With his good looks, Liev Schreiber (TV's Ray Donovan) seems born to play an astronaut. In Magnet Releasing's The Last Days on Mars, he finally gets the chance. As chief systems officer Vincent Campbell, he's part of Aurora's six-month mission on the red planet with only 19 hours left to go before heading home. What could go wrong?
According to The Slumber Party Massacre, young women love to have group sleepovers so fun that the girls don't have the good sense to leave the house when their party is crashed by the arrival of a drill-wielding serial killer.
We vilify people for bad behavior in real life, yet celebrate it in our entertainment, particularly on the small screen. When the results are as strong as the current crop, all new (or new-ish) to DVD and/or Blu-ray, why question the disconnect?
Prior to his Spider-Man trilogy, director Sam Raimi cut his superhero-movie teeth on 1990's Darkman, a character of his own creation. Although it's clearly not the most polished of his works, the summer sleeper plays even better as the years tick by. Look no further than Shout! Factory's colorful re-release on Blu-ray.
Someday, celebrity cyclist Lance Armstrong may regret hiring Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney to document his 2009 "comeback," but I doubt it. As The Armstrong Lie demonstrates time and again for two mostly gripping hours, the athlete is still unable to tell the whole truth and nothing but.
We Live in Public 6 p.m. Wednesday City Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing cityartscenter.org, 951-0000 $5
Josh Harris is “the greatest Internet pioneer you’ve never heard of.” That’s true, despite the sheer amount of press he received in all his ventures, both online and off. That says a lot about how fleeting fame can be when tied to the Web, and the 2009 documentary “We Live in Public” — showing Wednesday at City Arts Center — explores the degrees and dangers of that visibility.
Harris’ rise and fall was so quick, that if charted, they might look like an A. As director Ondi Timoner (“Dig!”) notes, he was among the first to provide hard numbers on Internet statistics and trends early on, making him his initial fortune. He made his second by founding Pseudo.com, a trailblazer in ’net programming.
But what he did after that gives “Public” its power. Believing the world was moving toward a time where people would give up privacy online, he commissioned an “art project” in which 100 volunteers were sequestered underneath New York City. They wore matching uniforms, lived in pods, and were subject to intense interrogation and under the watchful eye of cameras for everything they did. Yes, everything.
With food, drink and drugs provided gratis, the experiment began as quite the party. Before the month was up, however, it had turned into “Lord of the Flies.” Some of Timoner’s footage is deeply disturbing, as the humans began turning into animals, and everyone is too numbed to notice or do anything about it. (Hey, who thought including a gun range was a good idea?)
After the cops shut that down, Harris went on to do the same thing on a much smaller scale: just him and his girlfriend, Tanya, in their apartment, with dozens of motion-sensor cameras capturing their every move. Yes, every — there was even one installed inside the toilet. Again, it’s all fun until someone gets hurt, and that person is Tanya, when he suffers a breakdown and lashes out at her physically.
“Public” is one of those documentaries that succeeds because of Timoner’s unfettered access to her subject, over the course of a decade. Harris makes for a remarkable focus — part prophet, part madman, as troubled as he is intelligent. The film is fascinating, although too upsetting to be entertaining. You won’t want to avert your eyes, but you’ll never want to see it again. And some of it sticks with you so strongly, you may never need to. —Rod Lott