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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Takers, Buried, and Others on DVD Today

The screenplay credit for this movie always makes me laugh.
I refuse to believe this movie has a screenplay.
Takers represents the greatest irony in cinema last year - it's a heist film, right? Bank robbers, cops, but it's a heist film for the BET generation. But, the film is presented as acceptable, even notable, escapism. In that, we have our irony: the film's greatest heist has nothing to do with the story. It has to do with the near $60 million gross for the film. We, as a country, were taken.

More after the cut --
This week's DVD load seems to be another robbery waiting to happen, with the lone exception of Buried - the Ryan Reynolds film. More on that in a minute. I'm not done with Takers.

One thing I try to focus on when I do these DVD features, are of course the special features that come on the DVDs. Takers, comes loaded with two. A director, John Laussenhop, and cast commentary, and a music video for TI's "Yeah Ya Know". That's the theme song from the film. I swear, I'm not making this us. 

I usually try to give bad movies a little slack. I know the majority of them aren't aspiring for greatness, much like I said about Season of the Witch, but there's only so far that goes. Especially with crime movies, that are by nature supposed to engage and thrill. Here, we're engaged... but robbed. 

Also on DVD today, is Ryan Reynolds in Buried. The too-little-seen claustrophobic thriller that eased audiences into 127 Hours (perhaps). Reynolds plays an American truck driver whom, while in Iraq, is kidnapped and buried alive. He only has a matter of time before his oxygen will run out, and all he has is a cell phone (that's dying and in another language), a lighter, and a busted flashlight. How he survives for so long is extraordinary. 

The best thing about thrillers like this are that we can assume that this is based on true events. We might not ever know about it, or ever want to hear about it, but people go missing every day. Especially civilians in Iraq, who are harmed every day. It's nowhere near unreasonable to think this could have happened to someone, if not the exact way it plays out in the film. This does have to entertain, after all. That's the nature of the beast. 

Chris Sparling's stellar screenplay for the film has been at the center of some heated Academy Awards controversy.

He made an egregious boo-boo recently, by e-mailing Oscar voters and asking, directly, for consideration of his screenplay when they cast their ballots. Being that contenders are not allowed to directly campaign to the Academy members, his film no has little to no luck of being mentioned in a category where it so strongly deserves it. It's a screenplay Hitchcock would have killed for. And this is certainly the kind of film he would have made today. 

Special features include a 'making-of' feature called "Unearthing Buried" and the film's original theatrical trailer.

Also on DVD today...
God, they gave us a lot of crap this week. Buried and the soon to be mentioned Animal Kingdom are the only ones I would spend my hard earned money on. Hopefully the haul next week is twice as good as it should be. So, what we have left to contend with is this -

Stone - Robert De Niro, Milla Jovovich, and Edward Norton star in what I seriously consider to be one of the worst films of last year. A ham-fisted drama about convicted arsonist (Norton), his girlfriend (Jovovich) whom he employs to seduce his alcoholic parole office (DeNiro). Why? Honestly, the movie never fully explains it. 
Animal Kingdom - Ben Mendelsohn, the phenomenal Jackie Weaver, and Guy Peace head up this staggering Australian crime drama (take notes, Takers) about the complete loss of innocence amidst a myriad of interpersonal intrigue. It's a mafia thriller of the most intimate kind, and is certainly worth a look. It's Goodfellas, with a cooler accent, and probably more of a gut punch. There are things about this film, and Jackie Weaver's convincingly evil performance, that I have yet to shake. 
The Virginity Hit - The mockumentary from Andrew Hurland Huck Botko (his name promises more importance than he deserves) about four friends trying to get their virgin buddy laid. Offensive, for the most part, meditation on the "rite of passage" of losing your virginity. If you want a distressing version of what it means to be young today, this is the film you should see. But, if you want a cleverly made film about losing one's virginity, go with Easy A instead. Better performances, more heart, much better film. 
Freakonomics - A solid look into the current state of the economy, and the psychology that perhaps led us there. What Amazon has referred to as a "dream team of filmmakers" takes the book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and crafts an easy-to-watch expose on a not-so-easy-to-watch climate. 

More information about the above DVDs is available, just click the title to go to their Amazon pages. 

You deserve a movie. Go rent one. Just make sure its either Buried, Animal Kingdom, or Freakonomics. But, my money's going to Buried.