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Trailer Reviews for September 28, 2012

LOOPER



Hmm. Well, I recognize that I probably should be excited for this movie. It’s an actiony science fiction story. I love those. However, I’m not thrilled about the Joseph Gordon-Levitt factor or the Bruce Willis factor (I think they’re both merely okay – nothing to get excited over). And I’m definitely not thrilled about the time travel factor, because 99% of movies that deal with time travel end up breaking their own rules and not making any sense. The likelihood of a screwup is even higher with this one, since he’s chasing after himself. I dunno, a friend of mine swears it’s good, but I just can’t shake the feeling that it’ll only blow your mind if you don’t think very hard.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA



Haha, now this one I’m looking forward to seeing. The first trailer wasn’t great – it followed that irritating Pixar practice (this is not a Pixar movie) of not giving away any hint of plot in the teasers. But the full trailer reveals the existence of the daughter and now I can see it’s actually got a story – he’s kind of like Nemo’s dad, trying to keep his kid from getting hurt in the big bad world, only with an Addams Family twist. I freaking LOVE the Addams family, and this movie looks pretty funny. I love the bingo lady monster. So I’ll probably pick this one over Looper, even though I probably should see Looper… oh well, this is why it’s great not having a boss to tell me what to review.

PITCH PERFECT



Call me crazy, but I actually kind of want to see this one, too. Sure, it’s the same “oh we’re a (insert activity here) team and we really need to win (insert name of competition) if only we can get our act together and get us some boy/girlfriends” plot that they use in every movie related to a sport or contest, but it just seems so… funny. The rape whistle joke is pretty clever (and spot on, if I’m remembering college correctly) and that Australian girl from Bridesmaids is HILARIOUS. I think that sets it apart from all the Step Ups and Joyful Noises out there. So I’d watch it, just probably not this week.

WON’T BACK DOWN



Dang, I wanted to see this one as well! I’ve been interested in movies to do with the (American) school system since I saw Waiting for “Superman”, and this is kind of the Waiting for “Superman” version of Erin Brockovich. It’ll make me cry. I know it. These kinds of movies all do. I think that’s probably why I go to them. Plus it’s a true story (as true as these movies ever get, anyway), and Maggie Gyllenhaal is a total ass kicking mom. What more could you want? I’d say I’ll save it for another week, but with the coming weeks stacked up with Frankenweenie, Argo, Cloud Atlas, Wreck-It Ralph, and Skyfall, it’s not looking like I’ll get a chance. Maybe I’ll have to save this one for the DVD release.

INESCAPABLE



Oh my god! It’s Doctor Bashir! I need to see this movie. I don’t think I’ve seen this guy since Deep Space Nine… actually, no, that’s a lie. He was in Cairo Time, which was so boring I don’t think I even watched the whole thing, so you’ll understand if the same director’s name being attached to this movie doesn’t make me jump for joy. In fact, he may be the only person in the world who can lift the “missing daughter in another country” concept from Taken and make it boring. Which is quite a feat, when you think about how dangerous Syria can be. Lots of quiet meetings in dark parking lots, very little throat chopping, though the last few seconds of the trailer look promising. I guess we’ll see.

ARBITRAGE



Wait, was that his wife he was making out with or a mistress or something? I’m confused. I guess I zoned out when they started talking about money and business and all that boring stuff I don’t really care about. Anyway so then he gets in a car crash… and runs away? Because…. why? Because he was drinking? Because he crashed the car on purpose? Because he’s afraid of cops? What is it? And what does his running away from an accident have to do with his money going missing or getting frozen or whatever? This trailer is confusing. Thankfully it’s a limited release so it’s not even going to come near me.

THE MASTER



Ohhhh right! This is that not-Scientology movie that has all the Scientology nuts up in arms. I’d go see it just for that. But I have to say the trailer doesn’t make it seem like much. They barely even give you any plot. I feel like I have to fill in the blanks for you. There’s a guy, he comes back from World War II, he joins a cult, the cult is a stand in for Scientology, bad cult sh** goes down. It sounds good, but from what I understand it’s done in a really jumbled up style (much like the trailer) that makes it really annoying, so maybe I won’t watch the whole thing after all. Later, I mean. It’s only a limited release.

