Locke’s Special “What Tha…?!” DVDs of the Week

by | Nov 9th, 2010 | 3:40PM | Filed under: DVD Reviews, Movie Lists, Movies, Weekly redbox Picks

These recent movies may not be exactly what they seem based on cover art or capsule descriptions. When I watched them I spent the first 10 minutes going “What the heck is this?” But under the “more you know” philosophy, if you better understand what they’re really about, it’s easier to appreciate them.

Love and Distrust

It “stars” Robert Pattinson, Sam Worthington, James Franco, Amy Adams, and Robert Downey Jr, all appearing in separate short films from different directors. But this isn’t a cohesive “theme” anthology (like say New York, I Love You)–instead it’s a collection of completely unrelated shorts pulled together from over the past decade. Pattinson is only in his for a couple minutes, but a younger Franco is typically terrific throughout his entry about a man and a woman on a train. And Downey’s appearance in the last short (which also features James Cameron as himself) was filmed in the late ’90s–the young actor appears to be in the midst of his infamous “troubles.” Approach Love and Distrust not as an anthology but rather a film-festival short program (and therefore with open-minded expectations) and it makes for a much more interesting mixed bag.

The next three I watched during the run-up to Halloween, but in each case they turned out to be something very different from the “scary” movies they’re marketed as.

Manson: My Name is Evil

This might look like a cheap exploitation film centered on the Manson Family killings, but it’s not. Well, not entirely. It’s actually more like an experimental theater project, commenting on American society and the culture clash of the ’60s by way of a weird connection between Leslie (based on the real-life Leslie Van Houten), one of Manson’s doped-out hippie girls, and Perry, a clean-cut young man serving on her jury.  There are squares, flower-power hippies, the war, and, yeah, acid-fueled orgies and cold-blooded murders, but there’s very little actual blood shown–this is not a “horror” film. But while Manson (like its namesake) is a little confused about what it’s trying to say, I found it the “how” mildly fascinating because of its strange, uneven undefinability.

Woke Up Dead

Like The Bannen Way this summer, this is not so much a “movie” as a collection of webisodes–in this case following Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) and his pals Josh Gad and Krysten Ritter as they try to figure how and why Heder’s character is apparently dead but still fully functioning. So no, there are no zombie thrills and chills, and like other “films” complied of webisodes, it lurches along in little five-minute bursts. Heder seems a little lost, but Gad (21 and the upcoming Love and Other Drugs) and Ritter (AMC’s Breaking Bad and She’s Out of My League) are genuine stars on the rise.

Spike

Believe it or not, this is actually a romance. A really dark, messed up “horror-romance.” To be fair, it does advertise itself as a “Gothic fairytale,” a sort of Beauty and the Beast where the Beast is a guy covered in (you guessed it) thorny spikes and there’s an unhealthy dose of brutal slasher-style exploitation tossed in as “wooing.” As best I could tell, a woman’s childhood admirer sprouted the spikes a few years back and ran off to hide in the woods. Now she and her pals are trapped out there, and she’s “rescued” by him so he can spout flowery tragic-romantic philosophy like a porcupine Cyrano. I’m not sure Spike works in all the ways its makers intended, but I do respect them for aiming at something different.

You can also check out Betsey’s Movies That Make Kids Think and my Scary Movie Picks from two weeks ago.

And for even more recommended DVDs from redbox, browse the entire Picks archive.


10 Responses to “Locke’s Special “What Tha…?!” DVDs of the Week”

  1. Matt Doman
    Posted on November 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Hey, Locke! Avid Redbox user and Reblog reader (rss subscriber) and big fan of your reviews in particular. I’m often referencing them when offering an opinion to someone about a movie.

    anyway, I’m on redbox.com tonight browsing for a 2nd rental and I see “Love & Distrust”. My question/suggestion is: why don’t redbox.com movie listing link to your (redblog’s) reviews? is it because they are sometimes not entirely positive?

    it would just be too convenient, when browsing and coming across an unfamiliar title, to be able to click a link and read your review or recommendation. I know not every title gets reviewed, but a simple “search blog.redbox.com for reviews or info on this film” link would suffice.

    anyway… would you mind emailing me an answer, if it’s not too much trouble? again, big fan! thanks!

  2. Vernefrax
    Posted on November 16, 2010 at 1:20 am

    This is really a fantastic idea – I often pass on movies because they sound like something I’m not interested in seeing, only to find I’ve missed one of the big underground hits. I’d really love to see this list expanded. Thanks much!

    • Currently 5/5 Stars
    Wendy Brown
    Posted on November 16, 2010 at 5:18 am

    I love the review idea. Sometimes the titles are misleading, like repo men. We thought it was about cars. It was a very disturbing, at least for me, movie about guys who repo body parts from live people. Yes, please add the review section. We do not have cable or tv so movies and internet are our only forms of watching anything. We rent alot of movies. Why not add some great classics like Smokey and the Bandit? Big Redbox fans.

  3. Jacqueline Hadley
    Posted on November 16, 2010 at 10:03 am

    What you’re writing is a good point! I think the movie “Remember Me” with Robert Pattinson was the same way, as in the cover wasn’t what the movie really appeared to be. The cover design made it look like a sweet love story with the main stars smiling when, in reality, all of the cast members portrayed characters who were suffering from a severe case of depression and I just about needed Prozac when it was over. Thanks for sharing your experience and insight!

  4. dwayne coley
    Posted on November 16, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I agree with reviews. I am a new user and also rented Repo Man thinking it was about cars only find out it was body parts. Not good

    • Currently 1/5 Stars
    Sergio X
    Posted on November 16, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Can you write reviews to stay away from such horrible boring movies as: Jonah Hex, The karate kid (2010), Grown ups, Attack in Darfur, etc. since these titles should come with a warning: “extreme washed-up ideas with famous actors and lack of creativity with chances of falling asleep while watching… beware!” Otherwise it seems that you are doing a disservice to us, the customers. Thanks for pushing these titles, because at least they are given a fair chance to be rented. Just don’t forget to also make a disclaimer for those big name titles so we don’t fall for them!

  5. Charlotte
    Posted on November 17, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Wow this is an awesome idea! Kudos to you for doing this more people may actually rent movies if they read a basic interpretation of what is actually about. I would have had no desire to rent any of these movies. Thanks to your explanation I may rent 2 or 3 out of what you just provided information about! Thank You!

    • Currently 5/5 Stars
    Bryan
    Posted on November 17, 2010 at 10:38 am

    WHAT!?!?!? Jonah hex boring?? That movie kicked A$$ and was pretty original as far as a half-dead cowboy that talks to dead people, you seen that somewhere before? I really thought it was entertaining!

  6. woody
    Posted on November 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Wile I like the idea of clarifying missleading titles,anyone who did not know REPO MEN was about harvesting body parts is not doing minimal reserch on the movie they are about to watch.

  7. leslie
    Posted on November 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    I wish you would have more older movies. The variety is pretty good. but need more comedy. It would be good to have reviews on movies. The girl with the dragon tattoo. is not for under 17. wow. It was graphic. gross too.