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Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

15 Apr 2013
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In the cult classic Repo Man, Emilio Estevez plays Otto, a punk kid in Los Angeles who is fired from his supermarket job and thrown into the life of repossessing cars by the absolutely strange Bud (Harry Dean Stanton). They pursue a Chevy Malibu with a big bounty on its fender—unaware of the extraterrestrial cargo in the trunk. This is a very funny movie. (I especially love Otto’s response to his girl when asked about their relationship at film’s end.) This is the best thing Estevez has ever done, and Stanton was perfect casting. Director Alex Cox made Sid and Nancy after this one, but has not regained his form since. Still, when you have those two films on your directorial resume, that’s a pretty good career. Special Features: On this Criterion release (hitting stores on Tuesday, April 16) is a commentary with Cox and executive producer Michael Nesmith (!);…
16 Apr 2013
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Django Unchained, out today (Tuesday, April 16) on Blu-Ray, is still my least-favorite Tarantino movie—but it’s growing on me. I liked it the first time I saw it, but I wanted to love it. When watching it on Blu-ray, I was more relaxed, and it went up a notch in my book. This is the first Tarantino film not to be edited by the great Sally Menke, who recently passed away. The first time I watched it, I really felt her absence in the beat of the film. However, on the second go-round, I allowed myself to take in the movie on its own terms. It’s a little clunky in spots, and a little long, but with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson propelling the story, some lags are forgivable. Waltz got an Oscar for his portrayal of the bounty hunter with a…
09 Apr 2013
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Killing Them Softly, now out on Blu-ray, contains one of last year’s most-underrated performances. Brad Pitt is captivating as a hit man hired to make things right after a mob card game goes wrong. Teamed with director Andrew Dominik (his partner in crime for the excellent The AssassinSaveation of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Pitt delivers a funny, frightening and incredibly controlled performance. The movie tanked at the box office, even with the Pitt/Dominik pedigree. That’s too bad. Perhaps it will find its due on home video, where viewers might have a little more patience with its deliberate pacing. Give it a shot, and see why Pitt remains one of our best and most-underappreciated actors. Special Features: You only get a few deleted scenes and a short making-of doc; you’re buying this one for the movie.
08 Apr 2013
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Director Charles Chaplin had some big balls, no doubt about it. He followed up his silent-film career as a lovable tramp by playing the lovable tramp as a stand-in for Hitler (The Great Dictator). Then he abandoned the Tramp altogether to play a bigamist wife-killer in this deranged film, Monsieur Verdoux, now out on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. It’s as if the world’s most-beloved movie star was constantly taunting his audience to not like him. Chaplin plays Henri Verdoux, a likable enough chap who loses his job as a bank clerk—and then starts killing older women for their money. Chaplin, quite controversially, portrays Verdoux as a sympathetic victim, with his murders and attempted murders being darkly humorous. It’s a film that confounded audiences upon its initial release, but has gone on to stand proudly alongside other classic films in Chaplin’s canon. The film was originally set to be directed…
02 Apr 2013
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There were a lot of Oscar snubs that I whined about this year, but no snub was more shocking than excluding Kathryn Bigelow from the director’s race. With Zero Dark Thirty, Bigelow put forth her best film, much better than The Hurt Locker, for which she actually won an Oscar. Bigelow has essentially made two great movies here. One is an All the President’s Men-type investigative film, while the other is a striking action movie as we see Navy SEALS take out Osama bin Laden during their infamous night raid on that bizarre compound. Both portions of the film are top-notch and not to be missed. Bigelow has evolved from one of the coolest action directors around (Point Break, bitches!) to one of the coolest overall directors around. Special Features: You only get a few short featurettes on the making of the film. This Blu-ray package deserved more. 
