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DVDs for July 31, 2012

Detention

Have you ever watched The Breakfast Club and wished there were more murders? If you have, then Detention is the movie for you. It’s a horror comedy starring Josh Hutcherson in a neon 90s getup. He and his smart talking girl friend are part of a group of “quirky” teens that are stalked by a serial killer while they’re stuck in detention. It’s dripping with irony (the annoyingly self-conscious indie teen irony, not the smart kind) but it’s better than a horror movie that tries to play the same things seriously.

Buy Detention on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Le Havre

Le Havre is a French film about an old shoe shiner who finds an African refugee boy in a shipping container that was on its way to London and hides him from the police while he tries to track down the kid’s family. It’s one of those heartwarming indie stories that does well in the festival circuit but is also non-boring enough for regular people to watch because the characters have snappy, clever dialogue (not annoying clever, actual clever). If you don’t mind reading the subtitles (I did mention it was in French) then you should check it out.

Buy LeHavre on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Hatfields & McCoys

This is a History Channel movie about the most famous family feud in America, which occurred in Kentucky and West Virginia after the Civil War and almost caused ANOTHER civil war. It starts out with a friendship but the rest of the 290 minutes (it’s a mini-series) is taken up by eye for an eye hatred and violence, so if you weren’t tired of the whole thing going into it you sure will be afterward. It does have some pretty big names in it though – Bill Paxton, Kevin Costner, Jena Malone, and that girl who plays Crystal on True Blood so if you’re a fan you’ll probably want to check it out.

Buy Hatfields & McCoys on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


LOL

All these high school movies act like they’re the first movies in the world to discover boyfriends and breakups and be misunderstood by their parents. So basically, teen movies are like teens, but that doesn’t make them any less repetitive to watch. Miley Cyrus and her weird teeth break up with their d-bag boyfriend, fall for a girly musician, post it all on the internet, and then act surprised (or try to – they’re not good at it) when their parents find out. Ho hum, so dumb. Not to mention it’ll be outdated in 2.5 seconds because it’s loaded with technology and pop culture. Avoid.

Buy LOL on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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The Watch Review

poster from the Twentieth Century Fox film The Watch

This week was a terrible one for movies. I wish it had come just one or two weeks later so I could use being on vacation as an excuse for not seeing anything at all. Alas it’s the weeks of Total Recall and The Bourne Legacy that I’ll be away for, so I was stuck with seeing either The Watch or Step Up Revolution. They looked equally unappealing to me, so I let my friend Angella choose, and she picked The Watch.

Four guys join together to form a neighborhood watch to defend their sleepy town from invading aliens.

It sounds like a decent idea in theory. I like aliens. I like comedy. Theoretically I should like the movie. And my friend Angella did. But I didn’t. I may have smiled a few times and laughed out loud once, but that’s not acceptable for a movie that bills itself as a comedy.

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Trailer Reviews for July 27, 2012

THE WATCH



I really don’t want to see this movie. It looks stupid. I don’t like Jonah Hill. Most of the time I don’t like Ben Stiller either (Tropic Thunder is my one big exception). When the two of them are accosting that skateboarder at the police station, I want to leap through the screen and beat them to death just so they’ll shut their stupid faces. Vince Vaughan I can take or leave, and Richard Ayoade I’ve never heard of, but I’m inclined to like him because he’s British. None of this makes me eager to see yet another movie about a bunch of immature doofuses acting like immature doofuses, even if there are aliens involved. The problem is that the only other movie coming to my theater this weekend is Step Up Eleventy Billion, and I’m not sure that’s going to be more worse (or less better).

STEP UP REVOLUTION



I think they’ve actually lost track of how many of these films there are – either that or the numbers have become ponderously large – because they’ve stopped putting the sequel number in the title. This one is just called Revolution, which is following the “random r word” rule used by the Resident Evil series. The actual plot of this movie is incidental – they’re all so cookie cutter that my under-12 writing group at the library could write one. There’s a dancer. Somone doesn’t want him/her to be a dancer. He/she gets a boy/girl friend, this person encourages them to dance, there’s a dance off, the end. This time they threw in an “evil property developer” cliché. I’m not saying I haven’t enjoyed any Step Up movies, but if I have to sit through even one rendition of “International Love” without an escape route I may cannibalize the entire theater… not that there will be anyone else in it.

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD



The poster makes this movie look like an animated feature. So does the blurb, which goes on about bonkers things like holding together the fabric of the universe and prehistoric beasts on the loose. I mean, their names are ‘Wink’ and ‘Hushpuppy.’ So I was surprised when I hit ‘play’ on the trailer and found out it had real people in it. The kid’s pretty cute, but I’m still trying to figure out if this is a Melancholia sort of story (i.e. a pretentious poetic metaphor thing… possibly for Hurricane Katrina) or a Where the Wild Things Are sort of story (i.e. a weird kid living in her imagination thing). Judging from how many pretentious comments were left on YouTube and IMDB, I’m guessing the former.

