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March 5, 2008 | Comments ()


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Before the Devil Knows You're Awake

This Week's DVD Releases / The Pajiba Staff

DVD Releases | March 5, 2008 | Comments ()


Awake: Unbelievably, Dustin has absolutely no memory of this film and had to refer back to his original review, written just three months ago. It had Jessica Alba in it, and either Hayden Christianson was in it, or it was about some guy falling asleep during a surgery, or both. All that he can remember, really, is a burning desire not to do a play on words with the title. Also, that you shouldn’t watch Awake because it will not keep you in that state (doh!).

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead: This movie was one of John’s favorites in 2007, and his review suggests as much: “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead is a hard-boiled, full-throttle New York joyride that revels in seamy characters, bad intentions, and sweaty palms. Think your family is dysfunctional? Well, let’s see. Are you having sex with your brother’s wife on a weekly basis? Are you and that same brother botching an armed robbery … of your own parents’ jewelry store? No? Then get in line, pal.” John then concluded that the film “is the kind of entertainment that Hollywood should produce more often — human-scaled but fantastical, slick but not nihilistic.”

Into the Wild: There was a lot of controversy in the comments to this review, both over the movie itself and what kind of person the lead character, played by Emile Hirsch, was — a spoiled brat or a “genuine pilgrim.” John writes, nevertheless, that the film was “not flawless. Like most stories about spiritual searchers, it sometimes flirts with New Ageism, and it has to sneak in a heavy-handed reference or two to Jesus. It also hops around in time, a successful way to flash forward to (and back from) the bus in Alaska, but a much less satisfying (if necessary) method of learning about Chris’ life before he disappeared.” In the end, however, John concluded that Into the Wild, ” blemishes and all, was in the running for the best of” 2007.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium: No, it wasn’t that good, but if you’ve got kids, and Natalie Portman makes your head swim, you could do a lot worse, though it’d be damn near impossible to do worse than the performance Dustin Hoffman turned in as ” part Willy Wonka, party Nutty Professor (the Jerry Lewis version) and part Rain Man.” But Dustin, who watched it shortly after having a child, completely punked out, writing “I went in determined to see the film as a kid might, and while the little boy in me was disappointed with the movie, he was able to put aside his critical faculties so that the adult in me could appreciate the wonder and magic that I think Helm intended.” What does that even mean? What a fucking putz. Own up, Rowles: It sucked. Stop being a limp dick.

My Kid Could Paint That: Director Amir Bar-Lev explores a fascinating subject: Controversy over a four-year-old child prodigy and her abstract paintings, which gained national notoriety and sold for thousands of dollars, but which later had their authenticity called into question after many suspected that her father had contributed significantly to the works. The documentary never seems to resolve the mystery satisfactorily, and while John seemed to like the movie well enough, he was disappointed that no one bothered to explore why it even mattered on an artistic level.


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