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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

DVDs/Home Viewing

26 Sep 2017
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Angelina Jolie directs First They Killed My Father, the memoir of Loung Ung (who also co-wrote the screenplay), a Cambodian woman who, as a child, survived the genocide brought upon her country by the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnam War in the mid-1970s. The result is a triumph for Jolie and Ung, who succeed in telling the story through Ung’s eyes as a child. Sareum Srey Moch is a movie miracle as Ung; she is a happy child—until the day the Khmer Rouge arrive in her town. They decide her dad must die and cause her family to flee into the jungle. Jolie keeps the vantage point through the eyes of this child, ingeniously filming the landscape around her as a child would see it—something beautiful being invaded by monsters. Moch is required to deliver every emotion in the role, and she delivers in a way that should be impossible…
19 Sep 2017
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The Limehouse Golem stars Bill Nighy as Inspector Kildare, commissioned by Scotland Yard to find the notorious Golem Killer, a Jack the Ripper-type serial killer. The film is based on a 1994 novel that incorporated actual historical figures like Karl Marx. Juan Carlos Medina’s movie is good-looking, and Nighy is a fun as a cranky Sherlock Holmes-type. Unfortunately, the mystery itself isn’t that absorbing, and a side plot involving the murder trial of a local actress (Olivia Cooke) fails to engage. Granted, it is pretty cool that Medina somehow manages to stage a hypothetical scene in which Karl Marx commits a very bloody murder. There are a few macabre moments, such as that one, that work well—but they’re not enough to make this really worth watching. Cooke labors in the role of Lizzie Cree, a stage actress in a bad marriage who becomes an object of sympathy for Kildare as…
11 Sep 2017
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Zoe Lister-Jones writes, directs, stars and performs good music in Band Aid, a funny and sometimes nasty look at a struggling couple’s last attempt to save their marriage by forming a garage band. Lister-Jones plays Anna, who is fed up with Ben (Adam Pally), her artist husband who refuses to do the dishes. They have intellectually nasty fights during which they come up with some pretty good shit in their back-and-forth. Counseling isn’t helping, and they are certainly a candidate for divorce. Because they come up with some pretty good shit in their back-and-forth, they realize their nasty put-downs would make decent song lyrics. Anna suggests they pull their guitars out of mothballs and form a band. This sounds like a stupid premise, but, I assure you, it turns out to be fun. When quiet, sex-addict neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen, hilarious, as always) sees the two playing guitars, he offers…
05 Sep 2017
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Goon, released six years ago, was a funny-as-hell hockey comedy based on a real sports figure who played shitty hockey—but fought like a madman. It seemed to give new life to the acting career of Seann William Scott. The sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, is directed by Goon co-star Jay Baruchel—and it is an embarrassment from all angles. For starters, it’s sloppy—the kind of sloppy you would expect from an actor who has no clue what he is doing behind the camera. The tone shifts like crazy; the jokes fall flat; and the performances get killed by terrible editing. The movie deals with Goon hero Doug Glatt (Scott) going into retirement shortly after being named captain of his team, because he can’t fight from his left side. Then the film embarks on a strange side story involving his work as an insurance salesman while he tries to make a…
21 Aug 2017
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Eccentric comedic actor Brett Gelman gets a much-deserved starring vehicle in Lemon as Isaac, a theater teacher going through some troubles with his blind girlfriend (Judy Greer). She starts getting antsy, and his behavior gets weirder and weirder, especially when it comes to student Alex (a very funny Michael Cera). Let’s just say things don’t go well when Alex comes over to hang out … yet that occurrence is one of the more normal ones in Isaac’s life. As his relationship and acting career crumble—he’s the spokesman for Hep C!—he tries to date others. That ends with him escaping a party with his date’s grandmother. (To repeat: Isaac is weird.) The film meanders a bit, and never has a true sense of purpose, yet somehow, it all works just fine. Director Janicza Bravo, who co-wrote the script with Gelman, makes an impressively strange directorial debut, thanks in large part to…
16 Aug 2017
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Ridley Scott’s third Alien movie, Alien: Covenant, is a good one. Sadly, it was not good enough to motivate a lot of domestic viewers to take it in—putting the franchise in jeopardy. A direct sequel to his Alien prequel, Prometheus, Covenant tries to be both a gory monster movie and a philosophical meditation on the creation of man—with mixed results. It’s as if Scott heard all of the bitching by Alien fans who didn’t get enough monster madness in Prometheus, so he upped the ante on the gore and special effects, but did it with a smaller budget and the same kind of crazy plot holes that plagued Prometheus. The movie still represents good Alien fun, with Michael Fassbender doing excellent work as not one, but two androids: Walter, the new, nicer android, and David, the dickhead android from Prometheus. Scott gets a little carried away regarding David’s overall role…
