Announcing 2-Day Rentals from Universal Studios


VUDU is pleased to announce 2-Day rentals are now available for select Universal Studios titles in SD, HD, and HDX! Take an extra day to watch and re-watch these great films:

     
     

Keep coming back—more 2-Day rentals are on their way!

Herzog’s and Lynch’s “Son”

My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done
Starring: Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe, Chloe Sevigny, Udo Kier, Brad Dourif
Director: Werner Herzog
First Look Pictures
Rated R for some language

The pedigree of director-producers Werner Herzog and David Lynch is enough to make any fan of cult film salivate. In My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, the two auteurs have joined forces for the first time in their careers to create a film that is truly worthy of their affiliation. Lynch takes on the role of executive producer while Herzog directs from his own script the story of a man who has become obsessed with the play he is rehearsing which results in tragedy.

The man is Brad McCullum (Michael Shannon) who has just done something unspeakable—he’s killed his mother (Grace Zabriske). He retreats to his home where he holes himself up against the San Diego police department. Detectives Havenhurst (Willem Dafoe) and Vargas (Michael Peña) arrive on the scene attempting to piece together what happened. They meet Brad’s fiancée, Ingrid (Chloe Sevigny), and friend Lee, (Udo Kier) who provide insight into Brad’s state-of-mind. Through flashbacks, Ingrid and Lee paint a picture of Brad’s descent into depression and mental isolation. Brad became obsessed with his character in a Greek tragedy, a play in which his character also kills his mother. The detectives probe deeper, searching for the reason for Brad’s actions, and hoping to bring the tense standoff to a peaceful resolution.

As any fan of Herzog and Lynch know, their films often take you to an unsettling and uncomfortable place. There’s an eeriness that lingers throughout their films. My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is no exception. Michael Shannon delivers the ultimate in creepy performances, toeing the line of complete insanity. The audience never knows when he’s going to reach his boiling point, as at once he can reach a high level of furor, and in an instant, he can be calm and mellow. There’s a passive-aggressiveness to Brad that disturbs you, and keeps you wondering where his madness will take him next.

The supporting cast is a sobering Yin to Brad’s raging Yang. Everyone stays calm and collected, even as Brad falls apart around them. They keep the story grounded and real. They provide the anchor that we as an audience need in order to know that their world and Brad’s world are not the same. All around, the entire cast gives amazing performances, keeping their actions subtle and nuanced.

Shot with the Red One camera, the digital nature of the cinematography plays wonderfully with light. It is simultaneously rich and vibrant with color, and at the same time dark and murky. The color and lighting of the camera work add intensity to the mindset of Brad. The mixture of saturated hues and tones plays into the dual side of Brad’s psyche.

The collaboration between Herzog and Lynch is an instant classic in the cult genre. Here’s hoping that this is just the beginning of a long and happy marriage between the two that produces more gems that take us into the psychological unknown. For My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done and other memorable cult classics, go to “Explore Catalog” and select the collection “Cult Directors.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Though My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is based on the true story of Mark Yavorsky, a San Diego grad student who killed his mother in a similar fashion, director Werner Herzog admits that about 70% of the film is fictionalized.

Jerry Goldsmith’s Musical “Edge”

The Edge
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Elle MacPherson, Harold Perrineau, Bart the Bear
Director: Lee Tamahori
20th Century Fox
Rated R for language and some adventure gore/violence

Jerry Goldsmith’s long and illustrious career as a film composer is highlighted by such notable titles as “Planet of the Apes”, “L.A. Confidential”, “Rudy”, several “Star Trek” films, and “The Omen”—for which he won his only Academy Award. One of his most memorable and (unfortunately) overlooked entries is The Edge, starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin.

The film tells the story of Charles Morse (Anthony Hopkins), a know-it-all billionaire who retains an immeasurable amount of seemingly trivial facts. He’s married to a much younger fashion model, Mickey (Elle MacPherson), whom he suspects is having an affair with her photographer, Bob (Alec Baldwin). All are on a photo shoot in Alaska where Charles’ watchful eye catches the interactions between Mickey and Bob , essentially validating his concerns. When Charles, Bob, and Bob’s assistant, Stephen (Harold Perrineau) venture into the wilderness, their plane crashes. Stranded, facing hunger, hypothermia, and a blood-thirsty bear, the group struggles to survive in the hopes that rescue will soon come. Complicating matters are Charles’ increasing suspicion that Bob is using their situation as a means to kill Charles in order to have Mickey all to himself.

