Last summer’s blockbusters are this fall’s DVD releases and this week we get Man Of Steel, but as always there are plenty of other new DVDs and they are all just as worthy of our attention. We’ve got killer whales and racing snails. We’ve got movies with Paul Rudd and Russell Brand. We’ve got violent kids and idiotic adults. We’ve got drunk Irishmen and deported Jamaicans. We’ve even got a movie about simultaneously saving Santa and curing cancer. You don’t see ambitious shit like that everyday!
Man Of Steel
I Declare War
Dealin’ With Idiots
A Country Christmas
I could make a lot of claims about the wonders to behold on DVD this week, but I’m pretty sure all I need to say is this: one of these movies includes real, non-simulated, full-on footage of a hand-job, so continue reading to find out which one it is. (It may surprise you to know that it is not Grabbers.)
I’d just like to point out that despite Vince’s generally positive “B” review of this movie, the critics mostly disagreed and in fact consider 2006’s Superman Returns to be the better film. Yikes. Of course a movie like this is pretty much critic-proof because it’s SUPERMAN; everybody’s gonna see it no matter what other people think of the film. Just so, everybody’s going to form their own opinion about it and even then that opinion won’t matter because it made enough money that Warner Brothers is already underway with the sequel, which everyone is going to see anyways because it’s called Batman Vs. Superman, which is like calling your film Broken Box Office Records: The Movie. Add in the fact that everyone seems to have an opinion about Ben Affleck playing Batman and it’s actually kind of nice that –whether or not you like the results- it really does seem like director Zack Snyder and his cohorts are actually trying to make decent, well-received films when they could very easily pull a Batman & Robin or a Superman IV: The Quest For Peace out of their coke-bloated asses. Those two films were so terribly written, lazily acted, and just flat-out poorly made that they killed their respective franchises. For a while, anyway. And that’s really the point: As long as movie studios have the rights to make films about Superman or Batman or Spider-man or any other ‘man’ they will –and all while still saying a big “f*ck you” to a stand-alone Wonder Woman film. Quality simply doesn’t play into it. So if you hated Man Of Steel, maybe you’ll like the inevitable next version better. At this point, Superman and Batman (and Spider-man, and James Bond…) really are immortal. Even expensive failures like Green Lantern are bound to show up again sooner or later, and that’s just the way it is and none of this is just my attempt at avoid any specific discussion about Man Of Steel and in turn admitting that –once again- I haven’t seen the big movie that everyone else has already seen and forgotten about. No, that’s not what’s going on here at all.
Guess what? I actually have seen this movie about orcas living in captivity that end up attacking/killing humans –and I still won’t be saying too much about it. The only thing I would add to Vince’s “A” review is that there’s some stellar footage of a male killer whale getting his truly massive dick jacked off. You know, if you’re into that sort of thing. (Seriously though, the movie is excellent and will make you think twice about going to SeaWorld.) Luckily, there are a couple of other lower-profile docs that are also on DVD today, so here are a few brief thoughts about each: Buffalo Girls –this documentary follows the careers of two young female athletes who are part of Thailand’s underground Muay Thai boxing circuit. They fight to provide much needed money for their families, and if they make it to the championship and win it could change their lives forever. Also important to note, the two girls are only eight years old. Serious warning: as a parent, I find the trailer included below hard to watch. Eight-year-olds, dude. Road Trip For Ralphie (available Wednesday) – Two Canadian super-fans of A Christmas Story spent two years off and on traveling to each of the film’s shooting locations, culminating in a visit to the 2006 grand opening of the A Christmas Story museum, housed in Ralphie’s ‘actual’ house in Ohio. They decided to film their journey and –for some reason- think other people want to watch them geek out over finding old props and tracking down filming locations, all while creepily reciting dialogue from the movie. I don’t even like watching the vacation videos made by people I know, let alone seven-year-old vacation videos made by complete strangers depicting their journeys to the exotic locales known as Toronto and Cleveland. Still, it looks easier to watch than A Christmas Story 2, but then so does Buffalo Girls.
