The week of 1/11/2011

group edited by: Troy Anderson

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THE SOCIAL NETWORK

Director: David Fincher

Sony

Buy it at Amazon!

Special Features:

Audio Commentary with David Fincher
Audio Commentary with Writer Aaron Sorkin & The Cast
How Did They Ever Make a Movie of Facebook?: feature length documentary
Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter and Ren Klyce on Post
Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and David Fincher on the Score
In the Hall of the Mountain King: Reznor’s First Draft
Swarmatron
Jeff Cronenweth and David Fincher on the Visuals
Ruby Skye VIP Room: Multi-Angle Scene Breakdown

What more can be said about what’s surely going to win Fincher an Oscar? Critics are practically clamoring for its Best Picture win, while audiences were semi-entertained by Sorkin’s tale of Facebook debauchery. The move by Sony to do a quick dump so soon after theatrical release stinks of future double-dip. Let’s be honest, people. It’s going to clean up at the Oscars and we’ll get the eventual wait-and-see for the revisit. Everyone will either praise or slam the flick until we get a more supplement-laden disc in the future. While there are quite a handful of special features loaded onto this release, it just feels like we’re missing something. One thing that I do have to recommend is checking out the feature-length documentary about the film production. Far more informative than any of the commentaries. Well, save for Sorkin’s commentary. I could listen to that guy talk about film for the rest of the year.

ARMY OF SHADOWS

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville

Criterion Collection

Buy it at Amazon!

Special Features:

  • High-definition digital transfer of the 2004 restoration
  • Optional DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
  • Audio commentary featuring film historian Ginette Vincendeau
  • Interviews with Lhomme and others
  • Film restoration demonstration by Lhomme
  • Theatrical trailers
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critic Amy Taubin

    Army of Shadows is one of the best films about armed resistance during wartime. While Melville doesn’t try to turn this into an action-packed romp, it does allow us to get inside the heads of the tortured denizens of wartorn countries. Living in the shadows, as they try to hide from the Nazi invaders…we see the Marseilles resistance form a solid front. Characters develop against in a world of hostile despair, while their continued existence isn’t guaranteed. Melville’s epic tale of life in wartime finally arrives on Blu-Ray with the first truly amazing transfer of 2011. While arthouse cinema doesn’t sell Blu-Ray players, I’d recommend this as a blind buy for all the new HD adoptees.

    ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA

    Director: Sergio Leone

    Warner Brothers

    Buy it at Amazon!

    Special Features:

    • Commentary by Critic/Historian Richard Schickel
    • Excerpt from Once upon a Time: Sergio Leone
    • Trailer

    The final Sergio Leone film becomes the third-to-last Leone flick to arrive on Blu-ray. Warner Brothers is dumping a ton of their older titles on Blu-Ray with great urgency. While I would’ve liked to have seen this film get an Ultimate Collector’s Edition release, the fanbase just isn’t there to support it. For those that have experienced the film, I have to say that the 1080 transfer on this release will blow you away. There is a smidge of digital noise in darker scenes such as the opium dens and the dock dumps. However, you will find yourself noticing extra details permeating throughout the film. When Noodles first meets Treat Williams, you can see an extra smack into a door in the background. I love that kind of stuff.

    PIRANHA (2010)

    Director: Alexandre Aja

    The Weinstein Company

    Buy it at Amazon!

    Special Features:

  • Filmmaker Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
  • Deleted Storyboard Sequences
  • 10 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
  • Storyboard Gallery
  • Piranha 3D Trailer & TV Spots
  • Piranha marks the return of Aja into the realm of quality horror directors. Is this a good movie? Oh, hell no. But, it is the return of Aja to making real horror films. Very few filmmakers tap into that B-movie aesthetic that Roger Corman helped to pioneer with the original Piranha. What Aja offers up with his take is an all-star cast of genre heavyweights that just want to make the best gorefest that they can offer up. Whether it’s the film opening on Richard Dreyfuss getting eaten or Eli Roth hosting a wet t-shirt contest, this is a movie about having fun. This is a film that states that there is still room in American horror for 3-D epics about tits, carnage and Elisabeth Shue.

    MUSIC

    Section By Jeb D.


    CITY OF REFUGE

    Abigail Washburn

    BUY IT FROM AMAZON!

