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Archive for June, 2010

Neglected Gems: Unknown Pleasures

In 2002, filmmaker Jia Zhangke released his third feature film to universal acclaim. Unknown Pleasures would barely lose the Palme d’Or to Polanksi’s The Pianist, but still won accolades from critics and ended on a few top 10 lists.

Set in the industrial Chinese city of Datong, the plot follows a trio of disillusioned adolescents who are part of the “Birth Control Generation” — that first generation of Chinese youth who are the product of the government’s one child policy. As such, loneliness and detachment from reality are dominant themes. The kids, Bin Bin, Xiao Ji and Qiao Qiao, fall in love, discuss American culture and eventually fall into a bit of crime.

Like too many films out of Asia, Unknown Pleasures has remained almost completely disregarded by Western audiences. Slow character development and long stretches where not much happens at all… such movies tend to work on the festival circuit but not with the casual fan. But that doesn’t excuse the users of Criticker! This is a hauntingly beautiful film, which captures important human moments during China’s reawakening. Seek it out.

Merchandise: Death Star Planetarium – Two Face Bust – Buzz OP

Death Star Planetarium


Transform your room into a personal planetarium with the Death Star Planetarium. You can choose to project the Milky Way galaxy on your ceiling, or even a map of the Star Wars galaxy. The planetarium sits on flat surfaces and includes an informational learning guide. Three double ‘A’ batteries are required.

More info: Death Star Planetarium


Two Face Bust

two face

The man once known as Harvey Dent appears here in his classic comic-book style, dressed in his trademark dual-fabric suit, shirt and tie, which are finely tailored over his cold-cast porcelain body. Half of his face appears eerily charred, and both of his resin eyes are hauntingly realistic.

Available here: Super Realistic Two Face Bust


Buzz Lightyear Operation


Buzz Lightyear needs some serious repair work. He’s got a battered blaster, toasted turbo boosters, galactic acid, crystallic confusion and a host of other ailments. Do you have the skill to fix Woody’s friend and send off to infinity and beyond? Find out with Operation – Toy Story 3 Edition. Be careful not to set off Buzz’s buzzer or you’ll go home with zero!

More info: Buzz Lightyear Operation

Famous Actress Nude in Tub

That got your attention, didn’t it? And guess what… it’s not a lie. A famous, Oscar-nominated actress just posed nude in the tub for New York Magazine. Yeah, buddy. Nipple.

Don’t let the fact that the actress is 65 year-old Helen Mirren stop you from clicking. She looks good for a 65 year-old! If I look that good at 65, I’ll be getting my kit off all over the place! Bathtubs, bedrooms, playgrounds, don’t matter.

Here’s the photo series. You know you’re going to click it, so just go ahead.

[New York Magazine]

DVD Report – June 22nd

The best new release this week isn’t Paul Greengrass’s reunion with Matt Damon in Green Zone, but a look at Leo Tolstoy’s last year of life. The Last Station sees James McAvoy reprise the type of role that he nailed in The Last King of Scotland — new servant to established historical figure.

Green ZoneAverage Tier 5.35
Discovering covert and faulty intelligence causes a U.S. Army officer to go rogue as he hunts for Weapons of Mass Destruction in an unstable region. Green Zone @ Amazon

She’s Out of My LeagueAverage Tier 4.57
When he starts dating drop-dead gorgeous Molly (Alice Eve), insecure airport security agent Kirk (Jay Baruchel) can’t believe it. As his friends and family share their doubts about the relationship lasting, Kirk does everything he can to avoid losing Molly forever. She’s Out of My League @ Amazon

Remember MeAverage Tier 4.91
Still reeling from his brother’s startling suicide and his parents’ subsequent divorce, Tyler (Robert Pattinson) discovers a fresh lease on life when he meets Ally (Emilie de Ravin), a gregarious beauty who witnessed her mother’s murder. But as the couple draws closer, the fallout from their separate tragedies jeopardizes their love. Remember Me @ Amazon

The Last StationAverage Tier 6.40
Leo Tolstoy’s struggle to balance fame and wealth with his commitment to a life devoid of material things. The Last Station @ Amazon

FireballAverage Tier 2.00
Inspector Ava Williams investigates a prison fire to its source, a prisoner seeking revenge against those who put him behind bars. Fireball @ Amazon

Movie Shop

Collections Watch: The Auteurs World Cup

A World Cup final between China and India? It’s happened!

India vs. China — It’s ON!

But not in the sport of soccer. In 2008 and 2009, the popular film-geek website The Auteurs created a Cinema World Cup, which was designed to increase awareness of the cinema being produced around the globe.

It kicks off in September with 32 teams, separated into 8 groups of 4, from which the top 2 in each group have qualified for the last 16. Each team has had a manager making the selections. In each match 3 films are paired against an opponent. Results are decided by the voting preferences of Auteurs users: to vote you must have seen both films in each pairing.

That’s a great idea! Check out this lineup for the the quarterfinal match between Spain and Italy (not just a soccer classic):
El Sur (Erice) – La Strada (Fellini)
Los Olvidados (Buñuel) – Umberto D. (De Sica)
Arrebato (Zulueta) – Salò (Pasolini)

Italy went on to win this encounter 2:1. Boo! There was flopping in the penalty box.

I’ve not been able to find any information on a 2010 version of the event, but user mandarkzilla has created a very useful public collection at Criticker which joins the participating films. Take a look! Voting has been closed for awhile and the results are known, but this is a good way to (re-)introduce yourself to some classics from every corner of Earth.

DVD Report – June 15th

Sorry we’re a couple days late on this, but the World Cup is on!! Yeah, that’s really our excuse. There’s just a bunch of middling films this week anyway. Samuel Jackson in Unthinkable and Michael Cera’s Youth in Revolt are the picks of the bunch.

The Book of EliAverage Tier 4.92
A lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind. The Book of Eli @ Amazon

Youth in RevoltAverage Tier 5.36
Based on the popular novel series by C.D. Payne, this dark comedy stars Michael Cera as Nick Twisp, a cynical, sex-obsessed teenager plagued by his troubled home life and an obsession with bedding his dream girl, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). Youth in Revolt @ Amazon

When in RomeAverage Tier 1.93
After fishing out coins from Rome’s Trevi Fountain, cynical New Yorker Beth Harper (Kristen Bell) finds herself being wooed by several ardent suitors. As she deals with all of this new attention, Beth tries to figure out whether a charming reporter (Josh Duhamel) really loves her. When in Rome @ Amazon

UnthinkableAverage Tier 5.75
A thriller centered around a black-ops interrogator and an FBI agent who press a suspect terrorist into divulging the location of three nuclear weapons sets to detonate in the U.S. Unthinkable @ Amazon

The HorsemanAverage Tier 5.20
A tender drama unfolds between a grieving father and a troubled teenage girl as they drive northbound along the quiet outback roads of Australia. What she doesn’t know is that between stops, he is leaving behind a bloody trail of bodies in a revenge motivated killing spree. (imdb) The Horseman @ Amazon

Criticker Lists: It Came From Russia (With Love)

It’s a gigantic, cold place, and not as powerful as it used to be, but Shebang has created a Criticker List to help us remember (and rank) some of the great things which Russia has given to the world.

Some of Russia’s Contributions to Humanity. Spasibo!

And they’re no slouches in the film making department, either! Go pour yourself a shot of vodka, and then check out this witty list… and make sure to give it a star if you liked it.