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February 3, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | DVD Releases | February 3, 2009 |

Bottle Shock: The Boozehound, appropriately, reviewed this indie about a wine-drinking contest, ultimately finding fault. He writes, “It’s a likeable film conceptually and visually, with a largely excellent cast. It has the confidence to settle in and tell a tale on its own sweet time, without treating the viewer like an idiot regarding wine terminology. Bottle Shock never fully engages the viewer, however, due largely to a curious decision about the plot, some jarring editing choices, and an off-putting performance from one of the leads.”

Hounddog: Prisco found plenty to dislike about Hounddog, writing: “If you’ve even heard of Hounddog, it’s probably because it’s more commonly referred to as “The Dakota Fanning Rape Movie.” Which is really unfair, since there are so many better reasons to dislike this odious attempt at high art. Deborah Kampmeier wrote and directed this snoozefest, which is about as savory as sipping from the dip cup. Her claim to fame coming from being an acting teacher, one of those hideous people who refer to acting as “the craft,” which proves the old adage — “those who teach ought best to stay drunk and porking co-eds.” It’s the kind of navel gazing nothingness one would expect from a graduate film student (from a non-coastal school), packed with overwrought symbolism and too many shots of people walking down tree-lined roads barefoot. It’s the kind of film that prevents funding for grants and typically lauded by people in tight black clothing with tiny little glasses who praise movies by clasping a hand over their chests and gushing about the lush cinematography.”

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa: Ummm. Phillip kind of hated it, writing, “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (God, that title alone makes me want to open my wrists onto the keyboard) is exactly the same film, the same pitfalls as the first one. Exactly. Everything I hated before is back in spades, fitting considering the exact same cast/crew has returned for a sequel justified by box office receipts. I wish the parent-kid combination this movie is clearly marketed to dupe would be forced to sit through the middling predecessors before seeing the middling new release in these bland-as-balls franchises, it might give them pause before their ticket sales inevitably pave the way for Madagascar 5 and Ice Age VII.”

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist: Dan was ultimately disappointed with N & N, writing: “It makes sense that Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is based on a young adult novel. The angsty relationship hell the main characters put themselves through has that tinge of the epic that only high schoolers can convince themselves is real, and it’s also fiercely subdivided along lines of clique and taste. But it’s also too perfectly packaged, too neat, a story about youth for youth that takes place within an idenitifiably narrow band of scenesters in New York and is set to an earnestly hip soundtrack. Every film is unwittingly a snapshot of the culture of the time it was made, but Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is the ultimate tribute to the idea of shoegazing emo pop as savior, and of the mix CD and iPod playlist as the perfect window into a boy or girl’s soul. It doesn’t help that the story has been done better before, either, whether it’s films that delve into that whole “one crazy night” thing (Dazed & Confused) or the idea of musical therapy to exorcise romantic demons (High Fidelity). In fact, it’s almost like the film doesn’t even care that it mostly feels like a retread of other stories, as pleasant as it may be in re-creating their themes. It’s designed to feel fabricated, manufactured, like true love or enlightenment or whatever you’re looking for is only one song away.”

The Secret Life of Bees: Agent Bedhead makes the case that The Secret Life would’ve been a good dollar theater movie, writing, “The Secret Life of Bees certainly isn’t for everyone. In fact, this film will likely fare much better as a matinee (or even a DVD rental) than date-night material, that is, unless any dudes out there are interested in getting slightly misty-eyed in the theater. Director and screen writer Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball) has adapted Sue Monk Kidd’s novel into a celluloid tale that can best be described as a fish-out-of-water, coming-of-age tale set in some extremely difficult circumstances. The story tackles some pretty heavy subject matter, from racial tension and violence all the way to death, suicide, and child abuse. Unexpectedly, however, Prince-Bythewood keeps the tone as light as possible and has crafted, along with some extremely gifted actresses, an uplifting tale of sorts. As a whole and despite a fair amount of sentimentality, The Secret Life of Bees strikes a fair balance between drama and schmaltz, which is no easy feat to accomplish when dealing with rather some uncomfortable subject matter.”

Zack and Miri Make a Porno: Prisco does the honors, writing: “Underneath all of the depraved language and filth — and Kevin Smith has thrown down the sticky gauntlet of raunch and toilet humor in ways that defy imagination — there’s an incredible amount of heart in Zack and Miri. A Kevin Smith movie is always a love story at its core. Zack and Miri is one of the sweetest romantic comedies you will ever see. It’s the story of two old friends who start to fall in love with each other. Except instead of involving some sort of convoluted wedding farce or some ridiculous vacation gone haywire, these two are making a hardcore fuck flick. Who hasn’t been desperately, hopelessly in love with one of your best friends of the opposite sex? That’s practically the core of every relationship I’ve had since high school. The movie leaves you feeling almost buoyant. What makes it work so well is that you can see in every frame the cast is having a fucking ball. The sheer joy of making this movie resonates in every scene. The supporting cast is particularly splendid, a veritable hodgepodge of View Askew regulars, comedians, and porn stars.

This Week's DVD Releases / The Pajiba Staff

DVD Releases | February 3, 2009 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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