April 15, 2008

DVD Pick of the Week: Juno

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope that this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you toward titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return.

This week brings with it a selection that includes good titles, bad titles, classic titles, and everything in between. Rest assured that there will be something that you will want added to your queue; whether it be Oscar winners or those that are as far from Oscar material as you can get, there will be something. However, when it comes to the top spot, there really was only one choice.

Juno. This was my number three film of 2007. It is a fantastic film filled with great performances and bolstered by a great screenplay. It is the story of whip smart teen Juno who becomes pregnant, and decides to give the child up for adoption. It is a wonderful story of forced maturity, big decisions, and dealing with consequences. It also happens to be very funny, and while it may not be completely realistic, it certainly feels real. It is that feeling that above all else pushes this up the must watch list.

Lars and the Real Girl. Ryan Gosling goes from the courtroom in Fracture to a garage apartment here. This is a very sweet-natured film that focuses on a young man who is extremely introverted and is having a hard time dealing with issues of relationships following the death of his parents. To help himself, he buys a love doll whom he introduces to everyone as his living girlfriend. The town, surprisingly buys in and plays along, allowing Lars to work through these issues at his own pace. It is a wonderfully acted sweet piece of movie making that is sure to put a smile on your face.

Before the Devil Knows Your Dead. Very good, if overrated thriller about a pair of brothers who stage a crime that is supposed to help them get out of debt. However, everything goes sideways and the events lead the brothers on a downward spiral that cannot end well. It features good performances from its leads: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, and Marisa Tomei. Definitely worth seeing, but not necessarily buying.

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. An improvement on the original, but that does not really say much. For a cinematic pairing with so much potential, no one seems to know how to do it right. This film picks up after the original with the predator ship crashing back to Earth, unleashing an Alien/Predator hybrid that wreaks havoc on a small town. A Predator shows up to clean up the mess as the town becomes a war zone.

Lawrence of Arabia: Collector's Edition. Here is one of those classic films that I have not seen that I need to see. This edition features new extras and a newly remastered transfer. I have the Superbit version from a few years back that I need to make some time for. I am going to assume that if you are a fan you will wan to get your hands on this.

Inside. Bloody French horror film that I have a copy in my hot little hands just waiting to be watched. I have a feeling that this story of a tormented pregnant woman is going to be a winner! How can you go wrong?

The Bridge on the River Kwai: Collector's Edition. Another new edition of a classic film, this one I have seen, but it has been a long time and my memory of details is completely failing me. Like the Lawrence of Arabia release, I am sure this is going to be well worth the time to spend on it.

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Another Uwe Boll classic, how can it be bad? The guy is clearly a genius, I mean he says so himself! If you don't know who Boll is, he is almost as deluded a filmmaker as Ed Wood was, but with an attitude. This film, err, movie is based on the Dungeon Siege novels and is not a very good film, even by Sci-Fi Channel standards. I am surprised this did not go straight there.

Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection, Vol. 2. With all of the great Warner and Disney collections out there, Universal does not want to get left behind. This second volume focuses on the Woody of the 1950's. The first set was very nice, and I am hearing good things about this one as well.

I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With. I want to see this, it looks like a very sweet, good-hearted story. It is the story of an overweight man who lives at home and has not had a date in a long time. One night, he leaves an Overeater's Anonymous meeting and has a chance meeting with a woman (Sarah Silverman) who takes an interest in him. He then meets another woman played by Bonnie Hunt. It is a story of hope. Well, at least I hope it is, perhaps this is really a horror movie about a cannibal looking for the perfect woman to go with his cheese.

The Last Hour. French/Hong Kong co-production with a troubled history arrives on DVD to little fanfare, especially considering it is not the original cut, rather losing 10 minutes of footage and sounding like th audio was cobbled together from other movies, ala the Woody Allen flick What's New Pussycat?

The Minus Man. I saw this a long time ago and loved the slowly paced tale of a friendly serial killer. It also features an eclectic cast (for a killer movie) with Owen Wilson in the title role accompanied by Janeane Garafolo, Mercedes Ruehl, and Sheryl Crow. This is definitely one to check out.

Aural Amphetamine: Metallica and the Dawn of Thrash. Not exactly a visually stimulating experience, but this documentary on the origins of thrash metal and the impact that Metallica had is really very informative, has lots of easy to understand information and interview footage with some of the notable acts of the era.


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