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DVDs for July 24, 2012

The Deep Blue Sea

No, this is not a B-horror movie about a giant shark that eats people. It’s a British historical drama about a judge’s wife who’s having an affair with an Air Force pilot (I know, I would have called it something else too). Anyway, normally I would be like: overwrought affairs, draggy music, too much time spent staring at things in silence – forget it! But the people staring at things (often each other) are Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston, and they spend a lot of time making out, so there are at least two reasons to give it a try.

Buy The Deep Blue Sea on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Silent House

I know the box art makes this one look like a Japanese horror movie, but it’s actually French/American (it’s in English). It’s your standard haunted house scenario: some people go to a house, they think its fine, then they start hearing weird noises and all of a sudden they’re being attacked by mystical beings or serial killers or whatever. The gimmick is that it’s supposed to have been a true story that was shot in real time rather than in fits and snatches like a regular movie. Personally I don’t think it’s all that different, but if you’re into being startled, give it a try.

Buy Silent House on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Footnote

The Deep Blue Sea and Silent House are really the only English language films worth mentioning this week (I guess no one buys DVDs in the summer?) so on to the foreign films! This is an Israeli movie about a father and a son who are both professors in the same field (Talmudic Studies) and are always trying to one up each other – until one wins an award and the other gets the phone call! Then the son has to decide if he’d rather get along or correct the mistake and win the award. So it’s one of those family dramas that are also funny in a quirky sort of way.

Buy Footnote on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


My Way

This next movie comes to us from Korea and bills itself as the next Saving Private Ryan. It’s based on a true story about two boys from the same farm who want to be runners in the Olympics but end up being enemies in the war instead, fighting for like three different countries each before the thing is finally over. It’s pretty big budget, with airplane bombing scenes and cavalry and battlefields and stuff in addition to the sweeping epic friendship stuff, so if you’re into war movies and you’re quick enough to read subtitles, check it out.

Buy My Way on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Dark Knight Rises Review

poster from the Legendary Pictures film Dark Knight Rises

Batman Begins is one of my favorite movies of all time, but The Dark Knight disappointed me. With a 2 hour 44 minute running time, I was worried the third and final entry in Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot would be more of the same convoluted rambing that put me off of The Dark Knight. It didn’t help that the trailers were maddeningly tight lipped about the plot, which usually means it’s too complicated to sum up.

The city of Gotham falls prey to a masked villain named Bane as it anxiously awaits the return of the vilified vigilante known as the Batman.

But of course I went to the movie anyway because it’s Batman and I love Batman. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this movie was far superior to The Dark Kight and almost on par with Batman Begins: simple, direct, tight – The Dark Knight Rises was the perfect end to the trilogy.

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Trailer Reviews for July 20, 2012

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES



Batman has always been my favorite superhero and I loved Batman Begins, BUT I wasn’t tremendously impressed by The Dark Knight like everyone else in the world was. The story was a little too rambling and cluttered. I want to trust that this will be better, but I’ve had a look at the running time (2 hours 44 minutes!) and I just don’t think it will be. I think it will be worse. The trouble is that they give you so little to work with in the trailer(s) that the plot could be about anything. All we know is that Catwoman is in it, that Batman goes somewhere at some point. and that the ending will be so endy that it will not be possible to make anymore movies. Sounds nice and uplifting (not) but sometimes the darkest movies are the awesomest. I hope it’s the awesomest. Please be the awesomest. They really can’t justify keeping me in a theater for 2 hours and 44 minutes if it’s not going to blow my mind… can they?

MOVING DAY



I see there is only one film brave (or stupid) enough to face up against Dark Knight Rises this weekend: and I’ve never heard of it. Actually, I’m glad. It looks like something I’d actively avoid anyway. It’s my least favorite Mad TV alumni (Will Sasso) starring in a movie made by the creator of my least favorite TV show (Trailer Park Boys) about (one of) my least favorite subjects: losers acting like losers. Add that to the fact that it’s set in Canada (so it’s probably only going to be in a few theaters anyway) and you’ve got a movie that only the families and friends of the people involved are going to see – AFTER they’ve all seen Dark Knight Rises.

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DVDs for July 17, 2012

Friends With Kids

Most romantic comedies have very little effort put into them, which is why this movie seems so great in comparison. It’s a fairly simple story – two best friends who have seen what having kids has done to their friends’ marriages decide to have a kid with each other before going spouse shopping. It’s cute and funny and writer/director/star Jennifer Westfeldt has kids (with co-star Jon Hamm of Mad Men) so she knows what it’s really like. She doesn’t just copy-paste the same stereotypes as the phone-in jobs. It’s a great date movie. You can read more about it in my full review.

Buy Friends With Kids on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Lockout

“From the producers of Taken.” The box blurb says it all. From this we can understand that there will be a lot of violence, a plot that exists only to thinly justify said violence, and that the only women present in the script will be there for the purposes of being rescued. Sure, the woman is being rescued from a space prison, but that hardly justifies a comparison with Blader Runner (sorry, box-quoted reviewer). If you’re a sci-fi fan, this movie will only make you angry, but if you’re a fan of mindless violence you’ll probably enjoy it.

