Here's a film noir about a guy getting his dick chopped off. You can thank the exploits of John and Lorena Bobbitt for this disaster, the story of Conrad (Michael Rodrick) frantically searching for his severed penis before it decays and is rendered unusable.
A large part of the film is told in flashback as we, regrettably, find out why Conrad underwent this unfortunate separation. It seems his wife to be, Jennifer (Debbie Rochon), had made a few pornos and didn't let him know about it. Through the delivery of a mystery tape, Conrad finds out the news. While many guys would probably double the size of the diamond on the engagement ring if they found out this sort of thing, Conrad goes nuts. A rape occurs, and Jennifer goes on her weenie rampage.
Shot entirely on video, it has the look of a low-grade soap opera. The premise would lead one to think that the film is a dark comedy, but it is not. It plays like a cheap version of Irreversible (which director Tim McCann cites on his commentary), that repugnant yet well-made movie about the dark consequences of rash actions. There are a couple of attempts at cheap laughs, but given the overall mood of the film, they are well out of place.
Among the wonderful sights you get to see are Conrad taking a leak through his catheter (hooray!) and Conrad's detached penis getting set on fire as Conrad screams (yippee!). The best scene in the film is when Daddy Mac (Frank Olivier), a mysterious porn star, performs an improvised rap.
This is truly some sort of hell. Don't believe the high praises on the DVD's case. This one is a must-pass.
Special Features: A strange commentary has director McCann and Rochon talking a little too much about the film's graphic rape scene, and Rochon's various mental breakdowns. Good Christ, am I sorry I watched this thing.
Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet re-teams with Audrey Tautou, his Amelie star, for a terrific war-time romance that is one of last year's best-looking movies. Tautou plays Mathilde, whose beloved goes off to war and is reported killed. Mathilde refuses to accept this and goes on a quest to find him.
Jeunet is remarkable with his visuals, and this could be his best-looking film to date. Tautou is most at home with this director, and it shows. Her performance is radiant.
Special Features: The two-disc set features a lengthy documentary on the making of the film, and a Jeunet commentary. There is also a selection of deleted scenes.
Keanu Reeves goes to hell a lot. He first went there in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, where he melvined the Grim Reaper and had a nightmarish encounter with the Easter Bunny. He played the son of Satan in The Devil's Advocate, where he almost had sex with his sister and was a particularly bad husband to Charlize Theron. He actually visited hell again with Theron in Sweet November, one of the most satanic romance movies ever made.
This time, Reeves plays John Constantine, a chain smoker who is on his way to hell thanks to a bad deed. As a means to make good on that blunder, Constantine goes about his day sending demons back to hell. He figures if he returns enough of the monsters to their home, he might earn a reprieve.
Reeves is good in this sort of thing. It doesn't require much stretching for him, and he plays "generally pissed off" well.
Special Features: There are two versions of the DVD. One is a two-disc deluxe edition with comic book, director's commentary and many documentaries. There's also a single-disc version that only contains a bunch of deleted scenes (which can be found on the two-disc version).
Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman took home much-deserved Oscars for their work in this fine boxing drama (though I realize Mr. DiGiovanna disagrees). Swank is especially moving as Maggie, an earnest boxing prospect who latches on to Coach Frankie (Eastwood), who doesn't want anything to do with instructing women. He eventually relents when he sees her talent, and surprises ensue.
This is a great movie, but it was not last year's best. Clint Eastwood getting his second directorial Oscar while Martin Scorsese got passed over, yet again, for The Aviator, was a crime. Yes, I've made this complaint many times before, but the DVD release of Baby gives me a chance to whine one last time.
Special Features: It contains a long interview between the annoying James Lipton, Swank and Eastwood. Lipton salivates all over his subject in the way he normally does. The two-disc edition also includes a producer's documentary and insights from real boxers.