Ryan Reynolds gives voice to a snail that wants to become a race car. What’s worse is that the little f*cker succeeds. He races –against cars- in the Indy 500. Why? Magical nitrous oxide or some shit, that’s why –and I’m just assuming he wins because why wouldn’t he? This is a terrible message to send to our kids. It was already a lie when we were kids and adults told us we could grow up to be anything we wanted to be, now we are telling kids that their ambitions and dreams need not even be tethered to the bounds of reality? Look, it was highly f*cking unlikely that I would grow up to be an astronaut or a Supreme Court judge like I was always being told, but technically it wasn’t impossible. Now kids see shit like this and they think they can just decide they want to become the Golden Gate Bridge or the mole next to Obama’s nose and it’ll just happen because it worked out for the damn snail with the sexy voice. I keep my kids’ hopes and dreams in check, I can tell you that. My three-year-old daughter started gymnastics a few weeks ago and she’s already asking if she can be in the next “old lympics”. I told her no, because even if she wasn’t way too fat and uncoordinated, real Olympic gymnasts always finish their milk and they never smear their shit down the side of the toilet bowl when they slide their befouled ass off the seat and down along the exterior curve of the porcelain. Judge me all you want, but you haven’t seen her in action; she really is a terrible gymnast.
Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch star in this indie comedy about a couple of dudes repairing and repainting a road in the middle of nowhere in 1988. Some people are calling this a return to form for director David Gordon Green, who got his start with critically-favored low-budget indies such as George Washington and All The Real Girls, but in more recent years has cranked out the studio comedies Pineapple Express, Your Highness, and The Sitter. I liked Pineapple Express and Your Highness a lot, but I must say I loved George Washington. It’s the film Beasts Of The Southern Wild wanted to be. As for Prince Avalanche, if you asked me to watch an indie film about road workers that is also an adaptation of a little-seen and less-known Icelandic film, I’d say I pass. However, you tell me that it’s from the guy who directed George Washington, and I begin to get interested. If you then tell me that it stars Paul Rudd, at that point I’d add it to my must-watch list. Then if you tell me Paul Rudd is sporting a sweet moustache, I would point out that you really should’ve started with that bit of information. Who can resist Paul Rudd’s moustache? I know I can’t. How great would it be for Rudd to star in a Doug Henning biopic? The idea excites me so much, I might even pay money to go see that movie in a theater.
Diablo Cody’s directorial debut, this film is about a young girl who questions her Christian upbringing after getting burned in an accident and then takes a taste of the sinful life by heading to Las Vegas and hanging out with Russell Brand. Where Paul Rudd with a moustache can get me to watch anything, Nick Offerman without a moustache is not enough to get me to watch this. Maybe if he had the moustache I would feel differently, but he doesn’t and I don’t. Bald and clean-shaven, he looks like he could either be David Koechner’s brother or maybe Sir Topham Hatt -if he, well, took off his hat. Offerman’s head and facial hair aside, this movie just looks terrible. Of the things Diablo Cody’s written, I’ve only seen Juno and it made me want to punch every pregnant teenager on the planet. What a terribly annoying protagonist. You got pregnant and probably just f*cked up your entire life, maybe you should stop being such a smart-mouthed c*nt to your father? Shut up with the impossibly clever sarcastic comments to him –and everyone else- and just sit still until you’re ready to birth that baby and give it to Jennifer Garner. What’s that? What about your feelings? What about your happiness? Who f*cking cares about you? You’re a teenage girl with a stupid name, a goddamn hamburger phone and a penchant for singing out loud and unbidden in public places; you deserve to be miserable. I’m just assuming the young lady in Paradise –named Lamb, of course- isn’t any better. She probably rejects her judgmental parents and church only to discover that the secular world isn’t any better, and ultimately she decides that there is a God who loves her, and she loves God back, even if she doesn’t quite understand why She lets bad things happen to good people. Or something like that. Look, I’m not the one who insists on sharing their thoughts on religion; no, in this instance that status is reserved for the former stripper who likes for people to call her Diablo.
Greta Gerwig is radiant as Frances, a woman in her late twenties in contemporary New York trying to sort out her ambitions, her finances, and, above all, her intimate but shifting bond with her best friend, Sophie (Mickey Sumner). Meticulously directed by Noah Baumbach with a free-and-easy vibe reminiscent of the French New Wave’s most spirited films, and written by Baumbach and Gerwig with an effortless combination of sweetness and wit, Frances Ha gets at both the frustrations and the joys of being young and unsure of where to go next. This wry and sparkling city romance is a testament to the ongoing vitality of independent American cinema.
