DVD RELEASES – 2010/2/23

This is one of those weeks when the number of movies I can personally recommend pales in comparison to those new releases that I haven’t actually seen but plan to add to my Netflix queue.

Highly Recommended

The Informant! (Warner Home Video) — I guess this year’s Best Actor nominees seem appropriate (I wouldn’t really know, though, as I’ve only seen one of those films), yet I still wish Matt Damon had been recognized more officially for the work he does in Steven Soderbergh’s biting comedy. Slowly and surely, Damon has proven himself to be one of Hollywood’s smartest and most determined performers. His talents are on full display in The Informant!, which took a while to get going, but when it started zinging, it really started zinging. Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.

Examined Life (Zeitgeist) — Can philosophy serve a legitimate purpose in our rapid-paced, techno-charged, money-grubbing modern world? Or is it nothing more than a severely outdated form of brain calisthenics that has no ability to impact our society in even the most impractical of manners? Perhaps the answer to that question resides in the actual film Astra Taylor has made with Examined Life. If Taylor can spin such heady, academic material into an engaging and entertaining documentary, then there just might be some hope after all. Inserting her subjects—some of the world’s most brilliant philosophical minds—into the most routine and commonplace of locales (parks, airports, backseats of cars, landfills, shopping districts) as they casually, though headily, discuss a variety of topics, Taylor delivers an engaging defense for the idea that this type of thinking is exactly what the world needs right now. Read the rest of my review, then buy it on DVD.

The Vicious Kind (Image Entertainment) — Refreshingly free of quirky pixie girls and embroidered title cards, The Vicious Kind gets most of its mileage out of an acidic, pathetic, and seductive performance from Adam Scott as Caleb, a wittily embittered construction worker with a cross to bear—and a destructive crush on his frat-boy brother’s goth girlfriend (Brittany Snow). But despite the various “types” populating this anxious Thanksgiving reunion (and despite the presence of J.K. Simmons as a saucy patriarch) there’s not a hint of the Juno here. The Vicious Kind is a film with a curious kind of nostalgia. It harkens back, but not too far—just to the 1996 new releases shelf at Tower Video, when this viewer was ten years old and devouring Ted Demme’s Beautiful Girls, Steve Buscemi’s Trees Lounge, and Doug Liman’s Swingers (a great year for sadsack pseudo-misogynists developing relationships with sympathetic heroines they couldn’t properly appreciate; I should really examine this vis a vis the formation of my romantic inclinations). Lee Toland Krieger has created the sort of pure, slightly sentimental character study that’s no longer cool—but definitely should be. (Note: Although the performances are all top-notch, I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t nominate Brittany Snow’s hair for a Razzie. Her turn as a wanton sexthing with something to say is awesome, but girlfriend is giving major wig and it is distracting.) Buy it on DVD. — (Lena Dunham)

Somewhat Recommended

Crude (First Run Features) — Buy it on DVD.

Flame and Citron (MPI Home Video) — Buy it on DVD.

Three Blind Mice (MPI Home Video) — Buy it on DVD.

New to Blu-ray

Ichi the Killer (Tokyo Shock) — Buy it on Blu-ray.

The Crazies (Blue Underground) — Buy it on Blu-ray.

Have Not Seen But Very Much Want To

Make Way For Tomorrow (Criterion) — Buy it on DVD.

The Damned United (Sony Pictures Entertainment) — Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.

The Box (Warner Home Video) — Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.

Have Not Seen But Kind Of Want To

The September Issue (Lionsgate) — Buy it on DVD.

Dead Snow (MPI Home Video) — Buy it on DVD.

Swedish Auto (MPI Home Video) — Buy it on DVD.

Google Me (Cinevolve Studios) — Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.

Wild Card

Jersey Shore: Season 1 Uncensored (Full disclosure: I tried watching this show, after being urged to do just that by pretty much anyone I encountered who knew of my love for The Real Cancun, and after only two episodes, I bailed out. Jersey Shore is like the National Enquirer to The Real Cancun’s The New Yorker. Not as deeply layered and fascinatingly hypocritical and generation-defining.)

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