• Bloodrayne - Teutonic terror Uwe Boll directs movies no more than gravity directs objects to Earth. His grasp of pithy things like story and character development is nearly non-existent, and his penchant for adapting video games has earned him a reputation as a sort of idiot savant (only without the savant part), kind of like if the kid on the porch in Deliverance only knew how to play the riff that Vanilla Ice nicked from Queen's "Under Pressure". His latest, a shameless Blade ripoff about a half-human, half-vampire avenger (Kristianna Loken), is miscast, barely written and staged with the skill of a spastic with cataracts. Currently residing on the IMDB's Bottom 100 (at #34), it and Boll's rotting body of work have elevated the oeuvre of Ed Wood, whose non-charting Plan 9 From Outer Space was once considered the worst film ever made, to common hack status. At least the inclusion of the free PC version of the Bloodrayne 2 video game will help soothe buyer remorse.
• The Boondock Saints: Unrated Edition - New England native Troy Duffy's enjoyable 1999 Pulp Fiction wannabe was never given any kind of special treatment after its initial release, but now, fans of this cult actioner can revel in it. Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus play Irish brothers who become townie heroes when they off some Russian thugs, taking it as a cue from God that their purpose is to dispatch criminals with heavenly force. The commentary track by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, who plays the boys mentor, the nutty bar Il Duce, is great, and Duffy, nowhere near the asshole portrayed in Tony Montana's and Mark Brian Smith's documentary, Overnight, contributes some valuable insights on his [previously released commentary], too. The additions are mostly just previously trimmed gore, though the bonus disc has seven deleted scenes. Alas, however, the balls-out soundtrack is still only available as a bootleg, and a rare one, at that.
• Cheaper By The Dozen 2 - After seeing this weak sequel to the pale 2003 remake of the plain 1950 comedy, fans of Steve Martin will begin to wonder if he is the same guy who wrote the sublime Shopgirl and burned up the comedy scene in the '70's and '80's. Even playing off Eugene Levy (as a childhood rival), the laughs are few and very strained. Martin's co-star, Bonnie Hunt, is better than this lazy mess, too, and with her upcoming Mrs. Doubtfire 2, Martin's troubled Pink Panther redo and Levy's execrable direct-to-video American Pie: Band Camp, they are all continuing their sad slide into the comedy slum.
• Game 6 - Boston Red Sox fans who remember the heartbreaking Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets will appreciate the well-tempered schizophrenic timbre of Michael Hoffman's darkly comedic drama about a playwright and Sox fan (Michael Keaton) melting down just as the Sox did. Keaton is on fire here, evoking that familiar, sad-sack desperation with a very clear sense of his character. Novelist Don DeLillo backs him up with a whammy of a first script, and a super supporting cast, including Griffin Dunne as a fellow playwright entering madness after having been destroyed by a critic (Robert Downey Jr.) so venomous that he must attend openings in disguise, shines, too. Both actors -- especially comeback kid Downey -- are in top form, helping Hoffman make DeLillo's fierce little bashin' play much more than a quaint, unrealized gimmick.
• The Goebbels Experiment - Lutz Hachmeister's look at Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels neither stuns nor bores, with Kenneth Branagh's rather dry, matter-of-fact narration providing nowhere near the insight into the Nazi mindset that Oliver Hirschbiegel did in the exquisite 2005 drama, Downfall. Taken largely from Goebbels' own diaries, the perspective is not one that we particularly need, considering that we already knew he was friggin' insane, with the rest of the details coming across as little more than a History Channel dissertation.
• Metal: A Headbanger's Journey - Canadian heavy metal fan Sam Dunn took his training as an anthropologist and applied it to this extremely comprehensive documentary about the much-maligned musical genre. He and producer Scot McFayden carefully tread the line between objective and objectifying, delivering a respectful and very thoughtful warts-and-all look into a world that is much more than it seems. Highlights include Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider's brilliant 1984 public flaming of a stunned Tipper Gore (with dumbfounded hubby Al watching in shock) and, on the bonus disc, diminutive icon Ronnie James Dio's collection of frog trinkets.
• Transamerica - Like Stanley/Sabrina, the pre-op male-to-female transsexual that Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman portrays in Duncan Tucker's comedic drama, there is more to the movie than meets the eye. What first seems like it will be a gimmicky road picture cast in the mold of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert turns into a surprisingly accessible quest for acceptance, not just by others, but by ourselves, as well. Huffman, who earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination, pulls off more than just a Victor/Victoria, going far deeper than the woeful "I was born with the wrong parts" routine. In the end, after Tucker ramps down his emphasis on Brie's peculiar circumstances - which helps courageous trouper Huffman to better humanize her - Brie's struggle becomes a universal one. It is more difficult to pull off than it sounds, and with the wrong cast, they might have failed.Tucker works wonders with versatile veterans like Fionnula Flanagan and Burt Young as Brie's mixed creed parents and Graham Greene as a good Samaritan who subtly helps give Brie's floundering son his first sense of masculine kindness and family history. Kevin Zegers plays the boy like a teenage Joe Buck running scared, the kind of role that Edward Furlong used to get before his life started resembling them too much. Carrie Preston as Brie's recovering alcoholic sister, is excellent, too, adding another layer of depth to this dysfunctional family dynamic. In the end, Tucker and company suggest that no matter how few, mild or subjective our quirks, the natural born assholes of the world will find a reason to make us suffer for them.
Read our interview with director Duncan Tucker here.