Buy Lockout on Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.
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Three Stooges

“Fun for the whole family!” proclaims the quote on the box, but I think they may have paraphrased the review a little. The original probably said: “Fun for the whole family… if your family have all received frontal lobotomies.” It’s difficult to imagine anyone over the age of four finding any of the imbecilic humor in this film funny. Even people who are die hard fans of the original stooges will probably turn it off before it’s over. Thin, episodic plot, poor acting, cringe worthy jokes, this movie is a stinker unless you’re still in diapers.

Buy Three Stooges on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

I’m a sucker for shiny box art, so can I just take a moment to say how nice this one is? All blue and sparkly…. Anyway! The movie! The movie is about a salmon expert (Ewan McGregor) who is paid to introduce salmon into a Middle Eastern river so a rich sheik can pass along his love for fishing to his people. Never mind that everyone thinks it’s impossible – the politicians want it done, so they’ve got to find a way. It’s one of those movies that’s both heartwarming and hilarious, so do check it out, even if you don’t like fishing.

Buy Salmon Fishing in the Yemen on Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack.

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Trailer Reviews for July 13, 2012

ICE AGE 4: CONTINENTAL DRIFT



I’ve missed a few Ice Age movies but I’m going to have to see this one. It’s the only new film coming to my theater this week. I suppose I could go back and review Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter but that’s a few weeks old now and I don’t remember Ice Age being THAT bad. In fact, I love Scrat. I would watch Scrat: The Movie as long as he actually got to eat that frikkin’ acorn at the end of it. It’s the other characters I’m not that fond of. I wouldn’t want to be, oh say, trapped on an iceberg in the middle the ocean with them. That would be annoying. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like there’s another choice. Let’s hope there’s lots of Scrat in this film.

COLLABORATOR



I hate movies about hostage situations, but I’m not really sure this qualifies as a hostage situation. It’s more like two guys drinking a few beers and sharing all their secrets (you know, like camping) except instead of sitting around a campfire they’re in a house surrounded by cops. I guess it was cheaper to film that way. I still don’t think I’d see it, though. It reminds me too much of the weird guys who want to tell you their sordid stories of addiction and major life mistakes when they find out you’re a writer (yes, this has happened to me). I don’t see why I would seek out something that would make me feel that uncomfortable again.

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DVDs for July 10, 2012

American Reunion

It feels like I only saw this movie yesterday, but here it is, out on DVD already. It’s the fourth (or possibly millionth) entry in the raunchy American Pie series and it makes all of us who were in high school for the original feel like old geezers because the characters are back in town for their ten year high school reunion. If you liked the other films you’ll like this one too, but if you haven’t watched them (or haven’t watched them recently) the multitude of callbacks will be as lost on you as they were on me (I think I missed some of the middle films).

Buy American Reunion on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Senna

Ayrton Senna was a champion Formula 1 driver who was killed in a horrific crash when he was only in his 30s. This was ages ago, so I don’t know why it took so long to come out with a documentary about his life – especially since most of it was filmed before he was killed in 1994. Having said that: if you’ve ever wondered what possesses people to to drive at high speeds in open topped carbon fiber bullets, then this documentary is your best chance of getting answers. It’s a bit skewed (Senna is widely revered in Brazil) but fascinating nonetheless.

Buy Senna on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Flowers of War

If you’ve been wondering what Christian Bale is doing in between Batman movies, this is it (well, come of it anyway). He stars in this Chinese movie about a guy who poses as a priest in order to protect Chinese women from Japanese invaders in 1937 (yes, this is BEFORE World War II). This was during a period known as ‘The Rape of Nanjing’ so you can guess what he’s protecting all these women from. Being a film about rape and war, it’s pretty graphic, but it had huge box office returns in China and nominated for a Golden Globe and it’s the kind of film you really should see. So check it out.

Buy Flowers of War on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Being Flynn

I’m sorry, I know there are people out there who fall all over each other to praise Robert DeNiro, but I never, ever believe him in anything, mostly because he always has that same note of falseness in his voice. It fits in well enough in comedies but in a serious drama like this, he just ruins it for me. It’s supposed to be an adaptation of a memoir about a son (Paul Dano) who wants to be a writer reconnecting (through a homeless shelter) with his absent father, who also considers himself a writer. But all I see if Robert DeNiro being Robert DeNiro. Maybe you’ll see it differently.

Buy Being Flynn on DVD or on Blu-ray.

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Amazing Spider-Man Review

poster from the Marvel Studios film Amazing Spider-Man

Superheroes are “in” these days. So “in” that they’re revamping old film franchises like Spider-man, which, it could be argued, set off the modern superhero filmmaking trend in the first place only a few years ago. So why, instead of giving lesser known superheroes like, say HAWKEYE and BLACK WIDOW their own movies, are they making yet another Spider-Man film? This time they claim to have something new and different: parent drama.

The son of a famous missing scientist finds the secret to cross-species genetics, accidentally turning himself into a spidery hero and his mentor into a giant destructive lizard.

Another thing that’s different is that the movie is filmed in 3D, which does not matter to me. All that matters to me is the storytelling, so although I will admit the new film is more acrobatic than the old, and that it’s not a bad movie per se, it’s not different enough to justify its existence.

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