Sunday, October 2, 2011

This month in DVD - September Edition.

This is going to be a hugely long post, as I watched a lot of stuff during my vacation.  I need to post these DVD reviews reviews a little more frequently, so you don't have to suffer through such long blog posts.  Plus, starting next month I think I'm going to change it up a little bit, and also mention the new releases have come out during the week that I've already seen, so that way you have better idea of what's out.  If I already have a review up, I'll link back to it in the new posts.  I'm open to suggestions if you have any.

Here we go...


Set in a weird, post-apocalyptic future, Paul Bettany is somehow typecast as a 'Priest', which are members of the clergy that fight vampires.  Priests also have abilities that exceed that of normal men that appear to be inherited or genetic or something.  I don't recall it being explained where their abilities came from, just that they have them and not the general public.

This is another movie based on a comic. Maybe this is how the comic was, but there was lots of stuff that seemed inconsistent. It's one of those alternate futures where some things are super advanced and then other things seem like from a completely different era.  For example, the Priests drive around on super advanced motorcycles that have all these digital displays and go hundreds of miles an hour, but then you have guys walking around carrying kerosene lamps. Yet, there were normal lights on the wall. They don't have flashlights in the future?  Stuff like that.  It drives me nuts cause there doesn't seem to be any reason for it.

Priest seemed to have a Western feel, which just seemed like a forced stylistic choice.  Again, this might have been how the comic was, but I just didn't think it translated well.

I thought some of the action sequences were pretty good actually, but the rest of the movie was just blah.

I'd only say to rent it if you're dying to see it, otherwise you're not missing much.

The Conspirator

This is a movie about the trials held after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  For a movie called The Conspirator, there really isn't all that much actual conspiracy in it.  It's mostly courtroom scenes where they have put Mary Surratt, the mother of one of the conspirators, played by Robin Wright, on trial.  They did this because they couldn't find her son, so they tried her, as she ran a boarding house where the conspirators hung out.  It's another one of those based on a true story movies, but I think they were a little more respectful of the source material here.  I haven't studied up on my Civil War era history lately, so I have no clue how accurate this all it, and I'm too tired to look it up on Wikipedia.

The Conspirator wasn't bad, but it's a little on the slow side and it takes a bit to get going. The courtroom stuff is what I enjoyed the most. Also, the movie seemed kind of washed out color-wise.

The performances of Robin Wright and James McAvoy were both good.  I wasn't a big fan of his initially, but I'm really starting to like this guy.  However, there are a lot of people miscast in this. It kind of takes me out a period piece when actors like Justin Long, Alexis Bledel and Evan Rachel Wood show up. They didn't seem mature enough for the roles they were playing.

If you like period pieces, then I think it's worth a rental.  The pace is kind of plodding, so you might not be into it if you're looking for something with a faster pace. I didn't come away from this having strong feelings about it one way or another.

Something Borrowed

This was AWFUL!. Nobody in the movie, save for John Krasinski's character, is likeable. Everyone is a cheating asshole and a bad person.  Even Krasinski's character repeatedly lies and misleads one of the characters rather than tell them the truth.  Every character is both self-absorbed and yet not self-aware.

The movie follows two friends played by Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin.  They've been friends since they were kids.  That's basically the only thing their current friendship still hinges on, as there's no reason for them to still be friends as adults.  They have different personalities and career paths.  It seems like they should have grown apart during college or shortly after that.  Hudson plays one of those aggressive, domineering friends, while Goodwin is the doormat that just lets Hudson walk all over her.

Anyway, Hudson starts dating a friend of Goodwin's, even though Goodwin was clearly into him, but too much of a chicken shit to say anything.  Eventually, just as Hudson and the boyfriend are about to get married, the boyfriend finds out about Goodwin's crush on him and they start to sleep around.  You see, he's always liked Goodwin, too.  I guess he couldn't have just asked her out years ago?  But you see, it's okay that they sleep around because they are nice and attractive, and Kate Hudson's character is a bitch.

