DVD Reviews: 03/30/10

This week:  Sherlock Holmes, The Baader Meinhof Complex, The Killer, An Education, Where the Wild Things Are, I Sell the Dead

Guy Ritchie’s lovingly rendered Sherlock Holmes is a great looking film with crisp dialogue and a sense of fun that most of the 2009 holiday films forgot.  Robert Downey, Jr. is in full-on Victorian Tony Stark mode…and a bit of a head case as Sherlocks go.  His Watson is portrayed by Jude Law, who actually carries the film when the more histrionic Holmes isn’t on screen, and sometimes when he is.  Criss-crossing action, sleuthing, humor and thrills, Ritchie’s film is well-worth watching.

The Baader Meinhof Complex starts off promisingly but quickly becomes a chore to watch.  A look at the German radical organization The Red Army Faction, the film delves into the terrorist underpinnings of the group as they commit robberies, bombings and kidnappings in the 70s and 80s.  It isn’t as exciting as that might sound.  And once the group is jailed and begins a series of hunger strikes it becomes a dour mess.  If you’re looking for a terrific film about rebellious tactics used toward a better end (that actually has phenomenal acting and an engaging story), try Ole Christian Madsen’s WWII drama Flame & Citron.

John Woo’s classic The Killer was the film that started it all, in the U.S. at least.  Chow Yun-Fat plays Jeff, a methodical assassin who tries to get out of the business so he can care for his girlfriend, who he accidentally blinded on his last job.  Pursued by Inspector Lee, Jeff finds himself facing numerous gunmen in brilliantly choreographed action scenes that cannot be topped (unless you also watch Woo’s Hard Boiled).  A must-see for action fans and for anyone who thinks Hard Target is John Woo’s first film.

An Education was apparently quite good.  I think there were some Oscar nominations involved.

Where the Wild Things Are.  Spike Jonze.  That pretty much says it all, yes?

Writer/director Glenn McQuaid’s I Sell the Dead has had about a year and a half on the genre festival circuit and has been a big hit, but never got the theatrical release it deserved.  An 1800s period-piece mix of horror and comedy, it stars Dominic Monaghan (Lost) and Larry Fessenden (director of The Last Winter) as a pair of ghoulish grave robbers.  Favorite Ron Perlman co-stars.