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The Fantastic Blind Brothers Who Stare At Goats

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | March 23, 2010 |


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The Blind Side: "Sandra Bullock stars as Leigh Anne Touhy in John Lee Hancock's The Blind Side. She plays a no-nonsense good Christian Southern woman of substantial means who brings in an inner-city Memphis kid into her home, tutors and coaches him, and converts him into a star high-school football player. Along the way, she learns a valuable lesson about how awesome she is; about how welcoming and non-judgmental her loving family is; and about how huge 300-pound black teenagers with violent pasts are really just golden-hearted teddy bears in oversized polo shirts. They make great friends for precocious grad-school sons and fantastic study partners for blandly attractive teenage daughters. In the end, this movie expects all us white folks to leave the theater with our swolled-up hearts aching to find our own African-American orphan to turn into the next weak-side linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens." - Dustin Rowles

Fantastic Mr.Fox: "Anderson's film takes the book's story as its core and beautifully expands it into something grander that's as much about life, family, and the struggle to accept your place in the world as it about animals and farmers. Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) are middle-class inhabitants of a valley being slowly taken over by Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, a trio of farmers and businessmen intent on industrialization. Mr. Fox is reminiscent of many of Anderson's quirky heroes: He grapples with a fate he can't fathom, and he imagines himself destined for greatness even as things crumble around him. He began life as a wilder animal, but in order to provide for his wife and cub, he's given up stealing food and turned to writing a column for the local paper to make ends meet. (Casting him as a member of the print media is one of the film's joyfully anachronistic touches meant to recall the 1960s and the period leading up to the book's publication in 1970; another is the music from the Walk-Sonic transistor radio Mr. Fox occasionally clips to his pants while walking.) The nut of the children's story is about Mr. Fox's thieving antics inviting the wrath of the neighboring farmers, but Anderson and Baumbach's screenplay hinges on Fox's desire to pull off one last major score, the results of which send the farmers after him and the rest of the valley's inhabitants. It's an important and telling piece of the puzzle. Mr. Fox was actually out of the game, but his desire to go back to thieving is what brought down the heat. Anderson's heroes -- even when they're foxes -- are always haunted by their own grandeur." - Daniel Carlson

The Men Who Stare At Goats: "The notions behind The Men Who Stare at Goats are compelling in the abstract -- a psychic military unit that explores the potential military application of new-age concepts. Unfortunately, it doesn't actually translate into very compelling story. Screenwriter Peter Straughan was apparently intrigued by Jon Ronson's non-fiction book of the same name, and decided to try his hand at writing a script around some of the material that Ronson uncovered, like the apparent facts that the military used the "Barney" theme song on prisoners-of-war and that special forces had smuggled hundreds of de-bleated goats into the country. But Straughan has a difficult time of trying to connect his two main characters' inadvertent road trip to Ronson's discoveries, and the result is messy and far-fetched. Moreover, Heslov -- making his feature directing debut -- plays it too straight to extract much comedy out of the situation, but not straight enough to make it a serious-minded examination of the unit." - Dustin Rowles

Brothers: "Jim Sheridan's movies have always been about the costs of assimilation, from his stunning debut with My Left Foot to the immigration story In America. His latest film, Brothers, is the kind of meaty melodrama that's ideal for his kind of story. It's a tightly focused character study about the toils of war and the emotional scars that come with physical ones, and though it's not a great film in the sense of one that will become a classic for the ages, that has more to do with the fact that it strives to be a smaller human drama instead of trying to be the defining war film of its time. An inordinate and unfair amount of pressure is put on films about the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to somehow be epic, all-encompassing, and representative of our era in a way we didn't think possible. But Brothers is a well-acted and compelling film that's refreshing because it simply treats the war and its attendant arguments as a way of life. In other words, it's a prime example of what it means to tell a story instead of preach on a treatise." - Daniel Carlson



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