Julia Roberts and Clive Owen in a smart, fast-paced espionage thriller should have gone gangbusters at the box office, but for some reason never caught fire. They play dueling corporate spies, and that's all you really need to know to enjoy it. Duplicity is witty and engaging, and I think it should hold up quite well to multiple viewings. Also on Blu-ray. Buy it.
Greg Mottola's nostalgic paen to youth is more wistful and bittersweet than rambunctious and celebratory, which makes for a darker viewing experience. It's shot through with a sub-current of anger and resentment, occasionally flaring up to reveal unflattering embarrassments most of us would rather forget. With Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, and Ryan Reynolds at his most sleazily appealing. Also on Blu-ray. Rent it.
This is triumph through tears and really bad smells, as sisters Amy Adams and Emily Blunt start a business to clean up crime scenes, without really knowing what they're doing. Alan Arkin provides support as their father, with Steve Zahn, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Clifton Collins, Jr. adding nice turns in supporting roles. Ultimately it's a trifle, but the trip is warm and funny. Also on Blu-ray. Rent it.
For fans of Channing Tatum only, as the buff-bodied star occasionally takes off his shirt in an otherwise numbingly familiar, sometimes unwatchably confusing tale of the NYC underground fighting scene. (My review.) Also on Blu-ray. Skip it.
An outstanding week for Indies on DVD, plus more Blu-ray picks and a very special Collector's Corner -- after the jump!
A friendly taxi driver in North Carolina tries to help his morose passenger on a long road trip. Jeffrey M. Anderson describes it as "something special, a genuine sleeper. It may be the best DVD you rent this summer."
Nights and Weekends
Joe Swanberg and Greta Gerwig play a couple "struggling through the highs and lows of a long distance relationship," wrote Erik Davis. "All we have to hold onto are these two people, Swanberg and Gerwig, their characters and their performances, which, might I add, were some of the best [SXSW] had to offer in 2008."
A documentary about Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) and the people who play them. "Second Skin pumps out a lot of on-screen facts, offers plenty of sincere testimony from gamers, talks to various experts, gives lip service to the idea that gamers come from all walks of life," I wrote when the film played at SXSW. It then "proceeds to reinforce many of the worst stereotypes about gamers."
Also out: The Informers, Trouble the Water, Rudo y Cursi.
Fire and Ice
Ralph Bakshi's 1983 animated heroic fantasy is resurrected. Keith at Teleport City posted a fabulous review of the movie a few years ago, which should help you decide if it's your cup of tea. While acknowledging that it doesn't really measure up against modern works, he observes: "Older fantasy fans, however, will probably find a lot in Fire and Ice that appeals to them, especially if they favor old-style pulp storytelling and artwork."
One sign that Blu-ray is making inroads into the consumer market: low-budget titles like 80s exploitation comedy Screwballs are making their way to the high-def format.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey bicker, banter and bed their way to bliss.
Twilight Ultimate Gift Set
Haven't there already been, like, 13 of these "ultimate" sets? I'm sure true Twilight fans will tell me. Besides, it's the thought that counts, right?
If my understanding is correct, this is very similar to what has already been released for Blu-ray. Only this one is for DVD owners.
Also out: Complete Billy Jack Collection, Last Days of Disco (Criterion).