The Lone Ranger Blu-ray Review

   Actors: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson, William Fichtner, Helena Bonham Carter
  • Director: Gore Verbinski
  • Writers: Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
  • Producers: Gore Verbinski, Chad Oman, Eric Ellenbogen, Eric McLeod
  • Language: English (DTS-HD High Res Audio), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 17, 2013
  • Run Time: 149 minutes


  •  

            The Lone Ranger may not be a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a far more interesting failure than you might imagine from the overwhelming mass of critical disparagement. It should be noted, however, that I had no previous attachment to previous radio, television and film incarnations of The Lone Ranger, so I was able appreciate this film as a standalone piece of entertainment without judgment about significant alterations made in the adapting process.   

     

            All of the criticisms made about this film are most definitely true; the budget was outrageous and all in an obvious attempt at harnessing some of the success from the previous Disney/Bruckheimer/Verbinski/Depp collaboration, The Pirates of the Caribbean. The film is also over-long with some structural issues, like much of Gore Verbinski’s filmography, and Johnny Depp’s elaborate performance overshadows the title character and hero of the film. I also saw some unexpected assets buried beneath all of the excess the film has to offer.

     

    Elysium Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna
  • Director/Writer: Neill Blomkamp
  • Producers: Neill Blomkamp, Bill Block, Simon Kinberg, Stacy Perskie, Sue Baden-Powell
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 17, 2013
  • Run Time: 109 minutes


  •        

            Neill Blomkamp took everyone by surprise with his debut feature, District 9, able to combine cutting-edge action sequences within the socially and political relevant science fiction storyline. Elysium has all of the same things that made District 9 a success: heavy science fiction, special-effects-driven action, and a heavy-handed political message under the surface. Aside from the fact that this feels a bit more forced the second time around, District 9 was a film made in the filmmaker’s home country of South Africa with a message that was obviously personal in nature. Elysium is a Hollywood feature which makes some transparent social statements about the United States in the narrative. I found this a bit smug coming from an outsider, and Elysium tends to feel heavy-handed with cinematic soap box themes weighing the spectacle down.

     

            The biggest problem with the allegories and political subtext in Elysium is how blatantly transparent it is. The story takes place in the dystopian future year of 2154, in which Earth is ravaged and only the wealthy can afford to live a healthy life on the man-made space station called Elysium. This space station also provides perfect health care, which none of the impoverished citizens of the United States can get. It is already clear that the film is dealing with issues of universal health care and immigration, which is pounded into the audience’s head even more obviously by the fact that apparently all citizens on Earth are Hispanic and all on Elysium are white. This is an obvious attempt to advance the liberal agenda of addressing the health care and immigration issues the Unites States deals with in regards to our impoverished southern neighbors in Mexico. This entire film could have used a bit more subtlety and intelligence.

     

    Insidious: Chapter 2 Blu-ray Review

         Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 24, 2013
  • Run Time: 106 minutes



  •  

     

            James Wan has made a career as a horror director by simply focusing on creepy dolls and haunted houses, and it has done wonders for him and the box office sales. 2013 alone saw two haunted house installments from Wan, including the period film based on a true story, The Conjuring, and the follow-up to 2010’s Insidious. Insidious: Chapter 2 is not as consistent as either The Conjuring, but even amidst a mediocre film from Wan we are able to see his skill and confidence as a director in this medium has increased. The over-all film is uneven, but there are still some terrifying sequences and original ideas sprinkled in this sequel.

     

            The Lambert family endured a battle with the spirit world in the first film when one of their children is under threat from a ghost wanting to take his body. In Insidious: Chapter 2, we learn more about this hereditary trait that allows members of the family to travel to the spirit world in their dreams. Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) has the same abilities as his son, learned and then forgotten in his troubled childhood, and returned to threaten his family once again in an Amityville Horror type transformation of personality. Meanwhile Renai Lambert (Rose Byrne) does all that she can to protect her family from the ongoing threat.

