Movies are coming out on disc faster than ever. So it's in with the old and with the new
FILMS THIS YEAR
FRANK MILLER'S SIN CITY RECUT, EXTENDED, UNRATED
We have seen the future, and it's cool. Using green screen, stars like Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke, and a style so rich and lurid it ought to be illegal, Robert Rodriguez has perfected a system that is to old-fashioned filmmaking what Grand Theft Auto is to your father's Oldsmobile. The movie's pretty good too: a gnarly noir nightmare in four parts, which the unrated DVD presents with added footage and a zillion natty extras.
THE WHITE DIAMOND
Nobody has dreamed of building a better airship since the Hindenburg exploded in 1937, but aeronautics engineer Graham Dorrington has just that obsession. That makes him an ideal subject for one of director Werner Herzog's luminous studies of the peril that attends man's quest to tame nature--the peril but also the ecstasy. When Dorrington finally gets the airship to fly, it's one of the most spiritually buoyant scenes in recent cinema.
KUNG FU HUSTLE
For years, Stephen Chow was famous across Asia as the bad boy of Hong Kong comedy. Who knew he was also a wildly gifted director, until this Buster Keaton--esque martial-arts comedy? In old Shanghai, a gang has scared everyone off the streets--everyone except the harder-than-jade residents of Pig Sty Alley, who help turn a mobster wannabe (Chow) into a Bruce Lee gotta-be. Behind the frantic fun is a directorial eye so acute it makes most Hollywood directors seem myopic.
STAR WARS, EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH
For maximum effect, this should be seen on a gigantic movie screen--the visual scope is that grand, the details that rich. But George Lucas' dark and honorable wrap-up to his space odyssey will look just fine on the 45-in. screen in your home-entertainment center. The DVD has a starship-load of extras to answer every question a viewer could have, except How come Padmé dies here, when in the original Star Wars trilogy Princess Leia remembers her mother?
Hong Kong's Wong Kar-wai believes two things: love hurts, and its pain can be beautiful to see. In Wong's 2000 romance In the Mood for Love, Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-wai circled each other in slo-mo for an hour and a half, and their almost-touching sparked more erotic heat than a dozen Jenna Jameson epics. 2046 is a kind of sequel, with Leung languidly courting a quartet of beauties: a prostitute (Ziyi Zhang), a vamp (Carina Lau), a gambler (Gong Li) and the elfin girl of his dreams (Faye Wong). That gives the director four times as many chances to let furtive glances and plaintive words collide--which they do, to subtly devastating effect. These days dreamy romances are hard to find, especially of the smoky, smoldering Wong Kar-wai brand. 2046 is the kind of picture an intelligent viewer can walk up to and ask, "Got a light?"