Knuckle

This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week in DVD! Some great, good and sadly deficient releases await you including The Sunset Limited, Knuckle, season two of Rocko’s Modern Life, the second to last Twilight film and more! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Project NIM In the early 1970s a douchey professor at Columbia University set out on an experiment involving cross species communication by taking a young chimpanzee from its mother shortly after birth and placing it with a human family to be raised as one of their children. This documentary from director James Marsh is ostensibly about that chimp named Nim, but the people who pass in and out of his life are just as much the subjects here. Their motivations, actions and attitudes offer a smorgasbord of typical human behaviors that none of us should be proud of regardless of where you land on the issue of animal ethics, and the result is an oddly fascinating glimpse at the human psyche as interpreted by our closest living relative.

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As a westerner I always wondered whether the depiction of “pikeys” in Guy Ritchie’s film Snatch had any semblance of truth in them, or were they exaggerated caricatures. Thanks to Ian Palmer’s documentary Knuckle I got my answer to elements I didn’t even think to question. Oh, and by the way the answer is no – Brad Pitt and his fellow fast-talk-mumbling-slang spitters in love with caravans and bare-knuckle fighting are not caricatures. Not completely, anyway.

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Two nights ago, a great battle was waged in Austin, TX. It’s an annual Fantastic Fest tradition known as The “Knuckle” Fantastic Debates. Here’s how it works: two combatants enter the ring, debate a geek-friendly topic, then settle the argument not with words, but with fists. This year saw an impressive fightcard, including Knuckle (the film that sponsored the event) lead subject James Quinn McDonagh squaring off against Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League. There was also a bout between a noted NASA hater and an astrophysicist. But the marquee match-up was two men, diminutive in stature but large in fame, two long-time friends, who decided to answer the question eternal: which Hobbit is more of a badass. Debating the topic of World of Warcraft and whether or not it is a complete waste of time, actors Elijah Wood and Dominic Monaghan went toe-to-toe for the belt of Middle Earth. You can watch it for yourself in the embedded video found after the jump.

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When Benji Carver hit Sundance for us earlier this year, he fell in love with Knuckle, saying it’s “a film that shares bloody punches and sardonic wit as we see various brothers and cousins fight each other the back-roads of Ireland. It plays out like a true rough and tumble version of Michael Apted’s Up series.” If I weren’t already sold on it, this trailer would do the trick. Of course, it has more up its sleeveless shirt than just violence. Director Ian Palmer promises that there will be blood, but there will also be a socially fascinating look at family, status, and honor. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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After getting locked out of the press screening for this year’s Grand Jury Prize Dramatic Winner, Like Crazy, I skipped over to the next theater, which sadly played the worse film I saw at the festival this year, The Ledge. Despite that mishap, there were a lot of great films at Sundance. Here are my top 5 in no particular order, alongside the best film I saw at this year’s festival (which may surprise you). I felt that each film had the most impact during my stay at the festival and introduced us to some fantastic new voices that will be coming to a cinema near you.

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I found myself in the muggy, violent, and male world of Great Britain today at Sundance with my first two films being the documentary Knuckle and the dramatic feature Tyrannosaur. Press lines can be brutal at times – they fill up fast even when you get there early, so unfortunately I only got into 3 out the 5 I wanted to see this first Saturday of the festival. That’s the nature of the beast. In addition to the two films mentioned above, I also witnessed the travesty of The Ledge, featuring talented actors like Terrence Howard, Patrick Wilson, and Liv Tyler, who find themselves in an earnest melodramatic thriller that would be bad even for a Lifetime movie.

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Sundance 2011 marks my first time at the festival, and the overwhelming task of having the chance to see literally hundreds of films and shorts makes it a daunting and exciting task to look forward to in my first adventure in snow-capped Park City. Many of these films will only be seen at this one time at the festival and then possibly never again due to various rights, distribution, unseen film politics, or just plain shoddy filmmaking (sad to say). So besides all of that hub-bub, here are the 11 films I can’t wait to see as the year’s festival kicks off from this Thursday, January 20th to the following Sunday of the 30th.

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