     

    Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Blu-ray Review

        Actors: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Nathan Fillion, Douglas Smith
  • Director: Thor Freudenthal
  • Writers: Marc Guggenheim, Rick Riordan
  • Producers: Bill Bannerman, Chris Columbus, Karen Rosenfelt, Mark Morgan, Michael Barnathan
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English, French, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: December 17, 2013
  • Run Time: 106 minutes



  •  

     

             The second in the film franchise adaptation of the popular young adult book series, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, has plenty of action and excitement to match the first film. At the same time, it almost just feels like filler material in-between a much larger story. The first film gave us necessary introductions, and while a few significant characters make their appearance within the storyline of Sea of Monsters, little within the plot of this movie seems to hold any relevance by the film’s close. Characters have a way of undying after being killed off, which makes much of the action nearly irrelevant. If each book includes a quest of some sort, this is one which has all of the urgency and none of the relevance from the first film.

     

            The mission this time around isn’t even a quest that has been given to Percy Jackson, but instead to one of the other competitive demigods. There is a barrier surrounding and protecting the camp where the half-human, half-gods train and live, and that magical shield is caused by a tree that grew where one of them was killed many years earlier. After the tree is poisoned by a familiar enemy from the first film, the only hope to save it is with the Golden Fleece, which rests on the shoulders of a brutal Cyclops. Another new addition to the storyline is Percy’s half-brother, another demigod who also happens to be a Cyclops.

     

    Force of Execution Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Steven Seagal, Danny Trejo, David House, Dylan Kenin, Jenny Gabrielle
  • Director: Keoni Waxman
  • Format: Color, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: ANCHOR BAY
  • Release Date: December 17, 2013
  • Run Time: 99 minutes


  •  

     

            It would benefit these low budget action films to have a simple plot with minimal cast, but they are always convoluted and crammed with as many recognizable faces and names as possible. Even with a large cast, the story is never simple. It is always filled with a great many unnecessary scenes of serious-faced men proving how tough they are by the way they scowl. And when the action finally does arrive, it is never as impressive as you might hope. This may have something to do with the cast of veteran action actors who were in their prime two decades ago.

     

            Ignore the list of actors starring in this movie, such as Steven Seagal, Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo. They are all in this film, but can be considered no more than supporting actors to martial arts superstar Bren Foster, who is able to bring youth and speed to the action sequences while struggling to take a stab at the acting portion of the job. Foster stars as a hitman who is disgraced and dismissed by his mob boss, Mr. Alexander (Seagal), after a prison hit goes wrong. Years later he has the chance to redeem himself when he gets caught in the middle of a gang war with Mr. Alexander and a gangster known as ‘The Iceman’ (Rhames).

     

    Jayne Mansfield’s Car Blu-ray Review

         Writers: Billy Bob Thornton, Tom Epperson
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Anchor Bay
  • Release Date: December 10, 2013
  • Run Time: 122 minutes



  •  

            After the major critical and financial success of Sling Blade, Billy Bob Thornton’s filmmaking debut, he paired with Miramax and the Weinstein brothers to make his sophomore feature, All the Pretty Horses. That experience was such a debacle that it took Thornton over a decade to return to the role of writer/director, with infamous stories of Weinstein control being the reason for the film’s failure. Jayne Mansfield’s Car has some spectacular moments, most of which Thornton gives to himself, but it could have used a little more focus and direction. There must be a happy medium between the Weinstein’s way and Thornton’s tendency to over-indulge, but it was not found in this film.

     

            The story follows the unlikely pairing of two families in a wholly unique situation. These narratives are very often found in wedding films, when two different families are forced to endure and appreciate the nature of someone else’s ways. Jayne Mansfield’s Car instead uses a funeral, and the two families have specific reasons to have never met before. Jim Caldwell (Robert Duvall) is the patriarch to a large southern family living in Alabama in 1969 when he receives word that his ex-wife has died. Having left him for a new family in England married to Kingsley Bedford (John Hurt), Jim never remarried and hasn’t fully recovered from the loss. When he hears that his ex-wife’s request was to be buried in Alabama, Jim grudgingly invites her new family into his home for the funeral. 

