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DVDs/Home Viewing

23 Oct 2015
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This business of sending some movies directly to iTunes/ and on-demand services while they show on limited screens across the country is turning out to be really cool. Some great films, including Michael Fassbender’s Slow West, have been released this year using this method. Now another great film has been released in this way: Mississippi Grind. Powerhouse performances are delivered by Ben Mendelsohn as Gerry, a depressed gambler, and Ryan Reynolds as Curtis, his artificially upbeat counterpart. The two meet at a low-stakes poker game, share some bourbon and wind up on a road trip to New Orleans with the intent of getting in on a huge money game. Things don’t quite work out that way, with Gerry recklessly gambling the money Curtis stakes him, while Curtis womanizes and steals bicycles. Still, the two men continue to be drawn to each other—and it all leads up to some big events.…
12 Oct 2015
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Horror fans might get a kick out of The Final Girls, this spoof of ’80s horror movies—although they might decry the lack of blood and guts. Max (Taissa Farmiga) loses her mom (Malin Akerman) in a car accident. Her mom, Nancy, was a struggling horror-film actress best known for a Friday the 13th-type summer-camp slasher movie made in the ’80s. After agreeing to show up for a screening of her late mom’s film, Max and her friends journey inside the movie, where Max winds up hanging out with her mom—who isn’t really her mom, and is actually Amanda, the character she played in the film. The Final Girls is crazy enough to work on a few levels, although it suffers a bit because the movie is rated PG-13—which is strange, since the movie is spoofing films that have hard-R ratings. There are some good laughs, due mainly to a strong…
06 Oct 2015
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Just a couple of weeks after the release of one of his worst movies, writer-director Eli Roth is at it again with Knock Knock— a far-better offering. Keanu Reeves stars as Evan, a loving husband with two children who is left alone for a couple of days while the wife and kids go on a trip. Just as Evan is about to light the old pot pipe, there’s a knock at the door. Two of the most beautiful women in the world, Genesis (Lorenza Izzo) and Bel (Ana de Armas), are soaking wet and in need of assistance. Evan innocently lets them in to use the phone, dry their clothes and, as things eventually turn out, have mad sex. Unfortunately for Evan, he winds up being part of a nasty torture game in which he will pay for his infidelities in horrible, gut-churning ways. While Roth never really reveals why…
28 Sep 2015
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Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon is a solidly entertaining documentary about the ups and downs of the National Lampoon magazine and production company. Back in the day, National Lampoon was a humor magazine that was a triple-R alternative to the much-tamer Mad Magazine. (National Lampoon had cartoons and real boobs.) The doc chronicles the early days of the Lampoon’s inception, through its hit movies (Animal House, Vacation), to the eventual demise of the magazine in 1998. Many stars—including Chevy Chase, Judd Apatow and Kevin Bacon—discuss their direct participation in Lampoon projects, and explain the ways in which the magazine and films influenced them. Other stars sitting down for interviews include John Landis (director of Animal House), Beverly D’Angelo (star of Vacation) and Tim Matheson (star of Animal House). Before they went to Saturday Night Live, Chase, John Belushi, Bill Murray and Gilda Radner all took…
22 Sep 2015
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I missed this one when it was in theaters. I wish I’d missed it on Blu-ray, too. I used to watch the TV show regularly. There was a stretch when I enjoyed Jeremy Piven’s outbursts as super agent Ari Gold, and Kevin Dillon’s dumbass brother/wannabe actor character. However, I never did like pretty boy Adrian Grenier as Vince, the “movie star” at the center of all the action. His agent Eric, played by suspiciously top-billed Kevin Connolly, never really engaged me, either, especially when he was whining about his girlfriend, Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui). Of course, the movie adaptation of the TV show mostly deals with bullshit in the lives of Vince and Eric. Vince has put himself in the hot seat by going over-budget on his directorial debut. Sloane is pregnant, but doesn’t want to be with Eric, so he’s fucking anything that moves. Enthralling stuff. Really. Ari shows up…
14 Sep 2015
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In Cooties, Clint (Elijah Wood) gets a substitute-teaching gig in his hometown. The job offers him a chance to take a break from writing his novel about a dumb boat, make some money, and see Lucy (Alison Pill), a girl on whom he used to have a crush. During his first class, one of the little girls takes a bite out of the school bully’s face. It turns out she ate a bad chicken nugget, and now she has cooties—which spreads through the school like wildfire. This version of cooties is less about tagging others and making them “It,” and more about ripping out intestines. Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion direct this old-school horror film with a new zombie twist, and it’s a good time. The cast includes Rainn Wilson as a gym teacher, Nasim Pedrad as the staff snoot, and Jorge Garcia as a mushroom-taking crossing guard. The carnage…