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of In a Better World, a Danish movie about bullying, revenge, and working in a refugee camp as well as a 12 minute short called When You Sleep by a New Waterford filmmaker.

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Trailer Reviews for September 7, 2012

THE WORDS



This sounds a bit like a novel I read once… I think it was one of Philip Margolin’s… but maybe I only think that because there are so few stories about plagiarism. Inexperienced writers are always paranoid about people stealing their ideas but one of the first things we were taught in film school was that our ideas just aren’t that good. If you’re a writer you have too many of your own ideas to get through them all in your lifetime anyway, so you’ve got no need to steal anyone else’s. But having said that, I still really want to see this movie, even though I don’t really care for either Bradley Cooper or Zoe Saldana. It’s the Jeremy Irons/Ben Barnes part of the story that I want to hear about. What happened to him that made it such a great book that Bradley Cooper’s character just HAD to steal it?

THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY



Geez, how many times have I seen this movie or read this book? There’s a person, they’re all nice and normal, then all of a sudden their family is kidnapped and they magically morph into Liam Neeson and become a killing machine, mowing down armies of bad guys in their quest to get their family back and/or protect some arbitrary McGuffin they’ve been entrusted with by a relative who just happens to have a background in espionage. And the trailer features them jumping off a roof. Henry Cavill is supposed be one of the “it” guys of the moment, so I’ve got to wonder – did he decide he wants a house in Palmdale or something? Otherwise, why did he pick this totally cookie cutter script out of all the things he’s probably being offered?

BEAT DOWN



I had a really hard time finding a trailer of the correct film to post on here, so that should tell you something about how widely it’s going to be released – as in not very. It’s about wrestling (possibly my least favorite sport) and it stars that guy from Trailer Park Boys (possibly my least favorite show), so you can probably also guess that I won’t be beating a path to the theater to see this film. It’s about a girl being a wrestling prodigy (even if it is that super fake wrestling they put on TV) so there is something appealing about it, but I think I’d rather just pop in my Whale Rider DVD instead. Same story, less wrestling, more better.

COMPLIANCE



Okay, really? Some random guy on the phone claiming to be a cop tells a fast food restaurant manager to strip search her employee, AND SHE DOES? Not only the manager but the employee falls for it too? No one thought to hang up and call the police station? Or tell the supposed cop to get off his ass and come down there if he’s got investigating to do? Or – I don’t know – PRESENT SOME SORT OF EVIDENCE BESIDES THE SECOND HAND WORD OF A SUPPOSED CUSTOMER that the employee had done something wrong? How dumb are they? And this happened in real life, if you believe the “inspired by true events” part. It looks like an interesting movie. I want to know how it turns out. But I worry that the characters will come off so stupid that I can’t find it in me to give a crap about what happens to them. If that happens I’ll probably end up turning it off halfway through.

FAREWELL, MY QUEEN



I don’t know why everyone is so fascinated by Marie Antoinette. She doesn’t seem like a particularly nice, active, or observant person, but she did get her head cut off, so that will have to suffice. There’s always a gimmick with Marie Antoinette movies. Last time it was that she was wearing Converse sneakers. This time it’s that she’s a lesbian. The story still ends the same way, though, so I don’t see why I need to watch it again. Plus, this movie looks like it will be boring – a lot of lounging luxuriantly around, having “meaningful” conversations (i.e. talking with way too many pauses), or spying from behind potted plants while OTHER people do these things. No thanks.

Also, if you’re in Sydney on Thursday, Sept. 6 at 7pm you can catch the Cape Breton Film Series showing of Beasts of the Southern Wild. It’s a dreamily nonsensical pseudo-realistic drama about the Hurricane Katrina aftermath.

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DVDs for September 4, 2012

The Five Year Engagement

Don’t let the “from the producer of Bridesmaids” fool you: this movie is nothing like Bridesmaids except that it involves a wedding and there’s pink on the box. The Five Year Engagement, which is about a couple (Jason Segel and Emily Blunt) who keep having to put off their wedding for their careers, is much tamer and less funny than Bridesmaids. Like their engagement, it’s also a little too long. Most comedies clock in at 90 minutes but this one is a full two hours… of blah. Rent it only if you’re not expecting much.

