The Maltese Falcon: Three-Disc Special EditionWarner Home Video
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 6.25 (out of 10)
All right, so I don't love this movie to death just because it's a landmark film. Go ahead, call me a stupid whippersnapper. Call me a stupid ignorant fuck. I can take it!
This is one of those classics that, in my world, doesn't stand up as well as, say, Citizen Kane (released the same year) or It's a Wonderful Life. It's fun for sure, and Humphrey Bogart's iconic turn as Sam Spade leaves no mystery as to why this film made him a huge star. It's the mystery itself that is a little on the dull side.
If you've never seen this one, don't go into it expecting a great mystery. Enjoy it for all of the great incidental stuff. It's fun to watch Peter Lorre doing his weasel routine, and every time somebody gets hit in this flick, it's hilarious. This was the directorial debut of a little guy named John Huston, who does some nice things within the film-noir genre. He would go on to direct Bogart in The African Queen, one of my personal Bogie favorites. (Still no American DVD release. What gives?)
Special Features: The new, three-disc set can be purchased as part of the new Humphrey Bogart: The Signature Collection: Volume 2, or as a stand-alone DVD. The collection includes Across the Pacific, Action in the North Atlantic, All Through the Night and Passage to Marseille. The Falcon disc includes documentaries, commentaries, shorts and even another version of The Maltese Falcon filmed 10 years earlier.
Nacho Libre: Special Collector's EditionParamount Home Video
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)
That's right, I'm giving this one a higher rating than The Maltese Falcon. Guess I won't be getting a writing gig at Premiere magazine anytime soon. Perhaps Entertainment Weekly?
Some folks were all bent out of shape when it came to the pacing of this one. Director Jared Hess employed the same, deliberate pacing style that made his Napoleon Dynamite a little tough to adjust to at first. That film was funnier the second time around, and the same goes for this one.
Having Jack Black in a laid-back movie winds up being hilarious. Black, at all times, has a hard time harnessing his energy, and in Hess' universe, it pays off. The moments where Jack lets his Blackness fly are very funny, because they clash with the tone of the film. The fact that Black is channeling that energy through a hilarious accent just ups the laugh factor.
Black plays Ignacio, a monastery cook who longs for the life of a professional wrestler. When he gets fed up with the meager funds he has to feed the orphans, he gets into the ring with his trusty partner, Esqueleto, and they kick some unholy ass.
There's a really sweet message at the center of this one, and it actually qualifies as a family film of sorts. Yes, there's fart humor in the film, but let's face it: Families fart.
Special Features: Jack Black sits down with Hess and screenwriter Mike White for a thoroughly entertaining commentary. There are some deleted scenes--some of them funny and strange, especially one where Black does a dance while wearing a bridal dress covered with birds--with behind-the-scenes featurettes and even some footage of Black practicing the two songs he sings in the film.
Grease: Rockin' Rydell EditionParamount Home Video
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)
When I was 10, my friend and I would play the Grease soundtrack on his cheap-assed stereo and lip-synch "Greased Lightning," complete with the whole arm-stretching dance routine. We thought we were the shit. Now, as I look back, I realize we were sad. How uncool was it for us to hang out in his basement acting out Grease songs? Hell, we even did "Summer Nights," and I think I handled the girl part. This is bringing up some major issues.
This latest treatment of the film on DVD gives you yet another chance to watch John Travolta at the height of his supreme movie Godness. (The 25th anniversary disc came out three years ago. I guess Paramount saw it fit to celebrate the 28th anniversary. Whatever.) The man simply ruled the world in 1978, and his charisma on screen was so, well, charismatic, that all of those around him paled in comparison. Except for when Olivia Newton-John put on the tight black pants. She certainly overshadowed Travolta in that moment.
I guess this will get a 30th anniversary treatment in a couple of years. You might want to wait. One thing I do remember from watching this many years ago: I thought the car flying at the end was totally stupid--a total Chitty Chitty Bang Bang rip-off. Nowadays, it doesn't bother me too much.
Special Features: The DVD comes in either a Pink Lady or T-Bird leather jacket sleeve. They are actually kind of cute. Features include reflections on the film with John and Olivia, a documentary on the making-of and legacy of Grease, sing-along options and 11 deleted/extended scenes.