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Sin & Sugar and a State of Play

By Dustin Rowles | DVD Releases | September 1, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | DVD Releases | September 1, 2009 |

I don’t understand why, during slow box-office weeks, why studios don’t release more high-profile movies. You should offer us entertainment in some format. At least the three releases this week are good — maybe DVD watchers will be forced to watch something they wouldn’t normally, out of sheer boredeom. Here we go:

State of Play: The irony in State of Play is that it not only tracks the death of the slow death of print journalism, but some also believe that it’s modest box-office returns also represent the slow death of adult-oriented movies. It’s a shame, as Dan writes: “Kevin Macdonald’s State of Play is an engrossing adult thriller, but it’s also notable for making its hero a bitter old newspaperman struggling to come to grips with new media. The screenplay from Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy, and Billy Ray — a pretty solid threesome — is in many ways a throwback to old-school political thrillers where the journalist gets at the truth with a mix of shoe leather and blind luck, but it’s also forward-thinking in its attempts to examine the crumbling print news industry and the ethical gray area between selling out and selling papers. Some of the most interesting moral questions in the film arise not out of situations involving reporters and their sources but the internal struggle between one man trying to get a story out and the incoming corporate ownership that only wants to grow their bottom line. Based on a BBC miniseries from 2003, State of Play is a solidly built, well-cast suspense story that works exactly as well as it ought to, which is to say, it’s a competent film that gets its job done without making a mess.

Sin Nombre: Brian was a huge fan of this little seen foreign flick, writing: “Sin Nombre feels like good Mexican food; there’s not much to it but a few basic ingredients, but when properly assembled with care and a hint of authenticity, it’s outstanding. Cary Fukunaga in his writer/director feature debut takes a simple and almost high school Shakespearean plot and layers it with gentle flourishes and powerful performances. His cast seems plucked from the barrio, a horde of menacing gangsters and simple day laborers. It’s tense and tragic, Hitchcockian by way of Honduras, and builds to a vicious kick in the ribs finale that even if it seems obvious and fated still crushes the very breath out of you. It’s a hell of a visceral flick, interspersed with gorgeous landscape camerawork that could have been painted by angels. For such an ugly story, it’s told beautifully.”

Sugar: Sugar is a beautiful, heartbreaking film, and as always, Ted’s review does it justice: “Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, the writer/director team behind 2006’s wonderful and haunting Half Nelson, succeed again with Sugar, the story of a talented baseball player from the Dominican Republic striving to break into professional baseball in the United States. Algenis Perez Soto, whom Fleck and Boden discovered at a ballfield in the Dominican Republic, makes a stellar debut as the title character, moody and charismatic pitcher Miguel “Sugar” Santos.”

Note, also, that Ted Boynton/The Boozehound will be back on the site in two weeks. I’m as excited as many of you are.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.