If there’s a filmmaker who could do with taking a holiday from himself, it’s Cameron Crowe.
Though there’s something admirable about his heart-on-the-sleeve approach to filmmaking, the Jerry Maguire director’s output of late has increasingly felt like a desperate tribute to his own method.
We Bought a Zoo is no exception. In building a story around a grieving widower (Matt Damon) impulsively buying a struggling zoo to help his kids get over the death of their mother, he’s esentially transformed an interesting true story (it’s based on Ben Mee’s own account of how he purchased Dartmoor Zoological Park) into a mushy metaphor for what it takes to bring a “Cameron Crowe movie” to the big screen. Even the predictable feel-good ending – in which crowds line up for the big re-opening – feels like a hopeful plea for the audiences that didn’t show up to Crowe’s previous three flops.
Total Recall: Ultimate Rekall Edition (StudioCanal, £24.99)
IF the coming remake of Total Recall sounds like a bad Hollywood joke (one that has a ready-made punchline in the title of the Philip K Dick short story that inspired it, We Can Remember it For You Wholesale), this reissue of Paul Verhoeven’s deliriously entertaining original is a reminder that, amid the nobody-knows-anything chaos of Hollywood in the late 1980s and early 1990s, some mega-expensive blockbusters managed to slip through that actually felt subversive.
Made at the height of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s box office reign, its status as a star vehicle for the Austrian Oak was capitalised upon by a post-Robocop Verhoeven, who turned in a sci-fi film that was both intentionally silly and satirical. Dick’s visionary concept – ordinary man gets a memory implant that unlocks a repressed secret agent identity – becomes, in Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger’s hands, both an entertainingly gratuitous and violent action film and a goofy existential drama (“If I’m not me, who the hell am I?”).
On the extras, a new, lengthy interview with a verbose Verhoeven reveals how he made the film funnier to accommodate his star’s limited range – and there’s good stuff, too, about how the cutting-edge physical effects work has given it a unique look thanks to its status as the last big blockbuster before Schwarzenegger’s next film, Terminator 2, ushered in the digital era.
• To order these DVDs, call The Scotsman on 01634 832789
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