I tried to keep an open mind about this movie, but when I see Kate Hudson as the star of any kind of romatic drama or comedy, I see it as a bad sign.  This was a movie that I hated throughout.  There's almost nothing redeeming about it at all.  I don't know why Hollywood makes movies like this.  Why do they think movies about people that cheat and backstab their friends appeal to people or make for interesting stories?  They try to pass this off as a romantic comedy?  What's romantic about it? What's worse is that it's almost two hours long, so you really suffer through this.

I'd like to take a moment to shame the director, Luke Greenfield, and writer, Jennie Snyder.  You should be ashamed of yourselves for making this atrocity.  What's really amazing is that this is based off a novel by Emily Griffin.  I really hope this is one of those instances where the book was better than the movie.  If not, then she should be ashamed of herself, too.  It makes you wonder how these people view humanity if these are the types of people they make movies and stories about.

Pass. There is no need to ever watch this piece of shit.

Jane Eyre

I've never read Jane Eyre, so I can't say if this was a faithful adaptation or not. I liked the performances and thought the movie was shot well. I really liked Mia Wasikowska as Jane and Magneto, I mean Michael Fassbender as Rochester. I usually enjoy period pieces and I thought they did a good job with the look and feel of the movie.

This was directed by Cary Fukunaga, an Oakland, CA native, and I think he did a good job with this.

It's kind of long, but wasn't bad. Since I liked the cast and performances, it helped me get past that.
This is a good rental, but be warned that it's a serious film. It's not cheery or anything like that.

The Chameleon

"Based on a true story"...oh no...

Sometimes true stories, especially if unresolved, really aren't all that interesting.  This is an example of that.  It's kind of unfortunate because the premise is actually pretty interesting.  A young boy that had been missing for years is supposedly found as a teenager overseas.  He's sent back home to his family, only he seems to not remember anything about where he was from or any kind of meaningful details about his family.  Also, his eye color has inexplicably changed and now has a French accent.

Obviously, it starts to become clear to certain members of his family, and an investigating FBI agent, that this teen isn't who he says he is.  Eventually, it's found that he's actually impersonating the missing child.  Then it's implied that the original son wasn't actually missing, but killed by his family years ago, and that's why certain members of the family always knew he was an imposter.  However, there's no resolution.  They just leave you hanging and tell you that the real case is still unsolved.  Um...okay...

The real imposter actually went on to impersonate several other people.  The press nicknamed him "The Chameleon" because of all of the people he had tried to impersonate.  The movie only focuses on this one instance and the family involved.  Since they never actually found out what happened to the real missing kid, it just seems like that was a bad choice.  The movie should have focused more on the imposter himself and his motivation.

I thought it was really slowly paced. The character's aren't really well defined. I also felt like I came into this movie like halfway through.

I'm going to have to say pass on this one.  It's a real misfire and just not worth watching.

The Beaver

I'm sure you've heard of this one and thought it looked weird and were turned off.  The rest of you were probably turned off just by the mere presence of Mel Gibson.  It actually wasn't that bad though.  It was kind of an interesting take on exploring a person suffering from severe depression and mental issues trying to work through his problems.  I guess in a way, it had a weird, meta-ness about it considering Gibson's character and his real life.

There's an unnecessary subplot, featuring Mel Gibson's son, played by Anton Yelchin and this girl he's into, played by Jennifer Lawrence.  As much as I liked them, there was too much of their subplot and it took away from the main story.  Their story didn't have an real tie in to the main plot and felt kind of thrown in.  Plus, Yelchin looks too old to play someone in high school.  That guy is not aging well.

It was directed by Jodie Foster, who I think did a good job overall, save for needing to dump the Yelchin/Lawrence subplot.

It's worth a rent if you can get past the fact it stars Mel Gibson.

The Ward

Amber Heard plays a crazy chick that burns down a house and is committed to a mental ward.  While she's in the ward, many of the other patients begin to disappear.  Oddly, nobody seems to notice or care (you won't either).  Something is going around killing them.  Throughout the film, they throw this random clip of some hillbilly entering a barn or basement.  You'll spend the majority of this movie wondering what the hell is going on.  There's a twist though.  However, when the big reveal comes, you've already figured it out and won't even care.

It's all cheap jump scares and wusses out on all of the kill scenes. I'm not sure how this earned an R rating.  This could have been on television.  I don't recall the language being bad or anything like that, but that wouldn't have been a difficult thing to work around considering the rest of th story.

