Also out on DVD ... September 2009

Week of 28 September 2009

The Simpsons: Season 12The Simpsons: Season 12 ****  (Stars the usual voice actors, plus guest stars Edward Norton, Justin Timberlake, Stephen King, Roger Daltrey; £39.99; UK cert 12) Here we finally have Season 12 on DVD – roughly 10 years after it first aired in the US. The Simpsons has become the longest-running animated show ever – it's just begun its 21st season in the US – and many people feel it's outstayed its welcome. I disagree. All those who say that its "golden age" was Season 4 to 10 are, I believe, slightly misguided. I think that every season of The Simpsons has its good and bad episodes. Some seasons are a little stronger than others, but I feel the show has been pretty consistent during its lifetime. And so to Season 12, which has a good mix of great episodes and ones that, while they don't actually suck, leave a little to be desired. Favourites here include Worst Episode Ever (where Comic Book Guy takes the lead for a change), a great Treehouse of Terror, Trilogy of Error, Simpsons Safari (where the family inflict their lovely selves on Africa) and The Computer Wore Menace Shoes, where Homer builds a website that reminds me why I loathe MySpace. All up, this is a pretty solid effort from Matt G and the gang. Extras: As always, this Simpsons set is crammed full of extra stuff. There is, of course, an audio commentary on every single episode, probably the best bonus feature there is. Then there are assorted deleted scenes (the best one is Daltrey telling Marge to "shut the fuck up"), animation spots, artwork stills and storyboards, illustrated commentaries, commercials for the show, footage from fan festivals and featurettes. — Stuart O'Connor

Wasting Away ****  (Stars Matthew Davis, Julianna Robinson, Michael Grant Terry, Betsy Beutler, Colby French, Joel McCrary; £12.99; UK cert 18) "We can't outrun them, we're zombies ... zombies don't run!" Here we have a fresh twist on the zombie genre - a zombie film from the point of view of the zombies themselves. When a military experiment to create a super soldier goes wrong (don't they always?) the gooey-green toxic waste ends up in the ice-cream t a bowling alley ... where four friends eat it and become zombies. But they don't realise they're zombies - to them, everybody else has turned weird (the fact they have suddenly developed a taste for human brians doesn't click with them straight away. Eventually though they work it out and struggle to survive as people just want to shoot them inthe head. It's a clever, original take on zombies that is bursting with energy and plenty of laughs. A fine directorial debut from Matthew Kohnen, who co-wrote the script wth his brother Sean. Extras: just the trailer — Stuart O'Connor

Dying Breed ** (Leigh Whannell, Nathan Phillips, Melanie Vallejo, Sally McDonald, Ken Radley, Sheridan Harvey; £12.99; UK cert 18) Dying Breed is a rather bleak Australian horror film about a bunch of young men and women who venture out into the wilderness of Tasmania to track down the ultra-rare Tasmanian Tiger. Naturally, you may be thinking the film to be a rampaging tiger-on-the-loose kind of creature feature, but it's far from it. In fact, the tiger has very little to do with the story. What the film really focuses on is the tried and tested horror movie formula of freakish cannibal hillbilly-types roaming around in the woods and killing off hapless young folk. While that formula somewhat works with the film, you spend the first 50 minutes trying to work out which direction it's going to go, and not in a good “wow, what ever way could this go next?” kind of way, but a tedious “what exactly is this film about?” kind of way. Oh, and also throw into the mix the female protagonist's sister who died where there have been sightings of Tasmanian Tigers, the real-life history intertwining of Alexander Pearce, an Irish penal convict who escaped his captors back in 1800-and-something, and an acting job from one of the blokes who wrote the original SAW. No extras — Adam Stephen Kelly

Also Out (But Not Reviewed)
• The Prisoner: The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
• Menace II Society: Director's Cut
• Belle De Jour (Blu-ray)
• Army of The Dead
• New Town Killers
• Amsterdamned
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Week of 21 September 2009

