â€œField Guideâ€; background story; the characters; making the movie; deleted scenes; more.
Coming of age in Iran
â€œPersepolisâ€ is a powerful, adult-oriented animated movie based on co-writer/co-director Marjane Satrapiâ€™s popular autobiographical comics about her experiences growing up in Iran during the Shahâ€™s regime and the Islamic Revolution and attending high school in Austria.
Film being a different medium, Satrapi explains in the insightful and recommended bonus materials, â€œPerspolisâ€ is a fictionalized version of the stories but rendered primarily in black and white, as in the comics.
The look is reminiscent of German Expressionism, says rocker Iggy Pop, who voices one the of the characters. It adds an other-world reality to the eloquent Satrapiâ€™s experiences, as a precocious, defiant 9-year-old and an angst-laden teen and young woman.
The compelling story personalizes Iran and its people as it addresses politics, protests and restrictive culture via Satrapiâ€™s relationships with family, friends and young men.
Gena Rowlands voices her beloved grandmother, Catherine Deneuve plays her mother.
Extras: Cannes Q&A with actors and filmmakers; featurettes on translating the comics to film, working relationships and more.
Also on DVD
â€œCarelessâ€: After a slacker finds a severed finger on his kitchen floor, he, his dad and his best friend search for the woman who owns it; comedy with Colin Hanks and Tony Shalhoub.
â€œCharlie Bartlettâ€: Cocky teen (Anton Yelchin) wins over student body by playing psychiatrist at his new school; with Robert Downey Jr.
â€œDefinitely, Maybeâ€: Facing divorce, Ryan Reynolds talks about his life and his important relationships with women (Rachel Weisz, Isla Fisher and Elizabeth Banks) for his daughter (Abigail Breslin) at her request. The romantic comedy is better than you think.
â€œThe Eye 3â€: Chinese-language chiller about people who contact the spirit world and its creepy creatures. (â€œSpiderwickâ€ for horror fans.)
â€œFuturama: The Beast With a Billion Backsâ€: Animated interplanetary love story involving a planet-size critter with tons of tentacles; voice talent includes Brittany Murphy; based on the Fox TV show.
â€œThe Hammerâ€: Comedy about a middle-age construction worker (former Golden Gloves boxer Adam â€œThe Man Showâ€ Carolla) who gets a second shot at fame at the U.S. Olympic boxing trials; â€œRockyâ€ with wit?
â€œHoneydripperâ€: John Saylesâ€™ drama centers around the goings-on in a fading, â€™50s-era Alabama blues club whose owner (Danny Glover) hires a famous electric guitar player to bring back business; good music; always something of value in Sayles’ films.
â€œThe Lodgeâ€: Romantic weekend in a secluded lodge becomes a struggle for survival for a couple that just wants to make whoopee.
â€œMumia Abu-Jamal: A Case for Reasonable Doubtâ€: Documentary about the journalist and Black Panther on death row for 25 years for murdering a Philadelphia police officer.
â€œPricelessâ€: Gold digger Audrey Tatou mistakes a poor shnook for a wealthy mark.
â€œQuantum Hoops: The Caltech Basketball Storyâ€: David Duchovny narrates a documentary about the final week of the 2006 hoop season with the brainy school stuck in a 21-year losing streak.
â€œ10,000 B.C.â€: Mammoths, sabertooth tigers and cave men, oh my.
â€œWide Sargasso Seaâ€: â€œJane Eyreâ€ prequel with Mr. Rochester (Rafe Spall) meeting the Creole heiress (Rebecca Hall) who becomes his first wife.
DVD on TV
â€œElmoâ€™s World: Summer Vacationâ€; â€œEvening Shade â€“ Season Oneâ€; â€œIce Road Truckers: On & Off the Iceâ€; â€œThe Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Set 3.â€
July 1: â€œVantage Pointâ€
July 15: â€œThe Bank Jobâ€