It's a shame cause this was directed by John Carpenter, who's a horror legend as far as I'm concerned.  I was expecting more.

Pass on this.  It's not worth renting.

I'd like to take a moment to remind you that if you need to purchase something from Amazon, please click on one of the Amazon links on my blog.  It's just one extra click.  That's all you have to do and I'm supposed to get a little money.  I just signed up the other day.


This is kind of a Dazed and Confused knock off, except it's not as good or as funny.  I had a hard time keeping my interest in it.  I'd get up to leave the room, but after coming back, I never felt compelled to rewind the movie and catch up on what I missed.

If you're nostalgic for the disco and roller skating era then you might like it.  I wouldn't go out of your way to rent it though. This felt like the kind of movie that if you were channel surfing on a lazy afternoon, you might stop to watch it, thinking it's Dazed and Confused at first.  You might even be able to finish sitting through it.  That's a wonderful endorsement of the movie, eh?

Peep World

I was really disappointed in this. Based on the cast, I was expecting a lot more.  I see people like Rainn Wilson, Sarah Silverman, Michael C. Hall and Judy Greer and I was really expecting something funny or quirky. Boy was I wrong!  I was bored out of my mind watching this, which is even more amazing considering this is only 79 minutes.

It's basically a story about a dysfunctional family with a bunch of messed up kids (who are now adults) and how they all hate their Dad.  It's centered around them all meeting for their Dad's 70's birthday dinner.  Sometimes a dysfunctional family story can work, but it doesn't here. It's just not funny or interesting. There's nothing to identify with or like about it.

Pass on this.

Made in Dagenham

Another based on a true story movie, only this time it's based on a historical event in Britain from the late 60's.  A group of women working for Ford had a strike demanding equal pay.  It's basically about their struggle and how the strike ended up causing the creation of the Equal Pay Act.

It's an interesting enough story, but it was one that just really didn't grab me.  It might have been the time the movie was set in or the cast, but I just wasn't all that interested in it.  There are actually some good people in the cast like Bob Hoskins, Sally Hawkins, Rosamund Pike and Miranda Richardson, but the rest of the cast you won't recognize.

I wasn't all that invested in this one, so it's tough for me to recommend it, but it's not like it's a bad movie.

Win Win

Paul Giamatti stars as a small-town attorney that struggling to keep his business afloat.  He also moonlights as a high school wrestling coach, but his team sucks, so that's not going very well for him either.  He's clearly not 'winning'.  Get it!

The movie follows Giamatti's character and how he starts to make a series of questionable decisions to try and get ahead.  You see that he's not a bad guy, maybe just a little misguided.  Even though he's flawed, you like his character, and want to see how he's going to get out of the mess he appears to be creating for himself.

I actually loved this! Paul Giamatti was great as he always is.  His wife, played by Amy Ryan, was also good.  The supporting characters, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor and Burt Young all do a good job.  The real surprise here is Alex Shaffer's debut as the wrestling prodigy.  You wouldn't think this is the first movie this kid has ever been in.  He was actually a successful high school wrestler, so it helps sell the wrestling parts of this movie.

Win Win felt real and I thought had some geniuinely funny moments.  This is a strong rental recommendation and one of the better, if not one of my favorite, movies I've seen this year.

Everything Must Go

From the opening moments, you know this movie is going to be a little bit of a bummer, despite starring Will Ferrell.  Ferrell's character is fired from his job and largely due to the fact he's an alcoholic.  He goes home to find he's been locked out with a note from his wife saying she's leaving him.  To make matters worse, his wife threw all of his belongings on the front lawn.  Then, his company car gets repossessed by his company, his wife locks him out from his bank accounts and terminates his phone.

Since Ferrell has nowhere to go, he just says, 'screw it', and decides to live on his lawn.  He befriends a neighborhood kid, played by Christopher Jordan 'C.J.' Wallace, and his new neighbor, played by Rebecca Hall.  Eventually, he's forced to have a yard sale and starts to sell off all of his stuff with the help C.J. Wallace.

