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Archive for February, 2011

DVD Report – February 22nd

There are a few great films on DVD this week, including Mesrine: Killer Instinct, the first half of Vincent Cassel’s take on the famous French criminal, and Get Low, a suspenseful character piece. But the pick of the week is Fish Tank, a British drama about a troubled teen played magnificently by newcomer Katie Jarvis. Criticker users loved it.

Due DateAverage Tier 4.38
High-strung father-to-be Peter Highman is forced to hitch a ride with aspiring actor Ethan Tremblay on a road trip in order to make it to his child’s birth on time. Due Date @ Amazon

Criticker PickFish TankAverage Tier 7.15
The life of hot-tempered teen outcast Mia (Katie Jarvis) takes an unexpected turn when her mother (Kierston Wareing) brings home a handsome and mysterious boyfriend named Connor (Michael Fassbender), who pledges to bring sweeping positive changes to the household. Fish Tank @ Amazon

MegamindAverage Tier 5.66
When a cunning supervillain (voiced by Will Ferrell) accidently kills his crime-fighting nemesis, the rogue suddenly finds life boring and uninspired. So, he creates a new enemy (Jonah Hill) who seeks to destroy the world, forcing Megamind to play the hero role for once in his life. Megamind @ Amazon

Mesrine: Killer InstinctAverage Tier 6.72
The first half of an epic biography of the real-life french gangster Mesrine. This film covers Mesrine’s introduction into violence during the war between France and Algeria up to his exile in Montreal. This man was a gangster, thug, prison escape artist, bank robber and even a terrorist. In France, he is a legend. Mesrine: Killer Instinct @ Amazon

Get LowAverage Tier 6.12
A man in a small town plans his own funeral in order to resolve an old murder case. Get Low @ Amazon

New Server for Criticker

As you might have noticed last night, Criticker was down for about 7 hours of unscheduled maintenance. Over the past couple months, our server has come under malware attack a few times, and yesterday it happened again. That was the last straw, and we decided to change things immediately.

The great news is that our new server is twice as fast as the old server, with a sparkling new processor and more memory. Even better — the new upgrade has allowed us to apply much stronger security measurements, so that (knock on wood) our days of being attacked are hopefully over.

By the way, if you ever end up talking to some guy at a bar, and he starts bragging about he loves to hack into random servers, and screw with websites, do me a favor and punch that douche bag in the damn face.

You might see some site issues related to the server upgrade today. We’ll be working through those, as we do some initial house-cleaning on our new box. And, once again, we have to send a huge thank you out to Criticker’s supporters — without your help, this upgrade wouldn’t be possible!

New Mini-Enhancement: Who Gave You Stars?

We just rolled out a new little enhancement to the film list page, which allows you to quickly see who gave you stars for your mini-review of the film you’re looking at.

Before, we showed how many stars your clever mini-review received, but it was difficult to figure out who had given you those stars. Now just click on the number, and you can see who loves ya!

New Sponsor Feature: Statistics & Graphs

Criticker’s supporting members now have available a set of graphs and statistics about their rankings to check out!

Check out the breakdown of genres, number of rankings across the years, and the percentage of most popular films you’ve seen, split into decade and even year! These tools help you figure out what decade you prefer in terms of most films seen and best overall rating. And you can see what genres you tend to favor, and tend to ignore, versus the average distribution.

This represents the beginning of our intention to roll out a whole suite of statistics, based on the massive amount of data in Criticker’s database. Eventually, we’ll make a subset of the statistics available to everyone, but non-sponsors will have to wait a little while. If you can’t wait, why not help support Criticker? Get the ads-free version and help keep the site going, in addition to unlocking a number of other features.

DVD Report – February 15th

The only film worth mentioning this week is Geoffrey Canada’s documentary Waiting for ‘Superman’, which was unusually successful at the box office. As you’d imagine for a film about improving the education system, it was a political lightning rod, with almost as many critics decrying gross inaccuracies, as those praising its overall message. Regardless of your views about charter schools and standardized testing, it’s worth seeing for anyone with a vested interest in American education.

