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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

True Grit, The Company Men, and Others on DVD This Week

They're on their way to buy The Company Men, too. 

It's 9:37, on a beautiful Tuesday evening in San Francisco. I'm listening to Bill Hicks bits on YouTube, and looking up this week's DVD releases. Coincidentally, one of them happens to be a documentary about Bill Hicks and the celebrity achieved after his death, not even 15 years later. It's also about the censorship struggles he faced during his career peak. It's called American: The Bill Hicks Story, and is available today. If you aren't familiar with Hicks' stand-up, do yourself a favor and watch this before you watch anything. His work was a game changer, and the template for less daring comedians like the Blue Collar Comedy Tour fellas to follow. 

Also released on DVD/Blu-Ray today - True Grit, the Coen Brothers ode to the old west and the film that made America collectively give up about $100 million; Rubber, the independent phenomenon about a tire with psychotic and psychic powers, and the mind of a serial killer; Sanctum, the one movie about the cave diving that nobody remembers seeing; Another Year, that Mike Leigh film that you might have heard about; Just Go With It, that Adam Sandler movie you won't admit to having seen; and The Company Men, the first "best movie" of 2011.

More after the cut--

True Grit - The Coen Brothers did something spectacular last year. They re-imagined a Hollywood classic, faithfully adapted a beautiful novel, and got the common moviegoer to pay for an "art film". Also, they proved the Western isn't dead. All while never abandoning what makes them The Coen Brothers. It's a sharply funny, brutally realized film about a little girl seeking vengeance on the man who killed her father. She enlists Marshall Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges, unintelligibly brilliant) and LeBeouf (Matt Damon) to help her. Along the way, the discover what the meaning of "true grit" really is. For my full review, click here.

Special features include - making of featurettes, and a retrospective on the cast. 

Sanctum - No. Just... no. In the same way that The Roommate blatantly stole from Single White Female, Sanctum gleefully rips from another terrible movie, albeit much better than Sanctum, but there you are. That movie is Vertical Limit. And if you haven't seen that, you're one of the lucky few. Sanctum concerns a group of cave divers, a financier, and his terribly obnoxious wife, who risk everything - including their lives, because we need a movie - to travel through one of the world's largest underground cave systems. Why? It never really tells us, even though it has its fair share of James Cameron's famous exposition dialog. A note - when you have to tag your famous producer to get people to see your film, you're better of not releasing it at all.

For my full review, click here.

Rubber - Firestone's second worst nightmare. A tire gets reanimated, sort of, with the telekinetic powers to kill people. Rather than just... bump into them, I guess. I haven't seen the feature, but I promised a review on it a while ago. So, I should probably get around to that. The tire's name is Robert (tire, in a well rounded performance*) and he was abandoned in the desert. When he wakes up, he realizes he can blow things up with his mind. I... why have I not seen this yet? It sounds like the perfect neo-Grindhouse black comedy. It's priced at about $15, but I really can't imagine anyone paying that much for it. If you're not looking to purchase it, I can promise even without having seen it, it'll be worth a rental for a night of MST3K with your friends, or the perfect "bad Saturday morning movie". 

Just Go With It - Again, another I haven't seen, but I'll admit to it when I do. Then I'll say three Hail Mary's and be clean of my sins. Of course, that might be a bit harsh. It's based on the same play that spawned the wonderful Cactus Flower starring Goldie Hawn, so maybe it'll have some positive moments? Then again, it's also been called one of Adam Sandler's lowest-brow comedies, and consider that's the man who gave us the cinemabomination Little Nicky, I'm worried that I might need more than a few Hail Mary's. The film's cast is appealing, somewhat - Sandler can be very funny; Jennifer Aniston is at least easy to watch; Nick Swardson is an unsung comedic genius. I'm just terribly worried about the fact that the film's title suggests a way of coping for the audience. "Yes, we know it's awful. Just... go with it."

Special features include - commentaries and making of featurettes.

The Company Men - The first "best movie" of the year. I remember seeing it and thinking it was a technically perfect film. It still holds up as such. The film tackles what it means to be laid off your job on the brink of a depression. If it were only directed by Ben Affleck, rather than just starring him, perhaps the emotional impact would have been deeper. But, that's neither here nor there. Nor anywhere, really. Affleck's performance cements him as an excellent actor, much like he's an excellent writer/director. The man is officially an American treasure, I'd say. The film benefits from the supporting casts' performances as much as it does his, though. Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Maria Bello... they all shine and give award worthy work. I expect I won't be the only one to love this forever. 

For my full review, click here.

Another Year - It's unfortunate, and almost unforgivable, that I have yet to see this. I'm a gigantic Mike Leigh fan, and a huge fan of Jim Broadbent's whose performance is said to be spectacular. But, the real star of the film seems to be Leslie Manville, who sprinted into the awards season earlier this year and got a great bit of attention. The film itself, minus Manville, went on to compete for a surprise Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination. 

I'll be seeing this one soon, as well. I owe it to myself, I'm told. 

American: The Bill Hicks Story - No, I haven't seen it. I wasn't even aware it existed until researching for this article. But, it does exist and I'm thrilled. People need to learn more about the dangers of American censorship, and how it causes a ripple effect. It's more rare for people to become censored now, but it still does happen, and all over the world, no less. Bill Hicks was a brilliant comedian with a lot to give. Unfortunately, he passed in his prime. His work still lives on, however, being quoted all over the internet by people who don't even know who he is. That's real stardom. 

Seriously. Check it out. You'll be thankful you did. 

There you have it, folks. Seven movies, seven days until the next batch. Go grab each of them and chug 'em down. Anything you're interested in picking up this week? I'm recommending True Grit and The Company Men above the rest, but far be it from me to tell you you shouldn't watch something. 

Thoughts on the new format for these articles? Does it suck? It might. I won't know until you tell me.