New on DVD: Local Teacher Conquers Florida Gunslinger!

Joshua Fox, $27.98 George Ratliff's movie, a sort of satirical take on Rosemary's Baby, came and went upon its release; seems no one got the joke about how parents (Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga, in this case) are scared shitless of their own children—especially the titular Joshua, played by Jacob Kogan like he's drained of blood. It was among the better films of 2007: a grim fable about how firstborns are envious of their siblings and how babies are little nightmare machines all on their own, robbing parents of sleep till Mom and Dad turn into irrational zombies wary of creatures who can't even walk or talk. Among the extras: Kogan's audition tape (he was born to play spoooooky), deleted scenes, and a never-before-seen Dave Matthews Band music video, which is scarier than anything in the actual movie. ROBERT WILONSKY The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters New Line, $27.95 This documentary about vintage arcade gamers, centering around Redmond schoolteacher Steve Wiebe, was a big hit at SIFF last year. So no surprise that a SIFF Q&A is included among the many extras on this single disc. Standing alongside Wiebe at other festival appearances are producer Ed Cunningham (a former UW football star) and director Seth Gordon (who grew up in the U District), so there's a strong Northwest core to King of Kong's obsessive game-geek proceedings. Wiebe and his rivals, chiefly the Aquanet-locked Florida gunslinger Billy Mitchell, are defiantly old school—in a way still stuck in their '80s youth. Asked by a filmgoer whether he logs as many hours on his Xbox console as he does practicing Donkey Kong in his garage, Wiebe replies, "I don't even want to test those waters." For these 8-bit warriors, part of what's cool about intricate screen patterns and point-gathering strategies is that they're so limited by the technology. Unlike endless sessions on multiuser online games, they can max out the primitive processor to reach the final "kill screen." Gordon and Cunningham are busy developing a feature version of this story, though they do provide a commentary track. Their remarks make clear how the Kong-centric rivalry was culled from almost 400 hours of video on a host of other retro games and eccentrics. (Watching the expanded interviews, one gains a sense—absent in the doc—that Mitchell is a bit more clever and self-aware about his aloof image, even cracking a smile or two.) A postscript on Wiebe and Mitchell trading high scores after the film's release takes the form of the famous Star Wars prologue crawl. More amusing, and more brief, is an animated history of Kong. Given that Nintendo of America is based in Redmond, and that Kong basically saved the company back in 1981, more information about the game's history and development would've been useful. What with the writers' strike, we may not see a King of Kong feature until 2009, meaning Paul Rudd might age nicely into the role of regular family man Wiebe. And for the arrogant, swaggering Mitchell? I'm now mentally casting Aaron Eckhart in a glorious helmet of glistening black hair. BRIAN MILLER 3:10 to Yuma Lionsgate, $29.95 In the end, James Mangold's remake of Delmer Daves' 1957 adaptation of Elmore Leonard's short story was a little overrated upon its release in the fall. Any movie with an ending that clumsy—wouldn't dream of spoiling it, except to say Russell Crowe's bad Ben Wade wouldn't have done that for Christian Bale's decent Dan Evans in a million years—doesn't deserve the free pass 3:10 to Yuma received. On second viewing, the thing's a little draggy, save for any scene featuring the kinetic Ben Foster; it plays like the world's slowest video game, with everyone getting picked off till there are but two men standing. And the extras don't do much to bulk up the package: three makings-of about the import of the modern-day Western and deleted scenes worth shooting off a log. ROBERT WILONSKY OHTER RELEASES Good stuff from TV includes the second season of Lars von Trier's The Kingdom and the sixth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Amanda Bynes is a pretty good tween clown in Sydney White. The acclaimed 1995 gay rights doc Ballot Measure 9 finally reaches disc. Must to avoid: Daddy Day Camp, Saw IV, and Nicole Kidman in The Invasion. (Couldn't they just have combined those three movies?) A John Frankenheimer collection from Fox includes The Manchurian Candidate and three lesser titles. Finally on DVD, Anthony Mann's 1961 sword-and-sand epic El Cid stars Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren; buy a bigger TV for that. Martin Scorsese helped with that latter restoration job (and provides an introduction); he also had a hand in the Val Lewton Collection, with six titles including Cat People. Mumblecore alert! Aaron Katz's Quiet City and Dance Party, USA are ready to reach eight more viewers. Oversold at Sundance last year was the twee Rocket Science, which later didn't sell many tickets. Right at Your Door never reached Seattle theaters, but the fallout of a 9/11-style disaster in L.A. carries creepy, intimate claustrophobia as a husband and wife debate who's contaminated and dangerous to whom. Upright liberal George Clooney narrates the sadly well-named Sudan documentary Sand and Sorrow. The sports movie spoof The Comebacks is best suited to getting stoned on the couch (laughs not guaranteed). And by contrast, Lindsay Anderson's 1963 This Sporting Life (from Criterion, natch) is one of the best jock flicks of the postwar era; Richard Harris is remarkable as a miner who can't quite extract himself from the coal pits while on the rugby pitch.

 
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