RT on DVD: Frank Miller Talks The Spirit, Michel Gondry Releases New Music Video DVD

Plus, The Reader, horror pic Splinter, and the retro '80s Lost Collection hit shelves.

by | April 13, 2009 | Comments

It’s a light week for home video entertainment, but never fear — RT on DVD is here! We’ll kick things off with the biggest title of the week: Frank Miller’s The Spirit, which had fans drooling with anticipation…until the stylized comic strip adaptation hit theaters. Better reviewed, but nonetheless controversial in its own right, is Kate Winslet’s The Reader, which nabbed the British actress her first Academy Award but also drew the ire of critics thanks to its sensitive subject material. Horror fans will get a pleasant surprise with an indie creature feature (Splinter), while ’80s enthusiasts should embrace a new eight-DVD set that combines the star power of Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore, and Jon Cryer (The Lost Collection). Fans of director Michel Gondry should check out his latest compilation of music videos and short films (Michel Gondry 2: More Videos). Finally, see if an overlooked science fiction flick holds up in High Def (The 13th Floor on Blu-ray).

Frank Miller‘s first solo effort as a director (after co-directing Sin City with Robert Rodriguez) had fans both curious and hopeful, since the adaptation of the 1940s-era comic strip would mesh the celebrated style of Miller’s mentor, Will Eisner, with his own. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Miller’s treatment of the crime fighter known as The Spirit was widely panned by critics, who blasted its unintelligible plotting and ridiculous dialogue. That’s too bad, since The Spirit — like Sin City and 300 before it — is a daring effort, setting a cast of real-life players against largely computer-generated environments to create a unique world, half-real and half-imagined; sadly, it’s a brave choice that couldn’t quite balance a hammy, atonal script. Give it a chance this week on DVD (or in glorious High Def on Blu-ray), if only to witness Miller’s stylistic flair caress each and every one of his femme fatales (including Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Paz Vega, Sarah Paulson, and Jaime King). Below, watch an exclusive excerpt from the DVD feature “Miller on Miller,” in which Frank Miller explains his attraction to black and white animation and noir storytelling.

Next: Kate Winslet in The Reader

The Reader — 61%

“It’s not a Holocaust movie,” argues director Stephen Daldry, who all but invited controversy with this drama about a German woman named Hanna Schmitz hiding her past as a Nazi prison guard. Hence, critics were split on whether or not the tale, told from the perspective of Hanna’s former lover, Michael Berg (Ralph Fiennes), was told in poor taste. Rife with literary references — Hanna asks her then-15 year old lover to read aloud to her between lovemaking sessions — The Reader is adapted from Bernhard Schlink’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. While the film does curry some sympathy for the culpable Schmitz (thanks in large part to Kate Winslet‘s Oscar-winning performance), the bigger questions are posed to Fiennes’ character, who represents a generation of Germans still dealing with post-war guilt. Deleted scenes and making-of featurettes accompany the DVD, along with segments with director Daldry and actor David Kross, Kate Winslet, and up-and-coming composer Nico Muhly.

Next: Michel Gondry is back with More Videos

If you already own director Michel Gondry‘s Director’s Label compilation of music videos and shorts, then you’re going to want to add this new volume to your DVD collection. Like that previous release, Michel Gondry 2: More Videos assembles an assortment of delightful short films and music videos, all of them Gondrian to the core (read: handcrafted, fresh visuals from Hollywood’s most offbeat and crafty filmmaker). Included in this go-around are music videos for Bjork (“Declare Independence”), Paul McCartney (“Dance Tonight”), Michael Andrews featuring Gary Jules (“Mad World”), Stereogram (“Walkie Talkie Man”), The White Stripes (“The Denial Twist”), Beck (“Cellphone’s Dead”) and more, including his “Knives Out” video for Radiohead, which the band notoriously hated and never used.