I also loved this. It's easily Will Ferrell's best dramatic work since Stranger Than Fiction, but this is a much better movie.  I like when he does dramatic roles like this and I hope that he does these more often.  Newcomer C.J. Wallace also gives a nice performance.  The interaction between Ferrell and Wallace is worked the best for me.  There are small roles by Michael Pena, Laura Dern and Stephen Root that are also nice.

If this movie had been just a tad funnier, or tad darker, I probably would have put this in one of my top films of the year list.  As it stands, it's still another strong rental recommendation.  

True Legend

Here's one for the martial arts fans.  I normally watch these movies strictly for the fighting, as even with subtitles, I sometimes have no idea what is going on in the story.  I'd like to blame it on something being lost in translation, but some of these stories really are batshit insane.  Anyway, as far as the fighting, it didn't disappoint me.  The story was about what I would have expected, which is to say that it didn't make much sense to me.  In fact, I'm not even going to bother trying to explain it.

It's way too long for what it is and it seems like they should have made this into two different movies. The second half of the movie is so different from the first half, that it felt like it was s completely different movie, just starring the same guy.  Make it a sequel. .Also, the second half has an unusual cameo from David Carradine, so it was kind of sad to see him.  It's sad this was one of his last movies.

It was directed by Woo-ing Yuen, who has directed a ton of martial art films like the original Drunken Master, Iron Monkey, and was the action choreographer for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  That should give you an idea of the type of martial arts action you're in for.

If you like martial arts, it's worth renting for the fight scenes. You can fast forward past anything that isn't fighting.

Meet Monica Velour

Boring movie about a directionless nerd that has a fixation on an old porn star.  He's just graduated high school and has no idea what to do.  No job prospects and doesn't appear to have any college plans.  Can you even call this guy a nerd?  He's more of just a loser/slacker in a nerd's body.  Anyway, he finds out that his porn star crush is going to make an appearance at a strip club, so he drives hundreds of miles to meet her.

It's trying to be quirky, but it just wasn't very funny or interesting.  A movie like this only works when you really like the characters.  The lead not only wasn't a good actor, he came off as just a creepy stalker.  You can't really identify with him.  I liked Kim Cattrall's performance, and it was nice to see her in a role that wasn't a retreat of her character from Sex in the City.

The pacing is slow and the movie seems much longer than it's 1 hour and 37 minute run time.  This is movie that really seems like it didn't know what it wanted to be.  If they had done this as a dark comedy, I think it would have been a nice sleeper.  This is another first time writer/director movie by Keith Bearden.  It seems like he could have used some help.  It's not awful, but it was just missing too many things to be worth watching.



I heard a lot of good things about this one, and I've never made any secret about Joseph Gordon-Levitt (hensforth to be referred to as "JGL") being one of my favorite up-and-coming actors.  Actually, can he still be considered up-and-coming at this point?  I think he's arrived.  He's in frigging everything now.  Hell, I'm seeing a movie with him (50/50) this weekend.  Anyway, just based on JGLs appearance in the movie, I was really looking forward to this.  It also stars Natalie Portman and Rainn Wilson, so great cast, right?

The movie follows a father (Rainn Wilson) and his son, T.J., played by Devin Brochu, that are dealing with the death of his mother after a car crash.  They are both dealing with depression and his father just lays around an pops pills all day.  T.J. is having trouble at school and is consistently picked on by a bully.  T.J. one day draws the ire and attention of Hesher (JGL), who's a metalhead that drives around in a van.  He appears to be homeless as well, as we first see him he's squatting in a home under construction.  He follows T.J. home and just moves into their garage.  He doesn't ask, he just moves in.  At the same time, he's exacting revenge on the bully that's tormenting T.J.  It's like Hesher is trying to be his guardian angel.  Eventually, they bring Natalie Portman's character into the mix and they all hang out together.

It's just okay. I thought the performances were good, but I didn't get enough about JGLs motivation or back story. Why is he protecting this kid? Why is he homeless?  I'm going to sound like a broken record, but like I said about Meet Monica Velour above, it just didn't go anywhere.  I think the movie suffered cause it couldn't quite pick a tone.  If this had been more of a dark comedy, I think it would have worked better.  It came off as too serious and depressing.

I still think it's an interesting enough movie to rent thought.  Unlike Meet Monica Velour, it has a much better cast and you get more out of the performances.


