New on DVD

New on DVD

Black Dynamite
Rated R for sexuality/nudity, language, some violence and drug content
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

This parody of 1970 blaxploitation films stars Michael Jai White as Black Dynamite, an ex-CIA operative that seeks revenge for his brother’s death when he is killed working undercover on a drug sting.  Unlike other, more expensively produced parodies such as Undercover Brother and I’m Gonna Get You Sucka, Dynamite has fun reproducing the actual look and feel of the original genre with a premise that is too ridiculous to be believed.  Microphones getting in the way of shots, stunts going wrong and remaining in the film, bad acting, worse writing, and all of the whacked out racial stereotypes abound in this low-budget production.  This is not only one of the most clever films of the last year, but one of the funniest as well.  Some of the scenes had me in absolute stitches and forced me to rewind due to laughing over some of the dialogue.  While the ending is completely over the top, I still found it very enjoyable and refreshing.  Also, this film allowed me to finally forgive Michael Jai White for that atrocious performance in The Dark Knight.  A-

Coco Before Chanel
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and smoking
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Before she launched a fashion empire, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel started from humble beginnings and this story follows her rise to the top, but not further.  Audrey Tautou (Amelie) stars as the iconic designer whose complicated romantic affairs allowed her to do what she ended up being most famous for.  The film is a little slow, but even though I’m not the most fascinated by the fashion world, I still found myself very interested.  The performances were all very good, as is to be expected from a cast including one of the world’s most extraordinary actresses.  The production here is phenomenal with stunning cinematography and an exquisite musical score by Oscar-nominated composer Alexandre Desplat (Julie and Julia).  Story-wise, the film chose fiction over fact in many facets of her life in order to tighten the script, but this is forgivable as long as you understand that movies sometimes bend the truth to shape what works best for the script.  B+

Spirit Camp
Unrated but contains sexuality/nudity, graphic violence, and language
Available on DVD

Local filmmaker Kerry Beyer writes, directs, and stars in this low-budget indie horror flick filmed in Houston and just outside Cleveland, TX.  This cross between cheerleader and slasher-camp genres follows a group of beautiful young cheerleaders as they head to cheerleader camp deep in the woods.  The film delivers exactly what you expect: young cheerleaders, lots of violence, all with a B-movie look and feel.  With any luck, Houston might have itself a budding horror film star in Kerry.  Available right now only on