Today’s Tuesday and you know what that means: new DVDs! For this week’s top pick we’ve got the Oscar-winning Silver Linings Playbook, but there’s plenty of other options if you’ve already seen that film. We’ve got a movie with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, a movie starring Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand, and even a film starring Tobey Maguire and Ray Liotta. We’ve got DVDs about everything from raccoons to little red wagons, and even one about some old guy who once shook the hand of some other guy!
Silver Linings Playbook
The Guilt Trip
Not Fade Away
The Man Who Shook The Hand Of Vicente Fernandez
Little Red Wagon
Young And Wild
Streaming: Check out your choices here.
In researching one of these films, I discovered a new way to masturbate. If you want to know more, you’ll have to continue reading. If you don’t want to know more about my masturbatory revelation (and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t) click the link above to jump straight to the Netflix Instant suggestions -but I can’t guarantee that I won’t discuss masturbation on that page as well. In fact, I probably will.
Here we have a somewhat rare beast: the worthwhile romantic comedy. Critics loved it, the Academy nominated it for all the major Oscars, and FilmDrunk dream girl (non-jailbait edition) Jennifer Lawrence won the award for Best Actress. Vince gave it an honorable mention in his Best Films of 2012 post in addition to awarding it an enthusiastic ‘B’ in his official review. It came out in theaters way back in mid-November and –despite today’s DVD release- you can still catch it in a few discount theaters around the country. If you didn’t know, this is the story of Pat (Brad Cooper), a recently released mental patient who is trying to rebuild his life after going ballistic on his cheating wife’s lover. Shortly into the film, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) an angry young widow offering to help Pat reconnect with his wife if he partners with her in a dance contest. For real –that’s the set-up. It doesn’t sound Oscar-worthy, does it? You don’t even know the half of it. (Unless you’ve seen the movie, in which case, yeah, okay, you probably know the whole of it. Unless you fell asleep or went to take a piss or something, in which case your percentage may vary based on several factors.) As Vince’s review helpfully enumerates with bullet points, this movie is absolutely stuffed with rom-com clichés. It has everything just shy of the sassy gay best friend –and even then Chris Tucker’s character might count. And yet, it’s good, and I don’t really know why. Is it thanks to director David O. Russell? I don’t know, maybe. Is it because Jennifer Lawrence swears left and right, verbally recounts sexual escapades her character has had, and spends half the movie in a sports bra? I’m sure that all helps. Maybe it’s because the director’s original preferences for the two leads, Vince Vaughn and Zooey Deschanel, ended up not panning out. Ultimately, the reasons the film works –or doesn’t, I suppose- is in the mind of the viewer. For me, I liked that the film didn’t cutesy-up Pat’s mental issues, but for you it might be because for once Robert De Niro is actually acting again. To each his own, you know? It’s not for me to guess why a film works for somebody or why it doesn’t. Still, we do know that for at least one anonymous dude, it totally was that sports bra.
Silver Linings Playbook aside, if there’s a theme to this week’s mainstream DVDs, it would be ‘Movies I Forgot I’ve Heard Of’. For example, if someone would say to me, “Hey, did you see Broken City? Is it any good?” I would reply that not only did I not see it, I’ve never even heard of it. Then they would counter with, “You know, Mark Wahlberg’s like a cop or something and Russell Crowe is a corrupt politician, I think. Catherine Zeta-Jones was in the commercials.” Then I would say, “Nope. Still no clue, and I think I’d remember a movie with Marky Mark and Russell Crowe.” My hypothetical friend –we’ll call him Stephen (with a soft ‘ph’)- would then pull up the Broken City trailer on his phone and make me watch it, at which point I would realize that I have in fact seen that trailer before and by extension, have in fact heard of this movie. So, yeah, this is that movie and it’s on DVD now.
