For movie watchers, few things can be more frustrating than films that begin with a sequence of immense promise, only to show over the remainder that the emperor truly wears no clothes. Two new examples come from the horror realm.
Until now, Ethan Hawke was having a wonderful year. Before Midnight, the third leg of his trilogy with director Richard Linklater and actress Julie Delpy, brought waves of critical acclaim and talk of another Oscar nomination for their collaborative screenplay, while The Purge turned a meager investment into a highly profitable box-office take.
Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Our holiday season pimping of gift-y DVD releases continues! While not for everyone, certainly there’s somebody on your list who might appreciate such a disc.
Today, that’s “It Takes a Thief: The Complete Series,” a spy show that ran for three seasons on ABC and helped make movie star Robert Wagner a TV star, too. It’s a shame that he’s back in the news now not for this, but for the ridiculous re-opening of the decades-old case of his dead wife, Natalie Wood, just because some dumbo wants some free publicity for his book.
Anyway, “It Takes a Thief”: Whether you were alive then or not, the look of the ever-lovin’ 1960s lives, breathes and swings through all 66 episodes of this square (in size, not ’tude) box set. No way in hell am I through all 66 episodes of it yet, but it’s a blast from that proverbial past. The retro sets, the beautiful women, the cool soundtrack, the heist-of-the-week plots: They all combine for an experience of A/V awesomeness totaling more than 50 hours of fun.
Wagner’s on board for a bonus interview, as is co-producer Glen A. Larson. The red-and-yellow box opens up to reveal a book to help ease newbies into the show’s vibe of espionage, a frame of film (if you’re into bits of memorabilia) and, best of all (because it’s über-useful), a set of “Thief” coasters.
“It Takes a Thief: The Complete Series” is available now on 18 DVDs, for a suggested retail price of $199.98. Combine those gift cards! —Rod Lott