    That Bela Fleck’s wife would have stellar musicianship from the band on her latest album (including Bill Frisell, and a Chinese master of the guzheng) isn’t surprising: she, after all, has connections. What was less predictable was the fascinating use to which she and Decemberists/ Sufjan Stevens producer Tucker Martine put them. While there are touches of the traditional and “old-timey” here (including her heartbreaking vocal on “Dreams of Nectar,” and the concluding benediction of “Bright Morning Stars”), much of the album consists of the sort of imaginative deconstruction/reconstruction of the notions of bluegrass and folk music that made last year’s Antifogmatic from the Punch Brothers so memorable. Listen to the ghostly textures and she and Martine wash over “Bring Me My Queen,” the waltz-tempo break that livens up “Ballad of Treason,” or the ominous tutti passage that introduces “Burn Thru” (like hearing “A Day in the Life” in reverse). Washburn continues to refine what she demonstrated on Song of The Traveling Daughter: she’s a fully modern writer, deploying timeless skills in a contemporary setting.

    RED BARKED TREE

    Wire

    BUY IT FROM AMAZON!

    When I told my wife that Wire was still around, she gave me that look, and said, “We’re ALL still around… well, except for Gerry Rafferty… and the bass player from Japan, and…” So, you see-it’s not nothing for these guys have hung in through punk, post-punk, proto-post-punk, post-modern postpunk… whatever. They got off to a bangup start with 1977’s Pink Flag, with songs so short, sharp, and pungent they made The Clash sound like The Grateful Dead (and, incidentally, never really got the credit they deserved for their influence on John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd). Fingers to the wind, it was synths on Chairs Missing and 154, and Wire demonstrated a mastery on the sonic shorthand of the 80’s, even as their writing veered closer to the generic/ominous. The years since have seen them move on, but not exactly progress. Singer Colin Newman, in particular, feels locked in the band’s mid-tempo period, and the ponderous intonation he gives to the opening “Please / Take your knife / Out of my / Back/ And / When you do / Please don’t / Twist / It.”  is lugubrious enough to get a wake-up call from Sisters of Mercy. “Now Was” and “Moreover” crunch nicely, but their stab at the melodic hook on “Adapt” or “Down To This” feels awfully second-hand. Honestly, I think the 80’s cutting edge is where this band belonged: a quarter century on, playing “catch-up” with their well-manicured 80’s big guitar rock doesn’t stick to the ribs in quite the way it did when this sound was new. Listenable, certainly, but I’m guessing that new Gang of Four coming later this month will be more worth your coin.

    SHOWROOM OF COMPASSION

    Cake

    BUY IT FROM AMAZON!

    A few years ago, I was tiring of John McCrea’s smug, hippest-guy-in-the-room act, but in the years since, as po-faced earnestness and poetry-journal sensitivity has become the go-to playbook of the indie music scene, I’m inclined to give slack to a guy who wants to get in my face about “Federal Funding” and “Teenage Pregnancy,” and who can croon “I have wasted / So much time” over a trim, insistent dance beat. The sound is the usual white-boy funk, delivered as always with a punch and crispness that stood out ten years ago, and isn’t any rarer today. Plus, “Long Time” is uber-catchy, “Bound Away” is a faux-folk lament worthy of Elvis Costello, and “Sick of You” is as cheery as depression gets.

    BIRDSONGS

    Joe Lovano & Us Five

    BUY IT FROM AMAZON!

    Tribute albums to artists best known as performers, not writers, can be a tricky proposition. Granted, for legendary saxophonist Charlie Parker, performance and composition were often pretty much one and the same, but that’s due mostly to the way his playing laid waste to traditional jazz as it had been practiced for decades, making way for bebop and its progeny: the problem isn’t so much the technical challenge in reproducing Parker’s solos, as the fact that his sound is so much the lingua franca of post-WWII jazz that conveying its revolutionary aspect to the ears of today’s listeners isn’t easy. To his credit, Lovano has given that plenty of thought, so what we get here isn’t “Bird’s Greatest Hits,” but an attempt to contextualize his work in unexpected ways: as an example, his unparalleled “Ko-Ko” exists mostly as a series of stop-and-start allusions that serve as the backbone for the skilled ensemble and improvisationary abilities of Lovano’s impressive band (including bassist Esperanza Spalding, and the drum duo of Otis Brown III and Francisco Mela). Maybe the most intriguing example (particularly for fans who really know their Parker) comes on “Blues Collage,” where four separate Bird compositions are welded into a single piece. This is jazz playing of the highest order, and even if not all of it works (a little of Lovano’s self-constructed double-sax, the “aulochrome,” can go a long way), exquisite moments like the percussion interplay on the samba-fied “Dewey Square,” and Lovano’s growling, lowdown blues on “Moose the Mooche,” make this a real treat for any jazz listener; it will especially reward the serious Bird fan with reminders of just how startling this music was the first time they heard it.

    Other Noteworthy 1/11 Releases

    Cage the Elephant, Thank You Happy Birthday. I may not miss the 90’s as much as Matt Schultz and company do, but at least they’ve got a good ear for separating the era’s strengths from its weaknesses: better erstwhile Pixies than warmed-over Blink 182.