This one I’ve been able to remember, but for some reason, I keep forgetting the title. It’s possible that the title is so generic that it kind of dissolves into my cinematic consciousness. Anyhow, this is the road-trip comedy where Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogen play a mother and son driving across the country together because the writer of this flick came up with the title first and thought it was just so clever. Obviously Streisand gets on Rogen’s nerves and embarrasses him and screws up the big pitch meeting for his invention, but in the end their love for one another is just re-affirmed and strengthened because family is family, and we love them even when they drive us nuts and ruin our lives, and even if they didn’t, we still blame them because it’s just too painful to take responsibility for our own failures. I mean, yeah maybe I do drink too much, but you would too if you didn’t have any parental support growing up. I mean, really Mom, did you not think I’d find out that they actually DO let lefties into T-ball? For f*ck’s sake, my best friend was left-handed and he was in T-ball. That’s how we met in first grade –when we had to share the lefty scissors because they only had the one pair. You just didn’t want to have to wake up on Saturdays. Which is to say nothing of your ‘There’s no left-handed flag football’ gambit a few years later. And don’t even get me started on my having to play trombone in the school band just because you bought one for my brother and he quit and you’d be damned if you weren’t going to get your money’s worth. IT WASN’T EVEN A LEFTY SLIDE, YOU BITCH! And as long as we’re on the topic of you being a bitch, why is it that we were so poor that you had to make arrangements with the school to donate the expired milk cartons to our family, but you always had money for cigarettes and liquor? Every two weeks I had to drag that damn crate of expired milk home, walking past all of my classmates, like the f*cking pariah I was –and because you made me one. So you could afford those God-awful smelling lemon-scented cigarettes. And for the last f*cking time –how would I have even thought to check the label on the can in the trash if cat food really did taste just like tuna fish? It doesn’t taste like tuna –it tastes like cat food. Oh yeah, before you even say it, no the melted cheese on the ‘tuna’ didn’t mask the taste. Maybe that’s because it was expired government cheese that I know was expired because I also lugged that home by the five pound brick from school. I don’t care if it was good enough for Dad; he’s dead, and probably for good reason. In conclusion, they should’ve waited a couple of weeks, and given this film a rare Sunday DVD release for Mother’s Day, that way I could still not watch it while still not calling my mother while she sits sad and alone waiting by the phone while none of her kids bother to call her on her special day. (Just kidding you guys, I love my mom –and especially our occasional road trips together. She just gives the best road head, she really does.)
This film, about a group of 1960s teens forming a rock band, is The Sopranos creator David Chase’s feature film directorial debut. So if you loved The Sopranos, you’ll love this, I guess. Personally, I don’t really see the similarities beyond a certain 1960s nostalgia, but ‘From The Creator Of The Sopranos’ seems to pop up in one form or another on every poster and trailer, and it’s right there on the top of the box cover. Obviously, that particular information is importnat. If you want the opinion of people who aren’t paid to sell the film, it snagged an unimpressive 69% on Rotten Tomatoes and –as luck would have it- Vince reviewed it for The Portland Mercury. He had some nice things to say about the film, but ultimately Vince doesn’t recommend it. I can’t provide any further analysis of his analysis because he doesn’t offer us any gimmicky ratings system; there are no letter grades, stars, thumbs, red light/green lights, or even any smiley-face pain charts they have in hospitals. In short, I give his review an ‘F’ for lack of reviewer ratings clarity, but a ‘thumbs up’ for concise yet coherent analysis. I guess that would be a yellow light on the red light/green light scale. I’d hate to leave his review –or more to the point, my review of his review- without an arbitrarily assigned value-judgment on an ill-defined scale. People need those gimmicky indicators so they know precisely how to tell the reviewer how wrong they are.
Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Kerry Washington, Laura Linney, and Ray Liotta star in this black comedy about how the fight to keep raccoons off of your property leads to infidelity and murder. I have to admit –despite the fact that this movie was buried (it only played on 73 screens) and critically panned, I kind of want to see it. I usually like these black comedies where the protagonist’s life turns to shit by their own doing, and I can relate to the madness that is raccoon invasion. (Seriously, last summer I had to call animal control so they could remove the bloated corpse of a dead raccoon that was lodged in my house’s soffit –and the six living babies that were trapped behind it.) My only hesitation is my general hatred for Tobey Maguire as a leading man. I just don’t see his appeal beyond playing whiny adolescents. The dude’s 37 and he looks and sounds like he’s 17. Plus his name is Tobias, and he goes by Tobey –which is fine I guess, except that means he’s choosing that unnecessary ‘e’. His name should be Toby, damn it. Well, the trailer starts with him being crushed under a falling grand piano, and while I’m sure that’s a daydream or something, the rest of it has him getting generally abused left and right, so I’m still going to keep my eye out for this one. If nothing else, I can attest to the accuracy of raccoon problems leading to attracting some exotic pussy, except in my case it was because stray cats were drawn to the smell of rotting flesh.