The single-disc release also includes a handful of shorts, including Gondry’s infamous Rubik’s Cube video (in which he solves the mindbender with his feet), a response video entitled “Jack Black Beats Michel Gondry With His Rubik’s Cube,” and “How To Blow Up A Helicopter (Ayako’s Story),” featuring actress Ayako Fujitani (who starred in Gondry’s segment of the film Tokyo! and who happens to also be the daughter of Steven Seagal). Find Michel Gondry 2: More Videos available at his official site, www.michelgondry.com beginning April 14.

Next: Spiky horrors in Splinter

“Sharply-directed” and “amusing” aren’t the words one might expect from low-budget horror these days, but the critics agree that Splinter, which debuted on HDNet and in limited release last October, delivers. The plot: a couple and their carjackers become trapped in an abandoned gas station by a parasite that turns animals (and people) into porcupine-like flesh eaters. Director Toby Wilkins paces his creature feature well, drawing comparisons to such classic monster flicks as The Thing and Tremors; hear all about how Wilkins pulled it off in two audio commentaries (one with him and the cast, the other with him and his crew), making-of featurettes, and more.

Next: Science, tragedy, and Meryl Streep in Dark Matter

Dark Matter — 38%

The crossroads between genius and insanity have been addressed before in films like A Beautiful Mind, but in Dark Matter, that theme takes a, well, darker turn. Helmed by Chinese opera director Chen Shi-zheng, the drama — based loosely on a 1991 campus tragedy at the University of Iowa — follows brilliant Chinese doctoral student Liu Xing (Ye Liu), who comes to America to study physics and pursue the American Dream. But when his dissertation on dark matter, the unseen elements of the universe, contradicts the theories of his advisor (Aidan Quinn), Xing loses everything, and is set on a path toward a violent mental breakdown. Critics praised Dark Matter for its sensitive portrayal of the American immigrant experience, but bemoaned the inert journey it takes to get to its shocking conclusion. Meryl Streep co-stars.

Next: HBO’s The House of Saddam

BBC and HBO Films teamed up to produce this four-hour mini-series about the rise and fall of Saddam Hussein, the notorious Iraqi dictator who was executed in 2006. Spread over two discs, The House of Saddam chronicles the 27-year reign of Iraq’s fifth President (Munich‘s Yigal Naor) in spectacularly terrifying fashion; part soap opera, part historical document, the series has drawn comparisons to The Sopranos in part because it not only weaves together Hussein’s personal and political lives, but peels back the layers on members of his inner circle.

Next: Pillow Talk 50th Anniversary Edition

Bring home this romantic comedy classic about the epic battle of the sexes between an independent Manhattan gal (Doris Day) and a songwriting playboy who lives in her building (Rock Hudson). Nominated for five Oscars (it won for Best Screenplay), Pillow Talk marked the beginning of a fruitful on-screen partnership between singer-turned-studio starlet Day and Hudson, who would go on to star together in the lesser known rom-coms Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers. The 50th Anniversary edition, however, leaves something to be desired, as it includes only three bonus features (commentary by film historians, a feature on the Day-Hudson partnership, and one on the success of the 1959 film) and trailers.

Next: Turn back to the ’80s with The Lost Collection

The Lost Collection: My Best Friend Is A Vampire, Slaughter High, Irreconcilable Differences, The Night Before, Homer & Eddie, Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home, Hiding Out, Repossessed!

When it comes to nostalgia for the ’80s, perhaps some things are better left in the past… Not! Lionsgate certainly doesn’t think so, as they’re releasing eight films under the banner “The Lost Collection,” which run the gamut from horror to high school comedies to, yes, the saddest comedy of the entire decade: Irreconcilable Differences. Within the set you’ll also find the teen slasher Slaughter High, the Leslie Nielsen spoof Repossessed! (which co-stars Linda Blair in a parody of her Exorcist role), and the Keanu Reeves vehicle The Night Before, which plays like an ’80s version of Dude, Where’s My Car? Also included in the Lost Collection are the Robert Sean Leonard bloodsucker comedy, My Best Friend is a Vampire, and the unforgettable buddy pic Homer & Eddie, in which James Belushi endures a road trip with BFF Whoopi Goldberg! We can’t quite decide what’s worse, between that match up and the inclusion of not one, but two Jon Cryer flicks (the back to school yukfest Hiding Out and Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home). Naturally, each film comes with its own “I Love the ’80s”-style pop up trivia.

