Little Miss Sunshine is the real word of mouth success of the past year. Since it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival (almost exactly a year ago) it has won audiences and critics over with its charming brand of bittersweet comedy. It follows a dysfunctional family from Albuquerque as they drive to California in order to take their young daughter (Abigail Breslin) to a beauty pageant. A pushy father (Greg Kinnear), a stressed mother (Toni Collete), a depressed Proust scholar (Steve Carell) and a foul mouthed grandpa (Alan Arkin) all form the rich bag of misfits in the film.
First time directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris manage to create a genuinely charming comedy whilst avoiding easy cliches and schmaltz. It also neatly breaks a taboo of US pop culture in that it actually celebrates losers, rather than turning them in to bland success stories. Watch out for it at the BAFTAs and Oscars – it might not be this year’s Crash but it could certainly be a strong dark horse candidate.
> Check out reviews of the film at Metacritic
> Buy the DVD from Amazon
In case you weren’t aware, the original versions of the Star Wars trilogy are being released on DVD for the first time. The revamped versions that were released theatrically in 1997 and on DVD a couple of years ago so I have mixed feelings about it.
Are fans that keen to see the original versions? If they were that good, then why did Lucasfilm redo them in the first place? That said I’m sure they will sell by the bucket load when they get released next Monday. Anyway, if you are curious this image gallery compares the 1980 version of The Empire Strikes Back to the 2004 DVD release. (Link via Digg)
> Official Star Wars site explaining the new DVD releases
> Wikipedia on the changes in the different releases of the Star Wars films
Recently I interviewed Joss Whedon about the DVD release of Serenity.
Have a listen to the interview below.
The DVD picks this week include a Depression-era boxing drama, a trashy but enjoyable thriller and an amusing documentary about a dirty joke.
Cinderella Man (Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 12): A moving and handsomely made bio-pic of James L Braddock (Russell Crowe), the Depression-era boxer who was dubbed the “Cinderella Man” for his ability to win fights as a underdog. The film reunites a lot of the key personnel who made 2001’s A Beautiful Mind: director Ron Howard; Crowe and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. Despite it’s unfair depiction of Braddock’s opponent Max Baer (who in reality was distraught at the death of an opponent who died in the ring and not the one-dimensional villain show here), it manages to convey the grim reality of 30s America and Paul Giamatti steals most of the scenes he crops up in as Braddock’s manager. It hit all the notes you would expect from a mainstream boxing film (underdog, triumph against odds, relatives tune in on the radio etc) but is still an engaging and beautifully made film.
> Buy Cinderella Man at Amazon UK
Red Eye (Universal Pictures Video, 12): Disposable but mindlessly entertaining thriller about a hotel manager (Rachel McAdams) embroiled in an assassination plot when she ends up sitting next to a sinister stranger (Cillian Murphy) on the ‘red eye’ flight from Dallas to Miami. Surprisingly short for a mainstream film (it clocks in at just 85 minutes) it contains several improbabilities (especially towards the end) but director Wes Craven keeps things ticking along nicely.
> Buy Red Eye at Amazon UK
The Aristocrats (Pathe, 18): An interesting and gloriously foul-mouthed documentary about an old joke that comedians have told each other down the years. Veteran alternative comedians Penn Jillette and Paul Provenza capitalise on their insider status to invite over 100 of their closest friends (who just happen to be some of the biggest names in comedy) to reminisce, analyse, deconstruct and deliver their own versions of the world’s dirtiest joke that always has to centre around an old burlesque routine known as ‘the aristocrats’. Although it gets a little repetitive there is a lot to enjoy here especially the routines from a magician and actor Kevin Pollack telling the joke in the style of Christopher Walken.
> Buy The Aristocrats on DVD at Amazon UK
> Browse other DVDs out this week at Amazon UK