The Hurt Locker
Simple and stunning, Kathryn Bigelow directs a character-based action thriller that's also a low-key, lived-in drama. The tension builds slowly and explodes at unexpected moments, which is fitting, since the story follows a three-man Army bomb squad in a war zone. Jeremy Renner is the new squad leader, whose heedless, devil-may-care attitude may be more lethal to his men than the explosives they're charged with disarming. Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty co-star. Buy it.

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Moon
One of SciFi Squad's Best of the Decade, Duncan Jones' directorial debut is "old school science fiction," wrote Jennifer A. Brown, eschewing "gimmickry for a solid, provocative story of identity and memory that will make you wish you never gave up your old copies of Analog. ... Sam Rockwell is mesmerizing, no mean feet considering for most of the film he is alone." Buy it.

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The Brothers Bloom
Finally! More than three months after it became available to rent, Rian Johnson's con man caper may be purchased legally in the U.S. "Adrian Brody, Mark Ruffalo, Rinko Kikuchi, and Rachel Weisz star in "a clever, funny and warm-hearted take on the con man genre," according to our own William Goss. (Will also detailed the features on the Blu-ray and ranted about the release strategy.) You've waited long enough. Buy it.

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Tyler Perry Fans, Buy This: I Can Do Bad All by Myself.
Everyone, Skip These: Fame, Halloween II (rancid and boring), Post Grad (pleasant but non-essential).

After the jump: a wealth of Indies on DVD, plus Classics (?!) on Blu-ray and Collector's Corner.





Quotes from our fine team of reviewers right here at Cinematical:

In the Loop
"Achingly, wrenchingly, dizzyingly funny, with a bleak, bitter sense of humor." (James Rocchi.) With Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini, Tom Hollander, David Rasche, and Gina McKee. Directed by Armando Iannucci.

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Big Fan
"This isn't a film about sports, it's a film about fandom -- about being so in love with something you go overboard and neglect your friends, your family and your life in order to feed your addiction." (Erik Davis.) With Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Rapaport, and Matt Servitto. Directed by Robert Siegel.

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Goliath
"Something in the rhythm of the film and the quiet confidence of it lingered with me far longer than I thought it was going to." (James Rocchi.) Directed by Nathan Zellner and David Zellner.

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Amreeka
A Palestinian single mother and her son try to settle down in the American Midwest but face a range of challenges, some new and some old, in this modern day 'fish out water' immigrant comedy/drama. Directed by Cherien Dabis.

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The Burning Plain
With Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, and Joaquim de Almeida. Directed by Guillermo Arriaga. "The film benefits greatly from a couple of particularly solid performances by Theron and Basinger ... The Burning Plain is good, not great, but it's worth watching to see the growth of this fine writer as he makes the shift into directing." (Kim Voynar.)

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Departures
Academy Award-winner for Best Foreign Language Film, directed by Yojiro Takita. "It's a perfect Oscar choice, a fine film that's gently funny and moving and not the least bit challenging or controversial. It tells its story with elegant simplicity and is aimed at neither the lowest common denominator nor the highbrow art-house crowd. Pleasantly in the middle is where it sits, and it's happy to be there." (Eric D. Snider.)

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Passing Strange
Spike Lee's filmed version of a Broadway musical prompted Roger Ebert to call it one of the director's best films..

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Also out: 24 City, Cats of Mirikitani, Downloading Nancy, The Drummer, Frontrunner, Mancora, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, Onimasa, The Theory of Everything, You, the Living.

8 1/2 (Criterion Collection)
Our own Christopher Campbell called it "one of the most personal and expressionistic pieces of cinematic art ever produced." Directed by Federico Fellini. For an outstanding overview of the film and a consideration of the new transfer, I defer to Glenn Erickson (AKA DVD Savant): "Retransferred in HD, Gianni De Venanzo's luminous B&W images will have viewers forgetting to read the subtitles. And the audio is even richer now thanks to the uncompressed Blu-ray tracks, with deeper bass and a more pure-sounding high range."

Cliffhanger
The opening sequence is perfect, still capable of stopping your heart and making the hairs on random body parts stand on edge with electrifying tension and gut-punching impact. Other sequences range from cheesy stupidity to fist-pumping excitement. I have an unspeakable crush on this movie. With Sylvester Stallone, Janine Turner, John Lithgow (way over the top e-v-i-l), Michael Rooker, Rex Linn (junior league evil), and Ralph Waite. Directed by Renny Harlin.

Also out: The Last Action Hero, Billy Jack, Whiteout.



Urban Action Collection: 4 Film Favorites
Warner Home Video is rolling out a series of 4-packs, and here's the one I'd pick up, featuring Black Belt Jones (Jim Kelly, Gloria Hendry, and Scatman Crothers), Three the Hard Way (Jim Brown, Fred Williamson, Jim Kelly), Black Samson (Rockne Tarkington) and Hot Potato (Jim Kelly). I haven't seen the latter two, but the first two are solid 70s exploitation flicks.