Hercules in the Haunted World
Right before his career as one of horror’s greatest directors took shape in films like Black Sunday, Mario Bava made this 1961 sword-and-sandals pic. It’s arguably the best of the glut of similarly themed muscleman movies that came out of Italy in the late ’50s and early ’60s. This new DVD is the sharpest transfer we’ve seen, pulling together mythical elements, underworld ambiance, and dudes with really ripped arms.
Armored Core V
Before you even jump into this game, it’s good to know a thing or two about how robots work, because you’ll be spending quite a bit of time constructing some to take to the battle arena. Once you’re there, it’s a blast to see your creation in action. But stick with the online mode, since the game (available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) enters a whole other realm there.
My Week With Marilyn
Michelle Williams earned an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Marilyn Monroe during the making of The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier. She’s the best thing in this biopic, which gets a little too insider-Hollywood at times. It’s also nice to have Kenneth Branagh back doing what he does best, chewing scenery as the fussy and frustrated Olivier.
The One: The Life and Music of James Brown
The Godfather of Soul’s career is a long and winding one, and not easy to nail down. But RJ Smith does a great job gathering interviews, anecdotes, analysis, and perspective. Brown comes off exactly like you’d picture him: arrogant, demanding, a perfectionist, and a true genius. He earns his Hardest Working Man in Showbiz title, even when he got lazy. One of the year’s best music bios.
10,000 Maniacs: Our Time in Eden
Unlike so many of their ’90s alt-rock contemporaries, 10,000 Maniacs made warm and cozy music. Which makes this 180+ vinyl release of their final album with Natalie Merchant such a great listen. The horns driving “Candy Everybody Wants” pop from the speakers, and the guitars underlining “These Are the Days” crash and strum with new urgency. The details are both inviting and revelatory.