Friday, July 09, 2010

Quick DVD Reviews

Up In the Air
I had pretty high hopes for this one, as it had a ton of buzz. My wife’s a huge Clooney fan (I have been as well, since Out of Sight), so it seemed like a great fit for us. I must admit that it fell a bit short of my expectations – but perhaps they were a bit too high. As with Reitman’s other two films, the dialogue is sharp and the characters are quite nicely fleshed out, but was lacking in direction a bit. U was not completely satisfied, but I appreciate an attempt to make a movie aimed at adults that was daring enough to end on a bittersweet note. Grade: B+

The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971)
After enjoying Torso so much, I rented another Sergio Martino directed Giallo. It’s a lot of fun, with some pretty gruesome kills and some nice locales. George Hilton makes for a terrific lead and his charm is at the core of the film. It was very nicely direct by Martino – the sequences at sea were particularly strong, especially the bit where Anita Strinberg enters the grotto. Martino certainly knows how to build suspense. The dubbing is good, and the print put out by No Shame is very clean. It’s not for everyone, but a decent choice for those looking to dip their toes in the Gialli waters. Grade: B+

The Invention of Lying
High concept comedy can be very tricky, and is usually more miss than hit. Unfortunately, this is another miss. I am really pulling for Ricky Gervais as a movie star, as he is always entertaining, but he hasn’t been able to find the right vehicle. This one was a step down from Ghost Town, and that one was deeply flawed. This film lumbers along, never really finding its footing and is ultimately bogged down by some religious themes it should have avoided. Louis C.K. was also woefully underused. A real disappointment considering the comedic talent assembled here. Immediately forgettable. Grade: C

The Damned United
Between his Wesley Snipes role on 30 Rock, his impeccable turns as Tony Blair and David Frost and this little gem of a performance, I’m beginning to wonder if Michael Sheen can do anything wrong. I’m not exactly a huge Premiership fan, and have found myself somewhat detached from other works with a focus on it (see Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch), but I was completely mesmerized by this film. As portrayed by Sheen, Brian Clough had some rather ugly traits, but it is impossible not to root for him. This is a a crisply paced film that manages to linger at all the right moments. Kudos also must go to David Spall, for his work in the role of Clough’s long suffering right hand man. I understand that there might be a bit of loose history at work here, but it’s an endearing film that demonstrates that the battles off the pitch are often more intense than those on the pitch. Grade: A


Jay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jay said...

Ug, my last comment didn't make much sense--let's try this again:

We saw "Up in the Air" in the theater and though it was deftly told. It had a timely and poignant message about what it means to find happiness when there's no reason to be.

Scott M said...

I liked it a lot, but it just didn't live up to my expectations. I did like the domestic reveal towards then end. My wife used to travel a lot - so she related to the film more than I did.

Anonymous said...

To be a nit picker, The Damned United is not about the Premiership, which only came into existence in 1992, well after the events in the film. The Almighty Clough only managed for one season in the Premiership, which resulted in Nottingham Forest's relegation.
I strongly recommend you read the book the film was "based" on by David Peace. It is far more gripping and darker.