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Summer DVD: Sex, Death, Fighting and Really Cool Gadgets


All and all, a sterling week for new DVDs at your favourite ‘video’ store.


We begin this week with one of the least seen but most ambitious and exciting movies of the year. Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers understands the power of sex and film to set off evocative fantasy, incite danger and transform the spirit. Affecting, twisted, and seriously erotic, the film — set in the incendiary, revolutionary Paris of spring 1968 — tells the story of three cinephiles who shut the door of their Paris apartment and barely leave it, creating an emotional and sexual psychodrama as the world outside beckons, threatens and influences their interaction. A passionate tribute to the cinema’s contribution to the great 60s cultural fusion, as well as a melancholy reminder of just how far it’s fallen from that heady era of its highest idealism, The Dreamers is VanRamblings’ DVD ‘pick of the week’.


Academy Award-winner for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscar ceremony, Denys Arcand’s The Barbarian Invasions is, all at once, heartfelt, elegiac, surprising and pungently funny. A follow-up to Arcand’s triumphant 1986 groundbreaker, The Decline of the American Empire, the new film takes us inside a sombre reunion of friends and family around the hospital bed of an unapologetic and dying philanderer (Rémy Girard), as it transforms into a moving exploration of what it means to live and to die. The rapprochement between Rémy and his estranged daughter (who we see only on video) is the single most moving cinematic sequence I’ve seen on film this year, in a DVD that is, otherwise, occasionally uneven in tone — although always sharp-witted, engaging and marvelously humane.


If both of the DVDs above fall into the category of ‘good for you’ (and they are good, whatever the case), then the trashy delights of Against The Ropes can only be seen as guilty pleasure material, barely better than TV fare but, heck, the movie stars the always engaging Meg Ryan (here playing a feisty fight promoter), the woefully underutilized Omar Epps and Charles S. Dutton, who also directs this flim-flam fairy tale. Still and all, bathos and formulaic script aside, this character driven movie connects from time to time — which is a great deal more than you can say about many films — and, as such, against your better judgement, you’ll probably end up enjoying this story.


And for the tweens this week, Frankie Muniz is back as a junior James Bond in Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London , a kid-flick trifle that thanks to an engaging, if relatively unknown cast, lots of cool gadgets, and everything a 6-year-old spy would hope to find in a kiddie-espionage flick (with just a twinge of romance), ought to engage its intended audience.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at July 15, 2004 11:27 PM in Video & DVD


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