01 Apr 2013
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In Badlands, you get one of the greatest American feature-directorial debuts in history. That’s a grandiose statement, for sure, but we are talking about Terrence Malick here, and the man is a magician behind the camera. Over the years, I’ve taken a lot of heat for liking all of Malick’s movies. I picked The Tree of Life as the year’s best film a couple of years ago, inspiring many to watch it—and in turn inspiring a lot of hate mail. Malick’s movies are as unorthodox as they come, and are basically poetry in motion. If you hate poetry, and you hate a movie that takes its time, then be careful popping his movies into your player. I would call this movie one of his more commercial offerings. Martin Sheen stars as Kit, a character based on real-life serial-killer Charles Starkweather. Starkweather and his young girlfriend, Caril Ann Fugate, went on…
27 Mar 2013
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Twenty-five years after its release, Who Framed Roger Rabbit still looks terrific. Director Robert Zemeckis managed to combine live action with traditional animation, creating the coolest of cools. The novelty of the film doesn’t just come from the cartoon/live-action combo. Seeing Daffy Duck sharing the screen with Donald Duck still provides a major charge for geeks everywhere. Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse? Holy cow! In fact, seeing Warner Bros cartoons on the same screen as Disney favorites is as big of a pairing as De Niro and Pacino. Zemeckis keeps teasing that a sequel will happen someday, but don’t hold your breath. He probably has a sour taste for animation after his failed campaign to make every movie in Hollywood a motion-capture CGI enterprise. (He was behind the ghastly The Polar Express and the much-better Beowulf.) I totally wish his idea to redo The Yellow Submarine in motion capture had…
26 Mar 2013
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After watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey at home, I determined that director Peter Jackson managed to stretch The Hobbit into three movies by getting all performers to speak slowly … oh, so slowly. Everybody in this movie speaks and moves as if they were drunk on Hobbit Amber Ale. Most of the dialogue is spoken at a snail’s pace with those not-quite-British, not-quite-American affected accents that make everything they say sound SO DAMN IMPORTANT. I just can’t stand much of this movie. It has its highpoints for sure, especially the wonderful Gollum scene. Gollum alone almost makes the movie worth watching, and Martin Freeman does have great potential as everybody’s favorite Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. Freeman injects life into the proceedings, often bringing scenes back from the dead. But on top of the encumbered speech patterns, I despise the scenes of dwarves eating and singing. They are dopey, long, Three…
30 Mar 2013
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A cavalcade of stars shows up for this pretty, if meandering, adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s semi-autobiographical novel, On the Road. Sam Riley (who was so damn good in Control) provides a decent center as Sal (essentially Kerouac). He finds himself on a long road trip that involves hand jobs from Kristen Stewart and him watching sex acts performed on Steve Buscemi. (Yikes!) In short, this movie is a bit crazy, and its unpredictability keeps it interesting. Garrett Hedlund is solid as a character loosely based on Neal Cassady, and Stewart sheds her Bella image for a good, carefree performance. Others in the cast include Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst. The movie is OK, but I was looking for a little more meat on the bone, considering the subject matter. On the Road is now available On Demand.
20 Mar 2013
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Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd reprise their awesome married couple from Knocked Up in This Is 40, director Judd Apatow’s latest, which will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray this Friday, March 22. The duo prove their characters are worthy of full attention. Apatow loves to make long movies, and this one is no exception, clocking in at 134 minutes. Most of those minutes are entertaining, although I would concur that this is a bit long for a comedy. Doesn’t somebody have to be getting shot or tortured for a movie to go longer than two hours? While the main characters from Knocked Up (played by Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl) are not back for the almost-sequel, other characters, including those played by Jason Segel and Charlyne Yi, do make it. That’s kind of cute. The film has fun with the whole midlife-crisis thing, adding Albert Brooks and John Lithgow…
22 Mar 2013
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Time will tell us that Les Misérables—being released on DVD and Blu-Ray today, Friday, March 22—was a far more deserving movie than Argo for Best Picture. As far as movie musicals go, I can’t think of one that has ever amazed me more—and I’m a big movie-musical fan. I rank this one alongside My Fair Lady, West Side Story and Grease as one of cinema’s all-time-best musicals. I personally put it at No. 1, even with Russell Crowe’s painful singing. Director Tom Hooper, criminally snubbed for a Best Director Oscar nomination, had his stars sing live on set. They wore earpieces and microphones, which were later removed in post-production, with a music track playing along as they sang their hearts out. The results are absolutely amazing. Anne Hathaway got her much-deserved Oscar after doing “I Dreamed a Dream” in a long, uninterrupted take. Whenever I watch her doing this, my…
18 Mar 2013
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The Jeffrey Dahmer Files is of the stranger films you will see. Real-life interviews and archival footage are combined with odd yet effective re-enactments to tell the story of modern history’s most-notorious cannibal. Most notable among the Dahmer witnesses is Pamela Bass, a neighbor who claims to have eaten a sandwich given to her by Jeffrey, a meal she most definitely regrets. It’s totally creepy to hear somebody talk about their relatively normal neighbor—a neighbor who was keeping bodies in tanks and heads in the refrigerator. Also in the interview mix is Pat Kennedy, the detective who interviewed Dahmer the night they brought him in, and, golly, did he get some disgusting surprises. Andrew Swant stars as Dahmer in the re-enactment stuff, and he isn’t bad (although he is no Jeremy Renner, who did a decent job playing the killer in the underrated biopic Dahmer). Credit director Chris James Thompson…