Closed Circuit

discs the act of killing

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Act of Killing Indonesia, like many countries, has a dark and bloody past filled with brutal death squads and mass killings. The difference is that unlike those others the people of Indonesia continue to celebrate the murderers, and many of those killers still walk the streets as heroes of a cruel and sadistic history. This documentary puts us in the killers’ midst as they tell their story using the medium they love so much, film. Joshua Oppenheimer‘s film is an absolute marvel both in what it sets out to do and in what it accomplishes. The “characters” here are madmen in charge of their own fates and world, and the view they have of their shared history is more disturbing than any horror film. The only thing more terrifying than hearing them talk about what they’ve done and how they feel about it now is watching their efforts to recreate it all in front of the camera. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Theatrical and director's cuts, interview, commentary with Oppenheimer and Werner Herzog, featurette, deleted scenes, trailers, booklet]

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2013.moviedoppelgangers

Every year, there seem to be unintended themes emerging from movie releases. It’s almost as if the studios called each other to coordinate projects like friends in high school planning to wear matching outfits on a Friday. Sometimes this effect is unintentional, like when an emerging movie star manages to have multiple films comes out the same year (see Melissa McCarthy below); other times, it’s a result of executives switching studios and developing similar projects (like the infamous Disney and DreamWorks 1998 double-header grudge match of A Bug’s Life vs. Antz and Armageddon vs. Deep Impact). This year is no different, producing a slew of movie doppelgangers. For the sake of creativity, I left the painfully obvious off. Still, who can forget offerings like Olympus Has Fallen up against White House Down as well as This Is the End paired with The World’s End? And, if you really hate yourself, you can watch a terrible trippleganger of A Haunted House, Scary Movie 5 and 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Whether it’s similar themes, the same actor in noticeably similar roles, or parallel stand-out moments in two films, this list of 13 movie pairings can provide a nice selection of companion pieces for your viewing pleasure.

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instructions not included

As a number of box office reports will recognize, this was one of the weirdest weekends ever for new releases. For one thing, a documentary topped the chart for the three-day frame (there’s a chance it won’t win the whole four-day Labor Day weekend, however), and for another thing, a Spanish-language movie in limited release rounded out the top five highest grossing pics. Both of these bettered all other openers, including the action thriller Getaway and the British terrorism thriller Closed Circuit, which debuted Wednesday in a low-end yet still-wide release. It’s certainly the most curious weekend for box office numbers since a Bollywood movie opened in the top ten back in June. The doc at #1 is One Direction: This Is Us, and as far as I’m aware this is only the seventh nonfiction feature to open this high (the others are Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Jackson: This Is It, Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour and the three Jackass movies — I would maybe count Borat, too, but many people would not), and the first since 2010. To show how bad a weekend this was overall, though, This Is Us debuted at almost half the amount that Justin Bieber: Never Say Never did, but sadly that one was just barely beat (by only a few hundred-k) by the Adam Sandler vehicle Just Go With It. Still, you can bet we’ll continue getting 3D music doc-busters starring the pop act du jour thanks to this distinction, even […]

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review closed circuit

Conspiracy theory thrillers are almost a genre unto themselves, and the best ones all share a few things in common. The everyday folk caught up in the web should be somewhat relatable, the details of the cover-up should be shocking but believable, and there should be a surprise or two along the way. Closed Circuit barely gets one of those three elements right, but unfortunately it’s the least thrilling of the bunch. A bomb goes off in downtown London killing 120 people, and the evidence leads back to one surviving suspect. He’s quickly arrested by police and identified in the press, and several months later he’s ready for trial. Martin Rose (Eric Bana) is assigned to defend him in court, while another barrister is set to represent him in a secret court where evidence not for public consumption will be discussed, argued over and kept from Rose and the client. But tragedy leads to a change up and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Rebecca Hall) is brought in to handle business in the covert court. Rose and Simmons-Howe had an affair once, and in addition to having wrecked his marriage it also complicates their current assignment. They lie about it but soon discover that their secret is a small fish compared to the leviathan details of the case.

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bana

A few nights ago, because I’m a rather busy man, I spent three hours revisiting the 2004 Cannes Film Festival gem, Troy. That’s the Wolfgang Peterson movie where much of its buzz was based on Brad Pitt’s abs and, to my disappointment, only semi-nude scenes, not the fact that it featured Peter O’Toole, Brian Cox, Brendan Gleeson, and other seasoned pros. Also in that cast was Eric Bana – shortly after grabbing attention with Andrew Dominik’s Chopper and Ridley Scott’s Blackhawk Down. Troy wasn’t exactly up to snuff with those two films, but, in a big ‘ol cheese ball of a movie where even O’Toole hammed it up a little too much, Bana brought a much needed gravitas to Peterson’s light popcorn epic. He was stoic and imposing as Hector, and you’ll see him as the opposite in this week’s Closed Circuit, where he plays a jaded lawyer who probably wouldn’t even know how to fire a gun if you handed him one. We spoke with Eric Bana about Closed Circuit‘s old-school vibe and the longevity a few of his films have enjoyed over the years:

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Closed Circuit

If recent spy thrillers (and, ahem, Fast Six) have taught us anything, it’s that nefarious people in positions of power are always able to access government-run closed circuit videos for their own means. But what if it’s the actual government that’s collecting tape like a geeky collector at a neighborhood flea market? That’s the question (sort of, not really at all) at the heart of John Crowley‘s Closed Circuit. The film sounds like a relatively straightforward thriller (albeit one with a stellar cast that includes Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Julia Stiles, and Jim Broadbent) with some added sex appeal. Oh, and also this closed circuit thing. Bana and Hall star as lawyers (and ex-lovers) who get tasked with defending a man accused of a terrorist act that left many dead (he allegedly rigged a bus with explosives and set it off in a crowded area). It seems like a relatively thankless gig, but they soon discover that their client may in fact have been set up as a double agent by their own government, until everything went terribly wrong. Also? Again? Still something about CCTV. Who wants to place bets on how long it takes Bana and Hall to break into some video vault? Make sure your webcam is off first, and check out the first trailer for Closed Circuit after the break.

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