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DVDs/Home Viewing

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…
13 Jul 2015
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Rosamund Pike gets to be her British self in What We Did on Our Holiday, a slightly off-kilter family comedy. She plays Abi, a mother of three who is married to messed-up Doug (David Tennant). They’re heading out with the children to visit Doug’s dying father, Gordie (Billy Connolly), on his birthday. Due to an affair Doug had, they are also on their way to a divorce. Pike and Tennant are funny here, convincingly playing a couple that has just about had it. Connolly is excellent as the ornery grandfather who, despite being ill, sparks up when the grandkids are around. As for the kids, they are the best reason to see the movie. Lottie (Emilia Jones), Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge) and Jess (Harriet Turnbull) have terrific, droll reactions to their parents’ childish behavior, and their solution to a problem on the beach is quite unorthodox. Turnbull is especially funny as…
29 Jun 2015
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As far as “found footage” films go, this is of the better ones. That’s because Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, The One I Love) and director/co-star Patrick Brice seem to be acknowledging that this particular way of movie-making is a little ridiculous. Per usual, characters in great peril continue to film the perilous goings-on when it would be much better to just drop the camera and run. Duplass and Brice make this scenario kind of funny, even if they are telling a horror story, of sorts. Brice plays Aaron, a cameraman who answers a personal ad asking for somebody to come film him for a day. When he arrives at the home of Josef (Duplass), he finds out the guy is dying and wants to film a day in his life for his future child, just like Michael Keaton in My Life. Josef takes Aaron on a long hike, where…
23 Jun 2015
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Criterion Collection—the cream of the crop when it comes to home-video releases—has done a bang-up job with Five Easy Pieces, the Jack Nicholson classic from director Bob Rafelson. Nicholson plays Bobby, a former pianist and son of a rich man who has left his family behind to work on an oil rig in Southern California. When he discovers his father is sick, he takes his girlfriend (Karen Black) on a road trip where he finds himself wrestling with his past and confusion about his love life. This is one of the quintessential Nicholson roles, featuring that forever-awesome confrontation with a diner waitress over the preparation of a sandwich. It came out in 1970, kicking off a decade of American filmmaking that remains unparalleled. Five Easy Pieces is an essential film for lovers of classic American cinema. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Special…
15 Jun 2015
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Kingsman: The Secret Service evaded me when it played theaters—and it’s a humdinger of a movie, that’s for sure. In this film based on a comic-book series, Colin Firth plays Harry, a member of a secret order of agents that saves the world from all kinds of bad guys. When a fellow agent dies (the agents are named after the Knights of the Round Table), Harry recruits Lee (Jonno Davies), the young son of a former agent and friend, to be the replacement. Unlike James Bond movies, this one isn’t afraid of bad words and gory violence. One scene in which Harry executes an entire church full of hateful rednecks (set to the tune of “Free Bird”) has more gore than three average R-rated movies combined. Firth is great here, as are Mark Strong and Michael Caine as fellow agents. Mark Hamill shows up briefly in a pivotal role, and…