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Archive for June, 2011

DVD Report – June 28th

The only recommendable film new on DVD this week is the Paul Giamatti vehicle Barney’s Version. About the life of a gruffly lovable guy, the plot seems to have been custom-developed for Giamatti, but was adapted from the 1997 book by Canadian novelist Mordecai Richler. Though some Criticker users thought it became overly sentimental, most praise the story and particularly Giamatti’s performance. Also: Sucker Punch isn’t good, but received better rankings than I had expected!

Sucker PunchAverage Tier 4.17
A young girl is institutionalized by her wicked stepfather. Retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, she envisions a plan which will help her escape from the facility. (imdb) Sucker Punch @ Amazon

Season of the WitchAverage Tier 2.44
In 14th-century Europe, a courageous knight (Nicolas Cage) leads a group of weary warriors across impossibly treacherous terrain in order to transport a suspected witch (Claire Foy) believed to be responsible for spreading the devastating Black Season of the Witch @ Amazon

Barney’s VersionAverage Tier 6.02
The picaresque and touching story of the politically incorrect, fully lived life of the impulsive, irascible and fearlessly blunt Barney Panofsky. Barney’s Version @ Amazon

The Warrior’s WayAverage Tier 4.19
The Warrior’s Way, a visually-stunning modern martial arts western starring Korean actor Dong-gun Jang who plays an Asian warrior assassin forced to hide in a small town in the American Badlands. (apple.com) The Warrior’s Way @ Amazon

BeastlyAverage Tier 2.77
After arrogant teenager Kyle Kingson (Alex Pettyfer) humiliates a Goth classmate (Mary-Kate Olsen), she puts a curse on him that transforms him from a hunk into a hideous creature. To break the hex, Kyle must find someone who loves him for what he’s become. Living with a housekeeper after his heartless father (Peter Krause) throws him out, he connects with an addict’s daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) in this contemporary take on Beauty and the Beast. Beastly @ Amazon

DVD Report – June 21st

This week’s set of new DVDs sees a swath of films which sounded intriguing when they debuted, but gathered basically mediocre reviews. The biggest hit among them is The Adjustment Bureau: another of science fiction master Phillip K. Dick’s short stories brought to the big screen. Criticker users were also mildly approving of the Cedar Rapids, starring Ed Helms as a fish-out-of-water insurance agent.

The Adjustment BureauAverage Tier 5.24
A congressman (Matt Damon) who’s a rising star on the political scene finds himself entranced by a beautiful ballerina (Emily Blunt), but mysterious circumstances ensure that their love affair is predestined to be a non-starter. Screenwriter George Nolfi (The Bourne Ultimatum) makes his directorial debut with this romantic adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s classic sci-fi short story “Adjustment Team.” The Adjustment Bureau @ Amazon

UnknownAverage Tier 4.59
When Martin (Liam Neeson) emerges from a coma following an auto accident in Berlin, nothing is as it should be: Not only does his wife (January Jones) no longer recognize him, but a stranger (Aidan Quinn) has apparently taken over his identity. With assassins chasing him and the police unsympathetic to his story, Harris must reassemble his world piece by piece, helped only by the one person (Diane Kruger) who seems able to grasp his plight. Unknown @ Amazon

The EagleAverage Tier 4.20
Haunted by the disappearance of his father, who vanished with the Roman Ninth Legion on an expedition into the north of Britain, centurion Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum) sets out to unravel the mystery and recover the legion’s eagle standard. But in the wilds of Caledonia, the soldier and his British slave (Jamie Bell) encounter fierce native tribes and other dangers. Kevin Macdonald directs this adaptation of Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel. The Eagle @ Amazon

Cedar RapidsAverage Tier 5.43
Terrified of leaving his tiny town for the first time, sheltered insurance salesman Tim (Ed Helms) nervously sets out for the bright lights of bustling Cedar Rapids, where he attends a chaotic insurance convention and learns how to survive in the real world. Cedar Rapids @ Amazon

HappythankyoumorepleaseAverage Tier 4.00
Young people on the cusp of truly growing up, tiring of their reflexive cynicism, each in their own ways struggling to connect and define what it means to love and be loved. Happythankyoumoreplease @ Amazon

DVD Report – June 14th

The best pick of the week is Radu Mihaileanu’s Le Concert: the comic story of a conductor who reunites his old band of misfits and alcoholics to finish a performance which had been interrupted 30 years ago. It’s a shame more people are likely to see the modern “horror” retelling of Red Riding Hood, which is one of the worst-received films at Criticker in a long while (or: at least since Yogi Bear).