Ernest Borgnine (in his final role) stars in this spaghetti western homage set in a nursing home. Borgnine plays Rex Page, a cantankerous resident of an elderly living facility who becomes idolized by the Mexican immigrants working at the home when they find out that he once shook the hand of a popular Mexican entertainer. This popularity gives Rex new purpose and he pits himself against the evil owner of the nursing home. Now I can get past the really quite racist assertion that the employees would idolize Rex for simply having met a famous dude (his winning their admiration is part of the spaghetti western trope, but still –that’s pretty racist) but what I can’t ignore is the actual handshake in the trailer. Simply put, it’s left-handed. They show it more than once too, and each time, it’s with the left hands. (Or they flipped the image or something.) Why? Was it to match the prior shot of the two men squaring off? If so, they shot themselves in the foot by focusing on Borgnine’s right hand and then doing a close-up of the left hands. Is that how Mexicans handshake? I googled it and all I got was a new way to jack off, which actually has a nice cosmic symmetry to it, given what we know of the late Borgnine’s recreational activities. So the next time you need to rub one out, do it this way and think of Ernest Borgnine.
Irish character actor Colm Meaney (you’ll recognize his face; he’s probably best known for playing O’Brien in various Star Trek productions) stars as Fred, a down-on-his-luck dude living out of his car. He becomes friends with Cathal, a drug-addicted young man who lives in the car parked next to Fred’s. Oh, I get it. The title’s because they are parked both literally and figuratively. Like, besides having their cars parked because they’ve got no place to go, their lives are parked as well, you know? That’s very deep. I’m guessing this movie has a lot to say about society and how we treat each other. I can only hope they frame everything in automotive metaphors. It worked for Cars 2, after all.
Speaking of the homeless, this week’s Dove Foundation-approved selection is Little Red Wagon, a true story-inspired tale of a young boy who starts out collecting water, food, and clothing for families left homeless by a hurricane, but when the media highlights his local efforts, his philanthropy grows in size and scope. Often times the Dove picks are films that are painfully amateurish, but this week, the movie actually has some experience on and off the screen. Little Red Wagon is written by Patrick Sheane Duncan, the screenwriter of Mr. Holland’s Opus and Courage Under Fire, and directed by David Anspaugh, who previously gave us Hoosiers and Rudy. To top it all off, we’ve got a co-starring turn from Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn. Of course no amount of technical or artistic quality matters to the Dove Foundation, so none of that matters to us. All that matters is that the film supports Dove’s narrow worldview. Luckily, they award this film the full five Doves! As always, any film’s true merit can only be found in the Dove content warnings: “LANGUAGE: D-1; Frickin-1; “D-bag”-1; “Cranial Rectal”-1; “Anal Retentive”-1; “A** crack of dawn” -1; Lord-2 said in reverence. VIOLENCE: Mother/daughter fight verbally; boy cuts and breaks arm with a little blood shown; scenes of the aftermath of Hurricane Charley. DRUGS: Woman drinks wine. OTHER: Boy throws up.” First off, is ‘D’ for ‘damn’ or for ‘dick’? Or is it the same ‘D’ as in ‘D-bag’? Obviously the reviewer knows how to use asterisks, so why not be clearer? Also, at first I was assuming that the reviewer knew that ‘cranial rectal inversion’ was a dopey way of saying somebody has their head up their ass and they just accidentally omitted the ‘inversion’, but then I saw ‘anal retentive’ and am now pretty sure that they just freaked out at the word ‘rectal’. After all, we now know that, even when said with reverence, ‘Lord’ is a swear. I hope this reviewer never reads the Bible; by his criteria, it’s full of swears. Also, there’s lots of preachy stuff about not judging other sinners and always helping your fellow man and all sorts of other compassionate messages I have a feeling that this guy won’t agree with, even if the words came straight out of J*sus’s mouth.
Speaking of Jesus, he totally induces a miraculous erection in the trailer for this film. You see the fully exposed dick get hard, too. If you’re not religious, there’s also a full-on shot of a vagina, as well as a few quick shots of penetration and oral sex. As for the plot, it’s about a 17-year-old girl rebelling against her evangelical Christian family by enthusiastically embracing her sex life. Rest assured, though; this is not simple pornography –it’s art. You can tell because of the subtitles.
What if the urban legends about the witch who lives out in the woods weren’t legends at all? What if the witch was real? What if, when you break a window on her house, she really does come and get you? Well, then you’d get what you deserve for being a f*cking vandal. Seriously, who’s the real victim here?
