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Archive for March, 2010

DVD Report – March 31st

It’s been a week since our last entry in the blog. We’ve been really busy traveling around Spain, and haven’t been able to get as much done as we wanted. But, we’re back in the office now, so please accept our apologies!

This week’s set of DVD releases is an interesting and almost uniformly excellent bunch (Chipmunks, kaff). The most unlikely Best Picture nominee, An Education, is the strongest of the more traditional pictures. But the Criticker Pick of the week is Under the Sea 3D — released into IMAX theaters over a year ago, and now available for your home.

Sherlock HolmesAverage Tier 6.16
Holmes and his stalwart partner Watson engage in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis whose plot is a threat to all of England. Sherlock Holmes @ Amazon

An EducationAverage Tier 6.46
A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age. An Education @ Amazon

Baader Meinhof Komplex, DerAverage Tier 6.41
A look at Germany’s terrorist group, The Red Army Faction (RAF), which organized bombings, robberies, kidnappings and assassinations in the late 1960s and ’70s. Based on Stefan Aust’s best-selling nonfiction book. Baader Meinhof Komplex, Der @ Amazon

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The SqueakquelAverage Tier 2.82
Alvin, Simon and Theodore are back and ready to rock in their second big-screen comedy that reteams them with their beleaguered manager, Dave (Jason Lee), setting them up for a new series of musical misadventures. David Cross reprises his role as music mogul Ian Hawke, with Cameron Richardson returning as Dave’s love interest. Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney provide the voices of the three miscreant marmots. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel @ Amazon

Criticker Pick!Under the Sea 3DAverage Tier 7.38
An underwater look at the diverse coastal regions of Southern Australia, New Guinea and the Indo-Pacific areas and the impact of global warming on the oceans. Under the Sea 3D @ Amazon

Spanish Wine

DVD Report – March 23rd

This week’s best new release isn’t the one which dominated the box office for most of the early winter. That’s right, Criticker users have better taste than most of America! We prefer the clever animation and excellent story-telling of Fantastic Mr. Fox to the patronizing, careless racism, errr… I mean, family-friendly, feel-good schmalz of The Blind Side. Now we just need to convince everyone else.

Criticker Pick!
Fantastic Mr. FoxAverage Tier 7.87
Angry farmers, tired of sharing their chickens with a sly fox, look to get rid of their opponent and his family. Fantastic Mr. Fox @ Amazon

The Men Who Stare at GoatsAverage Tier 4.63
A reporter in Iraq might just have the story of a lifetime when he meets Lyn Cassady, a guy who claims to be a former member of the U.S. Army’s First Earth Battalion, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions. The Men Who Stare at Goats @ Amazon

The Blind SideAverage Tier 5.54
A poor, oversized and under-educated teenager is recruited by a major college football program where he is groomed into an athletically and academically successful NFL prospect. The Blind Side @ Amazon

BrothersAverage Tier 5.67
A young man comforts his older brother’s wife and children after he goes missing in Afghanistan. Brothers @ Amazon

Red CliffAverage Tier 6.56
In the early third century, the land of Wu is invaded by the warlord Cao Cao and his million soldiers. The ruler of Wu, Sun Quan, calls on the rival warlord Liu Bei for help, but their two armies are still badly outnumbered. However, the Wu strategist Zhou Yu sees that Cao Cao’s army is unused to battling on the sea, which may just give them a chance if they can exploit this weakness properly. Red Cliff @ Amazon

Collections Watch – AFI 100

One of the more popular functions of Criticker’s Collections is to gather lists that various other organizations compile. In 2007, The American Film Institute (AFI) released a revised version of its Top 100 American Films of all time, and Criticker user PeaceAnarchy has gone to the trouble of creating a collection to gather them all.

Spike Lee’s joint made the cut

How many have you seen? With the functionality at Criticker, it’s a simple matter to sort out all those you’ve not yet ranked, or order them by your PSI or year.

Top Ten War Flicks of the 80s

When you think “best war movie of the 80s”, one film instantly springs to mind. I was dumbfounded, then, after compiling the list of Top 10 War Flicks of the Eighties, that Platoon was nowhere to be found upon it. The Criticker community — always full of surprises! (Platoon finished a still-respectable 11th).

This is our third top ten list since we began this new feature at the blog. We just thought it’d be fun to choose random genres and decades and see what kind of lists appear, based on the ratings of Criticker users. Are you surprised by any of the entries or other omissions?

#1. Ran (1985) – 8.38
An elderly lord abdicates to his three sons, and the two corrupt ones turn against him.

jacobb1313Kurosawa’s late masterwork. From Shakespeare to Noh to Kurosawa’s own expressionistic painting, he uses all his sources to the fullest potency, creating a godless world of madness, war and death never seen in film since.

