Sunday, September 16, 2007

Recent DVD Releases

All of the following were dutifully reviewed by my collaborators during their theatrical run. For some of the reasons stated in Lawyer’s review of The Kingdom, I check out most movies on DVD. Included are the original reviews which I basically agree with, + or -. We’ll start with the best and begin the slow descent to movie hell.

The Lives of Others: - Original review:
Perfect framing in every scene. Maybe 5-10 minutes too long, but smart, gripping, and emotionally affecting. A-

Away From Her – Original review:
There are great performances from Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent(who manages to be unknown and familiar at the same time). Director Sarah Polley has great visuals and paces the film well. It’s so close to a B+ until it devolves into an Alzheimer’s version of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. That, and the unnecessary cheap shot about Iraq. B

Blades of Glory – Original review:
Will Ferrell seems to have an endless supply of one-liners, as evidenced by the DVD outtakes. The movie runs many of the same jokes over and over again, but they’re funny. Boy, are they funny. B

Shooter- Original review:
The action sequences are well done and exciting. Even more impressively, the movie takes time to develop character. Too bad it doesn’t know how to wrap it up, seal the deal, or land the plane. B

Fracture/Disturbia: – Original reviews:
In Fracture, Hopkins and Gosling are both better than the material, but do have fun with it. It’s like watching Primal Fear in a mirror (that’s a good thing). B- I was skeptical of Shia LeBeouf until Disturbia, which he carries effortlessly. B

300 – Original review:
I expected to like this more, but it turned into an over-directed, machismo, R-rated version of a single Lord of the Rings battle. At least we have a new gold standard for style over substance. C+

Smokin’ Aces – Original review:
I was surprised how much I disliked this. It didn’t help that (spoiler) all my favorite characters were killed first (Peter Berg – love the reading glasses, Ben Affleck – best performance in years, and Ray Liotta). C-

Bobby – Original review:
Lawyer nailed it. Without the excellent archival footage of Robert Kennedy, there is minimal redeeming value here. C-

Year of the Dog – Original review:
My biggest split with the original review. I’ll admit that Molly Shannon has a dramatic talent which I didn’t expect. It’s too bad the screenplay asks her to steal money from her company, indoctrinate a child she kidnaps to become a vegan, and blame her innocent neighbor for her dog’s death. Didn’t you leave the dog out? When I saw who directed this pile during the closing credits, I wasn’t surprised. I hate writer-director Mike White’s world view. He has, in past films, celebrated infidelity (The Good Girl), approved of stalking if the stalker is gay (Chuck and Buck), and honored unqualified “teachers” who use their students for selfish reasons (School of Rock). Plus, his dialogue is as bland as his name. D+


Lawyer said...

My comments on our differences (slight though they may be)

1. Away From Her (me, B+) - I liked the clinical happy sunshine of the home and Pinsent's discussions with the nurse enough to give it a B+.

2. Year of The Dog - You're right, it was terrible. I'm a Sarsgaard homer.

Doctor said...

There was nothing in your Year of the Dog review that supported a B-.

Away from Her probably played better on the big screen since it was so visually striking. You were dead right about the Egoyan influence. Sweet Hereafter has been put on the revisitation stack.

Lawyer said...

Nice shot of Kate Mara, by the way.

Doctor said...

I do what I can, lawyer. I do what I can.