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December 23, 2008 |

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

A bunch of weak-ass shit this week.

The Duchess: Ranylt, our resident costume drama expert, wasn’t entirely put off by The Duchess, writing: “After ranting about a slew of recent costume dramas that suffer from Empty Dress Syndrome, I’m relieved that >The Duchess has partially restored my faith in the whole wigs-and-silk exercise. It’s not an outstanding example of period filmmaking, but it’s superior to the recent dreck that’s been chumming up our screens. It feels a little more genuine — a little smarter and a lot more competent. Maybe the film benefited from the absence of Hollywood meddling (it’s a French-British production), or from the fact that, this time around, filmmakers poured an English A-lister into their lead corset rather than Anne Hathaway or Scarlett Johansson (both of whom do more flailing than acting when they’re transplanted into Europe Past). Keira Knightley has never exactly disappeared into a role, but I’ll concede that she possesses a wide enough array of facial tics to present the illusion of an emotional life when the scene demands it. She holds her own against the palatial interiors, and her anachronistically skinny little frame doesn’t make a total mockery of the fabrics piled five-deep around it. Maybe insomnia was clouding my brain again, but neither The Duchess nor its shallow, red-carpet lead offended — and I’m more surprised than anyone.

Eagle Eye: Dustin wasn’t as kind to the watchable filth that was Eagle Eye, writing: “Eagle Eye isn’t an atrocious movie. It’s nonsensical, wacky, and all over the place, but it’s watchable. Kind of. In fact, the best compliment I can pay to the movie is that it’s competent. It’s garbage, but it’s well-executed garbage. And for a good hour or so, it’s even entertaining — completely laughable, but entertaining all the same. Unfortunately, once the mystery is revealed, what little tension there is completely dissipates, swallowed up by a series of ludicrous explosions and lifeless chase scenes meant to shroud the fact that there is no there there. Eagle Eye is probably best described as a generic cross between The Fugitive and 2001, which is to say it’s a Y-Gen sci-fi thriller. It’s Phillip Dick run through a studio filter and scripted by a computerized program with the voice of Wolf Blitzer.

Ghost Town: Surprisingly, Ghost Town wasn’t as bad as the trailers portended, but it wasn’t good, either. Of it, Dan writes, “As a comedy, Ghost Town is all about riding the everyman shtick Ricky Gervais perfected on the original version of “The Office” and later “Extras” as far as it can go, which turns out to be the source of its best moments and weakest liabilities. It’s not that the movie isn’t funny, or sweet, or as emotionally involving as a lighthearted comedy can get without treading into the murky area of melodrama; it’s all three, and it’s even genuine and less falsely manipulative than many comedies. But director David Koepp — who co-wrote the screenplay with John Kamps, with whom he also wrote Zathura, and who’s probably best known for writing Jurassic Park and Spider-Man — often sacrifices punch for length and wit for digressions, turning a snappy comedy into a slightly draggy one. “

Savage Grace: Nathaniel didn’t leave my a nice section to pull, but I think it’s safe to say that he thought Savage Grace was decent. Here’s his intro: “They say that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. But when it comes to the movies there are several sure things. Among them: If a gun is shown in the first act, it has to go off on in the third; the villain who just collapsed is not quite dead yet; those beautiful co-stars that fall in hate at first sight will fall into each other’s arms passionately by the time the credits roll; and if Julianne Moore is the star of the movie, the kids are not all right. If Julianne Moore is the star of the movie, her kids will end up abandoned (The Hours, Boogie Nights), brain-damaged (The Shipping News), imaginary, missing or possibly dead (A Map of the World, The Forgotten, Children of Men, The Hours, World Traveler and Freedomland). Moviegoers first noticed her as the sassy best friend in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), but who knew that endangered or damaged children would become such an inescapable motif in her career?

The Women: Dustin got cute again, and because the review centered around Sarah Palin’s lipstick on a pig moment, the damn review is already dated. That motherfucker left me with nothing, so here’s his final paragraph: “But, please: I don’t want you to think that the gendered, 1950s humor in The Women, or the female stereotypes are a bad thing. The females in The Womenare empowered, and by empowered, I mean completely self-involved, vapid, shallow, and unsympathetic, the sort of women who make Carrie Bradshaw look like Gloria fucking Steinem. But as a man, I feel I have a duty to protect the movie from criticism, because a woman should not be called upon to answer for herself. She should just stand there and look pretty. If it’s good enough for a vice-presidential nominee, it’s good enough for the cast and director of The Women.

This Week's DVD Releases / The Pajiba Staff

DVD Releases | December 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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