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Joy Division

Genius Products
Movie B+
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7.25 (out of 10)

A couple of weeks back, I reviewed a great film called Control here. That movie told the story of Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division. This new DVD is a documentary on the band that was also released to theaters last year, and it's a great companion piece to Control.

The movie includes interview footage with surviving members of Joy Division (who went on to become New Order in the aftermath of Curtis' suicide), TV personality Tony Wilson (who was portrayed in both Control and 24 Hour Party People) and Anton Corbijn (director of Control). The film takes you through the quick and important history of the band, incorporating quotes from Ian's widow, Deborah, and, of course, plenty of live performance footage.

I think Curtis qualified for the all-time Top 10 list of interesting performers on stage. I just can't believe what the guy pulled off with that arm-flailing, sort-of-marching-in-place dancing style he employed. It is simultaneously joyous and scary to watch. I would compare his dancing style to drummer Keith Moon's playing style. Both flailed about, yet somehow kept things under control and in synch with their bandmates.

There are plenty of cool revelations about the band from guys like bassist Peter Hook, who definitely appears to have been the band troublemaker, in retrospect. He philosophizes that his band might've been bigger than U2 had they not lost their leader. It's a little sad to watch him and Bernard Sumner reminiscing about how they lost Curtis on the eve of their first American tour. Curtis, who was having romantic problems, was also suffering from epilepsy. Sumner describes the night of Curtis' first seizure, and it's a chilling story.

For those interested, the original albums of Joy Division have also been re-released with bonus tracks, including tons of live tracks. This band did a lot during its short time on the planet.

Special Features: A bunch of extra interview footage that could make up a whole other movie.

Men in Black (Blu-Ray)

Movie A-
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Here's a sci-fi film that is aging well, and its introduction to high-definition DVD is a good one. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones look cooler than ever as they chase aliens, and director Barry Sonnenfeld deserves kudos for creating something that has staying power. I want to see two movies before the end of the decade: another sequel to this, and Ghostbusters 3. I won't get them, but I want them.

I hadn't watched this in years, and I had forgotten how funny the movie was. The standout scene for me is Tony Shalhoub getting his alien head shot off in a pawn shop, only to have it grow back in grisly fashion. The performance highlight in the movie would have to be Vincent D'Onofrio as Edgar, the unfortunate human who has his skin ripped off and used for a disguise by an alien. His slow deterioration is wonder of makeup effects, thanks to the king, Rick Baker.

I can't believe this movie is 11 years old.

Special Features: There are lots of holdovers from the standard-version DVD, including commentaries, extended and alternate scenes, and, unfortunately, the music video for Smith's lousy theme song. I'm sort of glad his days of singing movie theme songs seem to be over.

So I Married an Axe Murderer: Special Edition (Blu-Ray and standard)

Movie B-
Special Features Triple F!
DVD Geek Factor 0 (out of 10)

In order to capitalize on what they thought would be a big Mike Myers weekend with The Love Guru (which bombed), Sony has released this "special edition" of Myers' so-so comedy from 15 years ago. (Holy Jesus!) I will reserve my rant about this for the special features section below.

Myers was OK in this movie, which has gathered a sort of cult following since getting ignored at the box office upon its release. He plays a beat poet who sucks, but everybody worships him anyway. He is a commitment-phobe who always backs out of relationships for made-up reasons. He meets and falls in love with a butcher (Nancy Travis), who he marries, and he becomes convinced that she is a psychopathic murderer.

The best thing about the film is Myers playing his Scottish dad. The dad's mockery directed toward his other son with a big head was, is and always will be funny. Some of the other stuff (Myers yelling, "Hello? ... Hello?") hasn't aged as well.

Special Features: Nothing. They call it a "special edition," and they give you absolutely nothing. I don't mind it when they re-release something, tack a few things on it and call it a special edition, but this is truly misleading. If you have the film already, you have no need for this edition, unless you want it on Blu-Ray. If you buy the standard DVD, you are wasting your money.

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