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DVD & Blue Ray

The DVD Wrapup: Welcome to NYC, Falling Star, Elena, Riot Club, Runner, Citizenfour, Clive Barker, Walking Dead, Gene Autry … More

One thing DSK almost certainly won’t be able to live down is the damning portrayal of his behavior in Abel Ferrara’s caustic Welcome to New York. Although the character’s name has been changed simply to Devereaux, there’s no mistaking who Gérard Depardieu is channeling. The great French actor and onetime Oscar nominee has come under heavy criticism of late for renouncing his citizenship and cozying up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Still, there’s no denying the sheer audacity of his performance here. DSK may never be mistaken for Arnold Schwarzenegger, another politician who couldn’t control his impulses, but even he must have been embarrassed by the sight of an actor who looks as if he’d been mainlining foie gras and guzzling Big Gulps to bring up his weight.

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The DVD Wrapup: 100-Year-Old Man, Strangerland, La Grande Bouffe, Troma’s War, Hackers, The Rebel, 17 and more

If Forrest Gump had an uncle living in Sweden, he might have provided the inspiration for novelist Jonas Jonasson and filmmaker Felix Herngren’s hilarious geezer comedy, The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. The similarities between the film’s protagonist, a half-wit pyromaniac named Allan and Tom Hanks’ most beloved character can hardly be disputed. That he also bears certain cursory resemblances to Leonard Zelig only adds to the fun.

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The DVD Wrapup: Chris Farley, Match, Treatment, Blues Cruise, Reminiscence, Soaked in Bleach, Police Story 6, Fury, Israeli Passion … More  

A more appropriate title for the sadly nostalgic bio-doc, I Am Chris Farley, might have been, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Goofball,” as it precisely describes the rise and fall of an attention-starved child of the American Midwest. The Madison, Wisconsin, native somehow knew from an early age that being fat, reckless and funny opened doors closed to kids who merely were overweight and willing to make themselves the butt of other people’s jokes.

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The DVD Wrapup: Madame Bovary, Adult Beginners, Descendants, Salvation, Wyrmwood, Seashore, Snow Girl, Flamenco, Bilko … More

In Sophie Barthes’ lushly mounted Madame Bovary, 25-year-old Aussie Mia Wasikowska convincingly plays the disillusioned wife of a country doctor whose unmet expectations and boredom are sated by material pleasures they can’t afford. If there isn’t anything wrong with the approach taken by Barthes, its bourgeois trappings and rural splendor are all too familiar in a marketplace filled with period adaptations of classic novels, however tragic or sexy.

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The DVD Wrapup: Unfriended, Water Diviner, Reckless, Life on the Reef, Lost Soul and more

Unfriended isn’t for the casual users of the Internet. The multi-image presentation, which is extremely sophisticated, requires far more work on the part of the viewer than the typical narrative feature. The more experience one has in the world of cyber-communication, the scarier Unfriended will be.

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The DVD Wrapup: What We Do In Shadows, Resnaisx2, Marfa Girl, and more

One needn’t have been a zealous fan of “Flight of the Conchords” and Eagle vs Shark, or even a vampire completist, to be drawn to What We Do in the Shadows. Those who are, however, probably will get a real kick out of this razor-sharp genre parody from New Zealand. The largely improvised mockumentary defies the odds by doing an end-run around the Scary Movie and Scream franchises and adding a supernatural spin to such bros-will-be-bros pictures as Swingers and Saturday Night Fever.

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The DVD Wrapup: Salt of the Earth, Ex Machina, It Follows, Goodbye to All That, Black Stallion and more

Alex Garland’s highly ambitious digital wet dream Ex Machina advances the sub-genre by setting it in an idyllic retreat, owned by a reclusive cyber-billionaire, and infusing his megalomaniacal vision with ideas inspired by Greek and Roman tragedies and mythology, the Old Testament, the Bhagavad Gita, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, Titian, Mary Shelly, crappy 1970s disco and Depeche Mode. Ex Machina is the kind of super-smart movie that should carry footnotes at the bottom of the screen.