Ran – Criterion Collection


#2. Come and See (1985) – 8.29

A boy is unwillingly thrust into the atrocities of war in WWII Byelorussia, fighting for a hopelessly unequipped resistance movement against the ruthless German forces.
Buy it at Amazon


#3. Grave of the Fireflies (1988) – 8.23

A tragic film covering a young boy and his little sister’s struggle to survive in Japan during World War II.
Buy it at Amazon


#4. Das Boot (1981) – 8.12

It is 1942 and the German submarine fleet is heavily engaged in the so called "Battle of the Atlantic" to harass and destroy English shipping. With better escorts of the Destroyer Class, however, German U-Boats have begun to take heavy losses. Das Boot is the story of one such U-Boat crew, with the film examining how these submariners maintained their professionalism as soldiers, attempted to accomplish impossible missions, while all the time attempting to understand and obey the ideology of the government under which they served. (Sony Pictures)
Buy it at Amazon


#5. Full Metal Jacket (1987) – 7.83

The story of an 18-year-old marine recruit named Private Joker – from his carnage-and-machismo boot camp to his climactic involvement in the heavy fighting in Hue during the 1968 Tet Offensive.
Buy it at Amazon


#6. When the Wind Blows (1986) – 7.74

With the help of government-issued pamphlets, an elderly British couple build a shelter and prepare for an impending nuclear attack…
Buy it at Amazon


#7. Breaker Morant (1980) – 7.71

Three Australian lieutenants are court martialed for executing prisoners as a way of deflecting attention from war crimes committed by their superior officers.
Buy it at Amazon


#8. Threads (1984) – 7.48

A dramatization of the probable consequences of a full scale nuclear war on an English community.
Buy it at Amazon


#9. Kagemusha (1980) – 7.48

When a powerful warlord in medieval Japan dies, a poor thief recruited to impersonate him finds difficulty living up to his role and clashes with the spirit of the warlord during turbulent times.
Buy it at Amazon


#10. The Killing Fields (1984) – 7.41

An American citizen is trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot's bloody “Year Zero” ethnic cleansing campaign, which claimed the lives of two million “undesirable” civilians.
Buy it at Amazon

DVD Report – March 9th

This is what we like to see!! The top five new releases on DVD progressively get less popular as they get worse. That is, the films with the best scores are also the ones which most people saw, and the two top films were even nominated for Oscars. But this week, Clooney beats Mo’nique (a brawl we’d pay to see in real life, bare-knuckles) and Up in the Air is the film to watch. Buy, I mean buy. Using this link.

Criticker Pick!
Up in the AirAverage Tier 7.26
Ryan Bingham is a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he’s met the frequent-traveler woman of his dreams. Up in the Air @ Amazon

PreciousAverage Tier 6.59
In Harlem, an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction. Precious @ Amazon

Capitalism: A Love StoryAverage Tier 5.75
What is the price that America pays for its love of capitalism? Moore takes us into the homes of ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down and looks for explanations. Capitalism: A Love Story @ Amazon

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints DayAverage Tier 4.63
The MacManus brothers are living in Ireland with their father, but when they learn their priest has been killed by mob forces, they return to Boston to bring justice to those responsible. The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day @ Amazon

Planet 51Average Tier 3.75
The inhabitants of Planet 51 live in fear of alien invasion. Their paranoia is realized when an astronaut arrives from Earth. Befriended by a young resident, he has to avoid capture in order to recover his spaceship and try to return home. Planet 51 @ Amazon

Visit Fallas

The Oscars – Results

By now you all know that Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker were the big winners at the Oscars, and there were no real surprises in any of the major acting categories.

So let’s take a look at some of the lesser known victors of the night!

Best Documentary – The Cove

Using state-of-the-art equipment, a group of activists infiltrate a cove near Taijii, Japan to expose both a shocking instance of animal abuse and a serious threat to human health.

“This film transcends its environmental core to take a broad look at the myopic reality of the Taiji dolphin hunt. Yes, it is a biased depiction, but rather than focus all of its energy on the emotional slaughter the film chooses to examine personal, ecological, political, medical, and economic issues that arise from the killing and consumption of dolphins. In the end, the antagonists seem misguided rather than villainous, and the film’s suggestions reasonable rather than radical.”Thaklos
Best Foreign Language Film – The Secret in Their Eyes

A retired lawyer (Ricardo Darín) wants to write a novel about a crime he tried to solve thirty years earlier: a woman was raped and murdered. When the court decided to close the case for lack of evidence, he and his sidekick (Guillermo Francella) relay on one loose clue: a man looking at the victim, in an old photograph.

“A film full of surprises. Although it is full of extremely silly plot turns, it’s such a well crafted film that you can easily avoid nitpicking it. It uses a free-form narrative that departs from the structure of typical thriller, focusing on the moral dilemma over the crime. Another extraordinary surprise was Francella: although I thought he already sold his soul to Satan years ago, performing in comedies so low they reach the fiery pits of Hell, here he delivers a fantastic performance.”KGB
Best Animated Short – Logorama

Sort of an update of the old Warner Brothers books come to life cartoon- only here logos come to life and populate the world.

“Not really that great, but to be able to make such a film is a terrific achievement by itself. “walkabout

Were you taken by surprise by any of the awards? This year’s telecast was a dreary, unfunny affair by most accounts… what did you think?

Cheap DVDs

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Buy it here: Cinderella’s Glass Slipper