Tom Hardy plays Bronson, who is known for being one of the UK's most dangerous criminals.  He was born Michael Gordon Peterson, but changed his name to Charles Bronson on the recommendation of his fight promoter.  Before he was in prison, he spent some time as a bare-knuckle boxer.  While some of what you see in Bronson is fiction, the crazy part is that this is a real guy.  He's in prison now as you read this.

Anyway, once in prison he became notorious for routinely fighting inmates and guards, sometimes even taking hostages.  He would consistently spend time in solitary confinement and transferred to other prisons when they  couldn't handle him anymore.  Bronson is brutal and very strange at times. It's one of those movies where you might find yourself laughing at points, but then you aren't sure if you should be laughing.

It features a great performance by Tom Hardy.  It's really his one-man show.  If you have any doubts about his ability to play 'Bane' in The Dark Knight Rises, watch this movie.

Bronson was directed by the same guy that directed Drive, Nicolas Refn.  You can see some of the similarities between the two films as far as his use of violence.  Refn seems like to like to make violent movies that are 'artistic'.  You can feel that here, too.

Bronson is another movie that is an interesting rental, but it's not for everyone.  It's available on Netflix streaming at the moment.  I'll likely find myself watching this again just before The Dark Knight Rises comes out.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena

If you liked Spartacus: Blood and Sand, then you'll like this. It's basically a prequel to Blood and Sand outlining the backstory of Batiatus and people like Crixus and Oenomaus.  It's set in the same location and house, just a short time before the events of Blood and Sand.  It features the same actors and has the same style, blood and nudity you've come to expect from the Spartacus series.  That's all I really need to say about it.

Fans of Spartacus should rent this.  It's only six episodes, so you can knock it out in a weekend if you wanted to power through it.  If you're interested into getting into the series, start with Blood and Sand and then watch Gods of the Arena.


Ugh...frigging Disney.  Aimee Teegarden plays the class president that is planning the school's prom, only she doesn't have a date yet.  She's waiting for her friend to ask her to prom and she's all stressed out about it.  Through a bunch of lame events, she's eventually paired up with the school's resident 'bad boy' and they have to work together to finish the preparations for the prom.  They don't like each other at first.  I have no idea where this could be going.  I wonder if they'll get together...

I'm clearly not the target audience for a movie like this, but that doesn't mean the movie can't be good.  It bascially uses every lame cliche in the book.  You've seen it all before.

I also had a hard time getting into Prom because I didn't go to my prom, so this just has no nostalgia for me. At the beginning of the movie, you hear Teegarden's chacter talk about prom like it's this magical event that brings everyone together.  That's not how I remember it.  I remember asking a bunch of girls and not going.  I remember friends telling me about arguments they had with their dates.  Plus, she's talking about an event that she hasn't yet experienced, so how would she know?  Also, Aimee Teegarden is really cute, so I have a hard time believing she'd be hard up for a date for the prom or that she didn't already have a boyfriend.  She's the class president, so it's not like she's that cute girl at the school that nobody's heard of.

It's harmless, but not really worth watching.  The only real audience for this movie are teens and pre-teens.  This is something you rent for your kids or let your kids rent and watch on a slumber party.  Um...not that I'd know anything about that either.

It's a pass for the rest of us.

Barney's Version

Another great Paul Giamatti performance, where he's basically playing Barney: a very flawed, and pretty much unlikeable person.  Maybe 'unlikeable' is the wrong word.  I didn't really dislike him.  Maybe selfish is the word I'm looking for.  Despite his character flaws, you still want to watch what happens to him and see how his life plays out.

The story is told by Barney and covers most of his adult life.  You see how he is at work, his relationship with his family members and his failures in his relationships (you see that he's had three wives over the course of the film).

It's a little long, but I liked it.  As I said earlier, Giamatti is great. How I feel about Giamtti is like the opposite of what I said about Kate Hudson earlier.  Where Hudson's presense in a movie is usually a bad sign, Giamatti's presense is usually that sign that the movie is at least going to be well acted or interesting.  He seems to excel at making flawed characters watchable or even likeable.  This also stars Dustin Hoffman, Minnie Driver and Rosamund Pike, so it's got a nice cast.

