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April 9, 2008 |

By Dustin Rowles | DVD Releases | April 9, 2008 |

Before getting to this week’s DVD releases, I’d just like to announce the winner of our third annual NCAA March Madness bracket: Chris, he of the Cuddly Otters, won the bracket by one point in the tiebreaker. Pretty goddamn impressive. To him goes the $50, and once Pissboy has them ready for sale, a brand-spankin new Pajiba T-Shirt.

The 11th Hour: Ranylt says this of the Leonardo DiCaprio, environmental documentary: “The 11th Hour, rather than tell us anything new, or present information to us in an original way, combines everything they’ve been throwing at us for years—the impact of the Industrial Revolution, the virulence of corporate and consumer greed, the rising global thermometer, the population explosion—into one big red ball of fiery admonition. Simply put, it’s a summary, a succinct gathering-up and dots-connecting of the environmental crisis, how we got here, and what we can do about it, presented to us with loads of relatable context. This summary is packaged in the form Errol Morris perfected and popularized with his (far, far superior) documentaries: a succession of direct camera addresses by the talking-head interviewees, interspliced with spinning, epic object-vistas laden with hyper-sound. There isn’t a single innovative thing about the film cinematically or in terms of content (watch Discovery Channel for a week and you’ll get the same information in a more piecemeal fashion). But if you want to get your hands on an up-to-date edition of Dying Planets For Dummies, to try to convince your Creationist neighbors with His and Her SUVs, or your best friend the belligerent conspiracy theorist, The 11th Hour is the tool for you.”

Lions for Lambs: While the Tom Cruise film came and went with little fanfare, Ranylt’s review actually indirectly inspired our April Fool’s post. It is a tour de force (the review, not the movie) that compared Lions with a film I’m not allowed to mention, and the shitstorm that followed (and her ability to withstand the hazing) pretty much solidified Ranylt’s place on the site forevermore. Here’s a taste: “It’s my shit luck that, about an hour and ten minutes in, Lions for Lambs slid irrevocably into the Crash drawer, which slammed shut with a shudder I’m certain my fellow audience members felt (they definitely heard my snicker). As over-used and -abused as that Haggis blot is around here (bear with me), still I’m grateful to Crash for succinctly codifying that particular counterfeiting to which American studio film is increasingly prone. In one convenient monosyllable I can communicate to readers a host of wretched qualities: windy, self-important, moronic, bungling, baroque, Oscar-bait. And as usual, it’s all disguised by solid performances, hot-button topics, extended dialogue, and a veneer of competence, which is guaranteed to flame the viewer’s rage when she realizes someone attempted to beguile her, once again, with The Serious.”

P2: Phillip eviscerated P2, writing “The stupidly titled P2, directed by Khalfoun, is a wholly unsuccessful thriller whose only piquing quality is its probable attempt at giallo horror homage. The film hones in on two characters and one location, providing the tight corners, thrills, and a pair of moments of sheer lurid nasty that would make Mario and Dario break into wide-toothed grins. The blood and boobs (and canines…and eye-violence!) are certainly there; what’s lacking is any kind of exposition and a workable villain. The plot of P2 just isn’t up to even bad giallo standards — the two leads can’t stir the interest necessary to thrill and the parking garage setting, an admirable attempt at American familiarity and claustrophobia, hasn’t the Grand Guignol to augment the suspense and mask the lack of real action.”

Reservation Road: John broke all our hearts, revealing that a movie starring Mark Ruffalo and Joaquin Phoenix was no damn good, and writing that Reservation “barely has enough plot to wheeze to the end of its 102 minutes. The only thing missing from the movie’s trailer is its briefly staged resolution. Otherwise, those three minutes of preview provide all the essentials. The rest is just tortured attempts at suspense and capable actors limited by their characters’ one-dimensional experiences.”

There Will Be Blood: You’ll have to excuse my effusiveness today, but the reviews from this week’s DVD releases are some of the best on the site this last year, and Dan’s analysis of There Will Be Blood is one of the better examples: “Anderson has made in There Will Be Blood the kind of sweeping, damning tale of American toil and corruption that stands as a hallmark of early 21st-century film and catapults Anderson beyond the level of gifted Gen Xish filmmaker and into the realm of the all-time greats, and he does it by both playing to his strengths and branching out into newer, bigger territory. Anderson’s eye is on the dirtier parts of our cultural history — like the book says, we may be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with us — but he’s also laying track toward the future of modern American filmmaking.” Whoever it is that keeps writing that film criticism is dead, bite your fucking tongue.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story: In her Walk Hard review, Ranylt coins and discusses her own phenomenon, writing: “This phenomenon—call it the Law of Inconsistent Reception—seems to affect everyone who’s ever watched more than three comedies that rely on slapstick, sight gags or gross-out humor to elicit a good chunk of the funny. Despite similar tones, shared talent and—frequently—even kindred punchlines, these comedies succeed randomly rather than causally on an individual basis. The whole thing is completely without matrix. So, while I may have thought Walk Hard was a brutal ninety-odd minutes to sit through, I know enough about the vagaries of humor not to discredit the charms it may hold for the next viewer in line. In cases like these, all a reviewer can do is supply factual information about said potential charms, and move the fuck on.”

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep: Phillip was surprisingly pleased with Water Horse, writing: “The Water Horse doesn’t always balance the light and the leaden properly, and the subplots involving Chaplin’s past and Morrissey as a villain don’t entirely gel, but these flaws aren’t enough to make the film a mere Free Nessie, coasting on pure kiddie adrenaline and sentiment. There are actually powerful moments in the story, though I wish there were more. At least this time the writing had a good heart, and one which should make the film a pleasant surprise to most.”

Walk Hard and Drink My Milkshake

This Week's DVD Releases / The Pajiba Staff

DVD Releases | April 9, 2008 |

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

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