08 Aug 2017
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Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later is the third trip to Camp Firewood after the original film (Wet Hot American Summer) and the Netflix prequel series (Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp), and it’s the least-funny of the three. It’s still one of the funniest things you will find on television. Most of the group is back again for the eight-episode series, by writer-director David Wain and writer Michael Showalter. At the end of the original movie, the camp counselors (including Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper and Janeane Garofalo) promised to reunite 10 years later to see how things turned out. Here, they do just that, with their reunion threatened by an evil Ronald Reagan (Showalter) and George H.W. Bush (Michael Ian Black, in what has to be the worst and most hilarious George Bush impersonation ever). The two presidents want to nuke the…
01 Aug 2017
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In Wakefield, Bryan Cranston plays Howard Wakefield, a dude who comes home one night, chases a raccoon into a room above his garage, and decides to stay there for a while … a long while. After a rough stretch with his wife (Jennifer Garner) and a dissatisfying time at work, Howard is feeling a little underappreciated. The room over his garage seems like a good sanctuary for a few hours, a place where he can take inventory of things before returning to his routine. He can see his family having dinner through the window. Then he sees his wife throw his dinner in the garbage can. Something breaks inside of him. Cut to a bearded, disheveled Howard many months later; he’s rummaging through garbage cans for food and peeing in bottles, Howard Hughes-style. He’s taken up residence in the apartment above the garage like Fonzie in Happy Days, and nobody…
24 Jul 2017
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In Killing Ground, writer-director Damien Power manages to tell a nightmarish, horrific story in a way that eschews exploitation and gratuitous violence—while still being somewhat violent … and really, really scary. A young couple (Harriet Dyer and Ian Meadows) goes on a camping trip in a remote Australian location. They notice other campers nearby while setting up their tent. Power then shows us that other family in a separate timeline, enjoying nature and taking strolls. Then, slowly, the true situation that the young couple has gotten into begins to unfold. We are talking about major levels of dread and terror. Power presents the ultimate in family horror, but he does it in a way that generates genuine sympathy for all involved. The people going through terrible things in this movie are fleshed-out, complete characters. Nothing feels schlocky or like horror porn … it’s a bare-knuckled, nightmare-fuel endeavor. The cast also…
18 Jul 2017
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Writer-director James Gray has made a powerful film about Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who disappeared in 1925 while looking for a lost city in the Amazon. Charlie Hunnam gives an impressive performance in The Lost City of Z as Fawcett, a man so hell-bent on restoring his family’s good name that he leaves his wife and children, for years at a time, to explore the Amazon. After many brushes with death in his travels, he returns to England—only to find himself fighting in World War I. Eventually, Percy’s son, Jack (Tom Holland … yes, Spider-Man!), joins him for one more quest in the Amazon, and it turns out to be Percy’s last. There are many different accounts regarding the fate of Percy and his son, and Gray comes up with a conclusion that is powerful and beautiful. Hunnam is great here, as is Robert Pattinson as Henry Costin, a…
11 Jul 2017
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Writer-director Terrence Malick has shit the bed with his third consecutive film: His latest cinematic effort, Song to Song, is a joke. I am a card-carrying, Malick-worshiping super fan who is in pain watching one of my directing heroes lose his way. After the triumph that was The Tree of Life, Malick shot To the Wonder and Knight of Cups out his film-making butt—and I hoped that would be the worst of it. Alas, Song to Song, which is supposed to be about people having love affairs amidst the Austin music scene, is Malick’s worst … by far. For starters, I just have no idea what the fuck is supposed to be going on in this thing. Rooney Mara plays some kind of groupie who hooks up with a record producer played by Michael Fassbender. Then she starts dating wannabe musician Ryan Gosling. Then Gosling dumps her. Then Natalie Portman…
04 Jul 2017
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Director Joon-ho Bong, the purveyor of spectacularly wacky cinematic things (The Host, Snowpiercer), has delivered to Netflix Okja, perhaps his wackiest film yet: It’s a tale about a future world in which meat is scarce, so huge pigs are biogenetically engineered for slaughter. The title character is a prized, giant animal raised in the mountains by Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn), a young girl who thinks Okja is her pet. She’s oblivious to the fact that Okja’s days are numbered, so when an envoy for a large corporation (Jake Gyllenhaal, going completely nuts here) shows up and takes Okja away, Mija flies into action—and the bizarre adventure begins. Paul Dano, one of the kings of movie weirdness, chips in as the leader of an animal-rescue corps that includes Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) and Lily Collins. Following up her collaboration with Bong on Snowpiercer is Tilda Swinton, playing twins (as she did…