Today's DVDs & Blu-rays: Filly Brown, Night Across the Street and More
Movie hype is a two edged sword. Do too much and no one believes you. Do too little, and no one cares. Filly Brown, a hip-hop version of Girl Fight, written and directed by Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos has a respectable cast. Lou Diamond Phillips (who we love), Edwards James Olmos (who we respect) and newcomer Gina Rodriguez (who we want to see more of). And then there's Jenni Rivera, the banda singer/reality show star/airplane crash victim the press releases called "legendary." No way in hell is Rivera legendary, but she only had a supporting role so we're willing to overlook her and her less than "legendary" performance.
The real story here is Gina Rodriguez as Filly Brown, a young rapper who has a shot at stardom but only if she's willing to leave her friends and ethics behind. Filly is raw and Rodriguez plays her with a little less silk than is necessary (we suspect some of that is just Rodriguez, rather than Filly). An official Sundance Film Festival selection, Filly Brown was a decent, but not brilliant film. Nobody in it - not even Jenni Rivera - turned in an anywhere near legendary performance, but Rodriguez and Diamond are worth the cost of a rental.
Director Raul Ruiz's last film, Night Across the Street, is a surrealist fantasy. About to be forced into retirement, Don Celso (Sergio Hernández) begins to remember the adventures of his youth. "Remember" might not be the right word, perhaps "imagine" is more accurate. Memories, fantasies and dreams converge in the old man's mind in this 2012 Chilean drama. There were no extras on the review copy we saw.
Marylin Monroe had a very good year in 1963. She stared in the thriller Niagara, out now in a special 60th Anniversary edition, and the romantic comedies Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire. Both Blondes and Millionaire are great fun but of the three we like Niagara best. Monroe stars as a blackhearted femme fatale who plans on killing her older husband with the help of her younger and devious lover. Niagara shows off Monroe's considerable acting abilities, but with the glittery success of Blondes and Millionaire overshadowing it, it doesn't get the attention it deserves. This anniversary edition is a nice reminder that Monroe played more than just a ditzy blond, sometimes she played an evil one.
Marilyn Monroe in Niagara
Demented landed on our desk last week and we couldn't resist it. (Zombie movies always suck us in.) It's the typical college-kids-in-the-woods-being-eaten-by-monsters set-up. Sarah Butler (I Spit on Your Grave) Michael Welch (The Twilight Saga) and Kayla Ewell (The Vampire Diaries) star as the unfortunate kids stuck in a Louisiana backwoods after some rogue terrorists launch a missile attack on the region. (Damn rouge terrorists, always mucking up our fun.) Some how (you don't really care how), the attack unleashes a virus that transforms the local residents into blood-thirsty zombies.
Christopher Roosevelt was in the director's chair for Demented, which is produced by Steven Monroe, the director of I Spit on Your Grave and ... wait for it ... I Spit on Your Grave 2. The blu-ray/DVD combo pack we saw had a behind-the-scenes featurette but not much else in the way of extras.