The armies of hell have taken over the Earth, and all that stands in the way of the villainous Count Draculon and humanity’s total extinction is a motley crew of misfits led by the mighty Manborg: a warrior who’s half-man, half-machine, but all hero. Once a young soldier killed during the first war against hell, Manborg (Matthew Kennedy, Lazer Ghosts 2) reawakens in the future, rebuilt as a walking weapon and mankind’s last hope. Struggling to learn the secret of his origins, Manborg unwittingly befriends a post-apocalyptic Australian punker (Conor Sweeney, Heart of Karl), a knife-wielding vixen (Meredith Sweeney, Father’s Day) and a kung fu master (dubbed by Kyle Herbert of DRAGON BALL Z, STREET FIGHTER) before finally squaring off against Count Draculon (Adam Brooks, Father’s Day) in a desperate and bloody bid to take back the Earth.
This is one of those deliberately bad grindhouse flicks that looks good to me. I don’t know if it looks feature-length film good, but I enjoy the synopsis and the trailer, plus –Holy Shit!– it has a frankly shocking 83% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Granted, that’s based on only six reviews (with only five being positive) but still, 83% is 83%, and that’s better than most of the movies hitting DVD this week. Plus, it was made by professionals (the director is a Hollywood makeup effects artist with credits including Pacific Rim and the latest Silent Hill film) and you can tell. Sure it’s cheesy, but it is meticulously cheesy. You can see the effort put in just by watching the trailer; it’s a labor of love and it shows. Far too many of these types of films are made by the truly inept and they retroactively call it tongue-in-cheek; this is neither inept nor tongue-in-cheek. It is finely detailed and sincere –which is why it looks like it may be actually funny and fun to watch. Even the title is masterfully stupid: Manborg. A man who is part cyborg. In other words, a cyborg. I hope they make a sequel where the manborg loses his human parts and becomes all machine. They could call it Robobot.
Oddly enough, this film does not rate 83% on Rotten Tomatoes. Sure, the trailer says it’s based on a classic comic book character, but that’s gotta be a lie, right? I mean, the guy’s black.
There doesn’t seem to be any of our previous DVDs added to the streaming catalog this week, but you know the drill: offer up suggestions in the comments. For my picks, I dug up four films, three of which relate to Silver Linings Playbook and two relating to Broken City. I know what you’re thinking -that doesn’t add up to four. Oh, but it does my friend. Through the magic of mathematics and anthology filmmaking, it does.
This film from 1996 is the second feature film from Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell. Ben Stiller plays Mel, a dude traveling across the country in hopes of finding his birth parents. I saw this movie way back when it first hit Blockbuster and I had no clue who David O. Russell was. I can’t remember much about it, or why I decided to rent it, but I do remember seeing a sex scene between Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin (at least I’m pretty sure it was them) in which she was straddling him and with each pelvic thrust she would ring a set of finger cymbals. So there’s that.
Whenever people talk about M. Night Shyamalan, they like to point out that each of his movies has gotten progressively worse after his amazing debut, The Sixth Sense. The problem is, The Sixth Sense isn’t his first film; it’s his third. This film –which IMDb assures me features Julia Stiles, who plays Jennifer Lawrence’s sister in Silver Linings Playbook– is his second film and I’ve seen it and it is terrible. It’s about a young boy who has a crisis of faith when his grandfather dies. He gets help from a nun played by Rosie O’Donnell. Also, her character’s a sports nut. So there’s that.
This anthology film of small vignettes celebrating New York City has several different writers and directors, one of which is Allen Hughes, the director of Broken City. As luck would have it, Hughes’ segment stars one Brad Cooper, the star of Silver Linings Playbook. I haven’t seen this one, and I don’t think I need to because while I’ve visited, I’ve never actually lived in New York and therefore I probably couldn’t understand what’s so great about the most over-rated city in America. Here’s a free tip to former residents of major cities, be they New York, Chicago, Boston or wherever: Nobody gives a f*ck about your being from there. It means nothing to us, and it gives you no authority. When you’re hooking up my DirecTV and you end every other sentence with “Trust me; I’m from New York” it doesn’t really make me confident about your skills, it just makes me wonder why you now live in Denver if New York is the mecca for blue collar shitheads who know how to bolt a giant Frisbee to my wall. As for this film, I feel it is only fair to warn you that one of the other segments is directed by Brett Ratner. So there’s that.
Broken City’s Catherine Zeta-Jones is the female lead in this adventure film from 1998, and for me at least, this was the first time I said “Who is Catherine Zeta-Jones, and did I just see her nipple?” Well it’s 15 years later and we all know now who she is, and no, no I did not see her nipple. Still, this will probably hold up as the better film once we get to see this summer’s similar looking The Lone Ranger. If nothing else this film doesn’t have the white-dude-as-Native-American racially confusing casting. No, it has the much more understandable casting of the Welsh as Mexicans. So there’s that.