     

    Battle of the Year Blu-ray Review

     
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 10, 2013
  • Run Time: 110 minutes




  •  

     

            There are so many ways to attack this film, I have to stop for a second and choose which is first. I could take the obvious digs at casting for putting an atrocious role model like Chris Brown in this film, but that’s a little too obvious. I could point out that this movie is a blatant pop-culture scheme to make B-Boys popular again, though the commercial coating over every idea in the movie makes it feel endlessly contrived. There is the strange choice to have the dance sequences with mismatched music, if any at all. There is the awful acting amidst a terrible script filled with training sequences and contrived moments of coaching from “Lost” star Josh Holloway. The complaints I have with this film are endless, and there is only one thing within it that deserves even a modicum of praise.

     

            This is obviously not the type of film people go to see because of the acting or the story. We know that there are only two possible outcomes to the film, and one is less likely than the other. This movie is not about plot, story or acting. The only thing that this film is about is B-Boy dancing, and it has some impressive sequences of that. The biggest problem is that the most impressive moments occur near the end of the film, making the first hour a test of endurance. The most difficult part to endure was watching Chris Brown’s face every moment but the one in which it gets punched by a teammate.

     

    Ain’t Them Bodies Saints Blu-ray Review

        Actors: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster
  • Director: David Lowery
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • Release Date: December 17, 2013
  • Run Time: 96 minutes



  •  

     

            I can’t think of a way to discuss David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints without simultaneously addressing the career of Terrance Malick, and that’s somewhat disappointing on many levels. In some ways this is a poetic style of filmmaking which comes down to preference, though there are also issues of originality.
     

     On one hand, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is more reminiscent of early Malick in terms of story with the visuals of some of his later work, making for a more cohesive viewing experience than a film like To the Wonder. On the other hand, like much of Malick’s recent work, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints makes me long for the films it resembles more than enjoy I actually enjoyed this one. Style is no issue for Lowery, but it often overshadows what little narrative contained within his script.    

     

    One Direction: This is Us Blu-ray Review

  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Cantonese, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 17, 2013
  • Run Time: 199 minutes



  •  

     

            Somehow, I had higher expectations for this documentary when I heard that Morgan Spurlock had directed it. Up to this point there was a distinct style and approach to Spurlock’s films which I enjoyed, though you would hardly know of his involvement in this commercial 92-minute love letter to the boy band manufactured on British reality television. They treat the subject with such adoration that it is clear Spurlock took a paycheck to make this mindless fluff piece. It feels even less sincere than the film Spurlock made by selling to advertisers. At least that was direct and honest, whereas this one is mindless logic and stupid sequences of these young men acting like boys.

     

            The most frustrating thing about this documentary is how little material there is which has any significance beyond fan adoration. These boys don’t seem to have much personality that is their own, and what there is remains a mystery. We get to see as they are clothed by professionals, have their hair done for them, and given music to sing on a set other people designed for them. They are so uninvolved beyond their own moments in the spotlight that their security guards actually have to chase them down and carry them to the performances. Watching their behavior and the professionals feeding off of their success is like watching parents who don’t want to say no to their unruly children in public. It’s embarrassing.

     

    The Smurfs 2 Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Katy Perry, Hank Azaria, Brendan Gleeson
  • Director: Raja Gosnell
  • Writers: David N. Weiss, David Ronn, J. David Stem, Jay Scherick, Karey Kirkpatrick
  • Producers: Ben Haber, Jordan Kerner
  • Format: Multiple Formats
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 3, 2013
  • Run Time: 105 minutes




  •  

     

            The origins of Smurfette are widely discussed in the world of Smurfs. Why is there only one female Smurf and where did she come from? This answer has long been a part of the Smurf mythology, and answering it becomes wonderful idea for the basic premise of The Smurfs 2. Not only do we discover that Smurfette (voiced by pop star Katy Perry) was actually created by Gargamel (Hank Azaria) as a spy to be unleashed on the Smurfs, but there are additional creations by Gargamel called the Naughties. Gargamel kidnaps Smurfette to try and discover the magic that Papa Smurf used to make her into a real Smurf.

     

            This is where the plot detours from the origin Smurf story a bit, because it is magic that made Smurfette rather than simply the love and kindness given to her from the Smurfs. This allows for a reason to kidnap Smurfette, as Gargamel attempts to create his own Smurfs for stealing their essence and becoming the world’s most famous magician. The plot wears a bit thin, but there is plenty of Smurf humor and action to keep this film from being boring. The casting of the adult characters is more likely to engage the adult audience members, while the children viewers will be enamored by the magical CGI blue creatures.

