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Them

Dark Sky
Movie B-
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 5.75 (out of 10)

This is not a remake of the killer-ant movie; it's a moderately scary French/Romanian film about a couple, living in Romania, besieged by mysterious intruders. Imagine Straw Dogs meeting Village of the Damned.

For most of the film, schoolteacher Clementine (Olivia Bonamy) and Lucas (Michaël Cohen) are running from unseen forces. We catch brief glimpses of said forces (little people in hooded sweatshirts) but have no idea what the purpose of their invasion is. The payoff is marginally creepy, though not quite as scary as the creators intended, I'm sure.

Directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud (who made the recent The Eye) do a decent job of showing the mounting tension as the couple start hearing funny noises in the night, and their power gets switched on and off. The film is proof that all you really need to generate good chills are flashlights and a party noisemaker.

The movie plays upon the fear of home invasion rather than supernatural forces or slasher monsters. There's very little blood, and a closing subtitle suggests that the story could've been based on a true story. (I doubt it.) Them is not a total success, but the directing duo could have a future with a more complete script.

Special Features: Some featurettes that fail to engage. A commentary from the directors would've been interesting.


Enchanted

Disney
Movie B
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

Amy Adams is cute as a button in this clever twist on the Disney princess story. She plays Giselle, a cartoon princess in a cartoon world who gets banished by an evil queen (Susan Sarandon) to the live-action world of modern-day New York City. Patrick Dempsey plays Robert, her real-world love interest, who at first thinks he's come across a crazy lady.

James Marsden--who had a stellar year as song-and-dance men in this and Hairspray--plays the cartoon-world Prince Charming who winds up in the real world as well, wearing elaborate tights. The musical numbers (three of them were Oscar-nominated) are fun, the best being "Happy Working Song," with Adams cleaning an apartment with vermin accompaniment.

This is one of those movies that's hard to dislike. It gets a little shrill in spots, and Dempsey is boring, but Adams is such a treat that she makes the film worthy of repeated viewings. The animation work is terrific, both the conventional animation that starts the film and the integration of CGI characters like Pip the Chipmunk into live action.

Special Features: Some behind-the-scenes looks at the musical numbers, a pop-up adventure with Pip the Chipmunk and some goofy bloopers. There are also some deleted scenes that deserved to be deleted.


Lost Highway

Focus
Movie A
Special Features None, and I don't care
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

It's hard to believe that this woefully misunderstood and demented gem from writer-director David Lynch had never gotten a domestic DVD release until now. I ordered a foreign version of the film on the Internet a couple of years ago and received some crappy full-frame pan-and-scan thing that frustrated the living shit out of me.

Thankfully, this has all been remedied with a shiny new DVD release, complete with a nice-looking widescreen transfer of the film. Lost Highway is one of the great Lynch "puzzle" movies, and I confess to having no idea what happened the first time I saw it. Upon repeated viewings, however, some things became abundantly clear.

Lynch has said that his inspiration for the screenplay came from the O.J. Simpson trial, and that makes perfect sense. Bill Pullman plays jazz saxophonist Fred Madison, a man struggling with insecurities due to suspected infidelities by his wife (Patricia Arquette). Some strange videotapes start showing up at the couple's door, and a very strange man (played, appropriately enough, by Robert Blake) introduces himself at a party. Bad things start to happen, and Fred winds up in a prison cell with a massive headache. He's in a major state of denial--a state so intense that he actually morphs into another human being to escape reality.

That other man is Peter (Balthazar Getty), who is seeing Alice (also played by Arquette). He's friendly with a mobster (Robert Loggia) who has a particularly theatric hatred of tailgaters--Loggia beats one up in a classic Lynch scene. Loggia also plays two characters, one in Fred's world, and the other in Peter's. Actually, Peter is Fred, and Fred is Peter, or something like that.

If it sounds confusing, it is--the first time around. This is one of those films you don't just watch; you study. Lynch is making some rather profound statements about rage, denial, split personalities and infidelity. He's also supplied an awesome score featuring Trent Reznor, David Bowie and Rammstein.

It's been 11 years since most of us could watch this movie in pristine form. Now our Lynch DVD libraries will feel a little more complete.

Special Features: Nothing, and that usually makes me angry. Not this time ... I just wanted the movie on DVD. Perhaps we'll get more someday.

More by Bob Grimm

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