Next: The Thirteenth Floor hits Blu-ray

The Thirteenth Floor Blu-ray — 29%

By the time The 13th Floor debuted in the summer of 1999, Hollywood was jam-packed with science-fiction films about virtual reality and technology (see Dark City, eXistenZ, and the mother of them all, The Matrix). Now that it’s gotten some distance from those comparisons, The 13th Floor might finally get a fair shake on Blu-ray. The time-jumping story of virtual reality tech Douglas Hall (Craig Bierko) begins in the 1990s and travels (via simulation game) to 1937 Los Angeles, where Hall learns that an artificially-created character within the game has figured out the truth — and may be killing other people. Gretchen Mol co-stars in this existential thriller, which looks sumptuous on Blu-Ray but lacks substantial bonus features.

Until next week, happy renting!

Tag Cloud

serial killer travel Photos New York Comic Con green book nature social media Showtime Women's History Month biopic Academy Awards Pacific Islander technology pirates of the caribbean saw Film CW Seed witnail Fall TV prank book adaptation documentaries jurassic park a nightmare on elm street Rock 2020 mockumentary 2016 halloween tv FX on Hulu Infographic joker satire Paramount Valentine's Day ghosts south america Election cancelled television doctor who teaser Chernobyl Paramount Plus disaster feel good casting remakes YouTube miniseries french Hollywood Foreign Press Association 2019 Alien halloween SDCC versus Awards critic resources Shudder Freeform Tokyo Olympics godzilla rt labs BBC America Ghostbusters talk show fresh christmas movies El Rey women historical drama Peacock stoner Exclusive Video child's play adaptation TV quibi Country Warner Bros. Fargo comedies Amazon Prime BBC Rom-Com TIFF news black comedy kong kaiju Hallmark Christmas movies ratings Epix documentary American Society of Cinematographers Awards Tour Cannes Bravo Discovery Channel slashers wonder woman renewed TV shows Mudbound Toys dc Comics on TV ESPN harry potter superhero rotten movies we love Winter TV Marvel Studios Comedy Central Lifetime legend Food Network archives period drama 71st Emmy Awards spinoff Pop TV Shondaland independent Stephen King Tarantino politics worst movies spider-man Film Festival art house game show Hallmark Christmas Animation breaking bad comics comic books Comic Book finale sequels game of thrones Horror rotten best dexter 2021 Writers Guild of America sports king kong cancelled TV shows chucky Funimation black Captain marvel romantic comedy gangster natural history comic book movie golden globes Apple zombies zero dark thirty VOD MCU PlayStation richard e. Grant Instagram Live PBS binge Trophy Talk The CW suspense NBA Sony Pictures BET australia Sundance Now Spectrum Originals marvel cinematic universe children's TV comic comic book movies Marvel Television screenings target Paramount Network hispanic heritage month Set visit political drama worst strong female leads Nat Geo Crunchyroll LGBTQ rt archives cinemax kids APB Starz Pirates latino scene in color Emmys National Geographic obituary video on demand AMC Plus debate series Pop GoT Neflix live action Creative Arts Emmys young adult crossover posters robots MTV true crime movies 72 Emmy Awards Superheroe know your critic Amazon Prime Video Biopics animated hispanic telelvision RT History mcc ID boxoffice Disney psychological thriller Superheroes Apple TV Plus Universal Pictures ITV NBC spider-verse sitcom E3 Musicals BBC One based on movie directors 45 rt labs critics edition spy thriller Trivia Tags: Comedy Reality Family The Arrangement 24 frames TCA 2017 DC Comics trophy Year in Review war LGBT psycho Oscars Comedy Ovation Anna Paquin