Keep the Meter Running

 Taxi Driver: Collector's Edition
(Sony)

"Listen, you fuckers, you screwheads: Here is a man who would not take it anymore." Martin Scorsese's 1976 vision of hell as city-of-night New York rips through the reverential treatment on this special edition like a hunter's blade through deerskin. A second disc of eight featurettes covers everything from actual cabbie memories of pre-Giuliani Times Square to screenwriter Paul Schrader's brushes with porn, guns and film critic Pauline Kael. (The genuflecting featurettes have the unintended effect of moving you to tuck the film safely away in a box.) Then you pop in disc one, and out snarls Scorsese's still-livid hybrid of hard-core cinephilia, raw location shooting and I-stand-alone fury. If nothing else, watch it to remember when a wiry angel of doom named Robert De Niro was the most exciting actor on the planet. —Jim Ridley

Inland Empire
(Rhino)

If a chef served you a sandwich inside a concrete block, would you call him a genius? Maybe it depends on how hungry you are. Those hankering for plot, entertainment or even comprehension are going to have to break a few teeth to get anything out of Inland Empire. Even people who've enjoyed David Lynch's more obtuse works will find three hours of nonlinear, non-logical digital video featuring Laura Dern playing multiple roles all a little much. Somewhere around the second hour of "What the fuck?," frustration begins to take hold. Lynch can't help but sneak some great moments in, including a few of the most terrifying shots ever put onscreen. It isn't enough, although a short film of Lynch cooking dinner and telling a story is a surprising reminder of the man's artistic powers. —Jordan Harper

The Lookout
(Miramax Home Entertainment)

Here's looking at you, kid. A young De Niro in Taxi Driver.
Here's looking at you, kid. A young De Niro in Taxi Driver.

While Shia LaBeouf gets the ink, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has quietly established himself as the best actor of the new generation. In the past few years he's played a mental patient, a male whore, a hard-boiled detective, a wigger and now a young man with brain damage. Be the movie awesome (Brick) or awful (Havoc), he's the best thing in it, and The Lookout is no exception. After a car crash leaves Levitt befuddled and working as a janitor at a bank, he gets drawn in by a group of robbers looking to hit the bank he cleans at night. The movie isn't perfect, and the backing cast is thin, but Jeff Daniels is great as Levitt's blind roommate, and the film handles the technical details of both brain damage and bank jobs with aplomb. —J.H.

The First Films of Samuel Fuller
(Criterion)

The first three films of Fuller, to be precise: 1949's I Shot Jesse James, grade-B material elevated to A-minus status by the young comer; 1950's The Baron of Arizona, in which Vincent Price is priceless; and 1951's The Steel Helmet, among the filmmaker's masterpieces and, perhaps, the best of his many war movies. Fuller, the war-vet newspaperman who made his bones as a cinematic master during his 40-year career, emerges in this collection almost fully formed from first jump. The debut is tense and tight, never more so than when Robert Ford (John Ireland) can't decide whether to kiss or fuck a bathing Jesse James (Reed Hadley). The Baron of Arizona is clever, but also a little clumsy. And The Steel Helmet—about the fine line between sanity and savagery during battle—is almost hypnotizing. —Robert Wilonsky

 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...