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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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    Now You See It: "MacGruber" - Necessary Spoof or Deserved Flop?

    There is a sort of outcry I keep noticing regarding certain movies that aren't doing well at the box office. Movies that are very popular with the blog critics out there, like "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and "Kick-Ass." Those kinds of movies that are enthusiastically supported at Comic-Con only to be dismissed by the mainstream come theatrical release time. This year the phrase has also been used in relation to the disappointment of "MacGruber," which was well-received by the Austin crowd at its SXSW premiere only to be ignored at the multiplex two months later (it made even less than both the much-hated "Jonah Hex" and the science document...

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    "Machete" Primer: "Grindhouse: Planet Terror"

    I've finished the second half of my self-assigned task to see the two "Grindhouse" features before seeing "Machete." You can go back and read my thoughts on Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof," which is the preferred part for many film buffs. I have to admit, though, that in many ways Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" is more satisfying. It doesn't seem to have as much subtext going on, but there's a whole heck of a lot more happening on the screen here than in Tarantino's feature. As someone who's only liked one of Rodriguez's films in the past -- "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" -- I'll say I don't mind his films being mindless if they're a good...

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    "Machete" Primer: "Grindhouse: Death Proof"

    In anticipation of the new film "Machete," which opens this Friday, I'm making a point to familiarize myself with some must-see forerunners. They're not all necessarily linked in an official manner to Robert Rodriguez's latest, which is based on a (then) fake trailer included in the double-feature release of "Grindhouse," but I consider them relative predecessors. First up is Quentin Tarantino's half of "Grindhouse," "Death Proof." I guess it makes sense to see this after the Rodriguez half, "Planet Terror," but I was more excited by this, if only because it received more praise. I also, like many, prefer Tarantino's films to Rodriguez's. Sta...

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    "Red Riding" Trilogy on Netflix Watch Instantly?

    I was hoping to spotlight the "Red Riding" trilogy this week in lieu of doing a DVD pick. The three films (fully titled, in order, "Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974," Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980" and Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1983") won't physically be released on DVD and Blu-ray until August 31, but they all hit the digital platform a few days ago via Netflix's Watch Instantly service. I think exclusively. There is a lot of mainstream appeal with the trilogy at the moment, including new Spider-Man Andrew Garfield starring in the first movie, its comparability to the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" films (aka the ...

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    On DVD: "The Living Wake"

    If you're not anywhere near a theater currently playing Aaron Schneider's acclaimed "Get Low," you can somewhat make due for now by renting the very slightly similar, less-known indie "The Living Wake," which is also about a man holding a kind of eulogy service for himself while still alive. Directed by Sol Tryon and originally released to the fest circuit in '07, the strange and dark comedy finally hit DVD yesterday courtesy of Breaking Glass Pictures. Having long seen and heard people like Stu VanAirsdale, Aaron Hillis and Cinematical's Erik Davis all rave about it, I figured I'd give it a try for this week's DVD spotlight. Especially since...

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    Before There Was "Dinner for Schmucks" There Was "Dogfight"

    "Dinner for Schmucks" may have officially been based on the French film "The Dinner Game," but when I first heard about the plot, I immediately thought of "Dogfight." The 1991 drama, directed by Nancy Savoca ("If These Walls Could Talk"), stars River Phoenix in one of his last major roles and Lili T...

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    "Titanic II" is No Longer Just a Bad Joke. Film Blog Water Cooler 7/28/10

    Thanks to the Internet, we've seen plenty of fake posters and trailers for non-existent sequels to James Cameron's "Titanic" (happy belated 100th birthday to Gloria Stuart, by the way). Now thanks to the existence of The Asylum, the production company that brought us "Transmorphers," "The Da Vinci Treasure" and "Snakes on a Train," we have the chance to see an actual film called "Titanic II." Of course, it's not officially linked to the 1997 blockbuster as a sequel or otherwise. The title actually refers to the name of a new ocean liner that's been built to honor the original ship and will make its maiden voyage on the 100th anniversary of th...

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    On DVD: "The Art of the Steal"

    This week's DVD pick is Don Argott's "The Art of the Steal," a documentary centered on the ongoing art world scandal involving the Barnes collection. It doesn't matter if you're not much of an art enthusiast. You've likely been to a museum or two, and this film will possibly change how you look at ...

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    Dreams Confuse Moviegoers: "Vanilla Sky" Tops Bewildering Poll

    I'm guessing that "Inception" would feature high up in a later list of most confusing films of all time given the results of a poll conducted by European Netflix equivalent LoveFilm. As voted by subscribers of the DVD service, "Vanilla Sky" has apparently perplexed more film fans than "Mulholland Drive," "Donnie Darko," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," all of which were included in the top ten. LoveFilm editor Helen Crowley recognized a trend in the results: "It's clear that dreaming is the biggest cause of confusion for viewers. Switching from reality to dream sequences pulls the wool over our eyes and lea...

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