Buy The Five Year Engagement on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Safe

Most action movies revolve around some sort of McGuffin that everyone wants, and Safe is more of the same. The McGuffin is a little girl with a photographic memory who was shown a code so she would remember it (I guess no one had a camera handy). Then she got conveniently misplaced and every gang in the world is looking for her. Jason Statham just happens to be in the right place at the right time to find the McGuffin which just happens to be a great way to get back at the people who just happened to ruin his life. I guess if you’re really bored, watching this movie is a way to pass the time, but so is watching a bug crawl across the floor. And the bug is free.

Buy Safe on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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Piranha 3DD

The original Piranha was a so-terrible-it’s-funny horror movie from the 1980s. In 2010 they made a tongue in cheek remake that was actually pretty good. Piranha 3DD is the terrible sequel kicked from the mouth of the dead horse that was the Piranha remake. Piranha was funny and so was the remake, but it’s a joke that only works once. Besides which, this one, which is about some piranhas loose in a water park, has no idea what the other movies did to be funny. It just copies the part where the plots were stupid. A painful waste of 83 minutes.

Buy Piranha 3DD on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Criminal Minds: Season 7

I know there are plenty of other TV shows you think are more worthy of attention, but if you aren’t watching Criminal Minds, you should be. It follows the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, which flies around the country helping local police departments by profiling and catching serial killers. Most of their cases are inspired by real serial killers like the BTK killer and Robert Pickton and you get a lot of cool psychology facts. Not a lot carries over between episodes so you can pick it up anytime, just don’t watch it before bed when you’re home alone if you actually want to sleep.

Buy Criminal Minds: Season 1 on DVD.

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Double Feature Review: The Apparition and The Possession

posters for the Dark Castle Entertainment film The Apparition and the Ghost House Pictures film The Possession

There are two horror movies with titles that start with “the” and follow with a ghosty word: The Apparition and The Possession. I’ve seen both in the last week, and considering that I almost bought (another) ticket to The Apparition when I went to see The Possession because it’s easy to mix up their generic titles, I figured I should review both just in case you also end up staring at the screen wondering which was the “good” one.

The Apparition
A thought experiment goes wrong, bringing a malevolent being into our dimension, where it haunts a young couple in their new house.

The Possession
A divorced dad turns to the Hasidic community for help when his daughter displays unnatural behavior after buying a wooden box from a yard sale.

This review will be the story of two movies: a failure and a success. One that had an innovative idea that went nowhere (The Apparition) and another that followed a well worn pattern but did it well (The Possession).

Read More

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Trailer Reviews for August 31, 2012

LAWLESS



I knew before I even laid eyes on this trailer that I didn’t want to see this movie. For starters, it stars Shia LaBeouf (also known in some circles as Shia LaDouche). He is the least badass actor that I can think of yet people still keep hiring him to act like a badass. (It’s not working. Stop it.) The second thing that turned me off was that it’s about a bunch of criminals whom we are supposed to think of as heroes simply because the villains are slightly worse than they are. I hate watching these kinds of anti-hero movies because I just can’t bring myself to give a crap about a bunch of moonshine bootleggers who end up on a killing spree because some corrupt sheriffs want some of the money they’re making on their illegal enterprise. So I guess you’ve figured out that I’ll be skipping this one.

THE POSSESSION



Oh hello, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Here I was thinking I wouldn’t see anything new this week because we aren’t getting anything worth watching, but I think I’ve changed my mind. I mean, this movie is so far so standard in terms of horror movie stories. There’s a kid. She touches something she shouldn’t. She becomes super creepy and possessed. Everyone tries to explain it away. Sh** gets real. People get killed. Religious experts get consulted. And the ending is either tragic or ambiguous. And then they try to say it’s a true story because it’s based on some story the writer overheard at a coffee shop that supposedly really happened to the the friend of the nephew of a lady from the teller’s knitting club. But it’s got Jeffrey Dean Morgan in it, and that’s enough for me. Besides, maybe it will even make me jump a few times.

