A look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…
Trailers of new release movies are generally available on the official site links.
IN THEATERS (LIMITED RELEASE):
Black Swan: The psychological thriller event of the year comes from Darren Aronofsky (Pi), and involves two ballerinas (Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis) competing for a starring role in Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.” Early reviews are generally excellent and frequently include words the make us perk up our ears: “absurd,” “strange,” and even “Cronenbergian.” We’re shocked that this award-winning film isn’t getting a wider release: are American audiences so timid they won’t go see something the slightest bit weird-sounding, even though it has Natalie freakin’ Portman in it? Black Swan official site.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale: Santa Claus is kidnapped and held for ransom, but the kidnappers didn’t reckon on his cadre of killer elves in this Finnish production that has “cult movie” written all over it. Scrooges will flock to the theaters to catch this humbug. Rare Exports official site.
ON THE WEB:
“Tales from Beyond the Pale” – Radio Plays for the Digital Age: Here’s reason #38 why we love Larry Fessenden. There’s nothing this guy won’t try, as long as it raises goose bumps. His latest project revives and re-invents the lost art of the radio play, focusing on the macabre (think “Inner Sanctum“). Voice talent includes James Le Gros, Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Angus Scrimm; an upcoming episode, “The Grandfather,” is written by Graham Reznick (I Can See You), and there’s a cool animated promo by goth favorite Voltaire. Tales from Beyond the Pale home page.
NEW ON DVD:
Fantasia (1940)/Fantasia 2000 (1999): 1940’s Fantasia was Walt Disney‘s pet project: a series of animations to accompany famous classical pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Mussorgsky, and others. The spectacle was stupendous: compositions were illustrated by abstract notes or new story lines involving Mickey Mouse, centaurs and dancing hippos (Stravinsky was reportedly outraged by dinosaurs acting out his pagan ballet “The Rites of Spring”). The sixty-year followup Fantasia 2000 was, as might be expected, more of the same, only less effective; it was welcome nonetheless. A very cool release which contains, as an extra, Destino: a short film collaboration between Disney and Salvador Dalí, completed 50 years after it was conceived! Buy Fantasia / Fantasia 2000 (Special Edition).
Sid & Marty Krofft’s Saturday Morning Hits: The Krofft brothers pioneered a unique brand of campy, fantasy-oriented children’s programming from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. The corny, surrealistic nonsense of their puppet-based productions made their shows hits with tots and acidheads alike. This sampler disc collects the “best” (one episode each) of “H.R. Puffinstuff,” “Sigmund the Sea Monster,” “Bugaloos,” “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl,” “Wonderbug,” and “Bigfoot & Wild Boy.” Buy “Sid & Marty Kroffts Saturday Morning Hits”.
Valhalla Rising (2010): Dark Ages tale of a mute, one-eyed slave who escapes his Scottish master and joins with a group of Viking renegades; their ship is wrecked and washes up on a strange island. Critics are using adjectives like “trippy,” “crazy,” “hallucinatory,” and “poetic.” From director Nicholas Winding Refn, who already struck weird gold with Bronson (2008). We missed this in theaters but we’re going to make it a priority now! Buy Valhalla Rising.
NEW ON BLU-RAY:
Fantasia (1940)/Fantasia 2000 (1999): See description in DVD above. This release includes a superfluous DVD copy. Fantasia / Fantasia 2000 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo).
What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.