Movie Reviews 2/13

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Circle Jerks: My Career as a Jerk
MVD Visual
On DVD: 12.11.12
A couple of months ago, I saw Henry Rollins do his spoken word show. During the performance, he talked about why Black Flag will never do a reunion show––how depressing it is to watch old men play music they wrote when they were 22. I initially disagreed with Rollins, but thanks to this documentary, I hope to sooner die of a lung infection than see Black Flag reunite, because the Circle Jerks did it all wrong. I could have honestly watched the first half of the movie about the music, the coke, the booze and the eventual recovery, and called it a riveting documentary: A firsthand account with primary-sourced clips and raw emotion. It all could have ended at the album, Wonderful, or fuckin’ VI. They could have lied to us and said that the Circle Jerks faded into glory. The last half of the film is a torturing, revolving door of new band members, new albums and a willful effort to “sell out.” Keith Morris is a legend, and I love his new band OFF!, but the man spends most of the movie in denial. Pick up this film and weep with me. –Alex Cragun

The Toxic Avenger: The Japanese Cut
Troma Entertainment
Street: 11.13.12
Troma Entertainment is a low-budget film company famous for being flag bearers in the “So-Awful-It’s-Funny” movie category. They’re even more famous for their boundless tastelessness, where they’ve mastered the art of gratuitously exploiting every offensive quality of film in exponentially fucked-up doses. For you newcomers, The Toxic Avenger was created by Troma President Lloyd Kaufman, and is one of their more popular productions, preceding three sequels and extended bonus releases, including this Japanese cut. The movie’s premise begins in Tromaville, a disorderly and crime-riddled town whose ridiculous crime rate makes places like Liberia seem all right. Our protagonist is Melvin¬, an innocent yet socially inept health club janitor who is relentlessly tormented by the club’s maniacal patrons. The ongoing tormenting sharply escalates and eventually causes Melvin to jump from the health club’s third-story window. A truck carrying multiple uncovered barrels of toxic waste (remember, it’s Tromaville) happens to be parked under Melvin when one of the barrels breaks his fall. Aside from being severely disfigured due to toxic burns, Melvin becomes endowed with super-human strength. Henceforth, he dons the name “Toxie” and seeks out gory revenge on all wrongdoers in the town in a superhero fashion. Enter the film’s crux.  So, what sets apart the Japanese version from the original? Honestly, nothing. There are four minutes of added footage, but it doesn’t substantially alter the plot.  The DVD intro is mildly amusing due to the “Engrish” style of mistranslated subtitles, but isn’t beyond decent. The only noticeable far cry is the 1.85:1 widescreen format whereas the original release is only fullscreen. This is a clear collectible if you’re a huge Troma admirer. If not, then you’d be better off with the original version, which is more common and is thicker with special features. –Gregory Gerulat