by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
While it is marketed as such, KISS frontman Gene Simmons' “reality” show is anything but; this is as fraudulent and staged as your favorite network sitcom, minus the irritating laugh track. That being said, Family Jewels is one of the best sitcoms on TV, thanks to the completely likable cast of characters: Gene, the hapless dad; Shannon, the wise-cracking mom; Nick, the charmingly awkward son and Sophie, the upbeat daughter. In Season 4, the gang has a Sweet 16 party, plays the blues in Memphis, dons firefighting gear, trains for roller-derby and adopts a new puppy. Meanwhile, Season 5 starts off with Gene on tour and Shannon with (possibly) cancer, but, of course, things get back to goofy when Gene celebrates his 60th and gets involved with alligators, and goes to Comic-Con to pimp Nick's book. Cirque du Soleil even makes a creepy appearance. Purely disposable entertainment, to be sure, but it's purely disposable entertainment at its best.
If you were to judge Turning Green by cover alone, you'd think you were in store for a brutal Boondock Saints rip-off. Upon viewing, however, we're treated to a quirky coming-of-age comedy that merely happens to feature crime in the slightest, most pervy of ways. Teenage American James is forced to move with his brother to Ireland after the death of his mother. While most of us would think that's awesome, he hates it and can't wait to get back to the ghettos of Boston. He spends most of his time masturbating and doing stupid bar tricks for quick cash, but when an opportunity to earn more arises via the local bookie, he jumps in and starts to kinda sorta learn the trade. And what does he do with it? He buys porno mags from London and creates a spank-book black market of sorts, and now the bookie wants his cut. So I guess it's more like the Poon-dock Saints, am I right?
I've done my best here with CineFiles to highlight the best of the Thai action film boom, but, as that trend starts to wane, it's becoming pretty clear that the Indonesians are coming out of nowhere, delivering a brutal leg-sweep like the impetuous young Turks that they are to take the martial arts movie throne. First up is the exciting Merantau. Sure, the plot — a young country boy heads to the big city to find himself, but only finds trouble from the local gangsters — is a retread, especially of the Tony Jaa flick Ong-Bak, but you didn't come here for plot! You came for pure foot-to-face fight choreography, which it delivers in spades. Highlighting the very fluid Indonesian martial art of Silat, or, more specifically, Silat Harimau, Marentau may not become a classic, but it's definitely a hell of a start and should pique the interest of American action fans immediately.