boxing films Sundance indie Extras spain hidden camera Video Games Dark Horse Comics werewolf Tumblr Logo 90s franchise comiccon cults book The Walt Disney Company Baby Yoda Binge Guide Legendary Box Office 2017 Certified Fresh IFC Mystery Best and Worst olympics Wes Anderson japan tv talk deadpool television TLC San Diego Comic-Con cops Acorn TV TruTV award winner TBS Calendar Disney streaming service SXSW Image Comics Fantasy Disney Channel AMC emmy awards CMT Lionsgate Esquire Grammys TCM asian-american live event Character Guide rom-coms mutant Adult Swim Pet Sematary Reality Competition genre canceled TV shows sag awards Netflix Christmas movies OWN Television Critics Association golden globe awards hist Opinion all-time Rocky BAFTA crime SundanceTV 2018 WGN FX A&E Cosplay anthology Brie Larson cancelled die hard singing competition Polls and Games The Witch Tomatazos italian TV movies DC streaming service HFPA Television Academy biography Podcast Heroines reboot 2015 james bond YA festival TCA Winter 2020 OneApp Syfy Tubi FOX transformers Disney+ Disney Plus Holidays twilight PaleyFest HBO Turner Walt Disney Pictures science fiction supernatural dramedy toy story universal monsters police drama composers FXX Premiere Dates X-Men space 20th Century Fox docudrama E! CBS All Access Song of Ice and Fire football 79th Golden Globes Awards adenture spanish language Avengers international name the review cats Amazon Studios GIFs streaming movies Winners YouTube Premium vampires Pride Month Comic-Con@Home 2021 Red Carpet Mary poppins Apple TV+ video ViacomCBS Teen reviews Turner Classic Movies classics canceled new star wars movies razzies Action Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vs. criterion GLAAD dark Broadway Rocketman japanese VICE DirecTV indiana jones action-comedy Western Black History Month Quiz USA Network medical drama cancelled TV series Britbox streaming Disney Plus Holiday 73rd Emmy Awards Mary Tyler Moore TV Land trailers ABC lord of the rings spanish Sneak Peek HBO Go mission: impossible Countdown Black Mirror YouTube Red sopranos Mindy Kaling 007 adventure venice Music movie unscripted See It Skip It 93rd Oscars scorecard 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards foreign Schedule Classic Film facebook discovery 99% TCA Awards blockbuster screen actors guild basketball high school nbcuniversal Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt DC Universe revenge Nominations jamie lee curtis Drama Hulu Spring TV Pixar Endgame BET Awards RT21 Marvel Spike sequel Ellie Kemper hollywood thriller WarnerMedia Lifetime Christmas movies laika CBS slasher HBO Max History Star Trek nfl festivals elevated horror blockbusters stop motion marvel comics Summer Netflix VH1 theme song aapi The Purge king arthur crime thriller Travel Channel superman dragons zombie Fox News Trailer MSNBC Watching Series Amazon TNT batman justice league First Reviews Lucasfilm scary Columbia Pictures anime royal family diversity DGA romance new york cooking scary movies Emmy Nominations dogs IFC Films ABC Signature 1990s USA Crackle toronto parents free movies Kids & Family Super Bowl cartoon Interview The Walking Dead Sci-Fi Martial Arts dreamworks Star Wars Prime Video crime drama fast and furious Vudu TV One new zealand Nickelodeon leaderboard dceu Thanksgiving President critics Marathons First Look blaxploitation heist movie concert popular IMDb TV TCA Musical aliens The Academy ABC Family what to watch 4/20 monster movies docuseries Universal Arrowverse NYCC Elton John Hear Us Out TV renewals CNN Mary Poppins Returns Cartoon Network stand-up comedy mob Fox Searchlight 21st Century Fox Sundance TV cars Masterpiece A24