Everything about this movie clicks. Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin play off each other so well that you would think they really were adversaries. Their interactions mirror their plight—at first they are cordial and civilized with somewhat scornful undertones. As their trials of being lost in the wilderness prolong, their primal natures take over, and the scornful undertones give way to unabashed contempt.

The screenplay by David Mamet has a great flow and ferocity to it. Also a noted playwright, Mamet’s signature style of dialogue is in full force here, bringing with it the snap and intensity that is felt throughout the movie. It sounds and feels natural, bringing great depth and passion to the extreme situations in which these characters find themselves.

It is Jerry Goldsmith’s musical score, though, that stands out as the true star of this film. The prominent use of brass, strings, and percussion echo the sense of adventure and horror the characters experience in the wilderness. The score brings with it a notion of hope, while at the same time portraying the despair that is running through the character’s minds. It is nothing short of brilliant, and the main theme will be playing in your head long after the movie is over.

The Edge was an overlooked film when it premiered in 1997, but it is starting to gain a steady following. The Edge is available on VUDU in SD, HD, and HDX! For this, and other great movies with memorable music, go to “Explore Catalog” and select the collection “Great Soundtracks.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Alec Baldwin grew a thick beard for his character that he refused to shave. He was embroiled in a tug-of-war with the producers over this. Baldwin eventually gave into the producers and shaved—one day before filming began! This incident was dramatized in the 2008 film “What Just Happened”. The film was based on novel written by Art Linson, also the producer of The Edge.

“MacGruber” – Your Action Comedy Forte

MacGruber
Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Val Kilmer, Powers Boothe
Director: Jorma Taccone
Universal Pictures / Rogue Pictures
Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, violence, language and some nudity

It has been ten years since a movie based on a Saturday Night Live sketch hit the big screen, and it has been 18 years since any of them was a critical and financial success. Unfortunately, MacGruber falls into the category of critical and box office failure. In fact, most people did not get a chance to see it, as the movie was in theaters for only a few weeks before being pulled for poor performance. It wasn’t for a lack of trying. MacGruber has a rabid fan base, its sketches on SNL are some of the best performing, and Universal spent plenty of time and money on advertising. It was intended to be one of Universal’s tent pole summer flicks. It is hard to know where things went wrong because MacGruber is an entertaining action-comedy and definitely one of the better SNL adaptations.

For those not in the know, MacGruber (yes, that’s his complete name, like Cher or Madonna) is the United States’ top military agent, somehow bumbling his way to success. He is an obvious parody of MacGyver, the titular character of a 1980’s action TV series about a spy who could take whatever was around him and use it for a weapon or a means to escape. MacGruber plays on this concept by combining everyday objects into absurd concoctions that never seem to work.

The film finds MacGruber (Will Forte) being called out of retirement to take down supervillian Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) who has just obtained a nuclear warhead. Col. Jim Faith (Powers Booth) and Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) enlist MacGruber to stop Cunth from retrieving the bomb’s access codes. MacGruber also sees the mission as an opportunity to exact revenge on Cunth, the man who killed his fiancée. After his plan to assemble a super team goes hilariously wrong, he is nearly removed from the mission until Lt. Piper joins the team, as does Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig), MacGruber’s long time friend. What follows is a series of comical and riotous situations as MacGruber and team take on Cunth and his henchmen.

The movie is an unexpected mashup of action and comedy. The comedy plays mostly on the awkward situations that MacGruber gets in, and features a high amount of crude bathroom humor. On the action side, things are excessively bloody, much more than what would be found in a normal action comedy. However, the excessiveness becomes the comedy as it plays out as over-the-top. The visuals and humor in this movie are not for everyone, but if the previous elements appeal to you, then you are in for a treat with MacGruber.

