: What are you watching on DVD these days?
2010-11-27, 06:47 PM
The Kids Are All Right - Jules and Nic lead a comfortable, if somewhat dull, middle-class life with their two kids, Joni and Laser. Curious to know more about the anonymous donor whose sperm was used by both their moms to conceive them, the kids track him down and make contact with him. The donor, Paul - a pleasant single guy and a reasonably successful restauranteur - seems interested in connecting with Joni and Laser. Slowly but surely, however, his benevolent insinuation into their lives and family begins to have unintended consequences on Jules and Nic's relationship.
This rather shallow, clichéd and, occasionally, grating look at an alternative family doesn't live up to the hype surrounding it. Nevertheless, the movie is reasonably enjoyable and features some decent performances by both Julianne Moore and Annette Bening.
2010-11-30, 01:28 AM
(UNTITLED) - Adrian is a composer who specializes in disharmonic sounds. He's lucky if seven people show up at his concerts, and half of them don't walk out confused. His brother Josh is an artist whose work is beloved in hotel lobbies and corporate waiting rooms. He makes a good living.
Madeleine is a beautiful Manhattan gallery owner who subsidizes her love for non-commercial art by representing Josh.
As the three of them negotiate their own artistic ambitions, Madeleine falls for Adrian, Josh falls for Madeleine and Adrian just falls.
There's not a whole lot of plot here, just a bunch of wry observations about the foibles of the art world loosely strung together. Some of them are pretty funny.
2010-12-01, 09:58 AM
The Grocer's Son - Antoine is adrift in the city. He can't hold down a steady job. His tiny apartment is a mess. And he can't muster the courage to ask his neighbor, Claire, out on a date. But when his father, a grocer in a small rural village, suffers a heart attack and can't work, he must decide whether to leave his city life behind to take over the family business.
This French film is part of the Film Movement series of independent and foreign films of which a number of releases have just appeared at my local Rogers. It's a little slow at times, and Antoine isn't particularly likable, but the Provence countryside is beautiful and populated with quirky characters - a wonderful 90-minute escape for France-o-philes.
Alas, the quality of these dvds isn't the greatest.
2010-12-04, 02:01 AM
Ondine - Syracuse is a hard-luck fisherman. His ex-wife is a drunk, as is her new boyfriend. His daughter Annie is on dialysis and requires a kidney transplant. And around his tiny Irish fishing village, he's known as Circus the clown from his own raucous drinking days. But when he catches a beautiful woman in his net he can feel his luck changing. When she sings, the lobsters crawl into his traps and the salmon into his nets. His daughter is convinced he's caught himself a "selkie," a kind of woman of the sea of Irish lore.
Could such legend have a ring of truth?
This small, delicate Irish film by Neil Jordan has a lush charm that wraps you in its arms like a big Irish wool sweater. For two-thirds of the movie you want to buy into the fantasy that Ondine is a selkie and everyone will live happy, magical lives. But that would be too easy.
Fine performance by Colin Farrell as Syracuse; nice to see him going back to his roots.
Beautifully photographed, and a haunting soundtrack.
2010-12-09, 01:56 AM
In the beginning - When a small-time conman takes his racket of swindling construction equipment then reselling it to a depressed town in northern France, the locals begin to see him as a saviour who's arrived to kickstart an abandoned highway construction project. The lies quickly spin out of control and the conman soon finds himself the manager of the project in a race against time to finish the stretch of road before his ruse is exposed.
Francois Cluzet is a brilliant anti-hero as he walks the fine line between despicable exploiter of people's hopes for a brighter future and someone with just enough dexterity to deliver that future.
2010-12-11, 01:24 AM
Soul Kitchen - Zinos wants to follow his girlfriend to Shanghai, but who will run his restaurant, Soul Kitchen? His parolee brother? His enigmatic chef? Hijinks ensue, as does a whole lot of yelling. In fact, everyone in this German comedy directed by Fatih Aiken (who directed the most excellent The Edge of Heaven) seems to be yelling all the time. Maybe that's supposed to make them funny, but mostly it's just incredibly grating.
2010-12-12, 08:09 PM
Die Tür (The Door) - Five years after his negligence resulted in the accidental death of his daughter and subsequent estrangement from his wife, David can't bear to live another moment. Shortly after a foiled suicide attempt, he stumbles upon a secret portal which take him back through time to a point just before his world fell apart. The opportunity to undo his mistake - to save his daughter's life and his marriage - seems like a wish come true. As David quickly discovers, every wish, unfortunately, does have its price.
