New on DVD: ‘Snowpiercer’ is Revolution on a High-Speed Train

'Snowpiercer': We'd like a seat in first class, please (Anchor Bay)

‘Snowpiercer’: We’d like a seat in first class, please (Anchor Bay)

snowpiercer-dvdBong Joon-ho is a South Korean director who isn’t a household name in the States but by all rights should be. In his newest film, Snowpiercer, he imagines a quasi-steampunk post-apocalyptic thriller that’s also a handy little morality tale about class inequality.

Snowpiercer is available now on DVD and Blu-ray. My review is at PopMatters:

The physics of Snowpiercer’s futuristic plot are as stripped-down as the backstory is convoluted. Every human being left alive is on board one train snaking across the frozen wasteland. First class is up front, replete with late Roman Empire consumption and a mindset best described as rave-club Borgia. Everybody else is crammed cheek-to-jowl in the filthy back of the train. Those in back want to get up front. All that stands between them are many locked doors, squads of malevolent guards, years of social conditioning, and Tilda Swinton acting like a toothy Margaret Thatcher after one too many gin and tonics…

You can see the trailer here:

The Graphic Report: Zombie Pixies and Frank Black’s New Graphic Novel

Thegoodinn-coverIn a development that would seem highly overdue, the Pixies’ frontman Frank Black wrote (or co-wrote at least) a graphic novel. Called The Good Inn, it’s something of a laundry list of his likes, particularly Surrealism and early French cinema.

My essay on The Good Inn and the Pixies is at Avidly:

Why did Black Francis take this long to write a graphic novel? Sure, he’s been busy of late with reunion tours of both the actual Pixies and their more recent and inexcusably Kim Deal-less zombie incarnation (in that one, audiences must suffer not just listless performances but the travesty of hearing somebody not Kim sing “Gigantic”)…

There’s an excerpt of it over at the A.V. Club.

New in Theaters: ‘One Chance’ Nearly Makes It

Alexandra Roach gets charmed by James Corden, playing an unlikely opera singer from Wales, in 'One Chance' (Weinstein)

Alexandra Roach gets charmed by James Corden, playing an unlikely opera singer from Wales, in ‘One Chance’ (Weinstein)

One Chance, one of those charming but really-should-have-been-better rom-coms, is opening this weekend in semi-limited release. It’s nearly worth seeing for the inestimable James Corden.

My review is at Film Racket:

For the true story of Paul Potts, the down-on-his-luck Welsh cellphone store clerk with dreams of becoming an opera star, you don’t expect much in the way of nuance. True to form, the folks at Weinstein — who’ve created a decent-sized niche line of feel-good stories with light quirk, preferably from the United Kingdom — and David Franckel, director of well-acted fluff both tolerable (The Devil Wears Prada) and not (Hope Springs) leave the nuance behind and goes for broke on the cute, lightly sprinkled with comedy. The formula, part romantic comedy and part Billy Elliot, comes close to working, but collapses at the conclusion like a poorly-made cake. That’s what happens when your big finale involves Simon Cowell…..

You can see the trailer here:

Now Playing: Romantic Comedy Sci-Fi in ‘The One I Love’

Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass get a surreal bit of marriage counseling in 'The One I Love' (RADiUS-TWC)

Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass get a surreal bit of marriage counseling in ‘The One I Love’ (RADiUS-TWC)

The One I Love is playing now in highly limited release. My review is at Film Racket:

How well can we ever know each other? That’s one of the less interesting questions posed by Charlie McDowell’s willowy and romantic science-fiction two-hander with a Twilight Zone twist about a couple with marriage problems whose sojourn at a therapeutic retreat takes a quirky turn. When the story is fully locked in, it wrestles with some more gripping issues of identity and a Machiavellian spin on relationship dynamics. But all too often, it falls back on easygoing relationship drama that saps the underlying premise of its more meaningful promise….

You can see the trailer here:

Now Playing: ‘The Trip to Italy’ is Highly Unnecessary Comedy, But Not in a Bad Way

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan in 'The Trip to Italy' (IFC Films)

Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan in ‘The Trip to Italy’ (IFC Films)

Two comics playing slightly tweaked versions of themselves, ravishing Italian scenery, phenomenal food, recitations of Shelley’s poetry, Tom Hardy impressions. That’s about all one needs to know about Michael Winterbottom’s nervy, gadabout sequel to the 2010 road comedy The Trip.

The Trip to Italy is playing now in highly limited release. My review is at Film Racket:

The Trip to Italy’s total lack of necessity has little bearing on its enjoyability. There’s nothing wrong with watching a pair of lyrical, spry, and acid-tongued comics lashing each other with barbed commentary while enjoying the operatic grandeur of a foodie junket through Italy’s more salubrious and sun-splashed districts. Does it matter that they’re not bringing much new to the party?…

You can see the trailer here:

Also, here you can check out one of the better clips: Coogan and Brydon on The Dark Knight Rises:

Now Playing: A Johnny Cash of the Soul in ‘Calvary’

Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson in 'Calvary' (Fox Searchlight)

Kelly Reilly and Brendan Gleeson in ‘Calvary’ (Fox Searchlight)

Back in 2011, Brendan Gleeson played a cynical, caustic cop on the remote western coast of Ireland for John Michael McDonagh’s crackling black comedy The Guard. In Calvary, the two reteam for another dark-hued story about violence, morality, and modern depravity. There’s gags aplenty, but this is no comedy.

Calvary is playing now in limited release. My review is at PopMatters:

In Calvary, Father James (Brendan Gleeson) begins the worst and possibly last week of his life when he’s threatened in the confessional. An anonymous penitent tells James that he was repeatedly raped by a priest starting at the age of seven. That priest is now dead, but the man wants to a kill a priest anyway. He prefers his victim be a good and innocent priest, like Father James, because that would make people pay attention. James has a week to live. “Killing a priest on a Sunday,” the voice muses with the jangled amusement of the insane. “Now that’d be something.”…

You can see the trailer here:

Now Playing: ‘Into the Storm’ Destroys Many Buildings

Look out! (Warner Bros.)

Into the Storm: Perhaps running away from the tornado would be wise. (Warner Bros.)

So there’s a big tornado coming. No, make that a lot of tornadoes. What to do? Well, maybe just run right into it with your cameras rolling. That’s the basic premise for Into the Storm, a rather disastrous disaster flick that tries to update Twister for the social media age.

My review of Into the Storm, which blows into theaters for a likely very brief stint starting tomorrow, is at Film Journal International:

Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but shout “Oh my God!” and breathlessly inquire “Is everybody okay?” That is just about the extent of memorable dialogue from Into the Storm, in which a desperate team of storm-chasers, some school kids, and a supersized tornado converge on a small rural burg whose McMansions and car dealerships are just kindling for the conflagration that everybody paid to see…

You can see the trailer here: