Welcome back to This Week In DVD. I had a root canal this morning.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
In the very distant future a group of retro racers who still use wheel-based vehicles take part in an ultimate race called Redline while dealing with the competition, organized crime and an alien group intent on ending the tournament forever. This Japanese anime is a blast, and fans looking for that elusive crossover between Cannonball Run and Animalympics should look no further. The film opens and closes with some wildly fun race sequences while the middle works to mostly setup the main storyline and relationships between the racers and two leads. Plus boobs!
Nothing to buy this week! Spend your money on dental floss instead so you can hopefully avoid having to get a root canal. Because seriously… the dental dam was an uncomfortable nightmare.
Pitch: Yes, the scene where Gosling kisses Clooney in the elevator before pummeling Philip Seymour Hoffman is as good as you’ve heard…
Why Rent? A presidential candidate’s (George Clooney) eager and idealistic staffer (Ryan Gosling) discovers working and playing in the top tier political arena can be a soul crushing experience. Clooney directed and co-wrote this depressingly insightful yet highly entertaining look at the modern day world of politics as usual, and both men give strong performances. Gosling has never been particularly interesting, but 2011 saw three very distinct and engaging performances from him. Clooney does a fair job of skewering both sides of the aisle here as well even if he does occasionally lean slightly left.
Pitch: For those lazy days when you find yourself with a hankering for a four-hour plus historical drama in Portuguese…
Why Rent? A young man named Joao discovers he’s the bastard son of two aristocrats and sets out to learn the truth about his parents. One is a well to do socialite, and the other is a wealthy businessman, and across the film’s incredible running time as well as the story’s decades and miles traveled these three characters explore the rich tapestry of people, events and coincidences that life has to offer. I’d be lying if I said I managed to watch this movie in one sitting. Or three. But fans of historical costume drama with a hint of magical realism will find much to savor here.
Pitch: I’m Ron Paul, and I approve of this message…
Why Rent? A group of college students shooting a documentary on illegal immigrants rides along with some Mexicans as they sneak into the United States, but their celebratory arrival is cut short when they’re captured by radical patriots. Chris Peckover’s film mixes its genres some with a little bit of found footage and a little bit of torture horror, but he also infuses it with some strong social commentary. But don’t worry about the message getting in the way of the terror… there’s still more than enough nasty tidbits for your enjoyment. The film does lose some points though for featuring protagonists who whine and roll over instead of fighting back.
Pitch: Never bring a six-pack to a gunfight…
Why Avoid? A retarded boy (Taylor Lautner) with hairy palms discovers his parents aren’t who they say they are, and mere minutes later they’re blown up and he’s on a run for his life. Lautner’s first real attempt at a career outside of the Twilight films ends in this disaster from the usually reliable John Singleton. The film doesn’t get a single thing right in its desperate quest to entertain. The acting is subpar, the script is abysmal, the action is tepid, and seeing Maria Bello here is just depressing. Skip it and watch anything else. Seriously. Anything else.
Pitch: You know what they say about ladies with cold sweat…
Why Avoid? Two friends find trouble when they’re tricked into entering a house owned by two geriatric madmen prone to dipping scantily clad women in nitroglycerin. Just typing that sentence makes me want to watch the movie again until I remember that it’s a great concept saddled with a poorly executed movie. The bad guys here are old, but no one at any time even tries to beat them down. One of the killers uses a walker for Christ’s sake. The film does earn points for finding various ways to get an attractive and busty Argentinian actress to strip down to nothing but perspiration, but that’s not enough to warrant a recommendation. Skip it and watch Cold Comfort Farm instead.
Pitch: Not hilarity, not reality…
Why Avoid? A man and his family enter the Witness Protection Program and begin starring in a reality TV show at the same time. This is, perhaps predictably, a bad idea. The one-note bit of this series is that the trio wear ski masks to protect their identity but otherwise go about their normal lives. So we see them shopping in masks. Working at a copy shop in a mask. Going out on blind dates in a mask. There’s clearly an audience for this kind of comedy, but I’m not it. Mostly because I hesitate to call it comedy. Skip it and watch a double feature of Witness and Real Life instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Age of Heroes
Belle du Jour (Criterion)
Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star
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What are you buying on DVD this week?