This Week in DVDThree good to great films we first enjoyed at last year’s Fantastic Fest are making their DVD debut this week, and they’re all worth a rental or a purchase. Rubber and The Housemaid are both automatic purchases in my book, but there are plenty of other releases this week worth a look including the Coen Brothers’ very funny True Grit, Adam Sandler’s ever so slightly better than usual Just Go With It, the James Cameron-produced disaster Sanctum, the LARP filled thriller (?) The Wild Hunt, the Le Tigre concert film Who Took the Bomp?, and many more.

As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.

Rubber

A discarded tire gains sentience and discovers a taste for murder when it rolls into a small desert town and begins using telekinesis to blow up peoples’ heads. And then the movie gets weird.

Normally when people dislike films I love I know it’s because they’re most likely utter tools, but with Rubber? Well, I completely understand it. It’s an absolutely absurd comedy that goes the meta route to comment on films and audiences alike. It’s laugh out loud funny and very smart, has a great score, and features some of the best remote controlled tire work you’ve ever seen. Check out my full review here.

The Housemaid

Pitch: They had me at sexy Korean thriller…

Why Buy? A young woman takes a job as a maid for an upper crust family and finds herself immersed into a very messed up family dynamic. She begins an affair with the man of the house, but jealousy, deceit, and decorum lead to an unexpectedly tragic (and crazy as hell) finale.

The film is dark, sexy, and beautifully shot, and while the ending may be a little wack the final shot makes up for it. Check out Cole Abaius’s full review here.

True Grit

Pitch: A fantastic film if you skip the final five minutes…

Why Buy? A young girl (Hailee Steinfeld) hires a drunken US Marshall named Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to hunt down the men who killed her father, and together with a goofball Texas Ranger (Matt Damon) the trio take off on a hilarious but death-filled adventure. The Coen’s redo of Charles Portis’s novel (previously filmed with John Wayne) is a good western but an even better comedy. The action is limited but well-done, the performances are solid, and the script is fast, funny, and sharp. The ending is a major misstep though with its obvious and poorly done CGI. Check out Cole’s full review here.

Carancho

Pitch: Few actors can make sleaze as lovable and forgivable as Ricardo Darin…

Why Rent? An ambulance-chasing lawyer in Argentina gets drawn into the painful world of organized crime at the same time he falls in love. Inconvenient timing to say the least. Darin brings real heart and puppy dog eyes to the role even as his character does some despicable things and digs a deeper and deeper hole for himself.

The plot does get a bit convoluted at times, but two strong lead performances and some solid car crash action make it worth a watch. Check out Cole’s full review here.

The Company Men

Pitch: It takes a hard heart to fire Ben Affleck…

Why Rent? A large American corporation acting in the best interest of its shareholders lays off thousands of workers including Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones. This is the depressing movie about what happens next. John Wells’s film touches the same nerve that Jason Reitman’s superior Up In the Air dealt with, but it doesn’t have the same strong narrative and emotional appeal to carry viewers through to the end. It’s worth a watch for the acting on display only. Well, and another example of Maria Bello’s insistence on nudity in all of her roles. Check out Neil Miller’s full review here.

In Her Skin

Pitch: Guy Pearce and Sam Neill. ‘Nuff said…

Why Rent? A teenage girl goes missing and while her parents search non-stop for any trace we also follow the story of another woman who may be responsible. Writer/director Simone North delivers a powerful story on both sides… we see the breakdown and strength of one family and the sad dysfunction of another, and she shoots it all with a mix of real beauty and frightening madness. Pearce and Neill are supporting players here, but they’re still as good as expected. And Ruth Bradley is a stunner as the girl with issues that pushes them all towards tragedy.

Just Go With It

Pitch: Would you believe me if I said this was actually worth watching for Jennifer Aniston? No, really…

Why Rent? Adam Sandler woos women into one-night stands by pretending to be married to an abusive wife, but his plan backfires when he falls in “love” with a hot blond half his age. Now he needs his best friend (Aniston) to pretend to be the wife so the new girl will marry him. That straight-forward plot is soon convoluted by contrivances that would embarrass most sitcom writers, but the movie is still worth a watch for fans of the cast thanks to a handful of real laughs and an atypical performance from Aniston who’s funny, sweet, and natural here. Check out my full review here.

Pretty Little Liars: The Complete First Season

Pitch: One’s pretty and one’s little, but all four of them are liars…

Why Rent? This ABC Family series follows four friends who reunite one year after a fifth friend went missing and begin receiving mysterious messages signed with the girl’s initial. The first couple of episodes don’t make a compelling case for continuing to watch and the fact that no one seems concerned with a teacher having an affair with a sixteen year old is troublesome, but there are some entertaining story twists to be found if you stick with it. It’s also worth watching for the extremely attractive girl with lesbianic tendencies. I watch Glee for the same reason.

