Can’t Hardly Wait

/100

1280_CHW.jpg

My review of Can’t Hardly Wait on Blu-ray Disc is online at FilmFreakCentral.net:

Can’t Hardly Wait deals in a shameless, sunny-eyed idealism that

prizes sincerity and explicitly privileges the notion of true love; the

spirit of Wim Wenders even touches the film as, in one spectacularly

sweet vignette, a bikini-clad angel (Jenna Elfman, in a terrific

uncredited cameo) touches down outside a neon-lit diner to dispense

some hard-won advice to the broken-hearted protagonist. In short, we’re

a long way yet from the crass, porn-inflected attitudes of Superbad

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

/100

1280_st3.jpg

My review of Starship Troopers 3: Marauder on Blu-ray Disc is online at FilmFreakCentral.net

Over the course of Starship Troopers 3, the human government’s

position on religion evolves from wary tolerance (because the more

pious citizens tend to oppose the war) to outright enthusiasm, once the

military manages to conflate aggression and holiness in the public

mind. “God’s back,” declares a government mouthpiece at film’s end,

“and He’s a citizen, too!”

Made of Honor

/100

Made of Honor

First, the obvious. Made of Honor is what’s generally known as a “chick flick.” I’m not totally comfortable deploying that term,

especially in its usual derogatory, casually-sexist usage–but in a purely descriptive and possibly cynical sense, that’s what we have here. It’s a love story, featuring a conventionally handsome leading man (Patrick Dempsey) playing opposite a conventionally pretty woman (Michelle Monaghan) whose character is engaged to marry the conventionally wrong guy (blond Scot Kevin McKidd). It’s directed by a man (Paul Weiland), although to its credit there is a woman prominently involved (co-writer Deborah Kaplan), and it’s designed from the bottom up to appeal to undemanding female filmgoers.

Continue reading

Counterfeiters, The

/100

480_counterfeiters.jpg

My review of The Counterfeiters [on Blu-ray Disc] is online over at Filmfreakcentral.net.

This year’s winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, The Counterfeiters (Die Fälscher) is defined in equal terms by what it is and what it isn’t. It is a

Holocaust survivor’s yarn told with a certain playfulness and no lack

of moral consideration, but it is not really a concentration-camp

movie; mostly, it feels like a prison caper yarn that happens to take

place in Sachsenhausen. The film’s weight comes from the things we know

about but cannot see within the frame: those haunting images of

emaciated Jews, the walking-dead stares of the prisoners consigned to

the gas chambers and crematoria, the tragedy of systematic genocide.

Felon

/100

480_felon.jpg

My review of Felon on Blu-ray Disc is online at filmfreakcentral.net:

If Jeffrey Lebowski had made a few wrong turns in life–if, let’s say,

he had brutally murdered some very bad men, as well as their

families–he may have turned out not entirely unlike John Smith, the

hulkingly mellow convict played by a moustachioed, goateed Val Kilmer

in Felon. Judging from the wide berth the rest of the inmates

give him, Smith is known as the silent-but-deadly type. Kilmer plays

him from behind a whole bunch of prison tattoos with a steely glare,

but also with a kind of openness that doesn’t immediately compute.

Although he’s tagged as a sociopath, he’s really just the opposite. He

believes in justice, and he longs for the death sentence he feels his

crimes deserve.

Untraceable

/100

480_untraceable.jpg

My review of Untraceable on Blu-ray Disc is online at filmfreakcentral.net:

The makers of Untraceable never acknowledge their film’s own

ranking on the torture-as-entertainment scale. Instead, they’re

hell-bent on the idea that the online masses, guilty of exercising poor

taste, are somehow complicit in the worst kinds of crimes that might be

committed somewhere on the Internet by some sicko craving an audience.

The hectoring is so relentless that Untraceable obviously means

to send that message to its own audience–the sort of sick fucks who

would pay to see this movie in the first place. (For whatever reason,

moralizing filmmakers from Michael Haneke on down the line often fail

to implicate themselves in that downward spiral they so disdain.) D

Vengeance

/100

480_vengeance.jpg

In a happy development for cult and genre-film fans, non-English-language offerings beyond the highbrow are continuing to trickle out on Blu-ray Disc. And while you can’t buy a HD copy of My Blueberry Nights in the U.S. (and with the dollar in the toilet, who can afford to import movies these days?), you can pick up this lesser-known Thai horror-fantasy from 2006. Directed by Pleo Sirisuwan, it’s a low-budget adventure about the various creatures — human, humanoid and otherwise — lurking deep inside the jungle. It’s one of those movies where the hero’s face gets more and more jacked up and bloody as it goes along.

Continue reading

The Ruins [Unrated Blu-ray Disc]

/100

480_ruins_BD.jpg

Watching the quick-moving but grueling horror movie The Ruins [my original review is here] on its theatrical release — a bare three months ago! — was an intriguing enough experience that it sent me running immediately to grab a copy of the source novel that author Scott Smith adapted for the screen. Reading the book was somewhat confusing, since the characters’ fates were scrambled on the way to the multiplex and my brain struggled a little bit to keep the movie’s characters at bay as I dug into the novel. But it’s a more satisfying version of the story, owing largely to Smith’s literary tactic of shifting the narrative perspective, round-robin style, from character to character, a virtuoso move that the film (maybe wisely) doesn’t even consider emulating. The book lets you get far enough into the heads of its doomed characters — and telescopes the scope of the action across a long enough period of time — that their actions, and eventual insanity, become more understandable.

Continue reading