- Hannibal Rising: Not good with fava beans or chianti.
Pointless beyond belief, Hannibal Rising serves more as a cautionary tale than horror story. Made for $50 mil, the movie pocketed half that during its U.S. run and likely wound up in the red -- an appropriate adios for a franchise starring a peripheral character better served by shadows than spotlight. For grim, mercenary reasons, Thomas Harris decided to lay out the origins of Hannibal Lecter and forever ruined the mystery; no monster now, he's but a damaged little Lithuanian boy, avenging the death of his family by slicing and dicing his way across Europe. He's played by Gaspard Ulliel, a cross between Crispin Glover and Saturday Night Live's Andy Samberg; no wonder the whole thing feels like an ironic put-on. The DVD cut incorporates excised footage (ho and hum), rendering the deleted scenes even less useful than usual. -- Robert Wilonsky
Shanghai Express: Special Collector's Edition (Dragon Dynasty)
Shanghai Express -- we're talking the 1986 Western kung-fu flick here, not the Marlene Dietrich film -- serves up a paper-thin plot, loads of corny jokes, and some god-awful mugging by the cast. While fans of the genre eat this stuff up, casual viewers are here for the money shots -- and Shanghai Express delivers. But it's not all flying fists: The biggest set piece early on is a blazing building, complete with spectacular 30-foot face-plants. Director-star Sammo Hung is one chubby badass -- especially during the finale, which feels as endless in a good way as the beginning feels in a bad way. Go ahead, fast-forward through the slow parts. You won't be tested on this. -- Jordan Harper
Released 18 years ago and promptly forgotten -- perhaps because the world decided it didn't need to hear the sexual reminiscences of David Byrne and William Burroughs commingled with sex-ed movies and VD agitprop -- Heavy Petting runs much longer than its scant 75 minutes. Turns out, listening to cult heroes and minor celebs (Ann Magnuson, Josh Mostel, Sandra Bernhard -- man, this thing's so mid-1980s) talk about their first, fumbling times during the fuck-me-not '50s is indeed the chore it sounds like. No matter the time or place, frustration's merely a ritual among people who'd grow up to become writers, musicians, and performance artists. The excised and extended interviews are better than the chopped-up bits in the pic; so too are the circa-'50s sex-is-bad-bad-bad short films. Figures: We like our Heavy Petting longer. -- Wilonsky
10 mph (Spinning Blue)
Charming and maddening, 10 mph tells the story of a couple of dudes who quit their cushy software jobs to traverse America on Segways. And film it. So here we are, people, for good and ill: The American dream has been determined, and that dream is to become famous not for talent or beauty, but simply for doing something peculiar; if you can't be the American Idol, be one of those jackasses from the auditions. The guys seem nice enough, and there are plenty of sweet slices of Americana, so you might find yourself torn. It's hard not to be drawn in by the film's good-natured vibe, but there's no getting around the urge to smack these guys and tell them to make their next movie about anything except themselves. Despite recent evidence to the contrary, life is not a publicity stunt. -- Harper