     

    The Simpsons: The Sixteenth Season Blu-ray Review

  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English, French, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Release Date: December 3, 2013
  • Run Time: 527 minutes


  •  

     

            The weirdest part about the delayed release of past seasons of “The Simpsons” is the gap in relevance for many of the pop-culture jokes and cameos. It’s somewhat like television time capsule, but not always in the most pleasant sense. This may be the longest running animated series on television, but you can feel the desperation in some of these episodes as the writers struggle to stay relevant in a world of “South Park” and “Family Guy.”

     

            The sixteenth season has moments which are sincerely funny, others which are very obviously done merely for shock value and to push the adult humor further than before, and then there are bits which are just bad. Fortunately, there are less of the bad jokes and more of the edgy humor, but not enough of it has the charm that “The Simpsons” once had. Some of the episodes almost feel like recycled material, redone with dirtier double-entendre jokes inserted.

     

    Saving General Yang Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Adam Cheng, Ekin Cheng, Vic Chau, Li Chen, Yu Bo
  • Director: Ronny Yu
  • Format: Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA



  •  

     

            Saving General Yang is a solid film, though it may lack the amount of originality that would set it apart from dozens of other Chinese war epics to be released in the last decade. As engaging as the storyline and action may be, there is trouble relating to any one character or even to properly distinguish each of them from each other. The story and action often take precedence, which lightens the emotional impact of the final sequences.

     

            The film takes place in Northern China during the early Northern Song dynasty, AD 986. The great General Yang Ye (Adam Cheng) long ago killed the leader of a clan in battle, and the surviving son is determined to enact revenge for his father. He kidnaps General Yang in order to carry out the revenge, at the same time that an invading army of thousands approaches the north. Led by his first son (Ekin Cheng), General Yang’s seven sons set out on an impossible mission to bring their father home.

     

    The Rooftop Blu-ray Review

         Actors: Jay Chou, Eric Tsang, Wang Xueqi, Xu Fan
  • Director: Jay Chou
  • Format: Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese
  • Subtitles: English, Chinese
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: December 10, 2013
  • Run Time: 120 minutes



  •         Very little about The Rooftop feels very original, with a great deal of the storyline and feel of the film seemingly taken directly from Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! (2001). It is entertaining and fun, but also a bit predictable, melodramatic and self-indulgent. Fortunately, the target audience likely won’t mind these shortcomings for the chance to see Jay Chou shirtless and singing.

     

            Chou is best known in the Unites States for his supporting role as Kato in The Green Hornet film adaptation, playing the role made famous by Bruce Lee, but in China he is a huge pop star as well as an actor. This film makes for a natural transition into directing as well, allowing him to control a film that allows him to display his most admirable assets. There is plenty of singing and dancing, a lot of fighting, and endless scenes with Chou’s abs proudly on display.

     

    Exclusive Filmmaker Interview with Ryoo Seung-wan


     
     
    Ryan Izay: You are no stranger to action, in a variety of different style and genres throughout your filmography.  The Berlin File utilizes many of these, including some gun play, hand-to-and combat, chase sequences and more. Do you have a favorite to work with?

     

    Ryoo Seung-wan : I must’ve liked to work with all of them in order to have put them in the movie right? Of course, I do like to add actions scenes that I prefer but I now try to think more about what kind of action scenes the movie needs. The above mentioned action scenes that you’ve mentioned are a combination of my personal preferences and also what the movie needed to push the story forward. It’s hard to choose a favorite because each type of action has its own unique flavor. It was so difficult choosing the various action scenes while making the movie, please don’t make me choose again!

     

    The Seasoning House Blu-ray Review

    Actors: Sean Pertwee, Kevin Howarth, Rosie Day, Anna Walton
  • Directors: Paul Hyett
  • Format: Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, THX, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Well Go USA
  • Release Date: December 3, 2013
  • Run Time: 89 minutes


  •  

     

            The Seasoning House is a film with a premise that never quite pans out in a satisfactory manner, although it delivers all that it promises in terms of vengeance. The problem with revenge thrillers is the success that others have had in the genre in the past decade or so. There have been quite a few of them, and since the 1970s with Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left (1972) and the cult hit I Spit on Your Grave no sub-genre seems more determined to push the limits of violent revenge. Unfortunately, there is little memorable about the methods of revenge in The Seasoning House, making for a surprisingly tame tale of vengeance.

