Love Actually, The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, The Sack of Rome 


click to enlarge Love Actually

Love Actually (R) (Blu-ray)


Love Actually isn't a great holiday movie because it's about the holidays; it's a great holiday movie because it is the holidays. At 135 minutes with a good 30 to 40 on top of that in deleted scenes, Love Actually overstays its welcome; its entire visit, in fact, hums with a barely detectable tension and discomfort that can have you wondering if it's you who has gone crazy, or them. (Who invited the porn stars, and why are we in Wisconsin now?) The film is maudlin, too: The tears start flowing way before the eggnog does. Cue a weeping Liam Neeson and Emma Thompson mourning her marriage, all to the sounds of Joni Mitchell. Finally, like the holidays, Love Actually holds an irresistibly silly (and over-celebrated, as evidenced here by a new Blu-ray digital restoration only four years after the last one, with no new special features) place in our hearts. It's a pain in the ass, but as soon as the air turns crisp, we can't wait to dive in again. — Justin Strout

click to enlarge The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (NR) (Blu-ray)

Shout! Factory

Based on the wondrous gaslamp-fantasy comic books of Jacques Tardi and directed by underrated visionary Luc Besson, Extraordinary Adventures, sadly, was never screened in America. But with good reason: The French production is, without a doubt, one of the Frenchest movies ever made, with no care about world — especially American — markets. Which gives the movie its extremely unique strength. The absolutely transcendent Louise Bourgoin is the titular Adèle, a spunky proto-feminist adventurer who, between tracking down talking mummies and Parisian pterodactyls, contends with breaking her professor mentor out of prison to escape the guillotine. It's such a soufflé of whimsy that it's quite impossible to not fall in love with Adèle and the film. More so, it's a sweet change of pace from Besson's typical high-energy crime capers and irritating animated Arthur movies. Here's a toast to hoping for a sequel. — Louis Fowler

click to enlarge The Sack of Rome

The Sack of Rome (NR)


Long after the fall of Italian cinema, circa 1992, this ambitious costume epic starring the original Django, Franco Nero, was released and quickly forgotten. And it's quite a shame, because if one can look past the obvious budgetary constraints and hyper-stilted dialogue, there is actually a tense, brutal historical masterpiece in here. Based on the actual sacking of Rome in the 1500s, Nero portrays artist Gabriele da Poppi, a superstar in his time who believes that when the Germans and the Lutherans come to destroy the city, he will be safe — because, really, who kills artists? Well, after the murder of his wards, he learns that in war there is no place for creativity, only rampant destruction. Nero delivers an amazingly subtle performance, and alluring co-star Vittoria Belvedere is captivating as his model, who suffers the most at the hands of these monsters. The Sack of Rome is a rare gem, thankfully unearthed. — Louis Fowler


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