Here we have another one of those movies in which the audience is expected to identify with and sympathize for the adult protagonist who just can’t seem to get her shit together. I normally don’t have much patience for movies like this, and the fact that this is in black & white doesn’t help. (I’m not opposed to black & white, but in this case it just seems to be a choice made simply to make things look more ‘arty’ and therefore ‘important’.) In short, there’s little to me that looks compelling about this movie despite the critics raving about it. That is, except for one important thing: that synopsis above? It’s from The Criterion Collection. That’s right, Frances Ha, in its home video debut, is already receiving the highest honor a DVD or Blu-ray can receive. Obviously, that means the movie is amazing and I was wrong to question it. What’s more, it holds the (admittedly trivial) honor -along with some obscure old movie called City Lights– of being one of Criterion’s two first dual-format releases. There’s no DVD vs. Blu-ray debate here, folks. You get ‘em both, and you’ll want them both because even if you don’t have a Blu-ray player, once you see the cinematic perfection of Frances Ha, you’ll go out and buy one, I’m sure. This low-budget independent black & white film full of people whining about their problems all but requires the full 1080p video resolution and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that only Blu-ray can provide.
This film shows us a game of capture the flag, but as envisioned by the pre-teens playing it. Instead of using toys and rocks and tree branches as make-shift weaponry, the kids are shown firing ‘real’ guns, lobbing ‘real’ grenades, etc. As a kid who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the trailer (as well as the clip Vince rubbed out of Drafthouse Films) gives me a great deal of nostalgia for my childhood days playing these types of games. When I was a kid growing up in Milwaukee, we played with BB guns and we tried our damndest to permanently injure one another. It truly is a wonder that nobody lost an eye. (Well, One-Eyed Tony lost an eye, but nobody liked him anyways, so f*ck him.) What’s worse -or better, depending on your outlook- is that we would often trespass in the train yard near our house and play guns while running along the tops of train cars, and occasionally get shot at by the security guards armed with shotguns loaded with rock salt shells. Sure we got hurt and there was more than one trip to the hospital for stitches, but that’s what made it fun. This movie reminds me of a time –not all that long ago- when parents just didn’t give a f*ck about their child’s well-being, and as those children, we thought we were having the time of our lives. Of course parents like that still exist today, but now we call them Stage Moms. These terrible people are so hell-bent on achieving fame vicariously through their kids that they fall over themselves trying to get their kids cast in violent movies such as this one, and the kids often end up as mentally broken adults in the process. It’s really quite sad. But I don’t know these kids, and the movie looks fairly badass, so I’ll call it a draw.
Speaking of parents trying to gain personal glory through the achievements of their children, Jeff Garlin writes, stars in, and directs this ‘fully improvised’ film about parents overreacting to little league baseball. I’ve only heard terrible things about this movie, but it has a lot of usually dependable names in it (Kerri Kenney-Silver, Steve Agee, Fred Willard, Bob Odenkirk, and J.B. Smoove, Natasha Leggero, and Timothy Olyphant to just name a few) that I thought it might be interesting to find a review in support of it and let that reviewer speak for themselves. Ever the professional, I went straight to the first review on IMDb, from a gentleman named Aaron Parker, and he makes several salient points about not just the film, but the industry in general:
This morning when I got up I looked at all the torrents that finished while I was asleep. “The Heat” and this movie were 100%, and I watched the better rated of the two first. Despite the fact that that large woman who hasn’t been in enough movies for me to remember her name yet is REALLY funny, I felt like I was watching Nickelodeon at that time of the day. Probably because Lethal Weapon was one of the first movies I saw and they’ve made the same movie every week since then. There’s a straight cop and an unconventional one, bad guys fall down dead, drugs are bad. And yet the movie has generally positive reviews and a 7.1 on this site as of last night… Every time I fall for it, it gets harder not to be genuinely angry about the waste of my 90 minutes.
“Dealin’ with Idiots”, on the other hand, was fracking great. It’s got Jeff Garlin, Bob Odenkirk, Fred Willard, JB Smoove, one of the other good characters from ‘Curb’, and you get to see Gina Gershon for a few minutes too. Nothing about the movie is immature or silly to me. This is not the dad from American Pie doing a spin off with some up and coming teabag from the internet pissing in your face for an hour. This is not 2 but 4 or 5 extremely talented comedians giving great performances with a funny script from a pretty fresh perspective. Jeff Garlin is great, and if someone doesn’t watch it because it had a 4.9 on IMDb like it did last night when I downloaded it, this site needs to go away because it’s hurting the film industry way more than me and my lack of funds ever will. It’s great, if have some brain cells left after watching network TV lately you should do what I can’t and pay to see it online. I digress… the ending was a bit abrupt, I thought seeing them at a soccer game would’ve been a nice touch.
