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    On DVD: "Howl" is a Well-Acted Yet Well-Worn Documentary

    James Franco may earn an Oscar nomination for his performance in "127 Hours," but let's not forget his decent caricature of Allen Ginsburg in "Howl," a film he might have been better recognized for come awards season had it been a more generic biopic rather than the multi-technique documentary that ...

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    On DVD: "The American" Deserves Your Disappointment

    One of the most divisive films of the year, Anton Corbijn's "The American," arrives on DVD (and Blu-ray, Amazon VOD, etc) today. Based on Martin Booth's novel "A Very Private Gentleman," it stars George Clooney as an American assassin laying low in Italy after being hunted by some Swedish hit-men. The picture received very mixed reviews (62% at Rotten Tomatoes), and though its $35 million domestic gross (not to mention the additional $29 million made oversees) is plenty for how little it cost, most U.S. audiences came away terribly disappointed ("D-" grade on Cinemascore). And they seemed to have every right to be, given the marketing, which ...

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    2010: My Year of Giving Up on Movies

    Let me just preface this post by clarifying that I haven't given up on movies as a whole. In spite of my end-of-semester, burned-out attitude exhibited on Twitter lately, I haven't lost my interest in cinema. I finally saw 'Black Swan' last night and liked it a lot. The same goes for 'Rabbit Hole,' ...

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    On DVD: "Restrepo" - One of the Best War Movies in Years and One of the Best Documentaries of 2010

    This week's DVD pick is not "Inception," and not just because I'm not really a fan of the film. It's also the most obvious big DVD/Blu-ray release out today and I'm sure enough sites will be highlighting this fact. My pick is instead "Restrepo," which also is sure to be recommended plenty but not nearly on the same scale. And I'm more in the mood to discuss this film, pausing from the continued "Inception" theories for just one day at least. The documentary, directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger, won a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance earlier this year and more recently the filmmakers won the Best Directorial Debut honor from the Nati...

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    On DVD: "Knight and Day" - The Best Action Comedy of the Year

    Last night I was at a loss for a DVD pick of the week and wondered if I might find some worth in either "Knight and Day" or "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." I do love to defend the merits of a dismissed or underrated Hollywood production. Sometimes it doesn't work out, as was the case when I finally saw...

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    On DVD: "Countdown to Zero" - The Scariest Film of the Year

    Again let me remind everyone that I'm not much of a horror guy, but even if I've only seen a few titles of that genre this year I think I can honestly say "Countdown to Zero" is the scariest film of the year. Don't be fooled because it's a documentary, Lucy Walker's first release of this year (she also has the Oscar-shortlisted "Waste Land" currently in theaters) may not have any gore or vampires or zombies or exorcisms, but it does have some revealing details on how easy it is for terrorists to get their hands on nuclear weapons. And that is obviously a whole lot more real and therefore a whole lot more frightening. This is the stuff that wi...

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    On DVD: "EXAM" is "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" for Grown-Ups

    My number one DVD (and Netflix Instant) recommendation this week is for the restored "Metropolis" (aka "The Complete Metropolis"), which I'm assuming will be more enjoyable at home than in a theater full of laughing newbies, as was the unfortunate case with my experience of it earlier this year. I will get to more on that obvious choice later, though, as I'd like to first spotlight a lesser known new title called "EXAM," a British psychological thriller which was put out on VOD platforms over the summer but which I think will find a greater audience on DVD. It has definitely got cult potential, at least on the level of superficially similar e...

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    "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" Released on DVD. Will the Mainstream Embrace it Now?

    While "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" was playing to a disappointingly small audience upon its release this past summer, many movie geeks predicted that when the film hit home video and mainstream audiences "discovered" it there/then that these people would admit they wish they'd seen it in theaters. I disagreed at the time partly because I don't think a lot of those viewers care what format they see most films in. But now I'm also wondering if the mainstream audience will even "discover" and embrace the comic book adaptation the way a lot of bloggers hopefully and scornfully presume. It could be a while before we see just how big a hit "Scott ...

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    Explaining the Cellphone User in the 1928 "Circus" Premiere Footage

    In what seems to be the greatest potential real time-traveler mystery since John Titor, indie filmmaker George Clarke ("Battle of the Bone") has noticed a person seemingly talking on a cellphone at the 1928 premiere of Charlie Chaplin's "The Circus." Clark has shown the footage to hundreds of people...

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    On DVD: Nicole Holofcener's "Please Give" - AKA "You Can't Take It With You, Too"

    With "Please Give," out on DVD today, Nicole Holofcener ("Lovely and Amazing") comes her closest to Frank Capra. The comedy is a kind of light black -- not gray; I mean light in tone, black in subject matter -- reminiscent of "Arsenic and Old Lace." And the themes made me think of "You Can't Take It With You," especially after reading an interview with the filmmaker in which she says the very words of that title. Probably not meaning to reference the play or film, though. There are no great idealistic protagonists in "Please Give," and for Holofcener the ultimate allegiance to capitalism is far more blatant in her films. I said she comes her ...

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