New: Dudes on the defensive
OK, not a lot of people are going to be pairing up gay drama The Green (Wolfe Video; now available) and horror-comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (Magnolia Home Entertainment; available November 29), but hear me out. Both movies are about two guys trying to live their lives and mind their own business, but then there’s a misunderstanding, and they’re under fire from the local community.
Granted, in The Green, a gay schoolteacher and his partner discover just how “tolerant” their Connecticut neighbors are when a student falsely accuses the teacher of some bad-touching, while Tucker and Dale are charming rednecks who are mistaken for serial killers by a band of moronic college kids. In any event, both are terrific movies that were big hits at film festivals, and both absolutely deserve to find a much wider audience on DVD.
Whether you’re a movie fan, or holiday shopping for one, there are two new docs you won’t want to miss. The Sundance Film Festival selection These Amazing Shadows: The Movies That Make America (PBS; now available) looks at classics and rarities in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry through the eyes of expert witnesses ranging from John Waters to Debbie Reynolds, Christopher Nolan to John Lasseter, Rob Reiner to John Singleton.
Making the Boys (First Run Features; now available) tracks the journey of the groundbreaking The Boys in the Band from stage to screen, telling us everything we wanted to know about not only this landmark piece of gay theater but also its creator, writer Mart Crowley. (One of the film’s highlights is a peek at Crowley’s home movies from Malibu, the recent re-opening of the investigation into the death of Natalie Wood, one of Crowley’s closest friends, gives these segments an eerie timeliness.)
This fascinating doc also features interviews with Tony Kushner, Robert Wagner, Dominick Dunne, Terrence McNally, William Friedkin, Edward Albee, and Crowley himself, among others.
Classics: You’re still a Jet all the way
Fifty years after the release of the beloved musical West Side Story (Twentieth Century Home Entertainment; now available), it’s hard to believe that a musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet ever seemed like a risky gamble. But this Broadway classic became an equally vivid film that now gets two splashy editions for its golden anniversary. You can opt for the three-disc Blu-Ray/DVD edition, featuring new documentaries, storyboard-to-film comparisons, and commentary from lyricist Stephen Sondheim, or kick it up to the four-disc box, which also include a hardcover book, postcards featuring international movie posters, and a CD with cover versions of show’s timeless tunes.
One of the great cinematic achievements of the 1990s was Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s “Trois Couleurs” (“Three Colors”) trilogy, and now the Criterion Collection has crafted an exemplary box set, in which the Blu-Ray versions of Blue, White, and Red are just the beginning. Packed with video essays, interviews, short films by and a documentary about Kieslowski, essays, trailers, and much more, this gorgeous set is a must for admirers of this essential filmmaker.
MGM’s movies-on-demand Limited Edition Collection keeps digging up weird and wonderful things from its back catalog. Highlights among this month’s offerings include Welcome to L.A., the breakthrough feature from American indie stalwart Alan Rudolph (Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, The Moderns), with an all-star cast that includes Sissy Spacek, Harvey Keitel, Keith Carradine, and Geraldine Chaplin; Malone, one of Burt Reynolds’ odder star-in-decline vehicles; and Fashion Model, a 1945 murder mystery from notoriously quick-and-cheap director William “One-Shot” Beaudine.
There’s a double-bill of action flicks The Nickel Ride and 99 and 44/100% Dead! (Shout Factory; now available); neither is a classic, exactly, but the Pop Art opening credits for the latter film (directed by John Frankenheimer) are top-notch.
Finally, in the shameless-plug department, I recorded a feature-length commentary with Movies.com’s own Dave White for Caged Men (Code Red DVD; now available). Also known as I’m Going to Get You, Elliot Boy, this Canadian men-behind-bars is one of the first examples of what we might call gaysploitation. It’s pretty bananas, but even if you aren’t into the prison shenanigans, here’s hoping you enjoy the commentary.
TV: Breaking and entering his way into your heart
Before Robert Wagner (who also pops up in Making the Boys) retooled The Thin Man for prime-time TV with Hart to Hart, he borrowed from Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief for a sleek action series about cat burglar Alexander Mundy, who now uses his skills on behalf of the government. You can follow Mundy’s globetrotting adventures with It Takes a Thief: The Complete Series (entertainmentone; now available), a gorgeous 18-disc box set that includes all 66 episodes of the classic show, as well as the feature-length version of the pilot, new interviews, and a booklet with retrospective essay. Heck, there’s even coasters, in case this sophisticated playboy thief puts you in a martini mood.