Not a lot going on this week aside from a limited number of titles in the ‘Avoid’ category (hurray for quality!), so I’m going to take a moment to address a comment from last week. Basically there was a question of my recommending titles I hadn’t seen followed by a sly accusation of me taking payoffs from the labels. Now, my initial response was to politely explain the thought process behind my recommendations and remind readers that I don’t get paid by labels, vendors, or reps to cover their product. I also pointed out that the titles I haven’t actually seen are marked clearly by the preface “Haven’t seen this one yet…” followed by my reasoning for recommending it as one to rent or avoid.
But in the grand scheme of things I should probably have just ignored it. This is the internet after all and everything you read online should be taken with a grain of virtual salt. For all you know I’m a chimpanzee who types this column with my ballsack in between games of whoflungpoo with the panda next door. At worst this column is simply a list of newly released DVDs, and at best some of you have come to trust my suggestions. It’s opinionated information, hopefully with a few laughs, and nothing more. If you made it this far thanks for reading. Now be sure to buy the titles below via the Amazon links so I can afford to buy another 3-D Blu-ray player for the bathroom.
The Man From Nowhere
A mysterious loner befriends a little girl with a terrible home life, but when she’s kidnapped he’s forced to draw on some long buried skills to bring her back alive. But seeing as this is a Korean thriller there’s no guarantee he’ll succeed… Parts of this thriller are liberally cribbed from a handful of better known films like The Professional and Taken, but it stands on its own merits as a kick-ass revenge flick filled with tremendous action, strong acting, an extremely talented little actress, and one of the best knife fight scenes ever captured on film. Sounds awesome doesn’t it? Rush out and buy this one now. You’re very welcome.
A Film Unfinished
Pitch: “What on earth? Where would they even get a flower? We would have eaten the flower…”
Why Buy? In 1942 German filmmakers spent time in the Warsaw ghetto documenting life among the Jews. Except the images onscreen were far from the complete story and even farther from the truth. Events and appearances were staged to create an illusion of contentment and normalcy, but the harsh reality continues to seep through. Yael Hersonski’s film is a haunting reminder that mankind’s worst nightmares sometimes need to be witnessed to be believed. Oscilloscope’s nicely packaged DVD also features a rare short film from Billy Wilder.
Pitch: 2009’s funniest film (In the Loop) is from the UK. 2010’s funniest film (this one) is too. Frankly they’re making the rest of us look bad…
Why Buy? This is a comedy about four friends with a goal and the journey they take in the hopes of achieving it. Sounds life affirming doesn’t it? It’s probably worth mentioning that their goal is to commit acts of terrorism that will result in the deaths of innocent people. It should also be noted that Chris Morris’s film is one of the sharpest comedies in years and that it somehow manages to balance honest laughs, smart observations, and sincere pathos in one slapstick-filled movie.
The Walking Dead: Season One
Pitch: If you think the zombies are scary just wait until you get a load of Michael Rooker…
Why Buy? A man awakens from a coma to find the world overrun by zombies and the human survivors dwindling every day. The odds against a TV series about zombies actually being as frightening and gross as it needed to be were high, but somehow AMC pulled it off thanks to storng writing/directing from Frank Darabont and impressively messy effects work from Greg Nicotero. AMC wisely kept season one to six episodes which is enough time to flesh out characters without ever becoming repetitive. The show is solid, but making this an even better purchase are the multiple extras including additional scenes, making-of segments, and more.
Daniel Tosh: Happy Thoughts
Pitch: You will laugh. You may feel bad afterward, but you will laugh…
Why Rent? If you’re not watching Tosh.0 on Comedy Central you’re missing one of the finer YouTube round-ups in some time. Unlike most shows that zip through multiple clips in machine gun style, Tosh only features a few but stretches the rude and crude laughs out exponentially. His recent stand-up special continues the trend of crossing lines and being an equal opportunity offender.
Pitch: You will cry. You will feel bad afterward, but you will cry…
Why Rent? Haven’t seen this one yet, but it’s about the banking collapse we’re all still paying for and it just won an Academy Award so it’s probably worth a rental. As everyone knows by know the financial crash of the past few years was due to greed and poor decision making on the part of corporations and politicians. The American people are guilty as well with our culture of excess, but the actual triggers can be traced back to actions made under Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton up through George W Bush and even Barack Obama. It’s a disturbing and disgusting tale that unfortunately isn’t all that surprising.
Pitch: Looking forward to the sequel, Afternoon Delight…
Why Rent? It’s no Broadcast News, but this comedy about ethics in the world of network morning shows is smart and funny comedy. A young but eager producer is given a chance on a low-rated show, but squabbling anchors, arguments over quality, and a workplace romance all threaten to derail her efforts. Rachel McAdams is always good, but she’s never been lovelier, livelier, or more charismatic than she is here. Harrison Ford channels his inner grump to the film as well and gives his most entertaining performance in years. And then of course there’s this.
The Next Three Days
Pitch: Elizabeth Banks is behind bars in a prison for bad girls…
Why Rent? Russell Crowe is happily married to Elizabeth Banks and proud father to a young son, but their world is shattered when police bust in and arrest her for murder. Did she do it? You’ll find out soon enough, but the story here is about his efforts to save her life as weeks in prison turn to months and years. This is a capable remake of a superior French film called Anything For Her, but it loses some of its appeal in the third act thanks to a horribly written detective character. Still, the film is entertaining and suspenseful enough to make it worth a watch.
Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman
Pitch: This wormhole is the closest he’ll ever get to rendezvousing with Rama…
Why Rent? Haven’t seen this one yet, but there are very few actors I’d rather go through a wormhole with other than Mr. Freeman. There are plenty of actresses though. Discovery’s Science channel presents eight episodes featuring Freeman’s comforting voice narrating our way through some of life’s greatest mysteries. Is there a god? (No.) Is time travel possible? (Not in the way movies would have us believe.) What are we made of? (Water. And fat.) Are we alone? (You’ll have to ask Tiffany.)
The Zombie Farm
Pitch: Zombies and voodoo oh my! It’s everything The Serpent & the Rainbow managed to avoid…
Why Avoid? Zombie films really only have one must-have element to make them even a partial success. Sure a solid plot and passable acting are nice, but if the gore is wet, bloody, and frequent all else will be forgiven. This low budget flick has a mildly interesting yet slightly silly plot, acting that will neither impress nor embarrass, and no gore. That’s NO gore. And you know how zombie movies end with a large scale assault by the undead? Forget it. You’ve never seen a zombie uprising as drab and lifeless as the one here. (See what I did there? Feel free to use that.)
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?