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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mammoth

A computer nerd has to leave his family go to Bangkok to sign the papers to sell his internet gaming company for a lot of money. While they are separated, each of the family members, as well as the family’s Pilipino maid, goes through a series of personal dramas that weave in and out of the narrative with little rhyme or reason. There are moments of honesty and clarity that are compelling, but the stories never really tie together to a satisfying whole. 2 stars

Monday, April 26, 2010

The 14 Amazons

Tired of the ongoing war, and their men’s inability to end it, a group of females strap on some armor and head out to win the fight once and for all. Directors Ken Cheng and Shao-yung Tung fill the screen with tons of high-flying action, and they aren’t shy about showing a lot of blood (which looks like red paint), but they also take the time to give each of the Amazons just enough time on the screen to establish her character before she goes into battle. The result is hugely entertaining.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Frank Zappa: The Freak Out

Even if you know a lot about the composer/musician already, there’s still a lot to learn watching this fascinating documentary about the late, great Frank Zappa. There are a lot of fellow musicians and rock critics to tell you how big an influence he was on music, and there are lots or performance clips to show you how good he was at playing it. What’s missing is any actual interview footage with the man himself, and that keeps a good documentary from being great.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt

This could be the ultimate DVD package of fans of the 26th President of the United States. Not only do you get a really good documentary about the man, but there’s also a pretty fascinating disc of ‘making of’ extras that let you go behind the scenes to see what it takes to make a great documentary. And if that’s not enough, the pack includes a CD of John Phillip Sousa marches, a gift that will make more sense once you’ve seen the documentary.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Basketball Diaries

It seems impossible that The Basketball Diaries came out in theaters 15 years ago, but then you watch Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg and the rest of the cast and all you can think is how young they look. That and how good they are. DiCaprio is absolutely mesmerizing as poet/junkie Jim Carroll. His performance is raw and honest, a far cry from the more calculated performance he gives nowadays. It’s almost painful to watch, particularly the scene where he begs his mom (a very good Lorraine Bracco) to let him back in to their apartment after they have a huge fight. The rest of the cast is just as strong, and the story still stands up both as a cautionary tale of drug abuse and a celebration of being young and feeling invincible.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ninja Assassin

It won’t take long for you to decide if Ninja Assassin is the right movie for you. If you can watch the first big fight scene and not lose your cookies when the bad guy gets his head sliced in half (horizontally, just under the nose), then you may make it through the following 90 minutes of martial arts mayhem.
Of course, if you cheer when the top half of his head hit the floor with a wet splat, and find yourself laughing out loud at the way his now disembodied eyes blink at you, then you are just may think Ninja Assassin is the best movie in years.
Directed by James McTeigue, Ninja Assassin is the story of a clandestine ninja death squad that the rich and powerful have been hiring for centuries to do their dirty work. When one of their best disciples defects from the clan to lead a less-bloody life, the ninja assassins do whatever they can to either bring him back or kill him.

Funny People

Judd Apatow’s dramedy about comedy hit a stone wall when it was originally released, primarily because audiences expected a lot of laughs from the man who gave us The 40 year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. With lowered expectations, the DVD comes across as more interesting, if still not very funny. Adam Sandler gives a good performance as the big time comedian whose brush with death makes him reconsider what is really important in his life, but Seth Rogan is even more annoying as his protégée.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Steel

Chances are if you saw it in theaters you don’t have fond memories of this Shaquille O’Neal action comedy. While nobody can argue the artistic merits of the movie, it’s nevertheless a guilty pleasure to watch. O’Neal is no great actor, but he’s got enough personality to be interesting as the super hero in a suit of steel. And how can you not get a kick out of the way Judd Nelson chews the scenery as the bad guy? The action is tame enough for families to enjoy, even if you may have to translate all the 1997 bad rap video street slang the gang members use. 2 ½ stars (Available exclusively at http://bit.ly/WAC_NewReleases)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries

The mysteries played out in this two-disc set are well written and interesting with plenty of plot twists to keep you guessing along the way, but you expect that sort of thing when it’s based on the work of a world famous crime novelist like Dorothy L. Sayers. The real treat of watching Lord Peter Wimsey solve a case is the marvelous work of Ian Carmichael as the posh investigator with a nose for clues and a taste for the finer things in life.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dolan’s Cadillac

It starts out with an image of a highway blacktop zooming by at night as a strange voiceover starts spouting some cryptic nonsense about the nature of good and evil. The you see that the movie is based on a Stephen King story and you cut it some slack, check your brain at the door and enjoy this silly revenge story about a mobster being stalked by the husband of a witness he murdered. Christian Slater is awesome as the mobster – few people can outdo him when it comes to being a sleaze – but Wes Bentley is kind of unbelievable as the widower turned killer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Abbott and Costello Show: The Complete Series

