Pick of the Week
Somebody Up There Likes Me (New Video) — On the surface, Bob Byington’s latest comedy breezes along like a colorful, bouncy, live-action cartoon (thanks in large part to cinematographer Sean Price Williams). And while the jokes—both visual and verbal—are snappy, and though they never really let up throughout this film’s brisk 75-minute journey, a rising sadness creeps in and eventually takes over, casting a somber pall on the proceedings. It’s a deft, tricky balancing act, yet with the help of his lead actors Nick Offerman, Keith Poulson, Jess Weixler, and Stephanie Hunt, Byington somehow manages to pull it off. Available on DVD and at Amazon Instant.
Recommended In Varying Degrees/Shades/Colors
Gimme the Loot (MPI Home Video) — Writer/director Adam Leon’s debut feature is set firmly in present-day New York City, in the comparatively still rough-and-tumble Bronx. It is filled with curse words. There are drugs. There is thievery. And yet it’s just so gosh darn adorable. How is that even possible? This sleight of hand is what makes Gimme The Loot pop with such a refreshing old-school authenticity and flavor. Never sacrificing one for the other, it somehow manages to be both raw and sweet at the same time. Read the full HTN review. Available on DVD.
Greetings From Tim Buckley (New Video) — This movie is a perfect example of one of those nonsensical prejudices that afflict me every so often. As in, when I heard the news of this movie, I said, “They’re casting Penn Badgely to star in a biopic about Jeff Buckley?!” Here’s the thing: previous to watching this movie, I had only ever seen Badgley act in Margin Call, in which his performance impressed me; also, to this day, I am only peripherally familiar with and/or interested in the music of Jeff Buckley. Yet somehow my knee-jerk reaction was that this was the most absurd news ever. Removing that somewhat shameful confession from the equation, all I can say is that Daniel Algrant’s admirable spin on the traditional biopic is worth watching for Badgley’s performance alone. It’s a real revelation. Available on DVD and at Amazon Instant.
Behind the Candelabra (HBO) — Steven Soderbergh’s “swan song” from feature filmmaking (let’s check back in with each other in five years to see if those quotes were indeed an appropriate addition to this sentence) is admirably performed by Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, and whatever visual effects program they used to make Douglas look like he was playing that piano 1000% fooled me. But something about the campy, humorous approach to this material unsettled me a bit. Available on DVD and Blu-ray + Digital Copy.
Simon Killer (MPI Home Video) — Antonio Campos, his co-writers/lead actors Brady Corbet and Mati Diop, and cinematographer Joe Anderson deliver an intense portrait of a disturbed young American in Paris. Read A Conversation With Antonio Campos if you haven’t already. Available on DVD and at Amazon Instant.
The We And The I (Virgil Films and Entertainment) — It’s quite fitting that both Gimme the Loot and this freewheeling experiment from Michel Gondry are being released on the same day, as they share a similarly raw-but-sweet energy and spirit. However, in the case of this film, a warning: if rambunctious, just-let-out-of-school teenagers annoy you with their youthful vociferousness, this one might not be for you. Available on DVD and at Amazon Instant.
New/Old to DVD/Blu-ray
Have Not Seen Yet But Really/Kinda/Sorta/Maybe Wanna