Slow yet diverse week on the DVD front. We have reviews for three of them. In other fascinating news, here’s what I’ve been watching this week:

 

  • Max Payne – Not as bad as it could have been, but not as good as it had the potential to be. Fire the casting director and the screenwriter and they might have actually made a decent film.
  • A Tale of Two Sisters – Some of the most effective art direction in a horror film that I’ve seen since The Shining, it was nevertheless disappointing that it had to stoop to using two of my biggest horror-genre pet peeves. I won’t ruin the “twist,” but suffice to say it’s not that far from the tried-and-true “it was all a dream” copout.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – I started watching this because the episodes were short and I could watch it with my daughter. Midway through the second season I was hooked, and now all I can think about is getting home from work to watch more. I’ll be sad when it’s over. Excellent animation and surprisingly deep themes for a kids show.
  • Dexter – Pure crack. Michael C. Anthony Michael Hall is brilliant. Not sure how I feel about Jimmy Smits yet, but Dexter is Dexter is Dexter and I’m gonna watch it anyways.

So, what have you been watching this week, and are you interested in any of the below DVDs?

The Incredible Hulk 
I’m a teensy bit ashamed of that 4-star rating up there. I certainly enjoyed the film in the theater, but it hasn’t held up that well in my mind, and I imagine a second viewing would drop that rating a half-star if not a full one. It was less ambitious than Ang Lee’s failed attempt at the green giant, but more successful. The opening scene with the Hulk is the best in the flim (part action, part suspense, part horror), and it’s a bit disappointing that the rest of the picture doesn’t work as well.

Recommended if you’re so obsessed with the Hulk that you only buy canned vegetables with pictures of the Jolly Green Giant on the side.

Buy The Incredible Hulk on Blu-ray

Flight of the Red Balloon
I am thoroughly unfamiliar with Taiwanese director Hsiao-hsien Hou’s filmmography and I know little about this one, so I’m going mainly off of critical pedigree and the raves I’ve been reading for the past few months. This film is in French, his second foreign language outing, and deals with a boy, his babysitter, and the ethereal red balloon that follows them through their imaginary adventures.

Recommended if you like Italian and French cinema in general, which Hou’s films are often likened to.

The Strangers 
Luke had not-good things to say about this one, and he’s typically quite generous with the horror films. Like a more-stupid version of Funny Games, The Strangers attempts to titillate with an “inspired by true events” tagline on the front. Does anyone buy that schtick anymore? Post-Blair Witch Project, I thought that marketing gambit had been used up, but apparently not since the masses still flock in droves. “Did you hear? This reallyhappened! OMG, we have to see it now!” A cursory Google search reveals no such “true” events.

Recommended if people with bags over their faces inspire fear rather than we-should-really-give-that-guy-some-change pity.

Buy The Strangers on Blu-ray

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed 
These films wear me out. Is it really that hard to make a compelling, reasonably objective documentary about religion and creationism and evolution, etc.? Does everyone always have to stoop to below-the-belt editing techniques and interview ambushes? Does anyone NOT see how similar this film is to Religulous, even if they are at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum? In the words of Travis, from one of my favorite films of all time, The Rundown: “Why so angry?”

Recommended if you’re in the choir and you enjoy being preached to.

Buy Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed on Blu-ray

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