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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--

In Honor Of - Daniel Day-Lewis

Yes, he's insane. 

He's been called the world's greatest living actor. And while Al Pacino might have something to say about that, people aren't too far off. Of course, others will say that it shouldn't take a great actor two or three months to live as a character in order to act in a movie. 

I say - it isn't the preparation, it's the performance. He could have lived his whole life as Daniel Plainview, making sure every tick was perfect (which, by the way, it was). But, it's what's on screen that gets judged. I think. But, I only run a blog. What do I know, right? 

More after the cut--

Win Win

Rating: ★★★

He's still shocked he did Shoot 'Em Up.

Movies like Win Win don't really have a purpose. Movies don't need a purpose, in general, but Win Win also doesn't have a point. It is what it is, and it's there, so we have to accept that. Thomas McCarthy usually makes films with points; strong character pieces like The Station Agent and The Visitor. I think the point here might have been about winning, but... maybe I'm just over-thinking everything. Win Win is more of a loss/profit. Really, there isn't anything wrong with the film Sure, some of the performances are a bit... loose,  but mainly everything falls in to place. The problem with the film is that everything falls into place too neatly toward the end. For such a weird story, it needn't be this straightforward. 

More after the cut--

Monday, June 6, 2011

X-Men: First Class

Rating: ★★★

Even superheroes get ice cream headaches. 

It takes a certain kind of superhero film to get me going. They either have to be extremely operatic (consider X2: X-Men United) or grounded in gritty realism (The Dark Knight, anyone?). Thankfully, X-Men: First Class, dubbed by Richard Roeper as a "pre-boot" (you know, like "prequel and reboot"), found a way to be both without feeling contrived. The first two films, helmed by Bryan Singer, found that balance easily. Then Brett Ratner took over the franchise and made X-Men: The Last Stand completely cartoonish and unbearable. Then, Wolverine took a step closer to the realism that was required, but... well, managed to screw that up, too. Matthew Vaughn, who directed Kick-Ass last year, brings it back to good and manages to capture Bryan Singer's impeccable tone with his entry. It's funny, it's dark, parts of it are incredibly sad, and it's exciting. 

More after the cut--

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Take Me Home Tonight


That 80's Movie

I think the most ironically unsatisfying thing about this movie is that it is funny. But, when I look back on it, what was I laughing at that wasn't a hollow punchline I had heard before? In other, better movies, no less. More so than acting as an homage to 80's movies, it acts as an homage to the 80's itself - a decade where people were just discovering excess and learning what cocaine was. The characters here aren't really characters, but stereotypes of the characters they should have been. It's a thin veil, but someone had to inhabit it. It's a shame, though, that the actors uniformly do a good job. They just don't have anything to work with.

More after the cut--

Hobo With a Shotgun

Rating : ★ ★ ★

Spare your change

If you don't get the joke right away, you'll be uncomfortable for the next 90 minutes. Hobo With a Shotgun is a special kind of movie; consider the way that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre explains its purpose solely by its title. It's in Texas, and someone massacres people with a chainsaw. Hobo With a Shotgun is just that - there's a homeless man, and he has a shotgun. That's never a good combination. We've seen this plot before, though - numerous times. Part Taxi Driver, part Walking Tall, part any "old man fights back" movie, this is neo-Grindhouse in its ugliest form. Of course, Grindhouse cinema, almost by definition, isn't pretty. Shoddy production values, you'll find poorly edited reels of film with scratches on them, boom microphones hanging in the shots... (not here, though, thankfully). 

Grindhouse, by a sort of... standardized definition - low-budget filmmaking in the hands of a skilled director, made solely to mess with you. That, simply, is Hobo with a Shotgun. To drive home the Grindhouse point even more, the only reason this film exists is because of 2007's Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez Grindhouse. It comes in two parts, and has fake trailers in between each actual movie. Machete was one of them. This is one of the others. It was created by the director, Jason Eisman, for Canadian showings of their film. Amazingly, it got enough support to become a full feature film.

More after the cut--