Greetings from the apocalypse! Along with my trusty dog, I'm currently gunning the last of the V8 Interceptors towards a fortified gasoline refuge in the middle of the Australian outback. While I'm thus occupied, why don't you innocent clanspeople of Tomorrow-morrow Land check out some of this weekend's most fruitful distractions … unless you're chained to a car with handcuffs made out of high-tensile steel. Man, I've been there …
Friday, June 7
NEW ON BLU
Oh man, oh man, oh man … The 'Mad Max' Collection on Blu-ray! It's all three of the most-worshipped post-apocalyptic vehicular mayhem movies ever burned onto celluloid, including for the first time on Blu-ray the amazingly bizarre "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome." Unfortunately there's not much in the way of new bonus content on any of these, but the prints are all glorious — especially "Thunderdome," which looks like a brand-new movie. There's a great doc on the first "Mad Max," as well as a subdued commentary with mastermind Dr. George Miller on "The Road Warrior." "Thunderdome" is bare bones, and I suspect all of these will be getting the deluxe treatment before "Mad Max: Fury Road" rumbles into theaters next year. That said, you may have discerned I'm a bit of a fan of these, and it thrills me to be able to watch Mel Gibson pummel leather-clad biker mutants for six consecutive hours in the comfort of my own underground bunker.
One of the most genius casting decisions of the entire "Mad Max" trilogy was putting Tina Turner front and center as villainess Auntie Entity. Her giant hair and even more intimidating shoulder pads were more than a match for the quick-witted Max Rockatansky, but she really brought her A-game to the memorable songs she cut for the film, including its anthem "We Don't Need Another Hero." This being the '80s there was a cheesy, MTV-ready music video produced as well, loaded with glammy Turner and clips that basically spoil the whole movie. You can observe through the magic of YouTube below:
THE CON IS ON
Another indelible character from "The Road Warrior" was the mohawked Wez, a silent motorcycle scavenger whose rooster-like appearance/squawk was given zany life by actor Vernon Wells ("Innerspace," "Commando"). If you want to meet Wells in person and perhaps get his John Hancock on a photo, DVD or breast then get on yer hogs and burn rubber to Fatality Fest 2013 in West Palm Beach, Florida June 7-9. Other celebs there for festivities include the Ringo of the "Ghostbusters" Ernie Hudson, Dee Wallace of "The Howling" and "E.T." fame and frequently naked on-screen scream queen Linnea Quigley.
PAY CHANNEL PAYBACK
Hey, you know what Middle America will love? A movie about patriotism set during the Revolutionary War starring two Australians and directed by a German guy. Thus, 2000's "The Patriot" was born and you can catch it on Encore at 9:40 p.m., laughing to yourself about all the rednecks lapping up every false note in Roland Emmerich's overblown, historically inaccurate flag-waving epic. Mad Max himself Mel Gibson plays war vet Benjamin Martin, a tough hombre who reluctantly gets swept up in the battle against the British in order to protect his family, including captured son Gabriel (Heath Ledger).
Saturday, June 8
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POW! IN THEATERS
"I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me." Aww snap! That's some witty barbing delivered by Beatrice (Amy Acker) to the sly Benedick (Alexis Denisof) in Joss Whedon's masterful B&W adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," shot entirely on location at casa de Whedon in Santa Monica, CA. Besides being this week's much-recommended Survivor of Thunderdome, it's also a rich banquet from which to sup some of the barb's glorious turns of a phrase coming out of some equally beautiful mouths. There's wonderfully subversive commentary on the centuries-old play as well, including a well-timed joke on its inherent racism. The biggest takeaway is that Joss Whedon has an AWESOME house; this movie will no doubt double its resale value.
Joss Whedon may have free reign in the Marvel Universe but he hasn't cornered the market on contemporary versions of "Much Ado About Nothing," as is evident by this 2010 version entirely cast and crewed by teens at Utah's East Hollywood High School, available on Hulu fo free yo. It's Shakespeare with a twist of "Twilight" and plenty of acne, and even though the budget is low, the energy is high, with leads Robin Noble as Beatrice and Jake Larrabee as Benedick proving themselves quite capable of their roles. Unlike Whedon, these youngsters have taken some liberties with the dialogue: "I would my Jeep had the speed of your tongue!" Getting to watch someone deliver a soliloquy while playing Dance Dance Revolution in a bowling alley is worth the price of admission alone. Watch it in its entirety below:
NETFLIX RECOMMENDS WITH A VENGEANCE
"Much Ado" is a huge self-generated triumph for Whedon, but he pulled a similar experiment back in 2008 in the new medium of Internet videos with "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," currently available on Netflix Streaming. It's structured as the personal video diaries of Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) as he sings of longing for a girl named Penny (Felicia Day) … and his longing to dominate the human race through supervillainy. "Much Ado" co-star Nathan Fillion is Horrible's doltish superhero nemesis Captain Hammer, and the music by Joss and his brother Jed is horribly toe-tapping.
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Riki Lindhome is one half of the hilarious singing duo Garfunkel and Oates, but besides being a funny lady and possessor of anime eyes she also has a great podcast called "Making It" where she interviews many fine folks. Last year in the months prior to "The Avengers" she got to do a show with her pal Joss Whedon before he became King S**t cock of the walk in Hollywood. She also co-stars in his "Much Ado," having changed Don John's stooge Conrade into a female for the sole purpose of having some sexy Lindhome time. Fine with us. Hear Joss wax nostalgic on his unproduced musical about the Oliver North trial, his genuine hatred of Donald Sutherland and how he still thinks "Waterworld" is a good idea at this link.
Sunday, June 9
BASIC CABLE BLUES
Fans of underground cartooning and/or women with huge bean-shaped posteriors should by all means set your DVRs for 1994's classic doc "Crumb" on TCM at 2 a.m. Directed by Terry Zwigoff, it chronicles the life and times of America's doodler laureate Robert Crumb as well as his crazy-ass mom and two demented brothers. As eccentric an oddball as Robert may be, once you meet his family you'll appreciate what a gift artistic expression can be in terms of survival.
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POW! IN THEATERS
A future society where every crime — including murder — is legal for one 12-hour period a year? It could happen. "The Purge" seeks to explore what happens when an entire society is taken off the leash for one night of carnage, focusing on a family led by security expert James (Ethan Hawke) caught in a big ol' standoff with some homicidal maniacs.
From June 6-9, residents of post-apocalyptic Detroit can take shelter from the nuclear fallout in the Cinetopia Film Festival. Some highlights include the long-in-production "Star Wars"-meets-"Almost Famous" memoir "5-25-77," Vincenzo Natali's new mind-bending horror flick "Haunter" starring Abigail Breslin, the "Calvin & Hobbes" tribute doc "Dear Mr. Watterson," high school romance "The Spectacular Now" and a weekend-long Robert Altman Symposium including guests like actor Michael Murphy, director/collaborator Alan Rudolph and Altman's widow Kathryn Altman.
As I ride off into the distant horizon, here's wishing you fellow weekend road warriors the best outing possible from this burnt-out, blighted wasteland. Enjoy your fast Internet, clean-ish movie theaters, plentiful gasoline and all the comforts of home, for this world lives now only in my memories …