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The DVD Wrapup: Woman in Gold, Clouds of Sils Maria, Human Capital, House of Cards and more

I wonder if Meryl Streep gets depressed when she isn’t nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress. Maybe she feels relieved, knowing that she can avoid the annual crush of parties, press conferences and all of the ass kissing that comes with each and every nomination. Maybe, someday, Streep will be allowed the privilege of being chosen alongside one or both of her acting daughters, Grace and Mamie Gummer, or simply cheer them on from the sidelines. Streep doesn’t appear in Clouds of Sils Maria, Olivier Assayas’ brilliant drama about actors and acting. If any actress deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Streep, it’s Juliet Binoche, who not only stars in Clouds of Sils Maria, but also delivers one of the great performances of her career.

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The DVD Wrapup: Danny Collins, Get Hard, Decline of Western Civilization, Downtown 81 and more

There are moments in Dan Fogelman’s wildly uneven rock-‘n’-roll fantasy, Danny Collins, that suggest the writer-director was raised on classic-rock radio and his titular protagonist (Al Pacino) was modeled less after Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger or Rod Steward, than Neil Diamond, Billy Joel or a post-Wings Paul McCartney. That much is clear when Collins arrives on stage for the first time, looking as if he might rip into “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Katmandu” or “Maggie May,” but, instead, delivers what amounts to Diamond’s between-innings anthem, “Sweet Caroline.” It sounds out of place when sung by a wrung-out, blurry-eyed geezer, whose “Elvis scarves” are older than everyone in his band. Collins has been so strung out for so long that he hasn’t written a new song in 30 years and can’t readily recall the details of two of his marriages.

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The DVD Wrapup: Timbuktu, The Bridge, Pit Stop, Dog Soldiers and more

When Kidane confronts the belligerent fisherman, the pistol he’s carrying to intimidate the man accidentally discharges, killing him. This sets off a series of events that puts Kidane in direct contact with the jihadists and their alternately severe and absurd interpretations of Sharia law. It outlaws music, dance, laughter, cigarettes and, even, the bare hands of women selling messy products in the market, while authorizing stoning adulterers to death, lashing outlawed musicians and accepting bribes and granting favors. Kidane’s biggest problem is his inability to come up with the compensation – 40 cows – ordered by the court, which includes a man who’s itching to steal the herdsman’s wife. If this was all Sissako gave us to ponder in Timbuktu, it would be an unbearable experience. Instead, he lightens the overall tone by demonstrating the determination of residents to get around the rules, even under the watchful eyes of the fanatics.

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The DVD Wrapup: Welcome to Me, Wild Tales, Gett, Bob Hope and more

Any doubts that Wiig might not be able to accurately depict her character’s tortured mental state disappeared when leaked photos of a stark-naked Wiig, walking through a crowded Palms Spring casino, began to appear on celebrity-skin websites. It’s a brave performance and Wiig is excellent throughout Welcome to Me. How far her fans are willing to accompany Kleig into her journey into madness is open to question.

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The DVD Wrapup: Camp X-Ray, Free the Nipple, Giuseppe Andrews, Pillow Book and more

Who knows how many of today’s straight-to-DVD movies will stand the test of time and find new audiences decades after their initial release? Some of today’s crop of genre filmmakers almost surely will be asked to look back on their early films in featurettes recorded 20 years from now for Blu-ray or whatever new format is being foisted on consumers.

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The DVD Wrapup: McFarland USA, Scarecrows, Mickey Rourke, Justified, Rectify and more

Kevin Costner is typically effective as the high school football coach who’s fired for throwing a shoe at the starting quarterback – the wiseass deserved worse – and forced to look for work elsewhere. He finds it in a predominantly Mexican-American school in the Central Valley of California. As beneficiaries of the unionization of farm workers, led by Cesar Chavez, the families no longer are migratory and some have found ways to control their own livelihoods. They are still poor, however, and many of their kids are required to split their days between work in the fields and school, with little or no hope of going on to college.

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DVD Geek: Jamaica Inn

Alfred Hitchcock himself would often speak disparagingly in interviews about his 1939 adaptation of the Daphne Du Maurier novel,Jamaica Inn, complaining about the star, Charles Laughton, and about costume films in general. Critics, taking his lead, also speak dismissively of the film, but it is actually a very enjoyable effort.

