Ashton Kutcher plays a spy longing for the suburban life and Katherine Heigl portrays a suburban woman longing for a little excitement in her life. It's a match made in Hollywood! Our own Jenni Miller wrote: "It's the summer movie equivalent of Cheetos – totally unnatural, bad for you, possibly cancerous, but a guilty pleasure to indulge in with your girlfriends, possibly while drunk." The summer's almost over; will you take the dare? Rent it.
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While acknowledging that there's not much competition in the category, Eric D. Snider declared MacGruber "the funniest Saturday Night Live-based film since Wayne's World. We'd have breathed a sigh of relief if it were merely not awful. The fact that it's actually pretty good, a gleefully silly action parody that doesn't run out of steam before it's over, is just icing on the cake." Will Forte and Kristen Wiig take the leads, with Powers Boothe, Ryan Philippe, and Val Kilmer providing crucial support. Rent it.
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The home video release was planned long before news broke that star Michael Douglas is suffering from throat cancer. That adds, perhaps, an additional layer of urgency to watch the film, in which Douglas plays an unsympathetic rascal, a bad ex-husband, lousy father and grandfather, unfaithful boyfriend, and uninspiring mentor. "His performance finds and holds that crucial harmony between fearful thoughts and the foolhardy deeds they motivate," observed Cinematical's William Goss. With Susan Sarandon, Jenna Fischer, Mary-Louise Parker, Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, and Danny DeVito. Rent it.
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That Evening Sun
Hal Holbrook received widespread critical acclaim for his performance as a displaced Tennessee farmer drawn into a grudge match with an old foe. Joe Leydon at Variety described it as a "deliberately paced" and "richly atmospheric" drama. The cast includes Ray McKinnon, Mia Wasikowska, Walton Goggins, and Carrie Preston.
The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond
Based on a screenplay by Tennessee Williams, Bryce Dallas Howard stars as "a gorgeous young woman who chafes under the strict rules of her aunt Cornelia (Ann-Margaret) but also wants to make sure she gets her fair share of Cornelia's wealth when the time comes," according to the review by Jenni Miller. "Unfortunately, it's the screenplay that's the weakest link ... [it] lacks the ache and the poetry of his other work and instead pours on the Southern Gothic syrup."
Based on the diaries of a German businessman, the film tells about his role in saving the lives of 200,000 people during the Japanese invasion of Nanking, China in 1937. The cast includes Steve Buscemi and Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds); Ulrich Tukur stars as John Rabe.
This is almost purely a pick for nostalgia's sake; the movie's psychological motivation is badly dated ("Monsters from the Id") and its sexual politics quaint at best ("What's a bathing suit?") and offensive at worst ("It would have served you right if I hadn't ..."). It may be better remembered as inspiration for Gene Roddenberry to create Star Trek and for introducing audiences to Robby the Robot.
At its heart, however, the film has a great sense of wonder, especially when Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) is showing his guests (Leslie Nielsen and Warren Stevens) the marvels of the Krell, the extinct alien race who perished at the height of their civilization. All the moralizing in the world doesn't kill that, especially with Anne Francis decorating the scenery so nicely as the more naive, less brainy version of the 1950s "scientist's daughter," and the added bonus of the eerie soundtrack, filled with "electronic tonalities." And I confess: the first flat-out attack of the monster on the spaceship and her crew still sends chills down the spine of the 13-year-old boy who lives inside my soul.
Glenn Erickson, AKA DVD Savant, says about the Blu-ray edition: "The picture is spectacular in terms of color and sharpness." He says that all the extra materials from the 2006 "Ultimate Collector's Edition" are included, along with several new documentaries and an entire feature, 1957's The Invisible Boy.
This week is an especially rich one for notable films hitting Blu-ray, including: Poltergeist, Mars Attacks!, THX 1138 (The George Lucas Director's Cut), The Player (check out Todd Gilchrist's column on Robert Altman's Hollywood insider tale), In Cold Blood, Tommy, The Movie, Stardust, Lost in Space, Hatchet, The Black Dahlia, A Scanner Darkly. All of them deserve more than a mention and, at the least, should have a place on your "to rent" list. Otherwise your wallet and/or credit card collection will be stretched to the limit!