     

            The other difficulty I had with The Seasoning House was the real-life scenario which sets the film up. A young deaf mute girl named Angel (Rosie Day) is ripped from her home during the war in the Balkans and taken to a house where young kidnapped girls are forced into prostitution for any passing military personnel. The saving grace for the film’s narrative is also the most unbelievable aspect of the story when Angel is never prostituted. Somehow her disabilities make her better suited for maid-like duties, which seems strange considering how much communication is key to her job in comparison to the jobs of the other girls in the house.

     

    All the Boys Love Mandy Lane Blu-ray Review

       Director: Jonathan Levine
  • Writers: Jacob Forman
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Anchor Bay
  • Release Date: December 3, 2013
  • Run Time: 90 minutes




  •  

     

            The hype far surpassed the actual content of All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, which actually seems quite tame despite initial ravings from a select few able to see the film when it was first made seven years ago. After collecting dust for much of those seven years, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is now old news. Even the casting of Amber Heard in the title role has little of the same impact since she has shed her virginal teen image, though fans may find it refreshing to see her in a film with a little baby fat in her cheeks. As often happens with a few years in the spotlight, Heard is more of a cookie cutter starlet these days, with little to no fat in her cheeks or anywhere else on her body.   

     

            It is actually quite easy to see why this film was shelved, because aside from the casting of Heard in the leading role, there is nothing much inventive or impressive about Jonathan Levine’s film. It simply utilizes the popular slasher narrative of a group of partying teens in a remote area, each picked off until the final cause of the deaths is revealed. There is an adequate amount of violence, though none feels altogether inspired.

     

    The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Blu-ray Review

    Actors: Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, Robert Sheehan, Kevin Zegers, Lena Headey
  • Director: Harald Zwart
  • Format: Multiple Formats
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 3, 2013
  • Run Time: 130 minutes


  •  

     

            Anytime there is a surprise success in the film world, it is followed up with endless duplicates and imitations. We can expect these to be of lesser quality than the original, and this does not bode well for any of the countless films following the Twilight franchise. Those movies were atrocious, and the first (but, unfortunately, not the last) installment of The Mortal Instruments somehow manages to be even worse.   

     

            The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is based on yet another young adult book franchise which fulfills the popular fantasy and romance elements in a way that is far from inspired. There is a seemingly ordinary teenager, Clary Fray (Lily Collins), who is actually half angel with the ability to see demons others cannot. This narrative is used in nearly every popular young adult novel which has been adapted to film, from Twilight to Ender’s Game, simply infusing an ordinary protagonist with the ability to quickly surpass their elders in every facet. This teen fantasy element is paired with another familiar plot contrivance; the love triangle.

     

    Wrong Cops Premiere Coverage


     

            This past Wednesday evening I was invited to attend the premiere of Wrong Cops at The Vista Theater in Los Angeles, a perfect off-Hollywood site for the opening of a film teetering on the outskirts of mainstream cinema. I’m not sure if there is a name for this new sub-genre of extreme comedic irreverence in independent films, but writer/director Quentin Dupieux is a pioneer of the movement. These films feel like a marriage between David Lynch and Jared Hess, what might happen if the random carnage and dreamlike narrative were to take place in a world of awkward character actors. He got up in front of the audience to introduce the film, apologizing for the scenes being out of focus, humorously explaining that it was “almost on purpose.”



     
    Ray Wise, Quentin Dupieux, Eric Wareheim,  Mark Burnham, Arden Myrin, Marilyn Manson

    Wrong Cops is the latest feature from Dupieux, following his cult hit Rubber in 2010, and the similarly titled Wrong from 2012. Despite the similarities in titles, Wrong Cops is not a sequel to Wrong, despite a brief cameo from Dolph Springer (Jack Plotnick) and his dog. Plotnick is only one of many surprises in the ensemble casting of Wrong Cops, many of which were able to make it out for the celebration on Wednesday evening.