No.3 ** (Stars Choi Mink-sik, Song Kang-ho | Written by Song Neun-han; £14.99; UK cert 18) Over the years we’ve seen plenty of gangster comedies from Western cinema, spoofing the key works of icons like Scorsese and Coppola. Films like Jim Abraham’s “Jane Austen’s Mafia!”. But we now have that genre moving successfully in South Korea, and Song Neun-han’s black-comedy “No. 3” is what started it all. The film centres around Tae-ju, a fumbling gangster who dreams of becoming the boss of his crime outfit. He achieves the rank of third in the syndicate after a deadly assault by a rival gang. His desire to be number one is continuously hindered by his wannabe poet wife, who seems fascinated with sleeping with rival gang members, and other shit-stirring shenanigans. The main problem with this funny film is that it just isn’t funny. The humour is quite simply dumb (see the villainous Ashtray - weapon of choice, ashtray), and so slapstick as it is, the film finds it hard to identify itself when it mixes its sincere scenes of romance. What makes it worse is that the subtitles are so off, your chance of being able to come to terms with any witty dialogue is none. With stars such as Choi Min-sik and Song Kang-ho plastered on the boxart with their “Oldboy” and “The Host” respective credits, you’re far better off giving this a miss and them a watch. Extras: Loads of trailers of films with obscure titles, (bad) English subtitles, making of documentary. — Adam Stephen Kelly

Also Out (But Not Reviewed)
• Austin Powers - International Man Of Mystery (Blu-ray)
• Sleepy Hollow (Blu-ray)
• Shaolin Soccer (Blu-ray)
• The Banana Splits: Season 1
• Doctor Who: The Keys Of Marinus
• ER: Season 15
• State of Play
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Week of 14 September 2009

Sexy Killer (Not reviewed; £12.99; UK cert 18) A hip fashionista at a trendy design school takes the concept of 'fashion victim' soaring to bloody new heights as she embarks on a brutal killing spree, all the while flying comfortably beneath the radar of the clueless homicide detectives frantically searching for clues in all the wrong places. When a collection of corpses are unearthed at the Med School on a large university campus, the authorities scramble to land a lead before the case goes cold. No one suspects design school trendsetter Barbara could be the homicidal maniac behind these vicious slayings, but what better way to rid the world of bad dressers than kill them slowly and bury them in shallow graves?

Also Out (But Not Reviewed)
• Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience
• Monty Python: 40th Anniversary Collection
• JAG: The Complete Sixth Season
• Subway (Blu-ray)
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Week of 7 September 2009

This Is Spinal Tap: 25th Anniversary EditionThis Is Spinal Tap: 25th Anniversary Edition ***** (Stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, Bruno Kirby, Ed Begley Jr, Fran Drescher, Patrick MacNee, Billy Crystal, Howard Hesseman, Anjelica Huston; £19.99; UK cert 15) Here we have the original mockumentary, brilliantly realised and brought to life by writer/director Rob Reiner and stars/writers Guest, McKean and Shearer. It's satire at its finest as we follow has-been British heavy metal band Spinal Tap on a disasterous "comeback" tour of the US. The film cleverly lampoons overblown rock cliches and overblown, ageing rock stars. This Is Spinal Tap has  become a cult classic in the truest sense of the term. Extras: An audio commentary by the band; This Is Spinal Tap: Up to 11, a new exclusive documentary featuring fans of Spinal Tap including Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard, Kasabian, Rob Brydon, Martin Freeman and Anvil; Stonehenge Interviews with Nigel Tufnel; More than an hour of deleted scenes; 2007 Live Earth, short film and performance; The Return of Spinal Tap; music videos; several featurettes; and loads more. — Stuart O'Connor

Hamlet 2 * (Stars Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, Joseph Julian Soria, Skylar Astin, David Arquette, Elisabeth Shue, Amy Poehler, Phoebe Strole, Melonie Diaz; £15.99; UK cert 15) A terrible missfire by Coogan in his bid to gain a toehold on the Hollywod totem pole (where Ricky Gervais seems to have the prime position for expat British actors). It was screened for film critics last year, but failed to get a theatrical release, and I can see why. Coogan plays an untalented actor working as a high school drama teacher in Tuscon, Arizona. He specialises in putting on plays based on big Hollywood films, and that he's written himself. They're all exceedingly awful (as is this film). When the drama department is threatened with closure, he decides to stage an original piece he's been working on - Hamlet 2, a sequel to the Shakespeare classic. The play (like this film) is terrible, unfunny and offensive. What a complete clunker Hamlet 2 is - the normally reliable and very funny Coogan seems stifled here, and he can't even stick to the one accent. This is one to avoid at all costs. Extras: An audio commentary with co-writer/director Andrew Fleming and co-writer Pam Brady; deleted scenes; a making-of featurette; a comparison of the Erin Brokovich scene with the real film; a "singalong" with two of the musical numbers.— Stuart O'Connor

Also Out (But Not Reviewed)
• Plan 9 From Outer Space (digitally remastered in colour)
• Small Faces: All Or Nothing 1965 -1968
• Doctor Who - The Twin Dilemma
• CSI New York: Season 5
Gladiator (Blu-ray)

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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