Although it's far from being a great movie, this modest, deliberately-paced German drama was fairly entertaining and, thankfully, it lived up to the promise of its premise. Mads "Le Chiffre" Mikkelsen was reasonably effective despite his relatively dull on-screen presence.
2010-12-24, 01:25 AM
Mesrine: L'instinct de mort - Vincent Cassel is Jacques Mesrine in this biopic about the notorious French bank robber whose take-no-prisoners approach to his life and crimes made him France's Most Wanted criminal in the 1960s and 70s. L'instinct de mort is the first of two movies that covers Mesrine's life from his service in the war in Algeria to his first heist to his exile in Montreal where he hooked up with members of the FLQ, kidnapped a wealthy businessman and then famously escaped from prison. The second movie is released Dec. 28.
Cassel gives a riveting performance as Mesrine, the France-Canada co-production is stylishly directed and beautifully art-directed. My only complaint is that it may try to do too much.
2010-12-24, 08:51 AM
Born on the Fourth of July is a 1989 American film adaptation of the best selling autobiography of the same name by Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. Tom Cruise (himself incidentally born on the 3rd of July) plays Kovic, in a performance that earned him his first Academy Award nomination. Oliver Stone (himself a Vietnam veteran) co-wrote the screenplay with Kovic, and also produced and directed the film. Stone wanted to film the movie in Vietnam, but because relations between the United States and Vietnam had not yet been normalized, it was instead filmed in the Philippines.
Born on the Fourth of July is considered part of Oliver Stone's "trilogy" of films about the Vietnam War — along with Platoon (1986) and Heaven & Earth (1993). The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Film Editing.
The film was a critical and commercial success, grossing more than $160 million worldwide and winning two Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards and a Directors' Guild of America Award.
Purchased this at XS Cargo, special edition, wide screen. went there to buy a cheap e-reader, place was wiped out - no e-readers left (bummer). Arrived home and promptly viewed, first thing. it's been years since i watched this classic. Willem Dafoe, one of my favs, does an excellant job ..and of course, as does Cruise. Outstanding film to add to your collection .. if you see it, go for it.
2010-12-26, 07:48 PM
Despicable Me - In order to prove that he's still the world's greatest villain, Gru plans to defeat his latest rival, Vector, by stealing the moon. Unfortunately, Vector has the shrink-ray gun Gru needs in order to execute his plan. What's a villain to do? Simple: He adopts three young cookie-selling orphans to help him unwittingly break into Vector's lair to steal the gun. The trouble with orphans - even for a villain like Gru - is that they have a way of breaking into your heart...
This is another non-Pixar animated film that tries too hard to be funny and ends up being mostly irritating. (Vector, in particular, was both stupid and irritating.) Thankfully, however, the story and characters improved enough during the last third of the movie to provide an enjoyable final act and ending.
2010-12-26, 08:37 PM
The Town - When Doug, a Charlestown (Boston) thief, falls for the woman his gang took hostage - and subsequently released - during their most recent heist, the life he knows becomes the life he no longer wishes to lead. He's prepared to leave the city forever and she's prepared to go with him, but there's just one more job he needs to do in order to square away all remaining obligations to his boss and his colleagues. If Doug can pull off the job and evade the persistent FBI agent who's out to bury him, his future looks promising...but getting there won't be easy.
This is a well-written, well-directed, well-paced and well-acted heist flick, one of the better movies I've seen lately. Kudos to director / co-screenplay writer / lead actor Affleck for making it work.
2010-12-27, 11:04 PM
Leaves of Grass - Bill, a straight-laced East Coast professor, is lured back to his hometown in Oklahoma by Brady - his estranged, dope-growing twin brother - who needs Bill's help to get out of a bind he's in with the Jewish drug boss up in Tulsa. Against his better judgement, Bill agrees to help Brady, unaware of the bigger bind his brother is about to get them both into.
This quirky and somewhat uneven dark comedy has a decent story and some good scenes and dialogue, but it is watchable mostly thanks to Edward Norton's skillful work with the lead roles.
2011-01-03, 01:34 AM
Mesrine: Public Enemy No. 1 - The bullets fly as Jacques Mesrine ego flies out of control once he's been declared France's most wanted criminal in the second part of the sprawling two-part biopic of the notorious bank robber from the 1960s and 70s. Vincent Cassel as Mesrine walks the edge of madness, abandoning the measured calculation of his early criminal career, emboldened by his ability to elude and evade the bumbling French police and justice system. Swapping disguises like shirts, he walks into police stations to determine what he's up against, agrees to interviews with journalists, all to fatten his reputation.