This isn’t just another box set of old television shows; it’s a treasure trove of some of the funniest comedy bits you will ever see done by two of the best performers who ever walked the stage, stood in front of a TV camera or made a movie. You’ll find all the classic Abbott and Costello bits scattered throughout the 52 episodes in the set, as well as a plethora of bonus features to let you learn more about the two men who made “Who’s on First?” one of the most classic comedy routines of all time. Sit back, relax and get ready to laugh.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love

When African singer Youssou N’Dour decided he wanted to celebrate his love of the Muslim religion in song, he had no idea what kind of backlash it would bring him. Undaunted by the way religious leaders misinterpreted his artistic creation, the singer took his message and his music to the people of the world to let them judge for themselves. The film, directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, features a lot of great concert footage that gives you a sense of the power of the man’s music, but it’s the quieter moments spent with N’Dour as he explains why he wanted to celebrate being Muslim that gives the film its heart.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Man VS Wild Season 4

Anyone who has ever watched this popular Discovery Channel series knows that Bear Grylls is insane. The guy puts himself in the most dangerous situations he can think of and then works his way out using whatever he finds handy in the wilderness that surrounds him. Sure, the camera guy is only a few steps away, but one look at Grylls and you know he’d almost die rather than ask for help. Season 4 includes a show where Grylls spends some quality survival time in the frozen north with Will Ferrell which is fun, but nothing compared to what the man does on his own.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Taxidermia

Words can barely describe what you will see when you watch this truly twisted tale. In telling the story of three generations of a Hungarian family, director Gyorgy Palfi fills the screen with visceral visual images that will either make you laugh or make you sick to your stomach … sometimes both. This is not a film to watch after a big meal, particularly during the story of the second generation and its graphic look at the ‘sport’ of competitive eating. For a more complete explanation of the whys behind what he’s done, check out the making of bonus features where Palfi talks about the new Hungarian cinema and the need to shock audiences to get a response. You might want to let the shock wear off first, though.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Real Housewives of New Jersey

It’s the DVD equivalent of crack. You don’t want to watch these rich spoiled b*tches as they rant and rave their way through a ‘typical’ day, but you can’t help it. The best way to enjoy it is to pick a favorite and watch her throughout the season because trying to keep these ladies and their intertwining dramas will drive you mad. For the wildest ride, keep close tabs on Danielle. She never disappoints when it comes to crazy drama.

Monday, April 5, 2010

French Gigolo

Judith is a mature divorced woman who has it all, a successful business, a sister she can depend on and, when she’s feeling romantic, enough spare money to hire a young man to satisfy her needs. Her life gets complicated, however, when she starts to have more than physical feelings for the young stud she hires. Funny, heartfelt and romantic, this film features great performances from Nathalie Baye as Judith and Eric Caravaca as her boy toy, Marco.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes Set 2

Anyone who was entertained by what Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law did with the legend of Sherlock Holmes will delight in this collection of BBC shows. Sure, none of them actually feature Holmes and Watson, but the spirit of the legendary literary detectives can be felt in every one of these unique stories. The variety included in the set, from a murder at a South African diamond mine to the Houdini-esque escapades that take place in a mental institution, makes sure there’s something for everybody.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge

Don’t let the title fool you. What sounds like it will be some sort of gory slasher film is, in reality, a sweet romantic teen comedy about two high school loners who find each other and fall in love. Sure, she is cursed to fight a chainsaw-wielding giant every night, but that’s a minor obstacle to overcome once she starts having feelings for the nerdy boy who tries to help her. While there are some decent fight scenes in the movie, there’s actually very little blood (beyond a few close-ups of the monster’s exposed heart every time she hits it with a throwing knife). In fact, most of the fights aren’t show in the film; we only see the aftermath as the two young lovers talk about what happened and what they can do better next time. If you are looking for a massacre, look someplace else. But if you are a fan of offbeat romantic comedies, this one will steal your heart.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Baader Meinhof Complex

It starts with a happy family outing at a sunny beach where the dad tells a friend that even political activists need to take a vacation. It’s the last calm moment of this frenetic, yet fascinating film. While Americans against the Vietnam War protested primarily by parading with posters that urged people to make love, not war, the activists in West Germany were taking a much more direct – and much more violent – approach to ending the war. While it’s a fascinating look back at that turbulent time, the blurred line between terrorism and political statement of the 70s resonates with the world situation today.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Clash of the Gods

Leave it to the History Channel to take a dry subject like ancient Greek myths and turn it into an adventure story that’s more fun to watch than the 3D remake of the Hollywood version, Clash of the Titans. Using a combination of actors, university and historical experts and pretty decent computer generated images, the makers of this series give viewers an in depth look at not only what the myths were all about, but a teasing taste of just how based in fact some of these myths really are