08 Sep 2015
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The last performance by Robin Williams in a live-action role has him playing a closeted older man dealing with issues in a very somber, slow-paced, mundane way. The faults of Boulevard lie within the script and the sloppy direction. Williams is decent as Nolan, a bank employee on the verge of a promotion; he’s been married for a long time to Joy (Kathy Baker). One night, when feeling a bit anxious, he goes cruising on the boulevard and picks up Leo (Roberto Aguire), a street hustler. They go to a hotel a couple of times. The first time, they just chat. The second time, they chat while Leo sits on the bed naked. It’s clear Nolan is gay—and doesn’t really know what to do about it. Nolan gets a little obsessive as he waits for texts and phone calls from Leo—and he puts his career and marriage on the line…
01 Sep 2015
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Three people and a couple of dogs try to figure things out in a post-apocalyptic world during Z for Zachariah, a strong acting exercise featuring Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine. Ann (Robbie) has been living a solitary life ever since a nuclear war wiped out the world’s population. She still lives on her father’s land, a place mysteriously immune from radiation clouds. With her trusty dogs by her side, she tills the land, hunts for game and longs for company. That company comes in the form of Loomis (Ejiofor), whom she rescues after he takes a dip in a radioactive pond. After scrubbing him down and nursing him back to health, the two form a bond with romantic inclinations. Is their budding relationship something that would’ve happened under normal circumstances, or is it just a product of them apparently being the only two people left in America? Robbie…
25 Aug 2015
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Gloria (Lola Dueñas) is one of the craziest characters to hit screens in years. Major applause goes to Dueñas, who steals the film Alleluia by encapsulating pure insanity as a quiet woman who reluctantly goes on an outing with an online date, Michel (Laurent Lucas). The two have a one-night stand. Gloria, who we soon realize isn’t that quiet after all, wants more—even after finding out that she is just one of many conquests for Michel, who fancies himself a regular Don Juan who takes advantage of lonely women for their money. Gloria wants in, so she poses as his sister in his schemes. Problem is, she has a little jealousy problem, and starts murdering the women Michel is attempting to defraud. Director Fabrice Du Welz often makes the movie uncomfortable (this is not a complaint), and dots the film with occasional bizarre moments, such as when Gloria breaks into…
18 Aug 2015
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A bunch of Chris Farley’s friends and family members sit down for introspective interviews regarding the John Belushi heir apparent who died at the very same age—and in a very similar way—to his hero. David Spade, Adam Sandler, Bob Saget, Mike Myers and others share stories about their blessedly crazy friend in this serviceable documentary from Brent Hodge and Derik Murray. A film like this is only as good as its interviews and archival footage—and there’s plenty here for Farley fans. Of the interview subjects, Myers is the best. From impersonating Farley backstage looking for a place in the Sprockets skit, to admitting that he sometimes feared for his physical well-being in Farley’s presence, Myers was amazing; I could’ve watched a whole film with him talking about Farley. There’s plenty of time spent with Spade, Farley’s Bud Abbott to his Lou Costello, his Dan Aykroyd to his Belushi. Spade reveals…
03 Aug 2015
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One of the summer’s best bets isn’t in theaters; it’s on Netflix. David Wain and Michael Showalter have finally birthed their Wet Hot American Summer prequel as an eight-episode Netflix series. However, I see it more as a four-hour movie feast of dick and fart humor. The film takes place in the same year (1981) as the film did, but this time, it’s the first day of camp rather than the last day. Everybody has returned, and there has been no effort to make the likes of Showalter, Janeane Garofalo, Bradley Cooper and Amy Poehler look any younger. Oddly enough, Paul Rudd, A.D. Miles and Michael Ian Black somehow look younger than they did in the 2001 film. New additions to the cast include Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm and Jason Schwartzman, and they make the day at Camp Firewood all the more special. Ken Marino’s character is even more of…
27 Jul 2015
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One night after nostalgia struck me and I watched This Is Spinal Tap on Netflix, I popped in this vampire “mockumentary” in for a spin. As it turns out, What We Do in the Shadows is the hilarious vampire cousin of Spinal Tap. Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), Taika Waititi, Jonny Brugh and Ben Fransham play New Zealand vampires of various ages living in a house together. Waititi is Viago, the fussy one trying to get everybody to comply with house rules. (One of them hasn’t done the bloody dishes in five years.) Clement plays Vladislav the Poker; Brugh is Deacon (the bad boy), and Fransham plays the 800-year-old, straight-up Nosferatu demon in the basement. A camera crew of humans is inexplicably following them around as they do things like have fights in the hallway or venture into town to go bar-hopping. They eventually indoctrinate a new vampire, Nick…