Inside Job

This Week in DVD

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 […]

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Last Sunday, Inside Job was crowned the best documentary of the year by the Academy. But that’s not the reason to want to own it. The reason to want this insightful bit of filmmaking is so that you can (no matter your political beliefs) get into huge arguments with your family over it. Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up, and what better conversation piece is there to lob over the traditional feast of boiled potatoes, cabbage and shame? There is none. Plus, we’re giving away one copy for free and selling one for $2.02 trillion. How do you get your hands on the free copy? Glad you asked:

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Academy Awards broadcast. Please join us for our Live-Blog tonight (because we ask nicely), and while you wait for the winners, check out our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. Tonight’s the night! You find out if you will take top prize in your office pool, and, you know, you’ll get to see which fantastic films are most celebrated with little naked statues of gold. If you love the Oscars, hate them, or pretend to hate them while sitting riveted to the broadcast, one thing is clear: tonight is a night to celebrate the best in filmmaking. We love movies. So do you. Tonight we can all celebrate our favorites of 2010 even if they don’t win and even if they weren’t nominated. As for those in the running, they are all beautiful works of art, they’re all winners tonight, they went out on the field and gave 110%…and…yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s get to the winning, right? And the Oscar goes to…

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While we may not see a non-fiction film nominated for Best Picture anytime soon, the Best Documentary Feature has for many risen from a minor category rarely given its due attention to a battleground for some of the most important movies in a given year. 2010 was no exception, and in this year and in this category there are an impressive collection of docs addressing a variety of subjects in unique ways that truly exemplify the personalities of the filmmakers behind them. If no other year has convinced you the documentary is a great art form, this one should. But perhaps more significantly, this year exhibits such a variety of films that it throws the simplistic notion that a documentary should occupy one single mode of address out the window: here we have ambitious and stylish massive doc about a very complex subject, an intimate biographical advocacy piece, some on-the-ground investigative journalism, some trash art, and that film everyone’s been talking about all year that puts the entire notion of artistic truth into question. Only one of these films will take home the gold at the end of the night, but I’ll be damned if they’re not all impressive pieces of non-fiction filmmaking. And the nominees (with my prediction in red) are…

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This article is part of our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. As you may know, Robert Ebert is promising $100,000 to anyone who can predict every single Oscar win this year. Going 24 for 24 is an impressive feat, unless you have an ethically questionable friend that works at PricewaterhouseCoopers. But, if you have that, why would you be wasting your time on a measly $100,000? Exactly. I don’t have that friend, but I have a graphing calculator and a lot of free time, so I came up with the predictions that I’ll be submitting to Ebert’s contest. I’d better not get a subscription to Red Book or something  for sharing my email information with him. Check out who I think will win the awards on Sunday (written in bold), tell me why I’m dead wrong, and put your money where your mouth is by entering the contest yourself.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as THEFANFROMLONDON and DinoDNA007 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the two tackle the fact that no documentary has ever been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Why all the hate, AMPAS? Sure, it has its own category, but that doesn’t deny it entry into the big game. Is there an internal bias against non-fiction? Should Jackass 3 been facing off against The Social Network? Will we see a documentary nominated for Best Picture in our lifetime?

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At the end of the 90s, famous Oscar show writer and Celebrity Fit Club contestant Bruce Vilanch claimed that, “Generally with the Oscars…there isn’t much you can do until the nominations are announced. Then you know what kind of year you’re dealing with – what’s been overlooked, what the issues are.” He was talking about preparing to write the show, but it applies to everyone from the directors, producers and stars on down to the fans. It’s fun to guess around the water cooler (your office still has a water cooler?), but until now, it’s all been speculation. Thankfully, almost all that speculation has been spot on, so we can all continue our conversations about whether Black Swan will beat The Social Network for Best Picture. Whether Natalie Portman has any true competition for Best Actress. Whether, most importantly of all, Colleen Atwood will beat Mary Zophres for Best Costume Design. Here they are. The 2011 Academy Award nominees:

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The Producers Guild of America is known for aligning its picks with the Oscar nominations with the startling regularity that can only come when two groups share the same voting pool. That’s why groups like, say, the Hollywood Foreign Press (who I think actually nominated a nip-slip video this year) doesn’t match up at all. The PGA, which announced its award nominees today, went 9 for 10 last year, and by the looks of this list, they might just do it again in 2011.

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Culture Warrior

With the release of Pixar’s Up, last year saw a great deal of conversation surrounding the ghettoization of animated movies at major awards shows. This debate resulted in something of a minor, qualified victory for animated cinema of 2009, as Up was the first animated movie to be nominated for Best Picture since Beauty and the Beast, but then again it sat amongst a crowded bevy of nine fellow nominations, and animated films remain unthreatening to their live action competitors because of the separate-but-unequal Best Animated Feature Category. I’d like to take this space to advocate for the big-category acceptance of yet another marginalized and underappreciated category around awards time: non-fiction films.

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Culture Warrior

I was living in New York in September 2008, and took some time a couple of days after the stock market crash to visit way downtown Manhattan and see what was going on. The quietude was shocking, as the alarms being sounded on cable news networks made it sound like I shouldn’t be surprised to see brokers peddling on the street, people running around on fire for no apparent reason, or CEOs segway-ing off of cliffs. As I rarely visited the Financial District, I had no idea whether or not this was normal. Maybe the crash had invoked a necessary meditation or speechlessness, a rare time of reflection for capitalists-run-amok. But the truth was that such panic wouldn’t be visible on the street amongst the common folk (houses around the country owned by low and middle-income families told that story), rather the chaos was happening inside the buildings themselves. Oliver Stone’s latest entry into his “W” trilogy dealing with major 21st century American events (alongside World Trade Center and W.), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, is an attempt to inquire on the conversations that may have gone on in those buildings.

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