Friday, June 08, 2007

Camera Obscura - Extended Tom Hanks Pop-Fest; 'Diggers'; Raimi's FEARnet

Two movies fresh to DVD are very much worth the time (and money), one a new indie feature and the other is a massive extended director cut for "That Thing You Do!", written and directed by Tom Hanks, which tracks a 60s-era pop band as they rise and fall.

I highly recommend the Extended Cut for "That Thing You Do!" which was always infectious fun in it's first release. The story follows a 1964-era wanna-be pop band who move from the garage to national stardom in a rapid rise. The rise and the effects of sudden fame do not, however, detail a weird decent into excesses and self-destruction. Hanks, as both writer and director, keeps the focus on how both success and failure and the fleeting nature of fame are met with grace, how the characters treasure the joys the success brings, and how the bonds of friendship endure. Yeah, the movie isn't about people imploding, but about the optimism of the era.

This new DVD also contains the theatrical cut, but the Director's Cut is just a bit better. Either way, this is a real crowd-pleaser. What's new in the nearly 30-minutes of new footage? For one, the central character, Guy (Tom Everett Scott) gets a girlfriend we actually get to see, played by Charlize Theron. There are alos many more funny scenes about the band, about the record label's other acts, and a curious scene wherein manager Mr. White (Hanks) seems to be headed on a date - with a man.

Mix in the already great performances in the movie from Liv Tyler, Steve Zahn, Hanks and more. Hanks' script and direction are great examples of good character writing and sharp pacing.

Also of note, the tune, "That Thing You Do!" was penned by Adam Schlesinger, who has since gone on to play bass in the band Fountains of Wayne. You can order a copy of the movie by clicking on the banner below.


A recent indie feature which played to great response at the SXSW Film Festival last year is now on DVD and is titled "Diggers." The story here is one set in the mid-70s, about longtime friends all back in their Hamptons hometown on the East Coast and trying to make sense of how to continue a multi-generational lifestyle of being clam diggers. The ensemble cast includes Paul Rudd and Maura Tierney (and oh, what a crush I have on her - my brother in law Fred knows her and yes, I've sent messages via Fred that she rocks my world.) Where was I?

Oh yeah - "Diggers" is both dramatic and funny, a realistic slice of life about the burdens of traditioins, the yearning for freedom, and the effects of work and family and was written by (and features) KenMarino, who was a writer-performer on the cable comedy The State. Based partly on his own life, his story can be both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Here's a trailer for "Diggers:"

Order a copy of "Diggers" by clicking on the banner above.

: My thanks for getting to see both the above mentioned DVDs via M80. I love these guys who have sent me tons of great flicks in all genres and and I'm happy to say we'll continue to work together in the future!


The media empire created by Spiderman and Evil Dead franchises, director Sam Raimi, has expanded this week with the internet creation FEARnet. Web episodes, streaming movies, shorts, trailers, featurettes, behind-the-scenes, news and more from all things spooky from both newcomers and familiar filmmakers. The site started it's first web-series this on Wednesday.

I heart Sam Raimi.

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