Trailer for a Friday night: “Rabbit Hole”

I always like to say that no good movie really depresses me, no matter the subject matter, but that the happiest truly bad movie can really bring me down. Especially if it’s a hit. Still, when the topic is parents coping with the aftermath of the death of a child, even I might wonder if that’s pushing the sadness envelope, no matter how well handled. On the other hand, given strong material and a really good director anything is possible and this genuinely lovely trailer for “Rabbit Hole” starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart and directed by John Cameron Mitchell, hints that the movie might be a small miracle. Take a look, you’ll be okay.

Talking about walking a fine line. I wasn’t wild about Mitchell’s hardcore non-porn, “Short Bus,” though it had its moments. On the other hand, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” was the best musical of its decade in my book and also showed that humor and the worst human pain could coexist. Could this do for the subgenre of quality “depressing” movies with Oscar-friendly actors what Mitchell did for rock and roll musicals? Possibly.

  

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It’s your Yom Kippur Friday movie news dump

Yom Kippur is the holiday where one abstains from worldly pleasures of all kinds, including eating and drinking, and reflects on spiritual and moral values, atoning for one’s sins, and becoming a better person. In other words, just another day in Hollywood!

*  The big news right now is the bombshell, but not unexpected, admission to the New York Times by Casey Affleck that “I’m Still Here” is a fictional film. Moreover, Affleck still may not have come completely clean because he stated that David Letterman wasn’t in on the truth during the notorious interview with star/co-conspirator Joaquin Phoenix. Via Company Town, we learn that Letterman writer Bill Scheft is comparing what went on to Andy Kaufman stunts and even took credit for one of the lines.

Joaquin Phoenix in A lot of people apparently think that Affleck, perhaps more than Phoenix, has some atoning to do, including Anne Thompson. I guess I can understand her frustration at being manipulated and lied to, but ultimately, it’s only a movie and we in the show biz press have all the credibility of car salesmen. Also it is, after all, a movie. From everything I’ve heard about the film, the far greater sin would have been if it had actually been real.

* Orthodox Jewish-bred Israeli-Brit Sacha Baron Cohen seems to be well on his way to a Shana Tova (good year). He’ll be moving into the world of “serious” acting in a planned biopic about the late multitalented Queen singer/songwriter/pianist Freddie Mercury to be written by the exceedingly busy docu-drama specialist Peter Morgan. I’ve read some ethnic quibbles somewhere (sorry, lost the link) since Mercury’s family hailed from parts of Asia. It seems to me the physical resemblance tells the tale and is no more offensive than the multi-ethnic Asian-Caucasian-Native American Lou Diamond Phillips playing a Mexican-American teen in “Stand and Deliver,” despite having not a drop of Latino blood in his veins. All ethnicities are really ethnic mixes anyhow. I can’t count the number of times I assumed someone was Jewish only to find out they were actually a mix of other groups that just came out looking all Jewy or people who look Latino who are actually Eurasian, etc.

No one seems to know whether Cohen, who can sing a little, will sing his own part. Considering Mercury’s remarkable voice, I wouldn’t complain if they simply used the old recordings. If it was good enough for “The Jolson Story” it’s good enough for this.

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What Else Ya Got? “The Dark Knight”

When you’re the highest grossing movie of the year, fans tend to expect a little more bang for their buck when it comes to the inevitable DVD and Blu-ray release. “The Dark Knight” is certainly loaded with an impressive collection of bonus material, but the lack of certain extras seems to hint that an ultimate edition is already in the works. You never know how long you’ll have to wait for that, though, which makes the two-disc release the perfect distraction until it does. With over three hours of bonus material and a digital copy to boot, it may not be the best Blu-ray of the year, but you could certainly do worse.

“Focus Points”
The Blu-ray version allows you to access this collection of 18 mini-featurettes as it pertains to the movie, but you’d be better off watching it all at once as a 64-minute making-of featurette. Among the topics discussed include the challenges (and advantages) of filming the opening sequence and Batmobile chase in IMAX, the design and creation of the new Bat-Suit and Bat-Pod, and the planning and execution of the hospital explosion and the super-cool semi-truck flip.

“Batman Tech”
A TV special that focuses on the history and practicality of Batman’s gadgets. Diehard fans probably already caught this when it first aired on TV, but those that didn’t will discover that the Caped Crusader is more based in reality than you might think.

“Batman Unmasked”
Another TV special that aired prior to the Blu-ray release, this one isn’t nearly as interesting as “Batman Tech,” but it still delivers a one-of-a-kind look into the psychology of Batman and his villains. The focus on the latter group is particularly cool as the interviewees discuss the similarities between Batman’s rogue’s gallery and real-life criminals and murderers.

“Gotham Tonight”
Undoubtedly the weakest of the set, this collection of fake news stories (including profiles of Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent) doesn’t really work as well as it should. The acting is subpar and the stories themselves feel staged. Granted, that’s what you’d expect from fake news stories, but still.

“The Galleries”
Four excellent photo galleries including a variety of Joker cards, concept art, poster and production stills. Most of the Joker cards designed were clearly unusable, but it’s still cool too explore all the different styles they considered.

“Trailers and More”
Three trailers and six TV spots. ‘Nuff said.

Overall, not a bad collection of extras for Warner’s first go-around with “The Dark Knight.” Any real collector knows that a much better version will likely be released next Christmas – and hopefully with more behind-the-scenes footage of Heath Ledger at work, not to mention make-up tests for both The Joker and Two-Face – but if you’re jonesing for another viewing of “The Dark Knight” before then, you can at least find comfort in the fact that the two-disc Blu-ray isn’t a complete waste of time.

  

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