FOR A GOOD TIME CALL



Wow, 24 seconds in is all it took to convince me I wouldn’t like this movie, even though I got a favorable impression from the blurb. It’s not a record. In fact, it’s a depressingly common occurrence. I watch 5 or 6 trailers every week for this thing and I’m lucky if I turn up one movie I actually want to see. I haven’t laughed at a bodily function joke since I was about 12, but apparently I’m in the minority here because these “raunchy” or R rated comedy movies just keep getting made. Okay, so this one is mostly sex jokes, which I can deal with if they’re actually funny, but the jokes in this trailer are all so standard as to be boring and I keep feeling like they’ve made this movie before, except with actors whose performances weren’t phoned in (if you’ll excuse the pun).

ROBOT AND FRANK



The blurb for this one sounded interesting, but then again, so did the one for For a Good Time Call. I hoped the trailer wouldn’t let me down like the last one, and by seven seconds in, I already knew that it wouldn’t. Because that tiny skinny car is HILAROUS. I’d go see this movie just to see that car again for longer (I should mention that I once chased a tiny three wheeled truck down the street in Amsterdam because I wanted to take a picture and giggle over it forever). Anyway, this movie has several things going for it. It’s funny, James Marsden is in it, and Richard Nixon trains Asimo to become a jewel thief AND THEN THEY GO ON THE RUN TOGETHER. Even I couldn’t think of anything that priceless. So naturally my theater’s not getting it.

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Trailer Reviews for August 24, 2012

PREMIUM RUSH



I hate the title of this movie. It just sounds all wrong for an action movie, even a dorky one where the principals ride around on bicycles yelling at people like a bunch of unruly teenagers. It’s not the rush part that bothers me. It’s the “premium” part. It brings to mind mortgages and fancy things, not gritty pulse pounding action. I might not let the title sour me on the whole film, because I like bikes. Biking can be cool, when you go fast and do tricks and stuff. But I just can’t understand why a bike messenger would risk his life delivering some random envelope, like he lives by a medieval bike messenger code of honor: “give me delivery or give me death!!” Give me a break. I’ll be skipping this one.

HIT AND RUN



Oh ew, Bradley Cooper with dreadlocks? No thank you. In fact, this whole trailer has a really high “ew” factor – Dax Shepard with facial hair, naked old people (how did they convince those people to appear nude in a film?!), and WAY too much casual talk about rape. I can see that it’s trying to be a raunchy comedy, but mostly it’s just racist, insensitive, and gross. There’s no way I’m going to see this.

THE APPARITION



Oh yes, I remember this movie now. It’s the one where Draco Malfoy is trying to be a grown up by looking and sounding nothing like Draco Malfoy. Seriously. I had no idea that was even Tom Felton. Well done, Tom Felton. The movie, however, reminds me a little too much of the Mythbusters episode where Tori, Grant, and Kari tried to find out if plants were psychic by thinking angry things at them and seeing if they wilt (news flash: they don’t). But premises are just excuses to kill people anyway, so how well does The Apparition do that? Pretty well, actually. That thing in the dryer looked a little too much like the girl from The Ring, but I’ve never seen anyone smothered by their own sheets before. I’ll keep it in mind for Halloween.

QUEEN OF VERSAILLES



If you think YOU had a tough time during the mortgage crisis/recession, what with losing your retirement savings, the bank foreclosing on your home, and having to stand in line at the food bank you used to donate to, this movie would like you to know that your suffering is nothing compared to these people, who had to give up their dream of owning a home with thirty bathrooms that rivals the French royal palace in size. For shame, how could you be so selfish!? Obviously, for your oversight you should have to pay $11.50 to sit through a movie about this vapid woman, who tragically seems not to realize how vapid she is. Maybe you’ll get a few laughs out of it. I think it would just make me depressed.