Battle: Los AngelesAverage Tier 3.13
Led by their skillful staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart), a platoon of gutsy Marines, including Santos (Michelle Rodriguez), Simmons (Taylor Handley) and Lockett (Cory Hardrict), fight to protect all humankind from astonishingly powerful aliens who’ve suddenly invaded Los Angeles. Battle: Los Angeles @ Amazon

Hall PassAverage Tier 3.51
Owen Wilson stars as a married man whose spouse (Jenna Fischer) grants him the right — for just one week — to pursue as many extramarital affairs as he can. His best buddy (Jason Sudeikis) receives an identical “hall pass” from his wife, and off the guys go. The hubbies soon discover, however, that picking up girls isn’t as easy as they recall, while their better halves embark on their own erotic adventures. Hall Pass @ Amazon

Le concertAverage Tier 6.30
Andrei Filipov, former conductor of the Bolshoi of Moscow, was fired for hiring Jewish musicians and therefore become a family man. One day, he intercepts an official invitation from the prestigious Théâtre du Châtelet. Through a series of mad antics, he reunites his old orchestra, now composed of old alcoholic musicians, and flies to perform in Paris and complete the Tchaikovsky concerto interrupted 30 years earlier. Le concert @ Amazon

Red Riding HoodAverage Tier 1.97
This spooky reimagining of the classic dark-woods folk tale stars Amanda Seyfried as Valerie, a village girl who’s confronting a tumultuous romantic situation when a legendary werewolf slaughters her sister. Valerie enlists the help of a veteran demon hunter (Gary Oldman) to destroy the creature, but as each cycle of the moon brings fresh deaths, Valerie begins to realize that the murderous beast may be closer to her than she’d ever dreamed. Red Riding Hood @ Amazon

Kill the IrishmanAverage Tier 5.00
This true crime tale from director Jonathan Hensleigh charts the bloody rise and fall of Irish mobster Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson), who faced down the Mafia to claim control of organized crime in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1970s. Based on Rick Porrello’s book, Hensleigh’s hard-hitting film also features Christopher Walken as well-connected nightclub owner Shondor Birns and Val Kilmer as the cop who befriends Greene against his better judgement. Kill the Irishman @ Amazon

DVD Report – June 7th

It’s been awhile since there’s been a new DVD worthy of being named a Criticker Pick, but this week there are two. The Coen Brother’s straight-forward reworking of 1969’s True Grit had both critics and the public applauding. But even more loved among the Criticker community was the latest from Mike Leigh, who continues to churn out great films as he enters his 70s. Following two other masterpieces, Vera Drake (2004) and Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), Another Year is another demonstration of Leigh’s famous ear for dialog and features great performances all around.

Criticker Pick!True GritAverage Tier 7.44
A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father’s murderer. True Grit @ Amazon
Criticker Pick!Another YearAverage Tier 7.68
A happily married, middle-aged couple are visited by a number of unhappy and lonely friends who use them as confidants. When an unmarried friend falls for their young son, they watch as events unfold. (tiff.net) Another Year @ Amazon

Just Go with ItAverage Tier 4.06
After commitment-phobic Dr. Patrick Maccabee (Adam Sandler) falsely tells his young girlfriend (Brooklyn Decker) that he has a wife and family, she eventually grows suspicious and demands that he provide proof of his purported wedded state. Backed into a corner, the doctor recruits his divorced office manager (Jennifer Aniston) and her kids to perform as his wife and family — generating a flood of farcical results and unintended consequences. Just Go with It @ Amazon

SanctumAverage Tier 3.67
Based on a true story and using technology developed by executive producer James Cameron, this breathtaking thriller follows the adventures of expert diver Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh), who heads an expedition to map a network of underwater caverns. When a tropical storm cuts off their exit, the team, including Frank’s teenage son, must use all their resources and strength to avoid panic and find a route to the surface. Sanctum @ Amazon

The Company MenAverage Tier 5.28
Bobby Walker is living the American dream: great job, beautiful family, shiny Porsche in the garage. When corporate downsizing leaves him and co-workers Phil Woodward and Gene McClary jobless, the three men are forced to re-define their lives as men, husbands, and fathers. The Company Men @ Amazon