Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was one of the steps that Robert Downey Jr. made on his way back from jail and rehab to A-list billing that culminated with Iron Man. Unfortunately, few saw this in theaters. It deserved a better release. This non-buddy buddy film is entertaining from the hilarious beginning to the too-good-to-be-true ending that might not have worked in the hands of others.
By Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan, Walk Hard spoofs just about every rock or country biopic made. John C. Reilly not only gives a great performance as the rock icon, but also sings, plays the guitar, and shares the writing credit for some of the songs. Additional material on the DVD includes eight full performances of tunes in the movie, so you might not need to buy the soundtrack.
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (USA) 2005, Warner Home Video
Walk Hard - The Dewey Cox Story (USA) 2007, Sony Pictures
Former editor/publisher, Schlock: The Journal of Lowbrow Cinema
Two from “The Man”: I first saw The Third Man on a scratchy VHS library print years ago and was immediately hooked by Anton Karas’s zither soundtrack and the opening titles. And even though the zither gets a little grating, Joseph Cotten’s performance as western pulp writer Holly Martins in post-WWII Vienna searching for his “deceased” pal Harry Lime still cracks and sparkles, even more so on the Criterion edition.
The extras on The Omega Man — including interviews with cast members and crew — are worth the price alone. Besides, we all know this is the better version of the lackluster 2007 I Am Legend. It’s a bit dated, Chuck Heston is over the top (with all kinds of weaponry), but the film has one of those gritty 1970s endings worthy of a re-issue.
The Third Man: 50th Anniversary Edition (USA) 1949, Criterion Collection)
The Omega Man (USA) 1971, Warner Home Video
Worst Thanksgiving ever, so I turn to movies that make me feel better. Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête was my favorite as a kid. Shot under occupation and containing one odd false move (Jewish stereotype alert), this fairy tale in the hands of a poet yields countless rewards: the dark hallway of candelabras held by disembodied arms; the serene, glowing eyes of the fireplace statues; the frightening sensuality of the beast. Cocteau asks in a prologue to approach the film as a child, but he doesn’t have to ask.
The other I’m thankful for is Toute une Nuit, by Belgian director Chantal Ackerman. It has no linearity, no story arc. Fifty situations, mostly in doorways: thresholds signifying arrival and departure. People wait, meet, or separate at the height of passion. We don’t get to participate enough to care, and yet they are us.
La Belle et la Bête (France) 1946, Criterion Collection
Toute une Nuit (France) 1982, Why Not Productions
List price: $29.95 (import)