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April 23, 2008 |

By Dustin Rowles | DVD Releases | April 23, 2008 |

Charlie Wilson’s War: Dustin got his panties in a bunch effusing all over Tom Hanks and, especially, Phillip Seymour Hoffman in War, writing: “They gave Sorkin’s lightweight story some gravitas, and turned what had been merely a pretty goddamn funny script into a drama with comedic fangs. And if, like me, you used to get goosebumps watching one of those indelible Sorkin walk-and-talk exchanges on the little screen, wait until you see Hanks and Hoffman riff off of one another in a theater. Sorkin has always had the benefit of great actors with a gift for Sorkinese patter, but these two transcend Sorkin, chewing up his words and spitting them back out as their own. Charlie Wilson’s War proves why television is a writing medium, while film is an acting one — on TV, I would’ve marveled at that same script, but on the silver screen, it’s hard at times to appreciate anything but Hanks and Hoffman.

Cloverfield: I remember way back in January the modest disappointment many of our readers had for Cloverfield after watching it. Well, I bet you didn’t realize just how long it would be until another decent action film came down the pipes. We’re at three-and-a-half months and counting (9 days until Iron Man). At any rate, at the time, Dan wrote of Cloverfield, that it ” is just one giant gimmick, but it’s so well executed that the film feels fresh and exciting even as it trots out predictable plot points and story devices without even bothering to acknowledge it. Monster movies will likely never feel really original ever again — monster attacks, people die, everyone runs, repeat — but Cloverfield isn’t about telling an original story, but by presenting an old one with a new look. It’s a decent and entertaining movie, but it’s damn near perfect at being what it wants to be, which is a thrilling, fast-paced, tech-based story about a giant creature tearing the hell out of Manhattan and killing some really good-looking twentysomethings in the process.”

One Missed Call: For those of you who saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall, this is the movie that must have inspired the scene in which Sarah’s boyfriend and ex-boyfriend mocked Sarah for taking a role in a horror movie where the victims were killed by a cell phone. That’s basically what happens in One Missed Call, of which Dustin wrote: “Man a-fucking-live. I am in awe of Hollywood today. I am marveling at the sheer levels of motherfuckery that it took to greenlight One Missed Call. The amount of numskullery it must have taken just blows my goddamn mind. To call One Missed Call boneheaded would be a huge insult to mineralized osseous tissue; starving dogs would steer clear of this stripped pork chop.”

The Orphanage: Ranylt was reasonably satisfied with this Del Toro produced Spanish horror film, writing “The Orphanage fuses elements from three acclaimed horror predecessors into one movie: it has The Devil’s Backbone’s Spanish orphanage setting, The Changeling’s dead, disabled children as vengeful ghosts and that riveting séance centrepiece, and The Haunting’s troubled heroine fatally obsessed with an old mansion. In fact, of all three movies, I’d say The Changeling informs The Orphanage the most; fans of the former can play match-the-ingredient while watching the latter, and probably enjoy the experience in so far as both films share a great deal of classic atmospheric devices—not to mention atmosphere. The Orphanage plays with nothing we haven’t seen before, but by and large it plays with them well, and results in a capable recombination with only minor, genre-specific problems and an overall less-than feeling when compared to some of its sister films.”

And speaking of The Orphanage, I promised one copy to Doog a few weeks back for writing the top comment in Eloquent Eloquence. I emailed the address left in the comment, but got no response. Doog, if you’re out there, drop me an email: dustin at pajiba dot com.

The Savages: John liked The Savages well enough, but argued that it was lesser than a similarly themed movie: “You Can Count On Me, which also starred Linney, would be an obvious benchmark for The Savages, but those heights aren’t reached here, partly because Jon and Wendy aren’t quite different enough to create the same emotional complexity. They bicker, but it’s rooted in recognizing themselves in each other, whereas the siblings in You Can Count On Me legitimately mystified each other. Instead, if The Savages has a kindred spirit in recent memory, I would say it’s Wonder Boys, which features a slightly larger cast of central characters, but establishes a similar tone of smart-but-depressive people living in a formerly thriving industrial town now down on its luck.”

What Would Jesus Buy?: Dustin agreed with the central message of WWJB?, an assault on the commercialization of Christmas, but disagree with the way the documentary went about exploring it: “WWJB? goes about it completely wrong. It attacks the wrong people, and the insufferable Morgan Spurlock minion in this documentary somehow manages to be even more obnoxious, braying, and vainglorious than his mentor. His name is Reverend Billy, and after ten minutes in his presence, you’d sacrifice your own mother to the Tacopus Gods to get out of his airspace. Imagine Jimmy Swaggart crossed with Spurlock combined with the self-righteousness of a Green Party Unitarian PETA vegan who brushes her teeth with that shitty Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, buys recycled toilet paper and home births in her eco-village communal house where her and her 12 dreadlocked roommates take turns cooking tofu stir fry (sorry Ithacans) and you have a rough approximation of how unholy repugnant and invidious this man is.”

Charlie Wilson's Cloverfield

This Week's DVD Releases / The Pajiba Staff

DVD Releases | April 23, 2008 |

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

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