December 22, 2009

DVD Pick of the Week: District 9

Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope 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.

Full disclosure: I have not seen many of these titles, and what follows are not necessarily reviews, but opinions based upon what I know of the titles I pluck from the new release lists I peruse. The opinions I give based on the new releases are my own, and my recommendations are based on my personal interest. In any case, I hope you enjoy and perhaps find something you like or a title to point me towards.

It is not a terribly full week of releases, but it does feature a pair of films that I gave a full five stars to earlier this year. So, what it lacks in quantity it makes up for with quality.

District 9 (also Blu-ray). This is a movie that floored me, it exceeded all of my expectations and then some. It is written with an intelligence not often seen in summer-type films, and executed by a man of vision who knows what he wants to tell and what he wants to show. District 9 displays technical mastery alongside a great tale told with intelligence and emotion. This movie engages the viewer on every level. It shows us an alternate reality where an alien ship arrives over Johannesburg and what happens after it. We pick up the story about 20-years after their arrival. The aliens are cordoned off, government is trying to figure out their technology, and then there is Wikus (Sharlto Copely), the pencil pusher in charge of moving the aliens to another location. This is one of the best films of the year and deserves its due.

(500) Days of Summer (also Blu-ray). I am in love with this movie. It works so well in telling its story of delivering the ideas it wants to impart on the viewer, the thought process behind the relationships, the chemistry of the couple, there is so much to like. I am not sure I could find a way to make this film better. Simply beautiful. Wow, I hope I don't build up your expectations too high for this one. It is a romantic film that is not really a romance. It takes inside the lives of this couple during a 500 day span and is not told in linear fashion. We jump from point to point as one of our characters talks about it. It is a film that is easily relatable, creative, and brings life into the romance genre.

Family Guy Presents: Something Something Something Dark Side (also Blu-ray). My love for Family Guy has waned in recent months as some of their comedy has crossed the line into annoying. Still, I love Star Wars, so I am going to have to check this out.

It Might Get Loud (also Blu-ray). I did not get to see this one the big screen but it looks like it will be very interesting. It takes a trio of renowned guitarists, puts them together and lets them talk music. What can be better? The subjects are Jack White, Jimmy Page, and Edge.

All About Steve (also Blu-ray). The movie is utterly ridiculous. Yes, I still believe the situation could actually exist on the outskirts of reality, but you cannot deny the serious goofiness of the movie. Its problem, as I see it, is that it is much too broad. If the film was played a little straighter, a little less broad, I think it would have been better. It features Sandra Bullock as a hopeless introvert whose social skills attach her to the nearest available guy. Funny at times, but ultimately not worth it.

Extract (also Blu-ray). I like this movie, but it is not a great one, it may not even be a good one. It rests squarely on the performers and their ability to give their roles more meaning than he script would call for. centers around the stress of running a company that you do not feel fully invested in along with a healthy dose of sexual frustration. The problem is that I kept waiting for it to really take off and it never really did. It kept this stead pace of jokes that kept me interested, but the story never really hit home and I did not find any of it to be downright hilarious.

Ichi (Blu-ray). A new take on Zatoichi? I'm down. This is the story of a blind guitar player who travels the countryside. She also possesses considerable skill with a sword, which she uses on Yakuza and other villains she encounters.

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