     

    Giveaway Contest: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Blu-ray Combo Pack

     
    Join the Quest of a Lifetime, Packed with an
    All-New Motion Comic and Collectible Cards, on 3D Blu-ray
    Deluxe Edition December 17 and Digital HD™ December 3
     
     
    Synopsis
    The magical, mythical adventures of teenager Percy Jackson — son of the Greek god Poseidon — continue in this heroic, action-packed thrill ride!  Out to prove he’s not just a “one-quest wonder,” Percy and his demigod friends embark on an epic, cross-country journey into the treacherous Sea of Monsters, where they battle terrifying creatures, an army of zombies, and the ultimate evil. With time running out, Percy must find and bring home the fabled Golden Fleece, which has the power to save his world...and save us all!

    Angels’ Share DVD Review

         Actors: Paul Brannigan, John Henshaw
  • Director: Ken Loach
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: December 10, 2013
  • Run Time: 101 minutes




  •  

     

            Kitchen sink realism has been a staple of filmmaking for Ken Loach’s impressive career as a director, most notably with the coming-of-age film, Kes. That realism has been carried over into his latest dramedy, Angels’ Share. What starts as a somewhat lighthearted drama about the struggles working-class life in the United Kingdom eventually turns into a heist film which is part comedy of errors. The manner in which the comedy and drama blend together without ever overpowering each other is the mark of a truly gifted filmmaker, making Angels’ Share far more engaging than your typical comedy and more entertaining than the average drama.

     

            The film’s protagonist is a former thug named Robbie (Paul Brannigan), who is attempting a life without crime due to the pregnancy of his girlfriend. Preparing to be a father leaves Robbie with a new outlook on life, though that does little to get rid of the trouble which has already wormed its way into his life. With the help of a kindly supervisor while doing his community service, Robbie becomes interested in the world of whiskey tasting. Along with three fellow social miscreants, Mo, Albert and Rhino, Robbie learns as much as he can about the distilling of whiskey.

     

    Berberian Sound Studio DVD Review

         Actor: Toby Jones
  • Director: Peter Strickland
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: December 10, 2013
  • Run Time: 92 minutes



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            Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio is a masterpiece in style and direction, which makes it so disappointing to find the third act such a failure in storytelling. It almost seems as though there was nowhere left to go with the film, instead trailing off into unmemorable David Lynch imitations. Yet even when the film is repetitious and dealing with an uninspired narrative flow, Strickland’s direction is able to carry each scene to the next despite the inconsistency of the whole.

     

            Employing an Englishman abroad fish-out-of-water narrative, the quiet sound engineer Gilderoy (Toby Jones) takes a job in Rome working on the soundtrack to a film called The Equestrian Vortex. Though he doesn’t speak Italian, we get the impression that he understands much of what the others are saying around him. Sound doesn’t just play a large part in the story; it is the most important part of the film in every aspect. We are never permitted to see the violent images of the horror movie Gilderoy is working on, instead limited to the images and the sounds utilized in the engineering of a soundtrack. There is a lot of stabbing and smashing of food in order to simulate the torture and killing in the movie, which begins to decay as time passes. The only other indicator we have to the gruesome nature of the film is the reactions coming from Gilderoy as he is forced to endure the images.

     

    Sightseers DVD Review


          Actors: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
  • Director: Ben Wheatley
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: December 10, 2013
  • Run Time: 88 minutes


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            The relentlessly bleak nature of the violence in Ben Wheatley’s Kill List made it a difficult film to enjoy, which may explain the filmmaker’s choice to go for a more comic edge in his latest film, Sightseers. There is still a large amount of violence and gore, though it is boldly applied in a darkly comic manner. Blending a road trip narrative with a serial killer storyline, this is something like Arthur Newman meets Natural Born Killers.

     

            Chris (Steve Oram) has a plan to take his new girlfriend on a vacation in a motor home. Tina (Alice Lowe) has been something of a recluse ever since a tragic accident with her dog, and it has left her somewhat unhinged. Road trips and vacations with new couples can often be eye-opening, revealing truths previous able to be hidden, and this can destroy a relationship which is not stable enough to withstand this trial-by-fire. This is the case with Chris and Tina, who have only been dating for a few months. This is not long enough for Tina to discover that Chris is a serial killer with specific targets of poor social etiquette.

