Couch Trip

Oct 8, 2008 at 12:00 am

Brotherhood of the Wolf
Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Tinsletown loves red-blooded American male moviegoers — give 'em forgettable plots, seizure-ready car chases and silicone-fortified chicks and you've a moneymaker. If you have lots of guns and a former pro wrestler, so much the better! Dudes don't want no stinkin' 18th century costume-drama bullshit — it's true, and we didn't make up the rules. Besides, powdered wigs, corsets, horse-drawn carriages and societal mores are for pussies, right?

Wrong! With Brotherhood of the Wolf, director Christophe Gans has managed the impossible — a kick-ass actioner in all the trappings of Keira Knightley period flick. And no, combining such isn't an easy task. Gans begins with the story of a creature — known in history books as the Beast of Gévaudan — who's killing the folks of a town in southern France. The king sends the royal taxidermist to identify the beast. The taxidermist is an adventurer and jack-of-all-trades whose "blood brother" and traveling companion is a Native American named Mani. Their investigation into the beast reveals an intricate and twisted tale crammed with political, religious and familial complications. Oh, and they open up a can of whoop-ass, Jet Li-style. Brotherhood of the Wolf is so rich with machismo that it has been released in a two-disc director's cut that features four hours of bonus material — that's four hours! — double the original DVD. Sure, bigger is better; the only question now is whether you're man enough to handle it. —Paul Knoll

Lagerfeld Confidential
Koch Lorber

The cults of personality that surround so many people in the fashion industry are — along with the notion that clothing has a more asethetic importance than simply shielding one's skin from the elements — a big reason why the hoi polloi generally regard it as one of the silliest and most superfluous areas of public taste. The recently wrapped Fashion Week in the Big Apple gave us all plenty to look at, but little to comprehend, and even less to relate to. With that in mind, perhaps this doc about supposedly iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld was intended to humanize the business. But there are two fundamental flaws at play here: 1) Lagerfeld is, honestly, only iconic to people who care about fashion; just because people know his name doesn't mean that anyone cares about his artistic philosophies. 2) The jet-setting, star-fucking cloud of ephemeral emptiness he floats on above the rest of us does little to make him — or his lifestyle — any more relatable or, for that matter, interesting. While director Rodolphe Marconi can boast unprecedented access to the designer, he's clearly too smitten with his subject to produce anything more than a hagiographic homage. More disappointing, Marconi pays only a bit of attention to Lagerfeld's substantial skills as a photographer and never really connects the dots between the artistry of Lagerfeld's lens work and the artistry of his fashion work. There are hints throughout Lagerfeld Confidential that the man is of considerable substance, but between his half-baked pondering and seemingly frivolous lifestyle, the Lagerfeld of this documentary only reinforces the negative stereotypes many harbor about the couture biz. —Jason Ferguson

Pretty as They Cum
Jules Jordan Video

Not ot be the bearer of bad tidings, especially when it comes to the normally stellar adult product that Jules Jordan Video churns out, but Pretty as They Cum only satisfies its title pledge in the "pretty" department. Well, that's not completely true, there is plenty of vanilla man-load. So my point is what? I'll tell you.

Director Chris Stream has taken seven runway-stunning ginch — Tory Lane, Alektra Blue, Tori Black, Alexis Texas, Jenna Haze, Shyla Stylez and the why-is-she-in-porn?-gorgeous Angelina Valentine — and filmed them in soft focus. Meaning some kind of diffused, Vaseline-on-the-lens blur that evokes 1970's Penthouse photography. Artsy? Yes. Well done? Absolutely. But anyone looking for true onscreen arousal will be sadly disappointed by the admittedly searing sex scenes that will leave fans squinting, trying to focus in on the action.

Stream has wasted a gaggle of definitive female adult talent (and the astonishing two- and three-way acts they engage in) by attempting a stab at visual cinematic touches that are better left untouched. Despite the fact this is a "Special Edition 2 Disc Set," that only means you're paying more for less. —Fern LaBott

Cult Epics

If Pierre Grimblat's Slogan is even a minor footnote in film history, it's because it's the movie that introduced Serge Gainesbourg to Jane Birkin. Nuff said. The two lovers — who, according to the supplemental backstory, hated each other when the shoot began — became one of the industry's most popular couples, propelling an otherwise average comedy-drama into a cult-y hit. Chronicling the tumultuous relationship between Gainesbourg's married TV commercial director and his commitment-starved mistress (Birkin), the film succeeds or fails solely on the basis of its stars. The just-discovered Birkin is radiant, almost criminally sexy, and Gainesbourg has the offbeat, grungy attractiveness that only hip Frenchmen can pull off. His kitschy lounge score sets the tone for this ambling riff on modern love, at times feeling like a commercial itself for Gainesbourg and his music. The story meanders, but in a pleasant way, because the screen is usually filled with two beautiful people you'd like to spend time with. Grimblat, significantly a commercial director himself before he shot Slogan, was then a protégé of Francois Truffaut (whom he calls "Truffle" in the supplements), and his New Wave flourishes keep things interesting. The wittiest segments, which Grimblat could have explored further, are the hilarious parodies of commercials, from a breathless and cartoony action sequence that's merely an aftershave commercial to an ad in which Birkin is flagellated by a group of kilted Scots. —John Thomason