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Daydream Nation (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

This film is an ambitious, sporadically enjoyable film that is in need of a re-edit.

Michael Goldbach wrote and directed this strange high school romance about a young girl (Kat Dennings) splitting intimate time between her teacher (an impressive Josh Lucas) and a classmate named Thurston (the very likable Reece Thompson).

Unfortunately, a strange serial-killer subplot ultimately derails the picture. There is absolutely no need for this storyline; the film stops in its tracks whenever the serial killer is involved.

Without that subplot, Daydream Nation could've been an enjoyable if rather strange film about a girl coming of age, insecure adults and high school students taking unhealthy drug concoctions involving household cleaners. Lucas does a great job of depicting a teacher and wannabe writer who is an absolute mess. His performance, along with the work delivered by Dennings and Thompson, deserved a more cohesive movie.

Goldbach shows flashes of brilliance and shot a great-looking movie. He just needs to get sharper with his editing tools—and he needs to learn to realize when he has more than enough.

Big credit goes to Goldbach's choices for the soundtrack, including the music of Stars and Sonic Youth. Sonic Youth are obviously referenced in the film's title (the name of, perhaps, their greatest album) and the Thurston character (probably named after Sonic Youth bandleader Thurston Moore).

SPECIAL FEATURES: All this package has is a making-of featurette.

The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Director Thom Zimny puts together archival studio footage and new interviews to tell the story of the making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, Bruce Springsteen's troubled and delayed follow-up to his 1975 hit, Born To Run.

Seeing the old black-and-white footage of a haggard Springsteen forcing the E Street Band through endless recording sessions is a kick, as is watching the boss reminisce about it.

Last year, Springsteen released The Promise, a compilation of songs recorded during these sessions that didn't make it onto the album. The album is an incredible standalone testament to the output that Springsteen manages when he is putting an album together.

One walks away from this movie with a true sense that Springsteen is one of the hardest-working men in the music industry. You also get a feeling for why he likes to take breaks from the E Street Band to do solo projects.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Footage from a concert in which Springsteen performed some songs from The Promise, and footage from a Q&A session he did for a radio show.

From Dusk Till Dawn (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

I always have fun with this 1996 film, and I appreciate something new each time I watch it.

During the latest viewing, I couldn't help but notice that Juliette Lewis is awesome as Kate, the mild-mannered daughter of faithless preacher Jacob (Harvey Keitel). Lewis had been on the acting scene for about a decade already, and this part required her to be kind of a sweetheart again, after the psycho-crazy roles she played in Kalifornia and especially Natural Born Killers. This film proved that she could still play a normal person. (Ironically, her character probably killed more people in this one than her characters did in those other films combined.)

I love the George Clooney performance in this ... I love it! It was his first big cinematic role, and he grabbed it by the horns as Seth Gecko, the brother of crazy Richard (a remarkably sick Quentin Tarantino, who also wrote the screenplay). Clooney took this opportunity to play somebody totally horrible, a big departure from the man he was playing on ER (and would continue to play for a few years to come).

People often think Tarantino directed this movie, but that's not the case; directing chores were in the hands of buddy Robert Rodriguez. (The two would work together again in the criminally underappreciated Grindhouse.) Tarantino was flirting with acting quite a bit at the time, and he proved to be a fine casting choice as an insane killer. He and Clooney actually make for convincing brothers.

The twist in this film still catches people off-guard, and while it is pretty well-known in geek circles, I will not ruin it here. All I can say is: If you haven't seen the movie, see it now, and prepare to be blown away.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Unfortunately, this is not a Blu-ray release worthy of the film. In short, it really stinks. There are no special features to be had, and the picture quality seems a little off. (It's too dark.) Past releases of the film contained excellent deleted scenes and a commentary from Rodriguez and Tarantino that qualifies as one of the best ever put on DVD. This is a total shame, and a wasted opportunity to please us geeks.

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