Media | A2Q Archives | A2Q #59: The "Ninja" Edition | October 7, 2008: Welcome to this week's home video release highlights, a column tragically focused entirely on the American market. Sorry, rest of the world. Region locks are the home video industry's way of saying they still don't understand the Internet.

Roundup by Levi | Posted October 7, 2008

Out This Week

Hey, did you guys know that Tim Burton originally wanted Sammy Davis, Jr., to play the titular Betelgeuse? What a different movie that would be. Fans of Burton have a chance now to revisit one of his earliest films in HD and see the little touches and ideas that carried over to most of his later work. For example, characters in black and white striped clothing; dogs in key plot roles; stop motion animation; scale models; and of course all the gothic set and costume design. Burton wouldn't go fully Mario Bava until Sleepy Hollow, but the seeds of that obsession are in full effect here. And of course, Beetlejuice has my favorite movie easter egg of all time, with the introduction of Jack Skellington (well, his head, anyway): he can be seen when Betelgeuse transforms into a merry-go-round as the top of that particular costume. Man, writing this up makes me really want to go back and watch all those awesome Beetlejuice cartoons. I hope that are as good as my nostalgia tells me they are!

Boy A
Two adolescents murder a toddler in the U.K., and it becomes a huge story in the press. Years later, one of the boys is judged "rehabilitated" and released. He changes his name changed and gets a job, and while he's very awkward from having been locked up during his formative years when most people are learning social skills, he manages to make a few friends and eke a meager life for himself. Things are going well until once again the media shines a light on him, this time for saving the life of a young boy. Soon, the tabloids realize who he is and broadcast his real identity to the world. Can someone who committed so terrible a crime ever be forgiven? Can he even forgive himself?

The Happening
Schadenfreude! M. Night Charlatan strikes again. The backlash that his been slowly building against the formulaic and ultimately shallow drivel (though admittedly stylish) that he's been churning out since the very beginning means that more and more film enthusiasts are starting to get to where I was after my first viewing of The Sixth Sense. Here's a twist ending for you: his movies suck. This one is apparently even worse than Lady in The Water.

Interview with the Vampire
Here's a rare case where a movie is far superior to the book it was based on. Even if you're not into the gothic millieu of the film's setting, surely you can appreciate a pre-crazy Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt sucking on each other's necks? And hey, that's Kirsten Dunst! And she can act! Holy cow!

Paranoid Park
As in Elephant, Gus Van Sant is once again exploring the life of troubled teens. This film follows one kid in particular, a skateboarder whose life begins to fall apart after he is involved in the accidental death of a security guard.

Sleeping Beauty
You guys know that when I rail on modern Disney, it's only because the classic animation that came out of that studio is a cornerstone of our shared cultural heritage? I think I'd be a different person now if I grew up in a world without Disney. Thank the maker that Pixar is still making high-quality animated films, so that my little nieces and nephew don't have to grow up in a world where Disney just means Hannah Montana and direct-to-video Tinkerbell cash-ins.

The Visitor
If you've seen The Station Agent then all I really need to tell you is this is from the same director, and that the connection shows. For the rest of you, go watch The Station Agent! This film follows a buttoned-down professor who finds two illegal immigrants living in a New York apartment, an Arab drummer and his African girlfriend. He lets them stay and even begins taking drum lessons before the man is arrested and put in a detention center for illegal immigrants. The professor, who we get the sense has never stood up for anything before in his life, takes up the cause and tries to wade through America's post-9/11 bureauacracy to free his unlikely friend.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan
I guess it's funny because it betrays your expectations of an effeminate hairdresser by making him a badass Israeli counter-terrorist agent. He's totally got a limp wrist but he can still kick the asses of real men! OMGWTFBBQ. Watch this in a double feature with the gay-panic "comedy" I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and then kill yourself, because seriously, you make really bad decisions and probably shouldn't be allowed to pollute the gene pool.


Cover art courtesy of Amazon. I know I'm human. And if you were all these things, then you'd just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it's won. Follow me on Twitter. You can also e-mail me at vsrobot [dot] blog [at] gmail [dot] com. Thanks for reading!