Before we get into the goodies, be sure to check out our FREE Blu-ray giveaway of Southland Tales, which ends tomorrow at noon. There are 2 copies of up for grabs, and all you have to do is leave a comment on the post. Get crackin’!
A big week for releases, both of the blockbuster and independent varieties. Needless to say, I’ve got a certain little robot on the brain (as does my daughter). Viva la Pixar!
The Pixar masters have done it again. This is, arguably, their most beautiful, heartfelt work, and with an oeuvre like theirs, that’s saying something. The story of a little trash compacter who falls in love with a sleek recon robot named EVE, the most impressive thing about WALL•E is the emotional mileage Pixar generates out of beeps, clicks, and gestures. This is glorious film making, a masterpiece in every sense of the word, and if you haven’t seen it yet, make it your top priority.
Recommended if you like things called ‘movies.’
Up the Yangtze –
This is a thematically rich, visually gorgeous documentary about the damming up of China’s great Yangtze river and the subsequent flooding of the 3 Gorges, displacing nearly 2 million Chinese citizens. It deals with issues of culture, national identity, coming of age, and the conflict between communism and capitalism that is raging across China’s landscape. Thought provoking and heartrending. Highly recommended.
Recommended if you liked Still Life, Please Vote For Me, or State of Mind.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. 1 part comedy, 1 part satire, 1 part action, it’s a mixed bag at times but an entertaining one nonetheless. If you’re not easily offended (this one is as crass as Hollywood comedies come, these days, although you are thankfully spared any ‘money shots’ of Jack Black’s junk), Robert Downey Jr.’s performance alone is worth the price of admission. Alexander Coleman breaks it down, professor style.
Recommended if Platoon-meets-Stand By Me-meets-The Player-meets-Zoolander sounds like the mostest awesomest movie evars.
A surprising little gem of a film that plays like a mix between Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Audrey Tatou stars as a gold digger on the French Riviera, and Gad Elmaleh as the hapless bartender who falls for her and, just to be close to her, ends up gold digging himself. The greatest shock is that Elmaleh outshines the uber-adorable Tatou (of Amelie fame) in nearly every scene. Cute and sweet, although a bit nasty is you start to think about it for too long.
Recommended if you like cute French films about persons of dubious moral fortitude (seriously – for Breakfast at Tiffany’s fans).
Encounters at the End of the World –
German auteur Werner Herzog turns his eccentric camera on the residents of McMurdo, a research station in Antarctica that looks more like a muddy ski resort than an outpost on the edge of civilization. Herzog interviews the odd personalities that populate the offers up observations that only he could make. The film is beautiful and cold and surreal – there is no one else making films like Herzog does.
Recommended if you liked Grizzly Man, Planet Earth, or Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control.
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson –
Visit the Wikipedia entry for ‘gonzo journalism.’ The first paragraph, debating where the term originated, is quite interesting. Gonzo the doc is Alex Gibney’s take on the subjective acid-fueled journalist sometimes known as Hunter S. Thompson. I’m a big fan of Gibney – he is documentary-dom’s rising star – but I’m not such a big fan of Thompson. Also check out Craig Kennedy’s 4-star take on it.
Recommended if you liked Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Crumb, or Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.
From IMDB: “In Paris, a young American who works as a Michael Jackson lookalike meets Marilyn Monroe, who invites him to her commune in Scotland, where she lives with Charlie Chaplin and her daughter, Shirley Temple.” Well, I can safely say no one has made a film like that before. Bit of cross-DVD trivia: Werner Herzog stars as a nun-wrangling priest.
Recommended if you saw Harmony Korine’s first film, Julien Donkey-Boy, and, uh, liked it.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
You know if you like this. I will say that my wife saw it and thought that it was redundant and somewhat pointless, and she loved the first one.
Recommended if you entered a state of transcendental bliss after viewing the first one.