Apologies for the brevity of this week’s DVD column, but due to a paucity of good releases and a heavy workload it’s the best you’re going to get.
DVD/Blu-ray of the week: THE MUPPETS
As if I wasn’t going to pick this. A genuinely hilarious, touching, brilliantly judged nostalgia trip for Muppet Show snobs and puppet proletariat alike, it’s the best family film since TOY STORY 3. And the songs are great.
Last week saw a great Robert Shaw villain performance in pick of the week THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123, and this week sees one just as good in THE STING. It’s a film primarily about Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s easy chemistry, of course, but Shaw’s sneering Irish brogue is one of my favourite things about THE STING. It’s so often thought of as the poor cousin of BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, but while the script may be a shade less whip-smart than William Goldman's breakthrough masterpiece this is still superbly made caper entertainment of the highest quality, the likes of which has all but died out in an era of sci-fi and superhero domination.
THE EXPENDABLES – DIRECTORS CUT
I saw this once and thought it was utter garbage, and it’s not like I’m not pre-disposed to big dumb action films, either. I feel like I should give it another go, as lots of people I know and respect really like it, but nevertheless I think there might be some more worthy ways of spending my time. There has to be, right? *stares into abyss*
EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE
EXTREMELY SHIT AND INCREDIBLY SHIT, amirite? Obviously I haven’t seen this, as it looks like visual kryptonite to the film snob Superman that lives in my brain, so I have no idea if it’s actually good or not. It could be magnificent. But I’m just going to assume it’s awful and get on with my life, which is a decision I’m already at peace with.
RUMBLE IN THE BRONX
Now we’re talking! I loved this film as a fifteen-year-old, where I spent my time working through the Jackie Chan ouvre whenever I wasn’t avoiding/frightening girls. I remember having a vicious argument with my friends who was harder: Jackie Chan or Jet Li. I think I knew even back then that Li probably would win in a rhetorical dust-up, but I was still annoyed that Jackie Chan would just be automatically dismissed on account of him being small and goofy. When you've watched as much behind-the-scenes footage of Chan throwing himself onto unprotected ground from the top of terrifyingly high buildings as I have, you’d stick up for his toughness too.
Anyway, RUMBLE is probably his last genuinely good Hong Kong flick, as he moved into the world of RUSH HOUR and KNANGHAI SHITES not long afterwards. It features some excellent examples of Chan’s trademark prop-hevy fighting acrobatics, including this doozy: