May 26, 2009

DVD Pick of the Week: The Ramen Girl

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope that this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles and what follows are not necessarily reviews, but opinions based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists that I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

The Ramen Girl. Before seeing this title on the new release list, I had never heard of the movie. Since I am so unfamiliar with the title, it seems an unlikely choice to put on the top of my list. It is a movie that looks like it could be quite good, and features a plot that reminds me of the excellent 1985 film Tampopo. Supposedly, this actually is a remake of that film, only with some slight modifications to have a bit more of a Western slant for American audiences. I know, I know, no modifications should be needed, but it is there and will not necessarily translate to a bad movie. In any case, the story concerns an American girl, Brittany Murphy, stranded in Japan after breaking up with her boyfriend becomes a student to a ramen master and in turn learns about herself and love. I really want to see this. Can anyone attest to its quality, or lack thereof?

New in Town (also Blu-ray). This is one of those generic looking romantic comedies that has helped me keep my movie going total down. I had no interest in this when it first arrived on the big screen, and I still don't. The movie features Renee Zellweger as a big city city girl sent to a cold, snowy town to try and turn around a failing plant. Here she is a fish out of water who becomes enamored with a local played by Harry Connick, Jr. I don't know, it may have a moment in it, but overall it looks rather weak.

Killshot. This film, based on a novel by Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Jackie Brown) was in theaters for a very brief and very limited run earlier this year. It is the story of a couple (Diane Lane and Thomas Jane) in the Witness Protection Program who are targeted by a hit man and an upstart killer (Mickey Rourke and Joseph Gordon-Levitt). I have read some good things about and would like to give this one a shot. The cast also includes Hal Holbrook and Rosario Dawson.

Powder Blue (also Blu-ray).
This tells the overlapping stories of four people in Los Angeles, a mortician, an ex-con, a suicidal ex-priest, and a stripper, whose lives cross paths. That is about all I know about this title. I saw a clip of Jessica Biel as the stripper that just struck me as sad. The cast also includes Ray Liotta, Forrest Whitaker, Lisa Kudrow, Patrick Swayze, and Kris Kristofferson.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. How can you go wrong with a title like this? I almost made this my pick of the week.

The Sky Crawlers. The trailer for this looks rather impressive. It is the latest from Ghost in the Shell creator Mamoru Oshii. It is the story of an endless war where fighter pilots are all children and only know flying and fighting, that is until one youngster starts asking questions.

Children of Men (Blu-ray). I absolutely adore this movie. This is, for me, one of the best movies of all time. It is one of those rare movies that is firing on all cylinders from the creative, to the technical, and everything in between. I am sure it looks stunning on Blu-ray and look forward to getting my hands on it.

Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1960s Vol. 1. This two disk collection of classic toons includes such titles as Top Cat, Magilla Gorilla, Atom Ant, The Jetsons, and The Flintstones, among others. Looks like fun!

True Romance (Blu-ray). This Tony Scott/Quentin Tarantino collaboration is one for the ages. I have not seen it in some time, but should look pretty in high definition.

Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1970s Vol. 1. Just like the collection above, but includes titles as: Speed Buggy, Batman, Hong Kong Phooey, and Josie and the Pussycats.

Field of Dreams (Blu-ray). One of the greatest of all baseball movies. This is a movie that everyone should have in their collections. I wonder how it looks in high definition and if it is worth the upgrade.

Falling Down (Blu-ray book). One of the few good Joel Schumacher films. This movie is a blast as a man snaps in LA traffic and just wants to go home. This is a movie about going over the edge and Michael Douglas does a great job of it.

The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk. The next Dragon Dynasty release is a good one. Originally released chopped and dubbed as The Legend, we now get it in its original version and language. This film stars Jet Li and is a must have for any fan.

Mark of the Witch / Devil Times Five. This exploitation twosome looks like a lot of fun. The former has been restored to its original R-rated cut and is the story of a woman who takes a class on the occult who becomes possessed by a 17th century witch. The latter has five children (including Leif Garrett) surviving a crash in a snowy canyon, who seek shelter where strange things happen and people die.

Beneath the Flesh. I could not find any information on this title, but I like the cover. It could turn out to be just another low-budget horror flick, but those can be fun, right?

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