Not much for us this week, but I do expect a couple of late deliveries. First is The Legend Of Tomiris, a movie out of Kazakhstan. Based on historical heroine Queen Tomiris of Massagetae and her cadre of female warriors (the real-life 6th century BCE Amazonians), it recounts the tale of the nomadic ruler who overcame great personal tragedy to repel the powerful Persian empire and unite the Great Steppe. I can’t say I’m familiar with Tomiris or her story so I can’t tell you if the film is historically accurate or not, but most of these movies do take liberties for their narrative. It starts out with Tomiris being born, her mother dying from birth, her father raising her until he is slaughtered and she goes into hiding. When everyone around her keeps getting destroyed, she rises to the occasion. The fight sequences are pretty good and the best part of the movie is the costuming and set design. It’s a bit long and slows down at points, but overall it’s a pretty good historical epic telling a story I didn’t know. The fighting is solid as is the lead actress.
Sticking with things I wasn’t familiar with, Ivansxtc has a Blu-ray out this week. It premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2000 and then was released in 2002. The film stars Danny Huston as an agent in Los Angeles living that crazy lifestyle you see in movies/shows about LA (think Entourage). He finds out he has cancer after landing a big name talent and goes on a crazy bender. Huston is great in the role and the film also stars Peter Weller (RoboCop), but what you get this new release for is that it comes with both the 48 FPS and 60i FPS formats. It was shot in 60i which at the time wasn’t common (especially for a straight forward/non-action film). Watching it in 60i was so weird! The film almost looks fake being so clean and vibrant at that frame rate. I switched over to the 48 FPS at one point to see the difference and it was like night and day. It also comes with the Extended Producer’s Cut in 60i. The movie itself may not be great at this point because we’ve seen a lot of similar films since then, but seeing the differences in the digital technology is worth the purchase.
Third we have Amerika Square. This was Greece’s submission for Best Foreign Film Oscar and is about immigration and its effect on an area. You’re supposed to feel bad for the people in the movie I guess. There is a tattoo artist who helps out a black woman trying to get out along with a Syrian man who got tricked by a local having his child taken on a plane, but his fake passport not letting him on the plane. There is a local who doesn’t like all the immigrants in his neighborhood and tries to poison them. I’m sure it’s a beloved movie that means a lot to people who use words like xenophobia, but to me it’s good for a one time watch. The performances are good and it’s well made, but I didn’t really find myself attached to the characters. The tattoo artist and the woman seemed rushed and I didn’t get a lot from them to care. At least the Syrian doctor character had a bit more to him with his child and all that. But if you are a fan, it’s out this week.
Next is El Calor Despues De La Lluvia. It’s about a woman, Juana who loses a child and separates from her boyfriend. She makes the pilgrimage to Cartago and runs into him. They spend some time together and she ends up staying at her parents’ house for a bit. She wants to clear her head and get out of the rut the loss caused her. She meets a guy, goes swimming and interacts a bit locally. Then the movie ends, seriously, it’s barely over an hour long. The lead actress is good and it’s beautifully shot, but I wanted a bit more from it. You open with a huge loss (at least a discussion between the 2 characters about their loss) then you’re thrown into the celebration part then thrown into her new living arrangements. I think another 20 minutes could have made it a really good movie because I liked the way it looked and the performances.
Next is Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America. This 6 episode set features one specific hip hop song per episode and what it meant in that genre’s history. The songs featured in the series are Kanye West’s “Jesus Walks,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright,” Run-D.M.C.’s “Rock Box,” Queen Latifah’s “Ladies First,” OutKast’s “Elevators” and Marley Marl and MC Shan’s “The Bridge”. I was familiar with 4 of these songs already because I like older hip hop although Kanye’s song I did know as well. Kendrick and OutKast’s songs were new to me. It’s a who’s who of hip hop talking about what these songs mean, how it changed the genre at the time and more. Jermaine Dupri, Big Boi and Andre 3000 from OutKast, Chuck D, LL Cool J, John Legend and other big names make appearances. If you like hip hop or music shows, check this one out. It aired on AMC previously.
Next we have Ultraman Ginga/Ginga S + Ultra Fight Victory from Mill Creek Entertainment. This collection came out earlier in the month, but I didn’t get mine until last week. This features 4 collections. You get Ultraman Ginga The Series, Ultraman Ginga S The Series, Ultraman Ginga S The Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors! and Ultra Fight Victory. If you read me often enough you know I prefer the original (more campy) Ultraman releases, but this collection is pretty good. I thought Ultraman Ginga S The Movie: Showdown! The 10 Ultra Warriors! was a lot of fun. Having so many characters going at once in one feature film was entertaining. In Ultraman Ginga: The Series all of the Ultramen and monsters have been turned into figures known as Spark Dolls and became scattered throughout the universe. A young man finds the Ginga Spark which allows him to become Ultraman Ginga. Ultraman Ginga S takes place 2 years after that. In Ultra Fight Victory a space emperor might get free from his dimensional prison but Ultraman Victory uses a new weapon, the Knight Timbre to try to thwart it from happening. If you are a fan of Ultraman and have been picking up Mill Creek’s releases, this is a must own especially the fun movie.
Last we also have a film that came out earlier in the month, but I also didn’t get until late last week, Little Monsters. This 1980s film starring Fred Savage and Howie Mandel was one I watched quite a bit when I was younger. Savage is the older brother in a family that moves to a new city. He doesn’t like it there, doesn’t have any friends yet and he meets the monster under his bed Maurice (Mandel). Together they cause all kinds of trouble at night sneaking into the bedrooms of other kids. Savage loves the nights out, but soon realizes there’s more to the trouble than meets the eye. If he stays in the monster area he’ll become a monster. The film has been restored and is now part of Vestron Video Collector’s Series. Watching it now as an adult it’s not as good, but it’s great watching what was allowed in a movie for kids 30 plus years ago. There’s some light curse words, some innuendos and humor that would not be allowed in today’s world. It would probably be considered PG13 by today’s standards. It may not be the laugh riot it was when we all watched it as a kid, but it’s a nice trip down memory lane and the film looks great and sounds great on Blu-ray.