Salt Of This Sea

Pitch: Give me ten minutes, a baguette, and a stuffed platypus, and I could solve this silly Israel/Palestinian problem…

Why Rent? An American-born woman heads to Palestine to explore her family’s past and is drawn into sharp conflict over the country’s current situation. This is the first Palestinian feature from a female writer/director (Annemarie Jacir), and it offers an interesting if volatile view on Israeli/Palestinian relations.

The lead character’s anger and frustration is shared with the viewer in the opening airport security scene, and the remainder of the film continues to question opinions on the matter. It’s not very kind towards Israel, but it’s about time someone gave the Jews some grief.

Transformers Beast Wars: Season 1

Pitch: It’s pretty much exactly what meets the eye…

Why Rent? Two new Transformer factions crash land on an ancient earth and immediately begin battling over the planet’s supply of Energon. The Maximals are led by Optimus Primal while the Predacons are led by Megatron (they apparently couldn’t think of an animal-themed twist on Megatron). While it may have been impressive at the time the animation really sucks. It’s dark, poorly rendered, and looks slow in the action scenes. But the storylines occasionally go to some darker places than these cartoons usually see. Still, fans of Transformers will find much to enjoy here. Shout! Factory has also released a complete series boxset available only from their website.

Who Took the Bomp? Le Tigre On Tour

Pitch: Who indeed…

Why Rent? This doc/concert film follows Le Tigre’s 2004-2005 world tour and features performances as well as interviews and backstage shenanigans. Their music is catchy, infectious electronica, and their shows are equally high energy choreographed fun. The three women who make up the band are vocal opponents of homophobia and sexism even going go far as to turn down a full-page ad in a national magazine over a disagreement of terminology. But whether or not you agree with their politics it’s hard not to enjoy their sounds and personalities.

Exorcismus

Pitch: A troubled teenage girl! A disgraced priest! And the devil…

Why Avoid? A typical teen begins experiencing seizures that quickly lead to full on demonic possession, and soon a priest who’s seen better days is called in to coax the devil from her tender flesh.

The remainder of the film is just as cliched unfortunately and offers nothing new to the possession/exorcism genre. Skip it and go watch The Exorcist III instead.

Pros & Ex-Cons

Pitch: Ever wonder what Sam Worthington was doing before hitting the big time here in the US? Yeah, me neither…

Why Avoid? Two schmucks watch Superman III and Office Space back to back and decide the take-away is a scheme to steal money by skimming the extra cents from bank transactions into their own offshore account. Their paths are soon crossed with a couple inept hitmen called The Whackers. We know that’s their name because all of the characters are introduced via stylized screens. The movie aims for a darkly comedic but cool vibe in the vein of Quentin Tarantino’s early crime capers, but it misses the mark with both the humor and the goods. Skip it and go watch Rogue instead.

Sanctum

Pitch: James Cameron’s stink-hole beckons…

Why Avoid? Explorers head down into a giant hole in the Earth in search of tunnels to the nearby ocean, but when a vicious storm strikes the surface above they’re forced to find a new way out if they want to survive. Trust me when I say you’ll hope none of them do within the first fifteen minutes.

There are some impressive visuals (or at least they were on the big screen), but the acting is poor and the screenplay is absolutely terrible. Like laughably bad. Check out my full review of Sanctum here. Skip it and go watch The Descent instead.

Shadows And Lies

Pitch: James Franco’s stink-hole beckons…

Why Avoid? Jay Anania: “Hey Franco, it’s me Jay. I sat behind you in Screenwriting 101 last year at Columbia. I was wondering if you wanted to star in my movie. It’s an artsy but ridiculous attempt at a mysterious gangster flick with poorly written characters, a needlessly confusing narrative device, and a lead role I wrote just for your peculiar acting peccadilloes. The only downside may be that Martin Donovan is going to steal every scene he’s in… so what do you think?” James Franco: “mumblegrinmumble.”

Skip it and go watch some Freaks And Geeks instead.

The Wild Hunt

Pitch: “I bet if I suggested a game of Quidditch he’d cum in his pants…”

Why Avoid? A guy is dumped by his girlfriend but decides to follow her into the world of Live Action Role Players to win her back. Egos, imagination, and stupidity lead to a tragedy of idiotic proportions. The concept and setting here are interesting, but the execution is slow and frustrating. The guy’s quest for his girlfriend is inexplicable because all we see of her is utter bitchiness, and this combined with the incredibly inept decisions made by most of the characters helps drain the film of any sense of fun or suspense. Great final minute though. Skip it and go watch Mazes & Monsters instead.

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:

American: The Bill Hicks Story
Arctic Blast
The Big C: The Complete First Season
Breaking Bad: The Complete Third Season
Kingdom Of War Part I & II
Slice Of Life
Tortured

Read More: This Week in DVD

What are you buying on DVD this week?


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