The Debt

This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD, and happy Valentine’s Day you sexy sons of bitches! In honor of the holiday I’ve themed this week’s pitches to the idea of love. As in if you love the environment you should buy a copy of the re-issued The Lorax.  Or if you love your adopted Asian daughter you should check out Woody Allen: A Documentary. You get the picture. Speaking of love, if you happen to be currently unattached (or maybe your better half is just out of town) FSR has partnered with an intriguing new dating service. How About We matches people by the date itself instead of shared personality traits or surface-level preferences. I know, it’s a weird thing for a movie site to do, but sometimes you just want to go watch The Vow with someone who won’t judge. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Take Shelter Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) is a husband and father who fears he may be slowly falling victim to schizophrenia. The alternative is that a storm of end-times proportions is heading his family’s way, and he’s not sure which outcome is ideal. Writer/director Jeff Nichols’ film is a successful slowburn of a drama that rewards viewers who stay with Curtis throughout his troubles. The film explores the onset of possible mental illness as a parallel to the hardships of a down economy and daily stresses, and in addition to a powerhouse performance from […]

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Culture Warrior

The month of September is typically regarded as one of the least exciting and least eventful in the calendar year. It’s something of an interval month, a strange in-between phase sandwiched in the middle of summer Hollywood blockbusters and the “quality” flicks and holiday programming of the fall. In strictly monetary terms, it’s the most underperforming month of the year, and has even been beaten by the desolate burial ground that is January in terms of event-style opening weekends. But this may ultimately be a good thing. In fact, if future Septembers continue to exhibit the same patterns as this month, the time of the year in which schools go back in session and you can no longer wear all-white may prove to be one of the most interesting and exciting months on the wide-release calendar.

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The Reject Report

I may have spoken a little too soon about the Circle of Life in this week’s Reject Report. The Circle of Life isn’t complete until a 17-year-old film, The Lion King in this case, gets re-released in 3D on over 2,300 screens and subsequently takes the box office by storm. That’s right. More than 17 years after its initial run, which pulled in $825.7m worldwide, The Lion King has Hakuna Matata’ed in the #1 spot yet again. It didn’t match the $34.2m opening weekend numbers it made the first weekend of July in 1994, but it came reasonably close. Close enough to let Disney as well as anyone who even had an inkling of an idea to re-release an older film in 3D know that that might be the way to go. Just five weekend ago article were being written about the possible demise of 3D. With films like Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night not living up to expectations, it seemed the novelty of seeing films that literally come at you may have been at its frayed end. Of course, you can’t give 3D all the credit for The Lion King stacking up against the competition. The film is a classic, regarded by many as one of Disney’s best, and the children of 1994 who fell in the love with the film are now taking their own kids to watch it. Even without the 3D element it’s a formula for success, one made even more potent with the added […]

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The Reject Report

I thought about opening this Reject Report with a play on the lyrics to “Circle of the Life.” A certain Disney classic is getting its re-release in 3-D this weekend, and you know how we love playing around with lyrics here at the Reject Report. But then we witnessed Ryan Gosling wearing leather driving gloves. Never mind the white bomber jacket complete with scorpion embroidered on the back. Those gloves are what we focused on. Then, after about 45 minutes of staring, we remembered we have a job to do. There’s box office analyses that need to be…um…analyzed, and four new wide releases to split the box office dollars between them. Two R-rated thrillers, that Disney classic that’s getting a re-release on over 2300 screens, and a rom-com starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Over/under on how many words I give that movie.

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The Reject Report

America had a fever…and the only cure…was more fever. Not cowbell this time. Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion hit audience wallets hard this weekend bringing the director his biggest opening outside of films starring Julia Roberts. Maybe there is something to that American darling. Contagion was pretty well on par with analysis, knocked The Help off of its three-week pedestal, and ended up taking the #1 spot with a feverish vengeance. Okay, enough quips about sickness. Well maybe one or two more. As far as disaster movies go, the $60m star-studded film was pretty middle of the road, fitting in as far as opening weekends go between Poseidon‘s $22.1m and Knowing‘s $24.6m. Of course, looking at that reported budget, you can tell the film will be just fine in the long run. Most of the disaster films that have much bigger openings are Summer blockbusters, most of them involving some sort of alien being blowing up national monuments. But Soderbergh proved that even with a whimper you can create an effective end-of-the-world scenario and still rake in some decent cash.