     

    Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus Blu-ray Review

     

  • Actors: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann
  • Director: Sebastián Silva
  • Format: Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • Release Date: November 19, 2013
  • Run Time: 99 minutes



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            It is quite clear that a majority of the dialogue in Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus (and 2012) is improvised, but that is not necessarily a fault. Each of the actors embody the characters so unabashedly that they feel sincere in their actions even when the film feels a bit contrived, such as the film’s emotional climactic close. Based on writer/director Sebastián Silva’s own experience with a San Pedro cactus and woman named Crystal Fairy, there is a realism in the narrative which often defies any structure or clear message. These are simply very different people who come together over the hallucinogenic trip to the beach.  

     

            Michael Cera heads up the cast as obnoxious American expatriate Jamie (Michael Cera), whose personality often seems to grate on those closest to him. When Jamie runs into a free-spirited American at a party named Crystal Fairy (Gaby Hoffman), he impulsively invites her on a road trip with him and the three Chile friends that put up with him. Crystal Fairy is a completely different personality type from the snarky and condescending Jamie, and much of the film is a quiet battle between these two strong personality types in an otherwise passive group of people. Are these the two personalities that Chile thinks of as American? Either way, it makes for an engaging road trip film with clashing personality types.

     

    Impractical Jokers: The Complete First Season DVD Review


    Number of discs: 2
    Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    Studio: Warner Home Video
    DVD Release Date: November 26, 2013
    Run Time: 374 minutes








     

     

            I was a bit of a troublemaker when I was younger, mostly due to my overactive imagination and the inability to remain bored. When my physical situation is dull, I find my mind compensating with creative inspiration of endless amusement and less than traditional amusement. In other words, I would have fit right in with the guys of Impractical Jokers, despite the fact that they are fully grown and still amusing themselves through immature methods. The adult in me is somewhat embarrassed for these four grown men, while the kid in me is simply jealous of their job.

     

            The premise of the show is creative and unique, but at its barest essence “Impractical Jokers” is simply a hidden camera show which cares much more about the embarrassment of those aware of the cameras than the revelation that these unsuspecting people are being filmed. There isn’t even a ‘reveal’ section of the show, where we would typically see the victim’s reactions when they discover that they are on a television show. The dynamic lies far more with the four friends participating.

     

    The Canyons Blu-ray Review

    Actors: Lindsay Lohan, James Deen, Nolan Funk, Amanda Brooks, Tenille Houston
  • Director: Paul Schrader
  • Writers: Bret Easton Ellis
  • Producers: Braxton Pope
  • Format: Blu-ray, Director's Cut, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • Release Date: November 26, 2013
  • Run Time: 100 minutes


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            I enjoyed the article about the making of this film far more than I did the movie itself. It isn’t as bad as you might imagine, but it also isn’t good. It isn’t even as shocking as it may have you believe, other than Paul Schrader's willingness to show a semi-erect penis in the background. Lindsay Lohan shows nothing more than you would expect to see in her Playboy shoot, appearing more desperate than sexy in the role of Tara. Basically, this movie is just a waste of time which has garnered a small amount of attention due to casting choices, none of which are actually interesting in the actual film itself. We were all interested in the fact that Lindsay Lohan was doing this movie out of the same curiosity that drives motorists to leer at a bad car crash, but in the end The Canyons feels like sitting through two hours of traffic only to find a stalled car blocking the path.

     

            Author and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho, The Rules of Attraction) joined forces with Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver and director of American Gigolo) to create this modern day attempt at campy cult classic. Nobody wanted to finance the film, so they made it themselves by selling things and scraping together just enough money to make this look a little better than soft-core porn. Lohan’s horrid reputation made her suitable only co-starring with a real-life porn star. James Deen is truly the star of the film, though that is not necessarily a compliment as much as it is a fact. He plays Christian, a manipulative movie producer who discovers his girlfriend once had a relationship with the leading actor of his upcoming project.