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Archive for October, 2011

DVD Report – October 25th

A strong week for new DVDs on the shelves, with every single one on our list coming in at better than average. The most popular, Captain America, barely squeaks into that category, but the rest can truly be recommended. Criticker users particularly liked the Pearl Jam documentary, celebrating their twenty years of existence, and the Finnish holiday horror romp, Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, in which Santa Claus isn’t as warm and cuddly as usual.

Captain America: The First AvengerAverage Tier 5.03
Marvel launches another super franchise with this action-packed origin story, which follows Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he volunteers for a secret experiment during World War II. Transformed into a superhero named Captain America, Steve goes after the Axis. With his perfect physique and heightened reflexes — and his sidekick, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) — Steve battles the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), a super soldier created by Italian fascists. Captain America: The First Avenger @ Amazon

Attack the BlockAverage Tier 6.25
About a teen gang in South London defending their block from an alien invasion. Attack the Block @ Amazon

Rare Exports: A Christmas TaleAverage Tier 6.45
Director Jalmari Helander expands his award-winning shorts for this unusual Christmas story set in the frozen beauty of Finland, where local reindeer herders race against the clock to capture an ancient evil: Santa Claus. Single father Rauno (Jorma Tommila) and his young son, Pietari (Onni Tommila), are caught up in the chaos as international scientists dig for artifacts. What they find endangers the entire village. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale @ Amazon

Winnie the PoohAverage Tier 6.35
A day in the lives of Owl, Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Pooh, Kanga, Roo, and Eeyore as they set up a trap to capture the evil ‘Backson’, who supossedly kidnapped Christopher Robin. Winnie the Pooh @ Amazon

Criticker Pick!Pearl Jam TwentyAverage Tier 7.33
A documentary on the band Pearl Jam that marks their 20th anniversary in the year 2011. Pearl Jam Twenty @ Amazon

DVD Report – October 18th

The best new release this week is Michael Rapaport’s documentary about A Tribe Called Quest. Beats Rhymes and Life will appeal mostly to fans of the band, but is worth a look for anyone interested in music. If rap’s not your thing, check out the French romantic comedy The Names of Love, about a political activist who sleeps with her opponents. And if you’re not into rap or France, there’s always Red State, Kevin Smith’s detour into the horror genre.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesAverage Tier 4.28
Jack Sparrow and Barbossa embark on a quest to find the elusive fountain of youth, only to discover that Blackbeard and his daughter are after it too. (imdb) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides @ Amazon

Bad TeacherAverage Tier 3.02
Cameron Diaz stars as Elizabeth Halsey, a scheming and coarse-tongued middle school teacher who gets dumped by her wealthy boyfriend and rebounds by sinking her claws into a handsome substitute teacher (Justin Timberlake). There’s just one problem, though: He’s already dating Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), the most revered teacher on campus. And Ms. Squirrel is not at all eager to hand over her beau, who is slated to inherit his family’s fortune. Bad Teacher @ Amazon

Red StateAverage Tier 4.77
A horror film in which a group of misfits encounter fundamentalism gone to the extreme in Middle America. Red State @ Amazon

The Names of LoveAverage Tier 6.42
A young, extroverted left-wing activist who sleeps with her political opponents to convert them to her cause is successful until she meets her match. The Names of Love @ Amazon

Beats Rhymes and LifeAverage Tier 6.63
Having forged a 20-year run as one of the most innovative and influential hip hop bands of all time, the Queens NY collective known as ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ have kept a generation hungry for more of their groundbreaking music since their much publicized breakup in 1998. Michael Rapaport documents the inner workings and behind the scenes drama that follows the band to this day. He explores what’s next for, what many claim, are the pioneers of alternative rap. Beats Rhymes and Life @ Amazon

DVD Report – October 11th

Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life confused the audience and received boos when it premiered at Cannes, but it also picked up the Palme d’Or. Among Criticker users, however, there’s been no such polarization — with an average tier of nearly 8, it’s one of the highest ranked new releases in some time. The Tree of Life is the kind of massive all-encompassing story which deserves to be seen on the big screen, but if you didn’t make it to the cineplex, make sure to pick it up on DVD.

Criticker Pick!The Tree of LifeAverage Tier 7.97
The story centers around a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence. The Tree of Life @ Amazon

Horrible BossesAverage Tier 5.68
Disgruntled buddies Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day) can’t leave their miserable jobs, so they cook up a creative strategy for eliminating each other’s micromanaging and maniacal employers (Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey) instead in this crackpot comedy. Peculiar advice from con artist Motherf**ker Jones (Jamie Foxx) gets the scheme in motion, but the pals can’t keep the wheels from flying off. Horrible Bosses @ Amazon

Green LanternAverage Tier 3.81
A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe. Green Lantern @ Amazon

The TripAverage Tier 6.98
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon continue to play themselves as they previously played in the Golden Tulip-winner A Cock and Bull Story in The Trip, the feature film edited out from the six-episode British comedy series. In this gourmet road movie, Coogan is assigned by the food section of a newspaper as guest critic, and as such, he travels the English countryside with his sad-faced, neurotic friend Brydon. Most of their hilarious dialogues are improvised. (IKSV) The Trip @ Amazon

ZookeeperAverage Tier 2.34
The animals at one particular zoo decide to break their code of silence in order to help their lovable zookeeper gain the attention of one particular woman. Zookeeper @ Amazon

DVD Report – October 4th

Two great films make their way to DVD this week, leading with Submarine, the directing debut from Richard Ayoade. The British film, which co-stars Criticker faves Paddy Considine and Sally Hawkins, is a coming-of-age tale about a teenager who’s battling with his own love life and that of his parents. Also worth tracking down is Buck, a documentary about the “original” horse whisperer, from Cindy Meehl.

Fast FiveAverage Tier 5.12
Vin Diesel and Paul Walker return for this fifth installment of the explosive Fast and the Furious series. Brian (Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) break Dom (Diesel) out of prison, and they head to Brazil to put together a racing team to take on a drug dealer who wants to kill them. At the same time, they have to elude the capture of uncompromising federal agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), who’s been dispatched to Rio to take them down. Fast Five @ Amazon

Scream 4Average Tier 4.37
Perennial survivor Sidney Prescott, now a successful self-help author, returns to her home town of Woodsboro in the fourth act of director Wes Craven’s Scream franchise. Sidney’s homecoming, however, coincides with a slew of unsettling new murders. Scream 4 @ Amazon

Criticker PickSubmarineAverage Tier 7.27
A comedy which follows a 15-year-old boy with two objectives: To lose his virginity before his next birthday, and to stop his mother from leaving his father for her dance teacher. Submarine @ Amazon
Criticker PickBuckAverage Tier 7.33
Cindy Meehl’s beautiful documentary tells the story of Buck Brannaman, a rangy, bow-legged cowboy who travels the country 40 weeks out of every year hosting four-day horse clinics. (npr.org) Buck @ Amazon

African CatsAverage Tier 5.73
A nature documentary centered on two cat families and how they teach their cubs the ways of the wild. African Cats @ Amazon