Today’s Tuesday, and you know what that means: everybody’s busy playing Grand Theft Auto V. But until they adapt that into a movie and that movie hits DVD & Blu-ray, it’s none of my goddamned business, so let’s talk about what is: this week’s new DVDs. World War Z is the big heavy-hitter this week, but it’s got plenty of company with films starring Emma Watson, Jason Bateman, Ellen Page, Nick Offerman, Eliza Coupe, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Greenwood, and Brendan Fraser. If you read carefully, I might even squeeze in a bit of Matt Damon. We’ve got danger from every angle: there are zombies and thieves, internet predators and anarchists. We’ve got homicidal rednecks, sociable serial killers, and a character described as a klepto-terrorist. There’s even a special appearance by Kathie Lee Gifford as herself!
World War Z
The Bling Ring
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Greetings From Tim Buckley
The Last Tycoon
And Now A Word From Our Sponsor
Adventures Of Serial Buddies
There’s a lot to digest this week, so don’t hesitate to continue our journey on the next page. I’ll be honest, we go to some dark places. I may even make implications about my history with auto-erotic asphyxiation, so don’t get hung up here, click on over to page two and we’ll get off to the actual movies.
For those of you late to the party, it’s Brad Pitt versus the zombies. This film was a long time coming –the first FilmDrunk post about World War Z is almost five years old. We’ve lived with this movie (or at least with news of this movie) for so long that it honestly surprised me when I checked its release date and saw it was only June 21st. I would’ve guessed May or even April. Late June just seems too recent to me, and I’m guessing it’s because we’ve been hearing about this movie for so long. First there was celebration because a popular book was getting made into a film. Then there was outrage that they were only using the book’s title, and not it’s actual content. People were concerned that the director was Marc Forster, because he directed Quantum Of Solace and most people hated it. But then people were cautiously optimistic because producer and star Brad Pitt personally selected Forster for the job. But then production was delayed because they hated each other and weren’t speaking to one another on set. There was talk of a terrible ending to the film, but then they brought on Damon Lindelof to re-write it and people were thrilled by the news. Meanwhile, other people were distressed by it, claiming that Lindelof was a terrible choice of writer. Eventually the studio released clips and they were not great. Put bluntly, the CGI zombies were terrible. But the studio said it was a work in progress and the final effects would be better. But then people wondered why they showed us the shit-zombies in the first place. In short, everyone was expecting a huge failure, both critically and financially. Then the movie actually came out and to everyone’s surprise, it wasn’t terrible. Critics were far kinder than they would be to most zombie films, and audiences bought enough tickets to not only make it a domestic and international success, but it’s even Brad Pitt’s highest-grossing film to date. Most importantly, fans of the book who were outraged by the thematic departure of the film finally glanced over at their IKEA Hemnes bookcases (or Liatorp bookcases for the more discerning assembly-required furniture aficionados) only to see that their copies of the book were still there and hadn’t been magically replaced with a VHS bootleg of the movie. Somehow everything came out all right. Normally when a movie fails people like to place blame, and when they don’t, we aren’t nearly as quick to celebrate a success and give credit where it’s due, but I aim to change that. So, who should take credit? I’m going to go with Damon Lindelof, if only because I liked the Lost finale and I don’t think it deserves all the shit it gets.
