After last week’s amazing selection of quality cinema on DVD, this week was bound to feel like a bit of a let-down, but really, it’s not all that bad. There’s The Dictator, which was practically scientifically engineered for all of your ‘I’ll wait for the DVD’ needs. There’s also a Jack Black flick you probably missed as well as new flicks from Robert De Niro, Jennifer Connelly, and Dolph Lundgren. There’s a whole bunch of sincere indie dramas, an Oscar winning film, an elevator-based thriller, and a documentary about people who probably have sex less often than you do. Now that’s saying something. There’s even a zombie a-hole.
One In The Chamber
Home Run Showdown
Ecstasy Of Order: The Tetris Masters
Children Of The Hunt
A Day Of Violence
Can’t remember which one of those won an Oscar? Can’t guess which one is set on an elevator? Really? You can’t figure that one out? Christ, you can be dense sometimes. Lucky for you I break it all down beginning on the next page. There’s even an open letter to Robert De Niro along with the usual Netflix streaming suggestions. You can skip to it right now by clicking here, but that’s kind of cheating unless you’re the real Robert De Niro, in which case, “Hi!”
Remember when this movie was supposed to be an adaptation of a novel written by Saddam Hussein? What the hell happened to that? As near as I can tell, this movie has nothing to do with Hussein or his book. Instead, we’ve got a fairly mainstream looking comedy. The first trailer absolutely sucked and the second trailer, the red-band trailer –while better- did little to raise my hopes for this flick. It seemed (and seems) that Sacha Baron Cohen’s wacky character routine only works when the other people in his movies aren’t in on the joke. Borat –as a character- is simply not funny, but seeing some poor, put upon average middle American try to deal with Borat is funny. Bruno –as a character- is pretty far from funny, but seeing clueless celebrities try to keep up with him is very funny. (At least I thought so.) Having a Sacha Baron Cohen character headline a fully scripted film was bound to fail. He’s too over-the-top. Too, dare I say, Jim Carrey-esque. I was therefore pretty pleasantly surprised when Vince gave this flick a generous (I can only assume) C+ in his review. In short, Vince decreed that while trying to please everyone in general, it ended up not pleasing anyone specifically. Or to quote Vince’s inimitable words:
I guess what I’m saying is, when I get chuckle-raped, I want it to feel like it was just for me, not like I’m just another clown-John, another notch on the slide-whistle.
I thought this movie would suck. Instead, it’s just blandly average. Given my ultra-low expectations, I’ll accept that. I guess I’m just not as fixated on clown rape as some people.
This is that true story about an eccentric funeral director who kills a rich old lady, but everybody in the small town doesn’t care because he’s so gosh darn likable and she was a bitch. Normally ‘true story’ is code for total sh*t, but this might be one of those exceptions to the rule because the critics really love this flick. Also, because unlike most ‘true stories’ this one really happened. In fact, director Richard Linklater peppers the film with several talking head segments comprised of the actual townsfolk sharing their thoughts on the actual events. As for the primary cast, it’s filled with ringers: Bernie is played by a fey, Southern Jack Black, Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine plays the rich old hag and Matthew McConaughey is the District Attorney putting Bernie on trial. So to recap, the director of School of Rock and Dazed and Confused reunites with his stars from those films to make a wacky comedy about a real-life murderer and the community who loved him. I can’t imagine why this didn’t get a bigger marketing push.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Wait, didn’t the poster for this flick just show up in a ‘This Week in Posters & Stills’ post just like a few weeks ago?” Yes. Yes it did. But that doesn’t mean it went straight-to-video. It just means that it is going to DVD a few weeks before its September 13 theatrical release. As for the reasoning behind that decision, I have no idea. I’m guessing it’s some contractual obligation akin to the ones that plagued LOL and Zyzzyx Road, but it might just as easily be that the geniuses behind this flick think the best way to build buzz for a film’s theatrical run is by word of mouth via Redbox. Like I said, I don’t know. We should move on to the real issue here: What the f*ck, Robert De Niro? Even given that probably his last truly great role was 14 years ago in Ronin, this is a new low. As I said, what the f*ck, Bob? 50 Cent is your co-star? 50 Cent? You know he’s not really an actor, right? Sure he was once a rapper of some renown, but success in one field doesn’t translate to success in another. Even if both are considered artistic. You know why you never hear about Van Gogh’s wicked chops on the saxophone? Because he was F*CKING TERRIBLE AT THE SAXOPHONE. But you know what? Whatever, Bob. Say you did it for the cash. Or, better still, use the ‘I got confused and thought it was from the Coen brothers’ line Bill Murray used when defending Garfield. I don’t know man, just don’t say you did it because this piece of sh*t looked good. Look, I’ve got an old DVD of Taxi Driver you can borrow. You should watch it.
