Welcome back to This Week In DVD! It seems the long national nightmare is over, as through no small part of our own, This Week In Blu-ray has been found alive and well after 76 grueling days. It was just two weeks ago that we made a plea for the safe return of Neil Miller’s column, and now we’ve gotten just that. Give it a read, and don’t let the fact that he’s wrong about A Bag of Hammers turn you away.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
The Sarah Silverman Program: The Complete Series
Sarah Silverman brings her particular brand of crass, crazy and oddly sexy humor to Comedy Central with this series that follows her daily adventures alongside her sister Laura, her big, orange, gay neighbors Brian and Steve, her dog Doug, and an affable officer of the law named Officer Jay. Sarah the character is foul mouthed, selfish and liable to piss off just about everyone as she goes about her day to day life, and Sarah the comedienne makes her very, very convincing with comedy that wavers between smart commentary, edgy observations and poop jokes. Her antics and voice are definitely not for everyone, but if you like your laughs in the form of attractive, crude and attractively crude women you really can’t go wrong with this very funny lady.
Louie: The Complete Second Season
Pitch: Featuring the best performance of Dane Cook’s career…
Why Buy? The second season of Louis CK’s critically acclaimed FX series follows the life of a standup comedian who’s also a single dad. The show mixes his actual standup act, which I rarely find funny, with a narrative that is rarely less than engaging, human and humorous. Before getting his own show CK impressed in his supporting role on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, but here he gets to showcase his seemingly natural talent as he plays himself. This season also featured some recognizable faces including Joan Rivers, Chris Rock and Dane Cook playing himself as the two men hash out a legendary real-life squabble.
A Bag of Hammers
Pitch: For folks who like their comedy filled with suicide, sadness and other serious themes…
Why Rent? Ben (Jason Ritter) and Alan (Jake Sandvig, who also co-wrote) are twenty-somethings going through life one scam at a time. Their present crime of choice is posing as valets at funerals and then stealing the cars, but when they suddenly find themselves in possession of a young boy they find a sense of responsibility they never knew existed. This odd little film starts as a black comedy but veers fast and often into some serious situations devoid of laughs. It’s funny, until it isn’t. Rebecca Hall is also on-hand as Alan’s grown-up little sister, and as anyone who’s ever seen Hall in anything knows her presence her makes the movie automatically watchable.
Pitch: Vampires weren’t the only undead scourge of old-timey America…
Why Rent? Edward Young wanders the outskirts of a fractured new world mourning the loss of his wife and child. It wasn’t the Civil War that took their lives, it was him. But what else can you do with a zombie besides shoot it in the head? This indie film is a somewhat interesting hybrid of horror and history, and while the end result is a mixed bag fans of either half should find something to enjoy here. Animation is used in several scenes, and it serves as both a stylish departure from the norm and a reminder that this is a low budget production.
Pitch: Dirty times four is still dirty…
Why Rent? Rachel and Franck and Teri and Vincent are the four parts of two couples. They’re happy and seemingly content in their marriages and with their respective kids, but when they meet for dinner one night an adventurously amorous spirit begins niggling in their naughty parts. They swap partners for afternoon and evening delights, but what should have been purely physical soon becomes something more and jealousy, insecurity and doubt begin to creep in amidst the fornication. The movie is a sad look at unfulfilled relationships and the limitations of love, and while much of the sex isn’t as sexy as you’d think (your taste may vary) there’s a flour scene that alone is worth the price of admission.
Pitch: Free tip for filmmakers. Don’t be dicks at your own festival premiere…
Why Rent? The future is upon us at it looks bleaker than you could ever imagine. Gangs fight for their turfs with guns, foul language and the most diabolical form of competition ever designed by man… Beat-Beat Revelation (ie Dance Dance Revolution). It’s a nutty plot device far better suited to a short film as the story that unfolds isn’t quite enough to warrant much more. And yet, there’s something about the Trost Brothers’ feature debut that warrants a watch. Maybe it’s their commitment to the premise, or maybe it’s the beauty of Drafthouse Films’ fantastic packaging for their new line of releases. Numbered spine, reversible sleeve, clear case, liner notes and disc extras… watch the movie, and if you like it enough buy the DVD or Blu-ray. They distribute movies for movie lovers, and that’s something worth rewarding.
Jeff Who Lives at Home
Pitch: Swing away Jeff, swing away…
Why Rent? A young man (Jason Segel) who still lives at home with his mom (Susan Sarandon) struggles to find his purpose in life, but he finds it difficult thanks in part to his pain in the ass older brother (Ed Helms). This light comedy of frustration succeeds despite itself thanks to a talented cast and some winning Signs-related humor. The downside is an inconsistent level of comedy, multiple closeups of Segel’s incredibly moley face and the Duplass Brothers’ annoying love of distracting zooms in the middle of mundane scenes.
Pitch: Could have used less wandering and more lust…
Why Rent? An urban couple (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) fed up with the rat race of the city decide to move in with his brother while they regroup and plan for a future, but a commune called Elysium gets to them first. They meet an eclectic group of people (including Alan Alda, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman and others) who welcome them in no questions asked, but they also find the lives they thought they wanted challenged in unexpected ways. Writer/director David Wain has earned a lifetime pass thanks to the sheer brilliance of Wet Hot American Summer and the abundant fun of Role Models, but despite all the talent involved his latest is middling entertainment. Except for Rudd’s mirror scene. That shit will make you cry with laughter.
Pitch: Least sexual girl-on-girl kiss since the time Madonna kissed anyone with a vagina…
Why Avoid? Marina is a young woman on the coast of Greece with little knowledge of the ways of men and women in the world beyond. Into her life comes Bella, a woman far more experienced in the behaviors of human animals and interested in teaching Marina how to experience it as well. Greek cinema is known for its matter of fact approach to sexuality and mortality, and it makes for a very specific atmosphere that seems to work less often than it doesn’t. This one doesn’t as instead the odd coldness and quirkiness feel forced. The synchronized dance moves in particular, meant to mimic elements from David Attenborough’s nature documentaries, feel far more intentional than interesting. Skip it and watch Dogtooth instead.
Pitch: You’ll wish they’d start killing the chimpanzee pilots already…
Why Avoid? A trio of high school losers decide the only way they’ll get noticed and get laid is to throw the most epic party the school has ever seen. The plan works, and the only people that end up not having fun are the nearby neighbors and the film’s viewers. Todd Phillips produced this unfunny and obnoxious movie that mistakenly thinks its three dickish leads are sympathetic simply because they’re unpopular. The movie isn’t funny and continually swaps cruelty, stupidity and a high degree of unbelievability for plot. Skip it and watch Superbad instead.
Pitch: This is the same Roger Donaldson who made No Way Out? I can only assume he suffered a head injury recently…
Why Avoid? A high school teacher (Nicolas “Who dat?!” Cage) and his musician wife (January Jones) lead a simple life, but when she’s raped and beaten a mysterious man (Guy Pearce) offers a justice the courts can’t. The price for taking care of the rapist is a favor down the road, but that favor comes fast and hard and the couple find themselves caught up in a violent plot beyond their imagining. Sounds better than it actually is as the action here is tepid, the dialogue is weak, the acting (aside from Pearce) is uneventful and Cage is almost never allowed off his chain. Vigilante/revenge movies should be fun and exciting, but this is neither. Skip it and watch The Star Chamber instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
And Everything Is Going Fine (Criterion)
Gray’s Anatomy (Criterion)
Wilfred: The Complete First Season
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?