Not quite as enthralling as the first part, as all the prison escapes and bank jobs start to get a little repetitive, and our empathy for Mesrine dissipates as he tries to justify his criminal life as some kind of revolution against "the system."
2011-01-04, 12:47 AM
The Winning Season - Sam Rockwell is rescued from his job bussing tables at a local restaurant to coach a struggling high school girls' basketball team. An estranged father and husband, with a bit of an alcohol problem to boot, he's not exactly a great role model as he tries to whip his ragtag group into some semblance of a team.
After seeing this movie pop up on a couple of Top Ten lists for independent films from 2010, I was really rooting for this to be a hidden gem, but alas it played out more like a Movie-of-the-Week with swearing.
2011-01-05, 01:21 AM
All the Days Before Tomorrow - On her way back to Tokyo, when Alison visits her old friend Wes in Los Angeles it stirs up memories and reflections on their relationship in this lyrical little movie in which the only dramatic tension is whether they ever were or could ever become a couple. But along the way there are so many real moments and realized observations we can't help but root for them while overlooking the total absence of plot. Great natural chemistry between the two leads, Alexandra Holden and Joey Kern, beautiful cinematography and a lovely soundtrack make this one of the best movies about modern relationships I've seen in a while.
2011-01-13, 08:46 AM
Exit Through the Gift Shop: A Banksy Film - A French thrift shop owner named Thierry sets out to make a documentary about renowned and secretive graffiti artist Banksy, but along the way becomes a "successful" graffiti artist himself. Is all of this real, or a hoax? Either way, the film does provide a glimpse into the clandestine world of graffiti art where the artists have to lurk in the shadows to elude those who label their work vandalism, and the fickle nature of art itself, where someone declares "the next big thing," and buyers step up with credit cards in hand.
2011-01-15, 02:12 AM
Animal Kingdom - To say the extended family of 17 year-old Josh exists on the wrong side of the tracks would be an understatement. His uncles are under surveillance by the armed robbery squad of the police department, and their activities are coddled by his grandmother.
But when his mother dies of a heroin overdose, he must turn to them for help while fighting to stay out of their criminal embrace. The delicate push-pull relationship spins out of control when a family associate is murdered by police, and the uncles set out to avenge his death, enlisting Josh as an unwitting accomplice.
This grim Australian drama about a criminal family is propelled by a constant feeling of dread, as we root for Josh's survival yet know the familial ties are pulling him into their dark world. Tightly directed with an assured sense of confidence, the film never goes for the easy punch, instead weaving its way around and through the various twists of the screenplay to a climax that leaves us with conflicted emotions. Riveting viewing.
2011-01-22, 10:19 PM
Jack Goes Boating - Introduced to each other by Clyde and Lucy, their respective friends, Jack and Connie - a couple of socially-awkward adults - hesitantly develop a relationship each is eager to have, but which - as they watch Clyde and Lucy's long-suffering relationship slowly dissolve before them - each is afraid to enter into.
The somewhat clumsy dinner scene notwithstanding, this minimalist, leisurely-paced, character-driven drama - directed by and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman - was very enjoyable. Solid performances by the entire cast.
2011-01-26, 12:26 AM
Nice call eljay. I remember seeing the trailer for Jack Goes Boating last spring, filing it in my future viewing file, then forgetting about it until you gave it a shout out in the Oscar noms thread.
A quietly engaging, poignant, sweet little film that had me rooting for all the characters. Philip Seymour Hoffman shows real potential as a director, with a keen sense for subtlety and restraint, just tickling our funny bones enough to render the pathos of the story truly heart-wrenching.
2011-02-16, 11:58 PM
It's Kind of a Funny Story - Craig's a pretty typical teenager with pretty typical teenage problems: he's feeling pressure to get into the right college; he doesn't think he's popular; he pines for his best friend's girlfriend. But Craig thinks all these problems mean his life isn't worth living, so he checks himself into a psych ward for a bit of a "time out." There, he makes friends, meets a girl, and realizes his problems don't really amount to much. Duh.
Comedies about mental illness have to walk a fine line between playing people's problems for laughs and exploiting those problems for laughs; It's Kind of a Funny Story doesn't always stay on that line and it doesn't even generate many laughs.