Dolph Lundgren and Cuba Gooding Jr. play rival assassins in this straight-to-DVD action flick. Yeah, that sounds about right.
You know how you can tell a movie’s really bad? When the writer/director is an Oscar winner, the female lead is an Oscar winner, the male lead is a four-time Oscar nominee and the movie still sits shelved for two years before getting a miniscule theatrical release and quiet DVD dump a couple months after. Dustin Lance Black (Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk) writes and directs this film about a crazy lady (Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly) and the Mormon sheriff she accuses of fathering her fictitious baby, played by four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris. Things are even crazier though: Connelly’s son is in a relationship with Harris’s daughter. Oh and also, that same son might be Harris’s son as well. Oh and apparently it’s semi-autobiographical. I know, I know. It sounds awesome and not at all like the vanity project of some dude who got lavished with undeserved accolades for simply transcribing actual events that were already the subject of an Oscar-winning film. Yeah, Milk was a much more ‘original’ screenplay than In Bruges.
Hey, did you know that Richard Linklater, director of Bernie, also directed that totally unnecessary remake of The Bad News Bears from 2005? You know, the one that had Billy Bob Thornton playing Walter Matthau’s character from the original? Yeah, that was him. Dude’s directorial career is all over the map. Anyhow, in Home Run Showdown Matthew Lillard plays a washed-up former minor league baseball player recruited to coach a rag-tag little league team full of loveable misfits. Dean Cain is the slick coach of the rival team. So, nothing like The Bad News Bears. Nothing at all. Walter Matthau is spinning in his grave. So is Billy Bob Thornton. Spinning in Matthau’s grave, I mean. Billy Bob’s one crazy, eccentric motherf*cker.
The secret to a successful comedy is the subversion of audience expectation. You think one thing will happen, and the film does the opposite – and hilarity ensues. This movie subverts all of your expectations. All of ‘em. Just a few examples: It stars a dude from The Office (no, not Jim or Dwight, but rather Roy, Pam’s ex-boyfriend. BAM! EXPECTATION SUBVERTED!) The dude from The Office is a parole officer supervising three lovably wacky ex-cons. Only one of them is black. BAM! EXPECATION SUBVERTED! Of the three ex-cons, one’s a ‘sultry femme fatale’ played by one of the ladies from Community. No, not Alison Brie, but rather Gillian Jacobs. BAM! EXPECTATION SUBVERTED! There’s also Ed Asner and Kevin Hart playing a doctor and a petty thief. Asner plays the thief and Hart plays the doctor. BAM! EXPECTATION SUBVERTED! You’d think to get such star power in his movie, writer/director/produce Brian Jett must have a pretty substantial career history in Hollywood, but in fact this film is his one and only IMDb credit. BAM! EXPECTATION SUBVERTED! That being said, you must think that this looks hokey and kind of boring. BAM! EXPECTATION CONFIRMED! (See what I did there? You thought I was going to say ‘expectation subverted’ but instead I did the opposite, and now you’re laughing, right? Right? You know what, f*ck you, they can’t all be winners.)
In this Iranian flick a married couple is at odds with one another. Simin (the wife) wants her family to leave Iran so their daughter, Termeh, can have a better life. Nader (the husband) feels they cannot leave, because he needs to take care of his Alzheimer’s-stricken father. So Simin sues for divorce. (Be honest, you’re wondering if Iranian women can even do that. Racist.) The courts deny her request (…and that’s more like it. You’re still racist, though), and she moves out of the house, leaving their daughter with Nader and his sick father. With no wife to do the women’s work around the house, Nader hires a young woman to help out. This new maid, however, is an untrustworthy liar (she is a woman, after all), and we all end up seeing the severe consequences when women forget their place in Iranian society. This film took home the Best Foreign Language Oscar for 2011, so it’s probably a pretty good flick, despite my jokes. I’m sure Iran is a very nice place for women. Another critically acclaimed flick coming out on DVD this week is Weekend. This British flick about two men and their one-night stand that ends up lasting a whole weekend is getting the deluxe treatment via The Criterion Collection. (You catch that? I said the movie about gay people was coming out! I’m so awesome.)