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The Debt is a painstakingly old-fashioned drama that’s far more interested in the nuances of human behavior than exploitation or pyrotechnics. At the same time, in telling the parallel stories of Mossad agents hunting a Nazi doctor in East Berlin circa 1966 and those same agents dealing with the consequences of that mission 30 years later, John Madden’s film evokes the existential themes that lie at the heart of Israel’s creation. To straddle both those worlds within the constraints of a tightly-wound thriller is a considerable accomplishment. And this eloquent remake of a 2007 Israeli picture with the same name harkens back to the old-fashioned aesthetics of genre movies that mean something, films that are unafraid of drawing out big ideas between familiar lines. The film stars Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciarán Hinds as the older version of agents Rachel Singer, Stephan Gold and David Peretz, who discover that the book has not been written on their mission of 30+ years ago with the finality they thought it had. Jessica Chastain, Martin Csokas and Sam Worthington play their younger selves, tracking the sadistic Doktor Bernhardt (Jesper Christensen) astride the Iron Curtain.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr readies for a Labor Day vacation at a lake house surrounded by bloodthirsty sharks. Once dinner is over for the little beasties, he goes undercover in 1960s-era East Berlin to help a bunch of emotionally brittle Mossad agents to kidnap a Nazi war criminal. Unfortunately, all they uncover is dozens of hours of video recordings from a lost NASA moon landing. So Kevin decides to edit all of this footage together into a feature film and hock it to the Weinsteins, convincing them that it really happened… or did it?

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The Reject Report

The 17 before it came, touched down, collected some sweet rocks, looked at some Transformers, and went home. But this 18th Reject Report, it’ll show you things you never even dreamed could be in existence. Like a 3-D movie about partying teens who get taken out by a pack of fresh-water sharks…and IT’S PG-13! Or how about a found footage thriller about a Moon landing that goes horribly awry? Or how about a film starring Helen Mirren? Actually that last one we could dream of. In fact, we do often. She kicks some ass in this movie, right? Sweet! All that and more can be found in this 18th Reject Report – actually it’s more like the 112th, 113th. I don’t know. I didn’t actually go back and count them – so strap in, throw on your 3-D glasses – or don’t. We don’t care either way – and try not to think of Helen Mirren. I know. It’s difficult.

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Why are spies so sad and mopey now? Where are the cool, suave, and untouchable secret agents? Lately, nowhere to be found on the big screen. Director John Madden certainly is not bringing back the era of smooth heroes with his latest film, The Debt. The director’s small, claustrophobic remake focuses on lost individuals who display more heartache and moral uncertainty than your typical heroics. Madden did not make a film about a secret mission gone awry, but a film about regret and the power of lies. A few years ago director Matthew Vaughn was attached to helm the thriller, and if he ended up behind the camera, The Debt would be a very different film. Instead of going for a stylish and poppy feel, the Shakespeare in Love filmmaker went with something far more claustrophobic and full of moral uncertainty. As a result, Madden made something many, many notches above Kill Shot in the quality department. Here is what director John Madden had to say about his three damaged Mossad agents, taking a serious matter seriously, and the power of regret:

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Sam Worthington in The Debt

The first trailer for The Debt has hit the web. This movie, which appears to have snuck up on many of us, is the latest from Shakespeare in Love director John Madden. It’s a trip into the world of Isreali agents hunting down Nazi war criminals, and it’s filled with an interesting cast. The likes of Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain are flanked by some serious talent: Helen Mirren, Ciaran Hinds and Tom Wilkinson. The trailer doesn’t give us much to work with beyond evoking the general look and feel of Steven Spielberg’s Munich, but it does deliver a sense of energy. And it does have a bit of energy. It’s worth noting that this film is based on a story by Kick-Ass creative duo Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman. The official synopsis and new trailer are yours to play with after the jump.

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