Will Forte comes into his own with MacGruber. Having previously only been cast in supporting roles in film and television, Forte proves he has the comedic chops to carry a movie. Kirsten Wiig is just waiting to explode as the next funny lady in Hollywood, and her performance as Vicki proves that La La Land should not wait much longer. The funnier parts of the movie come in the choice to cast Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillippe, and Powers Booth in the supporting roles. All three are well-known dramatic actors who would, at least on paper, seem out of place in this kind of flick. However, all three slip quite comfortably into their characters, never taking things seriously, and having a good time with the funny and raunchy material. One scene with Ryan Phillippe will never have you looking the same way at celery sticks again!

Critics often forget that movies are made for a specific audience. It is the critic’s job to take that into consideration when reviewing a movie. Yes, a movie still needs to hold up as movie itself, but a critic should not fault a movie just because it is not their cup of tea. With that in mind, MacGruber may not be the best film of all time, but it is perfectly fun way to spend an hour and a half. Its side-splitting antics and over-the-top scenarios make MacGruber a must-see for anyone who’s an SNL fan.

MacGruber is now available on VUDU in both Theatrical and Unrated versions. Go to “Explore Catalog” and select the collection “SNL Stars on the Big Screen” to see MacGruber and a selection of flicks starring SNL alums.

DID YOU KNOW?

It was revealed in a SNL sketch that MacGruber’s long lost father is none other than MacGyver himself!

“Get Shorty”, Get Funny

Get Shorty
Starring: John Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, Delroy Lindo
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
MGM
Rated R for language and some violence

Who better to poke fun at Hollywood than Hollywood itself? In fact, Hollywood loves to skewer itself with films that go behind-the-scenes and expose the inner workings of Tinseltown. One of the best movies to do this is director Barry Sonnenfeld’s Get Shorty. Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard, Get Shorty essentially equates the film industry to the mob. The film is an off-beat, quirky, and hilarious look at what happens when a mobster becomes a movie producer.

Said mobster is Chili Palmer, portrayed by John Travolta at the height of his career in the mid-90s. Chili is a loan shark with a love for the movies. He is sent to Vegas to collect an overdue debt from a man who faked his death. While there, a casino hires Chili to collect from Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), a schlock movie producer. When he meets Harry, he takes the opportunity to pitch him a movie. Harry and Chili hit it off, and soon they become partners in a movie Harry believes will be his greatest hit. Chili soon realizes the movie business is much like the mob—full of shady investors and egotistical prima donnas. However, Harry’s money troubles go beyond the casino as his current investors (Delroy Lindo, Jon Gries) are demanding their money back. Now Harry and Chili are caught between the investors and Chili’s mob boss from Miami, Ray “Bones” (Dennis Farina), who comes calling to finish Chili’s original job.

Get Shorty is a who’s who of Hollywood in the 90s. Along with Travolta, Hackman, Lindo, and Farina, the film co-stars Rene Russo as a washed up B-movie actress looking to make a comeback as a producer with Chili and Harry. Also starring is Danny DeVito, Hollywood’s it-man and potential star of Chili and Harry’s flick. Guest stars and cameos abound with James Gandolfini, David Paymer, Bette Midler, Alex Rocco, Harvey Keitel, and Penny Marshall all making an appearance. Even though Travolta is the star, the movie is a true ensemble piece.

Get Shorty snaps with dialogue that oozes the swagger and cool of Elmore Leonard. The funniest moments come when people get in too deep and way over their head—from Harry thinking he can handle the mob on his own, to “Bones” thinking he can do anything without consequences. Perhaps the true highlights, though, are all the jabs and barbs slung at Hollywood, painting the business as full of people who don’t know what they’re doing. The film implies that as long as you have cash, you can be a Hollywood producer—you don’t need to know anything about making a movie; all you have to do is hire someone who does.

The pitch perfect cast and the snarky humor make Get Shorty the ultimate insider comedy that is not to be missed. Now you can rent Get Shorty throughout the Labor Day weekend in SD, HD, or HDX for just 99 cents. From 9/3 through 6/6, you can watch this film and 24 others, including New Releases like “Cop Out” and “Green Zone”, as part of our Labor Day sale. Go to “Explore Catalog” and select the collection “Labor Day Weekend 99c Rentals.”

DID YOU KNOW?

Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Keaton, Al Pacino, and Bruce Willis all turned down the role Chili Palmer. John Travolta was going to turn down the role as well, until Quentin Tarantino convinced him to do it.