Look, for whatever reason, there are a couple of new DVDs out today about lost souls and the wise old men who help them get their lives back on track. Hide Away is up first: Josh Lucas is a successful but unhappy business man who tries to ‘resurrect his life’ by buying and sailing an old sailboat. James Cromwell is the old man who helps him. For the love of Christ, they are billed as ‘Young Mariner’ and ‘The Ancient Mariner’. Something something albatross joke. Also out today is Escape, a Christian flick that addresses the age-old question: why does God let bad things happen to good people? More specifically, why did God allow doctor C. Thomas Howell to get abducted by human traffickers while in Thailand, where he only went anyhow as an attempt to escape the misery of dealing with the inexplicable death of his infant child? Only wise older man John Rhys-Davies knows for sure why God lets these things happen. My guess? Obama. Speaking of God, there’s also a flick out today called God’s Ears. It’s about an autistic boxer. I’m not sure if there’s a wise old man in that one or not, but it seemed worth mentioning it. Plus, by slipping it in here and not giving it its own spot, I get to avoid making a tasteless joke about autism.
You know who Mark Boone Junior is, don’t you? He plays Bobby on Sons of Anarchy, and he was that corrupt cop in Batman Begins. The point is, whenever I see him in something, he always has that long greasy beard and long straggly hair. Well he’s in this flick and his beard is trimmed and his hair is combed. He’s even wearing a suit and tie. Check it all out in the trailer below. It’s kind of weird, that’s all. In other geography-based new DVD news, Sedona comes out tomorrow. It looks to be about a crazy Arizona town filled with eccentric locals. Is that what the real Sedona is like? I’ll never know; I can’t legally cross into Arizona ever since ‘the incident’. Again, I blame Obama.
This is a thriller about nine people stuck on an elevator and one of them has a bomb. Needless to say, they all get sweary and confrontational and racist, which is totally not cool because there’s a little girl stuck with them. The official synopsis has the gall to call this film ‘both classic and contemporary’ and ‘as chilling as Hitchcock’s Psycho’. Dudes, let’s not get too full of ourselves, it’s an elevator movie. Also, what the hell does ‘both classic and contemporary’ mean? I’m guessing it’s classic, because there are racist assumptions that the dark-skinned man is the bomber, and contemporary because they all end up dying in a tragic and grisly mass-murder in a public place. Sh*t’s been going around like the clap lately. If you like your low-budget elevator flicks a little less intense, there’s also Up & Down this week. It’s a rom-com about an elevator operator and the woman he courts via their interactions on the elevator. The whole thing’s shot in the elevator and just outside the elevator doors. Congratulations, M. Night Shyamalan, that Devil movie you’ve attached your name to is now only the third stupidest movie set on an elevator.
There are five new documentaries hitting home video today, and depending on your interests, there’s something for everyone. I’m giving the top honors to the flick about the freaks who play competitive Tetris because it looks like the one I’m most likely to watch. The King Of Kong was f*cking fantastic, and while without Billy Mitchell there’s no way this can be as good, the trailer still shows some promise. The other new docs include Black Metal Veins, a film chronicling the lives of five heroin addicts. Thanks to basic cable TV, this seems largely superfluous. (Just like Marky Mark’s third nipple.) There’s also Play In The Gray, which showcases a Boston-based drag theatre troupe. I don’t need my presumptions about gender and identity challenged any more than they already do every time I look into the mirror, thank you very much. Moving on, there’s King Of The B Movies, which is about Bill Zebub, director of such films as Antfarm Dickhole, Jesus the Total Douchebag, Zombiechrist, Forgive Me for Raping You, and Jesus Christ: Serial Rapist. We get it, Bill. You’re not a fan of Jesus, but Jesus still loves you. Lastly, there’s that Disney flick, Chimpanzee. It’s probably the best of the new documentaries hitting DVD, but the damn trailer makes me cry every time I see it, so it’s gonna be the one about socially maladjusted Tetris players for my viewing pleasure this week.
Lovell Milo (the only name stupider than that is the real name of the actor playing Milo, TJ Thyne) wakes up every day living a different day of his life. One day he’s an adult, the next a kid, after that, maybe an old man –it’s crazy! What’s more, he’s trying to solve the mystery of his wife’s death. Also, he has an unruly Jew-fro regardless of his current age. Boy, when it rains, it pours. Still, it could be worse. It could be Time Again, another time-travel movie hitting DVD today. That one’s about a woman using time travel to save her sister while simultaneously trying to flee a criminal fixated on possessing some strange coins. Is the criminal also a time-traveler? I’m not sure. Strangely enough, the trailer doesn’t really clarify how the whole process goes down, except that it involves letting some lady in a bathroom stall get all handsy with you. Really, if that’s all there is to the mysteries of time travel, why haven’t I ever experienced it? Oh that’s right, the ‘lady’ part. Got it.
