If it's crap ... We'll tell you
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS (Blu-ray and DVD)
I don't get folks who thought this 2010 Jay Roach directed 'comedy' was "Outrageously Funny" as the box cover erroneously insists. Paul Rudd plays Tim Conrad, a mid-level executive with a shot at moving up if he can impress his boss by bringing an entertaining idiot to a special dinner where he and his friends enjoy mocking them. Tim discovers the near-retarded Barry Speck (Steve Carell) and, for some reason, ends up feeling bad for the guy who can't so much as turn around without destroying something. I can't stand these movies where A: Everyone is a jerk and B: People put up with it for no reason. Much like in the majority of Jay Roach's films, in my world, this is the lowest and most irritating kind of 'humor'.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Dinner for Schmucks [Blu-ray]
HOWL (Blu-Ray and DVD)
The reaction from critics was predictably split down the middle about this very experimental film starring James Franco as the famous beat poet Alan Ginsberg. Certainly not a traditional narrative by any means, the film flits between three different segments: a gorgeously animated representation of Ginsberg's controversial poem that the film is named after; an interview with Ginsberg talking about his life and work; and a court case to decide whether or not "Howl" should be considered 'obscene' with Jon Hamm as the defense attorney. All dialogue was taken from actual transcripts, which is interesting in itself in that it's a new conceit in making a documentary, a technique that might make the sugar go down easier for those who disdain films with a more traditional method of educating their viewers. I sadly suspect that the beautifully non-linear, surrealistic, and entirely appropriate way "Howl" was made is going to be lost on many viewers, in much the same way the content of the original poem was on readers.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Howl [Blu-ray]
THE LAST EXORCISM (Blu-Ray and DVD)
Forget about that crappy Anthony Hopkins exorcist movie in theaters now, it's "The Last Exorcism" that lives up to its creepy promise. Well, at least until the end. Filmed documentary style (I know, I know, but this one makes it work) the film follows an American fundamentalist preacher (Patrick Fabian) who has lost his faith and has agreed to take part in a exorcism expose film, where he uses all kinds of trade trickery to 'heal' a supposedly possessed child (Ashley Bell). Problem is, it's starting to look a lot like this girl might actually have something devilish inside her after all. While the more interesting part of the film is the preacher's struggle with his beliefs, there's some genuinely creepy as hell moments and a lot of fun to be had, even if, for me, the ending did fall back into overly familiar territory.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY The Last Exorcism [Blu-ray]
Is this 1980 NBC television event, based on the classic novel by James Clavell, the best mini-series ever made? Some would say yes. I might be one of those people, but I admit, it's been too long since I've seen the only real competitors for the title ("Roots" and "Lonesome Dove"). Either way, this 547 minute series about an English navigator (Richard Chamberlain) being kept in Japan by the whim of a brilliantly ambitious Lord (Toshirō Mifune) is absolutely mesmerizing still. Despite a way-cornball score (from composer Maurice Jarre who I expected better from than this cliche-ridden piece), it holds up every bit as well today as it did upon its original release. This is 'Must-See' tv, to be sure, especially for anyone who already has an interest in Japanese culture and history. FSM help us all, it's actually educational as well.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY James Clavell's Shogun