“The press notes for Pulse would have you believe that it predates many of the recent Japanese horror films that have been remade for American audiences, but that doesn’t seem to be true. It predates the US remakes, yes; but according to the Internet Movie Database, Pulse came out in Japan in 2001, while the first Ju-On originated in 2000 and Ringu in 1998. So claims to originality here need to be taken with a few grains of salt. Pulse director Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Cure) has been making movies longer than the directors of those other “J-horror” films, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t appropriated a trick or two.”
“Few of us go to the cinema with the desire to have a bad time. But if you’re capable of psyching yourself up for the unpleasantness of drug addiction and rehab, Down to the Bone is worth the effort. It comes without the comic hook of Hollywood rehab flicks like 28 Days, but that’s because it’s at least somewhat grounded in reality. Sandra Bullock may be too famous to make herself look all that bad, but Vera Farmiga, being an unknown — though probably not for long — can get down and dirty.”
further rehab action here
Some quick takes after the jump
THE KID AND I
Imagine if Tom Arnold had written “Adaptation.” No, really. Arnold wrote this movie for his cerebral-palsied young neighbor Eric Gores, and it’s about…Tom Arnold writing a movie for a cerebral-palsied youngster (Gores). Arnold plays himself, bizarrely named Bill Williams even though he’s repeatedly acknowledged by others as the costar of “True Lies.” Initially he tries to kill himself, but gets hired by a wealthy investor (Joe Mantegna) to write and costar in a “True Lies” rip-off starring his handicapped son, who just happens to be obsessed with “True Lies.” Needless to say, Tom Arnold is not Charlie Kaufman, but if we may damn him with faint praise, this is better than any movie he’s been in in a looooong time. It’s not great, but it’s far from terrible, and Arnold has managed to rope in a whole lot of his celebrity friends for cameos, among them Linda Hamilton, Shaq, Shannon Elizabeth, wrestler Bill Goldberg, and even a certain governor who ought to be focused on balancing the budget.
Sin City: Recut – Extended – Unrated DVD
Made in a similar fashion to the “Star Wars” prequels on a fraction of the budget, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller’s near frame-for-frame adaptation of Miller’s butt-kicking, bone-crunching comics finally gets a sinfully good deluxe DVD treatment, following a shamefully sparse edition earlier this year. The theatrical cut boasts two commentary tracks (Rodriguez/Miller, Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino/Bruce Willis), but there’s also alternate audio of crowd reaction at an Austin screening, featurettes on the props, costumes, cars, make-up, and an interactive map laying out the movie’s chronology…and that’s just disc one. Disc two features longer versions of each individual story within the film: See Michael Clarke Duncan sliced in half, Carla Gugino getting Bruce Willis out of jail, and Mickey Rourke visiting mom’s house (the two Josh Hartnett sequences don’t work quite so well when spliced together, though). Best extra — an all-greenscreen version of the film pre-CGI, run at high speed so it’s only 12 minutes long. Worst extra: Bruce Willis and his band singing. Also included is a full-length mini-reprint of the original Sin City graphic novel, which most fans already own.
THE FAMILY STONE
Though the family depicted in this film is indeed named Stone, the title more pointedly refers to the diamond in an heirloom wedding room owned by the mom, Sybil (Diane Keaton). Clever, eh? Just be glad there are no musicians in the clan named Sly. The Stones (who also include Craig T. Nelson, Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, Dermot Mulroney, Elizabeth Reaser, and Tyrone Giordano) are gathering at home for the holidays, with the usual squabbles that sort of thing entails, plus two additional points of drama/conflict. One is that Everett (Mulroney) is bringing home his uptight, ultra-professional bride-to-be Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) whom no-one else likes, but is expected to ultimately receive the family ring. The other is that one of the family members secretly has a terminal disease. Even more complications ensue when Meredith brings in her sister (Claire Danes) for moral support.
Writer-director Thomas Bezucha’s second feature may sound like it should be absolutely dreadful — especially when you hear that one of the Stones is gay, deaf, and dating a black man — but it’s a lot more amusing and real than you’d think, mainly because there seems to have been a lot of thought put into character development. McAdams in particular is fun to watch, taking her “Mean Girls” persona and grounding it with more humanity. There’s a needlessly cloying coda set one year after everything ends, but the rest is a rare family comedy for grown-ups that’s worth your time.