UnstoppableAverage Tier 4.57
It’s a nail-biting race against time as an unmanned train carrying a load of lethal chemicals speeds out of control, and a conductor and engineer do everything in their power to keep it from derailing and killing tens of thousands of people. Denzel Washington leads the cast in Tony Scott’s tough-minded thriller, in which a terrible circumstance forces a couple of ordinary men to become extraordinary heroes. Unstoppable @ Amazon

You Will Meet a Tall Dark StrangerAverage Tier 4.37
A little romance, some sex, some treachery, and apart from that, a few laughs. The lives of a group of people, whose passions, ambitions and anxieties force them all into assorted troubles that run the gamut from ludicrous to dangerous. (facebook.com) You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger @ Amazon

Waiting for ‘Superman’Average Tier 6.69
Davis Guggenheim reminds us that education “statistics” have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, whose stories make up the engrossing foundation of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. As he follows a handful of promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth, Guggenheim undertakes an exhaustive review of public education, surveying “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes,” methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems. Waiting for ‘Superman’ @ Amazon

KitesAverage Tier 3.79
In the harsh terrain of the Mexican desert, a mortally wounded man is left for dead in the heat of the sun. This is Jay – once a street-smart, carefree hustler and now a wanted man. Kites @ Amazon

Game of DeathAverage Tier 1.86
Secret Ops agent Marcus is sent to Detroit to take out an arms dealer and the head of the hedge fund that is financing him. His CIA backup has other plans and turns on him and it’s a fight to survive in a hospital. (imdb) Game of Death @ Amazon

Neglected Gems – Advise & Consent

A political thriller set in the hallowed chambers of the US Senate, Otto Preminger’s excellent Advise & Consent has been largely ignored by the users of Criticker, despite having quite a few things to recommend it.

One of the subplots involves (spoiler) the secret homosexual affair of a sitting senator — a fairly taboo topic in 1962. And in order to make this film, which deals with the President’s attempt to get a largely unknown man (with a possibly shady past) installed as the Secretary of State, Preminger went up against the MPAA’s censorship board. He dealt with communist themes and cast stridently liberal actors, such as Burgess Meredith, who had been put on the infamous Hollywood Blacklist.


Plus, Advise & Consent features the film debut of Betty White, who plays a mouthy grandma that makes shockingly off-color jokes. Turns out that’s all she could ever do. No actually, she plays the well-mannered, young Senator from Kansas. Refreshing to see a different side of her:

Well-told, engaging political dramas are hard to come by, and this one is definitely worth a look. I’m not sure how it’s sneaked under the radar for so long!


DVD Report – February 8th

Still Walking, a gorgeous drama from Japan, was originally released in 2008 but has had to wait a long time for its US premiere on DVD. Thanks to the Criterion Collection, Hirokazu Koreeda’s film about a dysfunctional family reuniting after a tragedy is available to American audiences. Especially considering the mediocrity of the rest of this week’s new DVDs, this modern Japanese masterpiece is worth seeking out.

Paranormal Activity 2Average Tier 4.34
After experiencing what they think are a series of “break-ins”, a family sets up security cameras around their home, only to realize that the events unfolding before them are more sinister than they seem. Paranormal Activity 2 @ Amazon

Still WalkingAverage Tier 7.76
A yearly reunion of a dysfunctional family. Still Walking @ Amazon

You AgainAverage Tier 2.20
History — make that high school — may repeat itself when Marni (Kristen Bell) learns that Joanna (Odette Yustman), the mean girl from her past, is set to be her sister-in-law. Before the wedding bells toll, Marni must show her brother that a tiger doesn’t change its stripes. On Marni’s side is her mother, Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis); Joanna’s backed by wealthy Aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver). Kristin Chenoweth plays wedding planner Monique Leroux. You Again @ Amazon

It’s Kind of a Funny StoryAverage Tier 5.12
Being a teenager is too much for 16-year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist), who shocks his parents (Lauren Graham and Jim Gaffigan) by checking himself into a mental health clinic for a little R & R. But when the youth ward is unexpectedly closed, he’s forced to live among the adult patients. It’s Kind of a Funny Story @ Amazon

Life as We Know ItAverage Tier 3.82
Caterer Holly Berenson (Katherine Heigl) and network sports director Eric Messer (Josh Duhamel) discover a reciprocal hatred during an ill-fated first date — but are forced to put their feelings aside when their mutual friends die and they become the guardians for orphaned Sophie. Now, Holly and Eric must learn to live with each other and juggle their promising careers while taking care of the little girl in this romantic comedy. Life as We Know It @ Amazon