Dealin’ with idiots, indeed.
An island off the coast of Ireland is under attack by blood-sucking aliens, and the islanders discover the only way to survive is by getting and staying drunk enough to keep their bloodstreams suitably tainted with alcohol. While this movie looks like fun, you have to admit the premise is beyond stupid. Alcohol-averse aliens decide to invade and they choose Ireland? Why not, I don’t know, choose an island that isn’t completely populated by an ethnicity infamous for it’s drunkenness? I mean, how did anyone even get eaten in the first place, was he just coincidentally sober that fateful day because of a dare or something? The only thing stupider is if the aliens invaded the entire planet and were allergic to water and simply didn’t notice that most of Earth is covered in it. So yeah, this is the drunken Irish version of Signs -and when I put it like that, I actually want to see Grabbers more. They should make drunken Irish versions of all of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies. The Drunken Irish Lady In The Water could just be 90 minutes of a bloated, dead, red-headed chick floating around in a crappy apartment complex swimming pool and it would still be better than the original.
After being deported from the countries in which they had lived almost their entire lives (Canada, the U.S., and England respectively), three Jamaicans must struggle to make their way in their new lives in what is technically their homeland. I’m including this movie because it stars Tatyana Ali (Ashley from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air) as the Canadian Jamaican, and she has serious range because it turns out she is neither Canadian nor Jamaican. Wow. The film co-stars CCH Pounder, who, it turns out, is actually named Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder. Huh. All this time and I never realized ‘CCH’ were initials. I always thought her name was pronounced ‘Kuh-Ch’ Pounder. Either way, her husband’s name is Boubacar Kone, so no matter how you pronounce it, she’s actually got the normal name in that family.
Look, it’s a straight-to-video action film starring Dolph Lundgren, Vinnie Jones, and Randy Couture. If you really need to know anything more beyond that, feel free to research this film yourself. I could tell you more, but as I’m writing this it is getting quite late and I am bushed. (Do you think professional bikini waxers ever make lame jokes like that at the end of their shifts? I bet that they do.)
Oh my, where to begin with this one…well first things first I suppose, the official synopsis:
When Santa Claus loses his magical powers and becomes stranded in their barn, two children from a small farming community help him save Christmas before it’s too late.
Sounds simple enough, right? Oh but there’s so much more behind that synopsis. This film actually has Dove’s Seal Of Approval (with a full five Doves, no less) and the Dove Worldview is very enlightening:
This is a delightful film the entire family can enjoy. When disgruntled Arizona Senator Max Schmucker campaigns against Santa Claus, a brother and sister named Zach and Miley Logan decide to fight against him, especially after Santa shows up in their own barn! His powers have weakened due to the “We don’t believe in Santa Claus” movement but Miley manages to challenge the senator to a debate on the topic. Meanwhile, Zach and Miley learn that their mother Renae’s cancer has returned. They will need two miracles by Christmas time, one that people will begin to believe in Santa again and also that a miracle happens to their terminally ill mother. But in Hope, Arizona, anything seems possible.
Oh, sweet crucified Christ, the bad Christmas-hating politician is named Max Schmucker?!? They might as well have called him Senator Jewy Ben-Hatesjesusstein. (Also, Miley? F*ck you, that’s not a real name.) And while Hope, Arizona is in fact a real town, I am just going to go ahead and assume they picked Arizona because of the reputation it has thanks to people like Governor Jan Brewer and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But wait, there’s more: the cast is full of faces you know and love, like an aging-terribly Joey Lauren Adams as Cancer Mom, Kevin Pollak as Senator Schmucker, Trace Adkins as Obligatory Country Singer Cameo, Illeana Douglas as the Senator’s Vaguely Ethnic Aide Who Gets Dumped In A Pile Of Hay, and Abraham ‘Kubiak’ Benrubi as Santa Claus -the role he was born to play. Also of importance, this film was co-written by William Shockley. If you don’t know the name (and you’re my mom) I’d remind you that he played brothel-owner Hank Lawson on Dr.Quinn, Medicine Woman. For the rest of us, I’d just point you to this clip from Showgirls. He’s the dude sucking and biting on Elizabeth Berkley’s red painted nipples before she kicks his ass. And now he’s writing Christmas propaganda movies for the Dove crowd! “For nothing is impossible with God.” -Luke 1:37. For real though, the guy trying to destroy Christmas is named Max Schmucker…oh my god. Even Joseph Goebbels’ ghost thinks that’s a little too on the giant hooked nose.