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The DVD Wrapup: Magician: Orson Welles, The Confession and more

In the stage and cinema works of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, it wasn’t always easy for postwar German audiences to differentiate between social satire, parody and provocation. The same holds true for his legacy on film, outside Germany. In a career that lasted 16 years, he was responsible for writing, directing and acting in nearly 50 movies, shorts and TV mini-series, as well as continuing to create Brechtian theater pieces. After beginning his career in the late 1960s making films that ranged from experimental to difficult, Fassbinder would turn to the Hollywood melodramas of German émigré Douglas Sirk for creative inspiration.

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The DVD Wrapup: Leviathan, Lovesick, Before I Disappear, Blue Room and more

Instead of being iron-fisted by Communist Party functionaries, however, the populace is ruled by an increasingly militaristic government and bullied by plutocrats, gangsters, small-minded politicians and conservative leaders of the ascendant Russian Orthodox Church. That much, at least, can be inferred in Andrey Zvyagintsev’s overtly allegorical drama, Leviathan, which ironically was inspired by the story of a Colorado man whose beef with city officials eventually led him to armor-plate a bulldozer and use it as a battering ram against bureaucratic intransigence.

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The DVD Wrapup: 50 Shades, Selma, Mr. Turner, The Nun, Snuff and more

Although some of the lovemaking is inarguably sensual, the contract-negotiating scene is the only one that rivals the best passages choreographed by Adrian Lyne in 9½ Weeks or in such classics of the sub-genre as Belle du Jour, Secretary, Crash, The Story of O or The Image. As difficult as it is to take potshots at a picture that’s made more than a half-billion dollars in worldwide distribution or might match that in DVD/VOD/Blu-ray revenues, I still think we have a long way to go before mainstream audiences are allowed a real taste of non-generic eroticism,

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The DVD Wrapup: The Gambler, Wedding Ringer, Boy Next Door, Paddington, Eddie Coyle, Wolf Hall and more

Bennett isn’t as much a degenerate gambler as one who refuses to win, even when he’s holding a pat hand. No matter how much he’s up, everyone from the pit bosses to viewers knows he’s going to give it all back and borrow even more money to keep losing. When he convinces his beleaguered mother (Jessica Lange) to give him a small fortune in cash to pay off the debts, everyone, including Mom, knows he’s going to piss it away.

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The DVD Wrapup; Curling, God Help the Girl, Like Sunday Like Rain, Escape From New York and more

Something tells me that Stuart Murdoch’s underappreciated musical fantasy, God Help the Girl, might have found its rightful audience if the title were a bit more precise in targeting its intended audience. Something like, “MTV Presents ‘God Help the Girl’” or “Belle and Sebastian Want You to See This Movie” or “Love in the Time of Retro Rock.’”

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Quote Unquotesee all »

“I didn’t see anything this year. I’ve been making this movie for so long. I loved Kingsman. I really liked It Follows. It was the best premise I’ve seen in a horror film in a long, long, long time. It’s one of those movies that’s so good you get mad at it for not being great. He could have kept his mythology straight. He broke his mythology left, right, and center… Noah Baumbach. There’s a Paul Mazursky quality to his films. I haven’t seen all the Duplass brothers movies, but the ones I’ve seen I really liked. All that mumblecore stuff happened when I was in Germany doing Inglourious Basterds, so I didn’t even know about it. Then I came home and started reading about it, like,What the fuck is this shit? So I watched Baghead. I said to my friend Elvis Mitchell, “Have you seen any of those mumblecore movies? I was curious and watched Baghead, and I thought it was really good.” He goes, “You saw the good one. They’re not all like that. You reached into a pickle barrel and grabbed the right pickle.” I haven’t seen Hannah Takes the Stairs.”
~ QT On Movies He Likes

“You kind of keep your tools sharp by working all the time. We are professionals. You can’t wait for inspiration. I try to do it every day. When something good comes, you have to be prepared to polish it, carve it and chisel it, that’s the work. But the actual intention, what you are really going to be writing about, that’s going to come up from a really authentic place that is deep and over which you exercise no conscious control.”
~ Leonard Cohen talks work at 80

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