Blu-ray Today: The Act of Killing, The Wicker Man...and Big Ass Spider

By Luke Y. Thompson in DVDs
Tuesday, January 7, 2014 at 8:00 am

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The Act of Killing - A thoroughly unique and ballsy documentary, in which participants in a series of mass killings in Indonesia in the '60s, hailed as heroes for it by many, are given the budget and the equipment to make mini-movies reenacting their crimes. This they do, often in bizarre and surreal ways; but when one of them finds himself playing the victim, he suddenly begins to develop a creeping sense of empathy. Before things are through, his body literally starts to try and violently exorcize the evil within him - it's some of the year's most compelling footage, and most of the cast and crew are billed as "Anonymous" due to the potential danger such scenes represent. It's not for everyone, but it goes places you most likely have never seen a movie go before.

Throne of Blood - English scholars might slap you silly if you said, "You know what Shakespeare needs? Less dialogue and more samurai." Cinephiles, however, would pat you on the back and tell you you've just described Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood, a classic that retells the story of Macbeth in feudal Japan. It's dual format Blu-ray and DVD, but also a different kind of dual format in that there are two alternate sets of subtitles, with differing interpretations of the Japanese language words and phrases that don't have 1:1 equivalents in English. If you're unfamiliar with Kurosawa, this would be my choice for a starting point - witches, swordfights, betrayal and a familiar story transcend cultural boundaries, and acclimatize you to the setting so you can move on to Yojimbo, Rashomon, The Hidden Fortress etc.




Being Human Complete Third Season - A vampire, a ghost and two werewolves walk into an apartment...eh, I got nothin' else. Except to point out this is the U.S. version.

Star Trek: Enterprise Complete Third Season - This is the one with the season-long arc where they fought the Xindi and I totally lost track of what was happening because it was the days before DVRs and I'd forget when it was on. Guess I lacked faith of the heart.

Archer The Complete Season Four - I know I would love this. Just know it. One of many I need to find the time for.

Big Ass Spider - Well, I've written about this one a fair bit. Probably more than I need to, since it really is a movie you can totally, 100% judge by its cover. That, in this case, is a very good thing.

We Are What We Are - Apparently, this was that rare beast known as a "well-received horror remake." Yet it came and went very quickly, possibly because all the plot synopses I find are being very cagey to avoid major spoilers. So I know this much: it's a remake of a Mexican film, it's about a family with a long history of keeping very much to themselves, and something something something cannibalism. Good enough.

The Wicker Man: The Final Cut - Can I be honest and say I don't like the original Wicker Man very much? Blasphemy in horror circles, that, yet aside from blind Christopher Lee allegiance, I don't see why it's perceived to have survived the test of time, with its hippie-dippy songs, Edward Woodward being the original 40 year-old virgin, and Lee being decidedly unscary in a kilt. Maybe this cut will be better, but unless it is significantly improved, I'll stick to Nicolas Cage punching girls and choking on bees. At least Neil LaBute's very real fear of strong women comes through in the remake; as silly as it is, it feels truly honest, like all the best bad movies.

And those are my top picks of the week. What are yours?


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