We’ve changed up the column a little, now we’re ranking the titles that are worth your money. Topping this week is Michael Cera abandoning his good guy MO in the Sundance hit, "Crystal Fairy." And for our oldies we highlight the Roger Corman titles you can find on his YouTube channel.
1. 'Crystal Fairy'
Michael Cera returned to movies after a brief hiatus filled with short film and TV cameos by getting out of his comfy nice-guy/coming-of-age persona and playing a real dick in Sebastián Silva’s improve-heavy road trip tale, "Crystal Fairy." Cera plays Jamie, an American wandering in Chile (we never really know how he got there) who befriends a trio of brothers (Silva’s brothers in real life) and go in search of a legendary hallucinogen cactus. However, Jamie’s master plan hits a snag when in a drugged-out stupor he invites hippie Crystal Fairy (played perfectly by Gaby Hoffmann) to come along. Unlike the other Silva/Cera title also at Sundance, the panned "Magic Magic," Silva captures Cera’s biting wit perfectly in Fairy.
Why Watch It: Cera being a jerk is a sight to behold, and some great laughs throughout.
Available On 7/12: Cable On Demand
2. 'Dead Man Down'
Produced by WWE Films you’d expect a lot of big explosions and big men chasing each other. Well, you’d be right about one. "Dead Man Down" certainly has some crazy ass action scenes full of explosions (especially in its bullet-riddled finale), but amongst the charred remains director Niels Arden Oplev (of original "Girl With The Dragon Tatoo" fame) tries to have us concentrate on the developing love between our hero Victor (Colin Farrell) and Beatrice (Noomi Rapace). Both are fueled by revenge and soon realize that they can help each other achieve their goals. Though the story has a lot of holes, Farrell and Rapace do a good job to try to keep it together.
Why Watch It: If anything it’s worth the rental charge to watch the absurd characters Terrence Howard and Dominic Cooper play.
3. 'Killing Season'
I can’t think of a better way to spend a hot summer evening than in my living room watching John Travolta and Robert De Niro beat the crap out of each other. On VOD same day as it hits theaters, "Killing Season" is the latest from director Mark Steven Johnson (yes, the guy who brought "Daredevil" to the screen) and screenwriter Evan Daugherty (yes, the guy who penned "Snow White and the Huntsman" and the upcoming "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"). Travolta and De Niro play veterans of the Bosnian War who in a "chance encounter," learn of each other’s past and take to hunting each other down in the forest. Oh, did I mention Travolta is doing a Serbian accent and sporting a well-manicured beard?
Why Watch It: If the last sentence didn’t sell you then I give up.
4. 'Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor'
Tyler Perry’s latest adaptation of his own stage work shows off a darker side of the multihyphenate as we follow a therapist (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) whose own troubled marriage leads her into the arms of another man and a disastrous outcome. Regardless what you may think of Perry’s work, here he captures relationship struggles with a frightening plot that will suck you in.
Why Watch It: If you can push away some of the cheesy performances (including a cameo by Kim Kardashian), you will find a powerful story.
Read our review.
5. 'Pawn Shop Chronicles'
Remember all of the attention Wayne Kramer got after his 2003 film "The Cooler" found critical success? Well, he hasn’t gotten much momentum since. Following the clunker "Running Scared" he’s been demoted back down to modest indies and for his latest, "Pawn Shop Chronicles" (in theaters same day as VOD) it seems he just wants to have a good time as he takes the script from low-budget genre screenwriter Adam Minarovich and creates a southern fried comedy with Paul Walker as a meth head and Brendan Fraser as an Elvis impersonator.
Why Watch It: Great cast—Elijah Wood, Vincent D’Onofrio, Matt Dillon, Lukas Haas—but it’s hard to salvage this one.
OLDIES BUT GOODIES (Roger Corman’s Edition)
The master of B-movies, Roger Corman is perfect for a subscription page on YouTube. With Corman’s Drive-In, for $3.99 a month you get a huge offering from the Corman library—including classics like "Attack of the Crab Monsters," "Piranha" and "Little Shop of Horrors" starring a young Jack Nicholson—some with intros by Corman. More titles are being added (here’s hoping "Rock and Roll High School" or Ron Howard’s "Grand Theft Auto" shows up soon).
And if you don’t feel like subscribing, someone’s put up for free one of Corman’s greatest B-movies, "Death Race 2000" (starring David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone). Check it out before it’s taken down.