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 (WIDE RELEASE):
Alice in Wonderland: Tim Burton reimagines Lewis Carrol’s classic, in sequel form. Is it personal this time? Burton and Carrol seemed the perfect marriage, and we were excited about this one until we saw the trailers, which make it look like the director has turned the nonsense narrative into just another fantasy quest to kill the evil queen. Don’t worry, we’re still going to cover it. Alice in Wonderland official site.
NEW ON DVD:
Alice (2009): Yet another reimagining of “Alice in Wonderland,” released just in time to capitalize on the Burton movie mania. This version features a butt-kicking adult Alice spirited away to a dystopian Wonderland because the Red Queen wants her magic ring. A 240 minute miniseries that originally aired on SyFy channel. The same director also made a postmodern Wizard of Oz variation, Tin Man, in the miniseries format. Buy Alice.
Bitch Slap (2009): Three tough women behave badly while fighting over a fortune in diamonds in this “postmodern parody” of busty bad babe flicks like Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! The trailer indicates there are numerous fantasy sequences, and the press release promises a parallel series of Memento-like flashbacks that reveal the backstory. Critics say they’d like to perform the title act on the producers. Buy Bitch Slap.
Castle in the Sky (two-disc special edition) (1986): To coincide with the release of Ponyo, Disney is releasing several older Hayao Miyazaki features in new dubbed versions. This one involves a boy and a girl searching for a floating castle while being opposed by pirates. Warning: we’re not 100% sure, but from the descriptions it sounds like the second disc in each set contains exactly the same content: featurettes about Miyazaki and Ghibli studios that aren’t specific to the movie being featured. Buy Castle in the Sky: Special Edition – 2 Disc DVD.
Cold Souls (2009): Read our review. This comedy about the illicit trade in human souls was one of the weirder movies of 2009, but our staff split on whether it was weird/good enough to make the List. Buy Cold Souls.
Gentlemen Broncos (2009): From Jared Hess (writer/director of Napoleon Dynamite) comes this gross-out satire about a nerdy amateur fantasy writer whose story is stolen by an established author and turned into an awful movie by a small-town director. Critics hated it (“Gentlemen Broncos doesn’t just visit Planet Quirk, it crash lands upon it.”–Peter Howell). Still, scenes from the film-within-the film, with it’s gay cyclops and flying robotic deer, look at least mildly weird, and it seems anything that almost everyone in the mainstream hates must have something going for it. On the other hand, Armond White liked it, which may justifiably scare you off. Buy Gentlemen Broncos.
Kiki’s Delivery Service (two-disc special edition) (1989): Popular Miyazaki anime about a young witch starting a courier service in the human world. Re-released to coincide with Ponyo. Buy Kiki’s Delivery Service: Special Edition – 2-Disc DVD.
My Neighbor Tortoro (two-disc special edition) (1988): Yet another two-disc Disney special edition of an early Hayao Miyazaki anime, this one involving a girl befriending a forest spirit in Japan in the 1950s. This dubbed version features the voices of the Fanning sisters. Buy My Neighbor Totoro (Two-Disc Special Edition).
Ponyo (Disney dubbed version, 2009): Read our review. A bit weird, but we’re convinced Miyazaki can deliver weirder. Stylistically, it’s very much aimed at little girls with ages in the single digits. Contains a bonus disc of special features. Buy Ponyo (Two-Disc Edition).
Where the Wild Things Are (2009): Read our review. Spike Jonze’s adaptation/realization of the classic children’s book is a treat for adults. We’d love to see the director’s cut (hint). Buy Where the Wild Things Are.
NEW ON BLU-RAY:
Alice (2009): See description in DVD above. Buy Alice [Blu-ray].
Gentlemen Broncos (2009): See description in DVD above. Buy Gentlemen Broncos [Blu-ray].
The Neverending Story (1984): This childhood fantasy about a boy who enters a fairytale story and has to save a kingdom from Nothingness is a major nostalgia piece for many. It may not be very weird, but it may have influenced some of us towards imaginative cinema in our youths. Buy The Neverending Story [Blu-ray].
Ponyo (Disney dubbed version, 2009): See description in DVD above. Rather than putting all the extras onto a single Blu-ray, they’re selling it as a two-disc set and including a DVD as well. I guess the idea is that Blu-ray folks won’t feel cheated by getting one less disc than DVD people? Buy Ponyo (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo).
Where the Wild Things Are (2009): See description in DVD above. The Blu-ray contains some additional features not on the DVD, including a 23 minute short adaptation of another Maurice Sendak children’s story, “Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More to Life.” Buy Where the Wild Things Are [Blu-ray].
FREE (LEGITIMATE RELEASE) MOVIES ON YOUTUBE:
The Eternal [AKA Trance] (1998): Michael Almereyda‘s followup to the vampire movie Nadja features druids, mummies and witches in an arty B-movie brew. No idea how long Lionsgate will keep this up for free, so check it out soon if you’re interested. Watch The Eternal free on YouTube.
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.