I think it's worth a rental, just for Paul Giamatti.


Like it or not, when I see Jason Statham is in a movie, I usually don't expect much in the way of a good story.  However, I at least expect a decent action film.  Blitz is neither a good story or good action film.

It felt kind of cheap/low-budget, like it was made for TV.  It just wasn't very interesting.  I started and stopped watching this like three or four times over a week before I finally finished it.  It's also one of those movies were you almost have to watch it with the subtitles on due to the thick British accents.

I did like the opening scene and then ending, but almost everything in the middle just bored the hell out of me.

I would only say to rent this if you're someone that has to watch every Statham movie, like you're obsessed with him.  Otherwise, skip it.

Hobo With a Shotgun

Rutger Hauer plays a hobo...with a shotgun!  The end.  Seriously, he plays a Hobo that has come to a town that is overrun by crime and the local gang.  He originally has plans on buying a lawn mower and starting his own lawn mowing business, but after seeing how out of hand things have become in the town and witnessing the corruption of the local police, he decides to spend that money on a shotgun and take care of the crime itself.

It's not a good movie, but if you like Troma-type films, it had it's moments. Very violent and gory.  It felt like a old 80's horror, exploitation type film.  Much like Toxic Avenger, so if you like that kind of thing, then this is right up your alley.

I enjoyed it enough, but I put this in the category of so bad, it's good.  However, it's clear they did this on purpose, so can you really appreciate it when it's emulating one of those films, or do you call it a tribute to the genre, similar to what Black Dynamite was to blaxploitation films.

It's available on Netflix streaming last time I checked.  Again, worth watching if you like these types of films.


I really liked this one.  It's a Norwegian film and a different take on the whole found footage thing.  It basically follows a few student film makers that are following some hunters.  The hunters complain about some weird hunter that always seems to follow them around and they believe he's a bear poacher.  They also blame him for some of the weird animal deaths in the area.  The students eventually get an interview with the poacher, who agrees to have them film him and come along.  Only they quickly find out that this guy isn't hunting bears, he's hunting Trolls!  Yes, Trolls!  He reveals that Trolls have always existed and have been covered by up a goverment agency.  His job is to track down rogue Trolls and kill them, while his agency tracks them and works on covering it all up.

I thought the movie was very clever and well made. They really did a lot with the effects on a pretty low budget.  It is a subtitled film though, so I can see people having issues with that.

I strongly recommend renting it though.


Kind of cute movie, but I think it tried a little too hard.  It was really cliched at times.  It basically follows the story of three different relationships, but the central relationship is between the character Sam, played by Josh Radnor, and a foster kid that he randomly meets on the subway.  The foster kid gets separated from his family, so Josh tries to help the kid get back to his family, only the kid has no interest in going back to his foster home and just stays with Josh.  Their relationship was very sweet at times, but at the same time, the whole scenario seemed unrealistic, as you think the guy would have just taken the kid to the police.  While he has the kid he's also trying to start a relationship with a girl, played by Kate Mara.

Another relationship is with one of Josh's friends, played by Malin Akerman.  Akerman probably gives one of the best performances I've seen out of her.  I really thought she was just going to be a Cameron Diaz knockoff after The Heartbreak Kid, but I think she's starting to come into her own.  Initially you think she suffers from cancer, as she's bald, but really she has Alopecia.  She gets tentatively involved with a guy in her office, played by Tony Hale, and it was nice to see him play a character where he's not playing an outright baffoon.

There's a third relationship with Josh's cousin and her boyfriend.  This is the one relationship, I think could have been removed from the film.  It just wasn't developed very well and I didn't really care about either of these two.  Every time the story switched back to them, the movie really slowed down and it just wasn't very interesting.

There are a few parts towards the end that actually kind of got to me emotionally, which I wasn't expecting.  I almost even felt a little bit of a tear coming. It resonanted with me that much.  There's actually a line from the end of the movie that I felt applied to me and need to say to myself a little more, and no, it's not the title.

Josh Radnor wrote and directed this, and I think he did a decent job.  If he had focused more on his relationship with the foster kid and then the Ackerman/Hale relationship, I think it would have been a better movie.

I'm going to recommend renting it.

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