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DVDs for August 21, 2012

The Dictator

Sacha Baron Cohen is known for making movies that polarize audiences – either you love it or you hate it. This one, which is about an imaginary Middle Eastern dictator who goes to New York prevent the UN from introducing democracy to his country, is probably the most outrageous. It is likely to piss you off if you are: Middle Eastern, involved in politics, offended by racism, made uncomfortable by crude humor, opposed to movies that set a bad example for youth, or over thirty. So will you like it? Consult the previous list.

Buy The Dictator on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Chimpanzee

Every year Disney makes a cute animal movie for Earth Day. This year’s was Chimpanzee. While chimps aren’t as cute as baby cheetahs or even elephants, the story of little Oscar the chimp is adorable. His mom is killed in attack by a rival clan and Oscar has trouble being accepted after that until a cranky old alpha male adopts him. Though it’s a documentary, don’t expect much in the way of education on chimps – Tim Allen does the narration in a Meerkat Manor sort of way, making jokes and giving the chimps human motivations. African Cats is better.

Buy Chimpanzee on Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack
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A Separation

This movie, which is set in Iran, follows a married couple who are arguing over whether or not to emigrate. She wants to leave and give their daughter a chance at a better future, he wants to stay because he feels obligated to look after his father, who has Alzheimers. Though the movie deals with a lot of issues that are specific to Iran, the central question of whether or not to stay together when you’ve got such different goals is something a lot of people can relate to. If you’re looking for something different to watch, check out A Separation. It won the best foreign language film at the Oscars.

Buy A Separation on DVD or on Blu-Ray.


Tiny Toons: How I Spent My Vacation

I almost fell over when I saw this movie in the list – it seems like I’ve been waiting forever for it to come out on DVD. It’s a special movie from the 90s cartoon show Tiny Toon Adventures that follows the characters during the summer. Buster and Babs get courted and almost eaten by alligators after getting swept downriver, Hampton and Plucky pick up a hitchiking serial killer on their way to Happy World Land, and Fifi dates a movie star who’s in love with himself. Really clever, really funny, really worth watching, even if you’re not nostalgic for 90s TV like I am.

Buy Tiny Toons: How I Spent My Vacation on DVD.

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DVDs for August 7, 2012

The Lorax

Dr. Seuss stories are always really bonkers and have some sort of message, but The Lorax, which is about a boy from a polluted world who finds out how much better things used to be when an orange monster shaped like a peanut protected the trees, is probably the most message-driven. It’s cute, there are original songs, Zac Efron is in it, and there’s also a lot of clever satire aimed at commercialism to entertain the parents, so this is a movie you can watch with your whole family. Check out my full review to hear more.

Buy The Lorax on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

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Bel Ami

Robert Pattinson is working hard to not be typecast as a sparkly vampire. He’s been an elephant tamer (Water for Elephants), a mobster (Cosmopolis), a crazy painter (Little Ashes), and now a slutty period soldier who bones everything that moves in order to move up in Paris society (gee, any guesses as to how that’s going to turn out?) So it’s kind of like Dorian Gray, but without the magic painting. His woodenness (if you’ll forgive the pun) in this one doesn’t do much for the film he’s carrying, so I’d recommend you only rent it if you’re a big fan of the Twilight movies.

Buy Bel Ami on DVD
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Marley

Famous musicians have no end of biographies, official and otherwise, made about their lives, but this one bills itself as the “definitive” story of Bob Marley. They can say this because he’s dead (and therefore not going to do anything else) and because they have access to his family and his old interview footage. But they spend so much time talking to people who are not Bob Marley about how they were affected by Bob Marley that it almost would have been more accurate to call it The Bob Marley Legacy or something. Check it out if you’re a fan though.

Buy Marley on DVD or on Blu-Ray.
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One Direction: The Only Way is Up

While I’m glad to see anything loved by under-10s that is not Justin Bieber, you should know that this documentary was out of date by the time it was released – these pop things usually are unless the subjects are dead. It’ll be even more out of date when their fifteen minutes of fame are over and they’ve disappeared back into obscurity. Perhaps they’ll make another documentary about that process called The Only Way is Down. For now, though, get this for your tween daughter if you want to buy a brief moment where she acknowledges and appreciates you.

Buy One Direction: The Only Way is Up on DVD.
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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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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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