The latest film from Sofia Coppola, this is the true story of a group of fame-obsessed California teenagers who began breaking into the homes of ‘celebrities’ like Paris Hilton. Nothing about this film appeals to me, nor did much of it appeal to Vince, according to his “D” review. Sofia Coppola is of course the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, and as a result, growing up she lived the life of all rich kids –one of unearned luxury. Yes, she eventually made her mark as a writer/director, but before she did she was still ‘Hollywood royalty’ enjoying not only immense wealth, but perks of birth such as literally being handed a major role in her daddy’s film, The Godfather: Part III. My point is, what The Bling Ring seems to be is the story of spoiled rich kids (such as Paris Hilton) being robbed by people whose only ambition is to be spoiled rich kids (apparently a member of the real-life bling ring was the star of a reality show when this all went down) as portrayed by real life rich kids such as Emma Watson, who to be fair, earned her money and may not be spoiled. All of this as written and directed by a former spoiled rich kid. The whole thing just stinks of a vapid self-absorption that betrays a belief by all involved that this story is inherently fascinating because it is about themselves, and what could be more fascinating than that? For god’s sake, one of the behind-the-scenes tidbits that they kept using to promote the movie is that the real Paris Hilton not only appears as herself in the film, but actually allowed them to recreate the real robbery of her real stuff in her real house where it really happened. I can just imagine the film’s cast and crew walking into Hilton’s massive closest and murmuring, “Oh my god. History happened here…” Which isn’t to say a decent film couldn’t be made from this source material, I just don’t think these people were the ones who should’ve made it. (Imagine what Damon Lindelof could’ve done with this. I know I would’ve bought a ticket.) Sure that GIF of Emma Watson from the trailer makes this look like sexy fun, but let’s be honest; that GIF is all that this movie has to offer, and half the reason why it’s so, well, compelling is because she’s a former child actress trying to prove that she’s now a grown woman actress and you think if you stare at it long enough the image might just pan down and then she flashes some nipple. But GIFS don’t work like that, my friends. If that’s what you want to see, you’ll just have to ignore this movie and hope she tries harder to prove herself on the next one, and in turn, chooses to do some tastefully plot-driven nudity in her next film. It’s that Russell Crowe movie about Noah and his flood, by the way, so I bet there’s a good chance of it, too. I’m pretty sure there’s a section in Genesis where the wives of Noah’s sons resorted to lezzing out on the lido deck. It happened sometime between day 24 and day 30 I think. Plus, there’s nothing more tasteful and plot-driven than Biblical nudity. At least that’s what my Sunday school teacher always used to say. Of course, in hindsight it was a bit odd that he insisted that my Christmas Pageant auditions were held in private and it’s also weird that the scenes I performed for him never ended up in the final play. I can’t say I was surprised, though; why would you need a scene of Judas’s naked suicide in a Christmas show? That’s obviously Easter material. Plus I always ended up passing out before my audition ended.
Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Paula Patton, and Alexander Skarsgård headline this dramatic thriller about the dangers of the internet. Do you use social networking? Well your identity has been stolen and your goth kid just got bullied into a suicide attempt. Shop at amazon? Guess what: Your identity has been stolen and your asshole kid just bullied some wiener goth kid into a suicide attempt. Like porn? Joke’s on you -the kid’s under-age and now you’re a pedophile. Answer your phone at the dinner table? No wonder your kids hate you and your wife thinks you have a tiny dick. This looks like one of those ‘we’re-all-connected-even-though-we-don’t-realize-it’ morality films that think they are so clever when all they really are is just plot-contrived and insulting to the viewers’ intelligence. You know what I’m talking about, like say Brad Pitt’s wife gets accidentally shot while on vacation in the Middle East with a gun that was sold on the black market by a Mexican guy so he can support his mother who was working illegally as a maid in the house of a guy who fired her when she caught him jerking off to Chinese porn, which he only got addicted to when his boss sent him to China to shut down a factory that wasn’t making enough money for the company that is owned by Brad Pitt, and the moral of the story is that Brad Pitt’s wife would be alive if only he loved her instead of loving money. This is just like that, but instead of Brad Pitt you get Jason Bateman, and instead of the dangers of greed and xenophobic miscommunication, you get morality tales about neglecting family board game night and spending all your time recklessly translating dirty jokes into other languages on babelfish.
Director/co-writer Zal Batmanglij and co-writer/star Brit Marling give us this film about Sarah, a young woman who is hired to infiltrate and undermine The East, an anarchist collective targeting major corporations. As you might assume, Sarah begins to agree with The East and questions her own beliefs and morals, but can you blame her when The East is led by the likes of Ellen Page and Disconnect’s Alexander Skarsgård? They’re an unstoppable force of charisma: He’s a Swedish dreamboat and she seems like she wouldn’t shut up until you say you agreed with whatever she was going on and on about. Also worth noting, Batmanglij and Marling previously collaborated as director/co-writer and co-writer/star on a film called Sound Of My Voice, which was about a reporter and his girlfriend infiltrating a religious cult. Before long, the reporter finds himself buying into the cult’s message. While I know the two films sound similar, they really aren’t; Unlike her role in The East as the infiltrator, Marling played the cult leader in Sound Of My Voice. Look out for the duo’s next film, Mixed Grace, in which Marling plays Grace Freeman, the white-looking child of a biracial couple, who infiltrates the KKK to expose their secrets on her blog but falls in love with a charismatic young Klansman played by Michael Cera. If he discovers her secret will he learn to love a white-skinned black woman, or will it be the end of their affair between the sheets?
Max (Keith Poulson), along with his best friend Sal (Nick Offerman, “Parks & Recreation”) and the woman they both adore, Lyla (Jess Weixler, TEETH), stumble through thirty-five years of seemingly mandatory but unfulfilling entanglements.