One look at that box cover and you know what you’re getting: an Asylum rip-off of The Hunger Games. Except none of that is true. In fact, this movie was made in 2009, well before The Hunger Games became a thing worth ripping off. Also, it’s not from The Asylum. Also, it’s plot is nothing like The Hunger Games at all. In this film, the year is 2052 and The Brotherhood of Mars arranges hunting expeditions in which humans are the prey. When a guard working for The Brotherhood has a change of heart, he gets thrown in among the hunted. So, instead of ripping off one of this year’s most popular films, this is instead a wholly original story. I’d have loved to be a fly on the wall when they came up with that plot; it’s one in a million!
Did you know there’s a fat version of Jason Statham? There is and he stars in this film. Trailer’s NSFW, innit, Tommy?
We’ve got another week full of sh*tty horror flicks. Zombie A-Hole is the only one that looks half-way watchable. (Trailer’s NSFW.) If I’m being honest though, I’m disappointed that it’s about a zombie who is an asshole in the social sense and not the literal sense. Could you imagine a movie actually about a zombie’s assh*le? I can, and it stars this amazing woman. Anyhow, the other flicks are: Hell, Little Big Boy: The Death Stalker Murders, The Scar Crow, When Death Calls, 1000 Times More Brutal, Revision: Apocalypse II: The Edwin Brienen Collection, Deadly Renovations, Psychos In The Woods: A Killing Frenzy Unleashed, and Attack Of The Killer Backpacks. Full disclosure: One of those isn’t really a horror flick. If you really want to know which one is the imposter, you need some new interests in your life. I hear macramé’s making a comeback.
Nicolas Cage fans are in luck because his flick Seeking Justice is now streaming. Also recently added films include The Corridor and Here. So, check out Seeking Justice, I’m sure it’s awesomely terrible. As for this week’s suggestions, I wanted to showcase Tony Scott films, but as nearly as I can tell, absolutely none of them are streaming. That really sucks too, because as I’m sure you’ve thought about since his death on Sunday, Scott really did helm some awesome action flicks. So, instead I’m staging an intervention for Freelancers’ Robert De Niro.
You are one of the greatest actors to have ever lived. Period. No one can take your accomplishments away from you. But you’ve changed. Look at that picture above. Do you even recognize that man? Is this really what you want for your late-period career? Katherine Heigl’s in that picture for f*ck’s sake. You used to make great movies. No, that’s not right, you made great films. You were an artist. What happened? We ask because we care and because we know you still have it in you to be great once again. Just look at these movies:
Bob, many people think this is the film that caused you to lose your way; that success as a comedic actor made you lazy. But you know something? They’re wrong. It’s not that bad of a film. In fact, it’s pretty good. The problem wasn’t with this flick, but with the sequels. Not everything can be The Godfather, Part II.
Mad Dog And Glory
Plus, see, you were in a few comedies before Meet The Parents and Analyze This. Sure this flick didn’t light up the box office, but it’s really really good. What’s more, since when did you care about such bullsh*t show-biz things like money? You’re an artist, and you know it. And you got to play against type by leaving the gangster role to Bill Murray. You should work with him again; I think it could be good for the both of you.
Because you know what, Bob? Film is a collaborative art. Your performances may be great, but what makes the films great is the whole package. Work with other actual film makers, not idiots like 50 Cent. Remember your roots. Could anyone besides Scorsese have made Raging Bull or Goodfellas? Always surround yourself with sound collaborators, like you did with this Tarantino flick. Yes, you were only in a supporting role, but it doesn’t matter when the film is this good. You don’t always have to have the lead role to make an impact on the screen. But at least make sure those supporting roles are in films that are worthy of your talent.
Of course, don’t get me wrong, Bob. You deserve your lead roles. Just look at this film. Top notch from start to finish. As I said earlier, probably your last great film. Look, there’s still time. Nobody’s asking you to go all Gene Hackman or Sean Connery. Pursue your passion, just as long as you really are passionate about it. We love you, Mr. De Niro, so please stop it with these f*cking bullsh*t movies you’ve been making. You’re embarrassing yourself.