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VanRamblings' Favourite Hollywood Movie of 2004 Now On DVD
A Great Week For New DVD Releases — Lots of Rental Choices

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MAN-ON-FIRE

Although Man on Fire is ostensibly a good-vs.-evil thriller about an ex-CIA agent bent on eliminating a ruthless Mexican gang of kidnappers and dirty cops, in reality director Tony Scott’s highly stylized, nearly 2-hour bloodlust epic is instead the most emotionally resonant piece of Hollywood cinema to have hit the big screen thus far in 2004. And now it’s out on DVD. Rush, we mean run right down to your favourite video store and rent Man on Fire — sure to be discovered on home video and ready to become the top DVD rental of the year. The story’s narrative involves Denzel Washington’s John Creasy, a burnt-out, alcoholic former military operative who takes a bodyguard job for a wealthy family in Mexico City on the suggestion of his friend (Christopher Walken). Creasy has retreated from life and exists inside a gruff, hardened exterior but, as the movie unfolds, he softens in the presence of his employer’s young daughter, Pita (Dakota Fanning). Following Pita’s ambush kidnapping Creasy sets out to find the kidnappers and make them pay — big time. Scott takes great care to establish the relationship between the bodyguard and the child. This makes Pita’s kidnapping feel less like a plot machination and more like an act of terror. The chemistry between Washington and an immensely charming 9-year-old Fanning is surprisingly rich, touching and emotionally resonant. Gritty, incendiary and viscerally engaging from beginning to end, Man on Fire emerges as the most percussively watchable action film of the year, with a great script and charismatic, engaging performances throughout.

BAADASSSSS

Mario Van Peebles sports an attitude of electric, hungry-eyed defiance to play his father, Melvin Van Peebles — one of the first black directors to be ushered through the gates of Hollywood — during the making of Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song (1971), recapturing the feel of an era filled with social history and personal turmoil. Built around Mario’s performance, which is built on Melvin’s macho swagger and bull-headedness, Baadasssss! radiates with a jolting, lively energy, raw and full of the kind of life we don’t see often enough on screen. A must-rental for cinéastes.

YOUNG-ADAM

Débuting at Cannes and subsequently nominated for seven London Film Critics awards, Young Adam is an adaptation of the Scottish writer Alexander Trocchi’s 1957 novel. The story of Joe, an amoral wanderer played by Ewan McGregor, who discovers the body of a girl while working on a barge, upon its release the film raised eyebrows with its graphic sex scenes between McGregor and co-star Emily Mortimer (thus its NC-17 rating). With cinematography that transforms the bleak backdrop of 1950s Scotland into explosive beauty, and charged with tension throughout, this pungent story of guilt and lost innocence gradually becomes a compelling, if unresolved, study of conscience. Art cinema at its best, Young Adam should be seen.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at September 16, 2004 10:00 AM in Video & DVD

   

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