    Steel Magnolia, Steel Magnolia. When you learn that this duo first made music together by singing karaoke to “I’m All Out Of Love,” you expect the worst, and that’s pretty much what you get: their radio-ready polish makes Lady Antebellum sound like The Carter Family. You already know the lyrics to junk like “Without You,” “Glass Houses,” and “Keep On Lovin’ You” before you’ve even heard them, and if there’s a cliché somewhere that they overlooked, well, there’s only twelve songs here.

    British Sea Power, Valhalla Dancehall. Man, these guys took that Mercury Prize thing seriously. Three layers of sound will no longer do when they can manage five; two-part harmonies give way to soaring choral passages, and the album boasts an 11-minute suite that drones, thrums, and impends. “Babe, are you going to the disco, hey? / Are you hoping that you’ll all get laid?” Well, better chance of that than of dancing to this one.

    Edie Brickell, Edie Brickell and Gaddabouts, Gaddabouts. Brickell’s latest self-titled solo album wasn’t available for preview, but her new “band,” the Gaddabouts, sounds pretty much like everything we’ve heard over the years from her; maybe a tad looser, a tad funker than usual: more Rickie Lee Jones than Sheryl Crow.

    VIDEO GAMES

    edited by: Justin Clark

    DC UNIVERSE ONLINE
    Sony Online Entertainment/Warner Interactive
    PS3, PC
    1/11
    MSRP: $39.99
    BUY IT AT AMAZON!

    It can’t be any worse than City of Heroes. So, points in the game’s favor right there.

    Past that? This could go either way. I haven’t personally touched this one yet just because it’s a MMORPG and I have a job, but if nothing else, the game seems to at least get that the main appeal of being yet another superhero in a city of superheroes is to actually feel like you’re still super, and reminds you of this often. However, a game like this lives and dies by the content, and I imagine there’s only so many times you can put your fist through Solomon Grundy’s solar plexus before that shit gets old. Primarily, though, I’m just real curious to see how this thing performs as a PS3 title.

    KINGDOM HEARTS RE:CODED
    Square Enix
    DS
    1/11
    MSRP: 39.99
    BUY IT AT AMAZON!

    Holy shit do I not care about anything regarding this series. It started as convoluted bullshit with a serviceable combat system. This thing, a makeover of a mobile KH game, is convoluted bullshit based on a miniscule element of convoluted bullshit. But, with a serviceable combat system.

    PRINNY 2: DAWN OF OPERATION PANTIES, DOOD!
    NIS America
    PSP
    1/11
    MSRP: $29.99
    BUY AT IT AMAZON!

    I could give a flying fuck about Disgaea, but I will be eternally grateful for that series existence for allowing Prinny: Can I Really Be The Hero? to come about. A hard-as-nails 2D platformer with a sword-wielding penguin as the main character who gets and NEEDS 1000 lives just to assemble ingredients to make his batshit crazy mistress dessert? Sign me right the hell up. So, now there’s a sequel, where Etna’s panties have been stolen, and Prinny needs to go retrieve them, once again, with 1000 lives at his disposal. I stand by my previous statement. Game of the week for me.

    OOOHHHH: ON THE DLC TIP

    ZEIT 2 (squared)
    UbiSoft
    XBox Live
    1/12
    800 MS pts

    In a humble attempt to keep the shooter genre fresh while enjoying quite the beautiful renaissance on the 360, Zeit’s not only got a Prince of Persia time travel gimmick (which I thought was where Gradius V was going with that parallel ship mission, but NOOOOOOO…..), but makes it so that firing your gun causes you to lose health, unless you hit your target. I am intrigued by its ideas and would like to subscribe to its newsletter.

    ROCK BAND TUESDAY

    Linkin Park Pack 01 ($9.99/800 MS pts)

    Crawling
    In the End X
    Numb
    Somewhere I Belong
    Waiting for the End
    What I’ve Done X

    $1.99/160 MS pts per track
    X-Pro Guitar and Pro Bass expansion available for 99 cents/80 MS pts

    Reanimation lied to me. Reanimation is actually a damn good album that took the mediocrity of Hybrid Theory and let it blossom. There’s some fantastic, varied, interesting work on there from a lot of artists, and I’d hoped someone would tell Linkin Park they were on the right track there. Instead we got Meteora, an uninspired Jay-Z mash up, and two genuine, bonafide, successive kicks to your ear’s testicles. And lo and behold, this pack represents everything except the one album that works. Still, the fact that the big Linkin Park tracks are here is bound to make some disenfranchised 15 year old very happy when he’s not whining about how his parents won’t up his credit card limit while huffing compressed air in the garage.

    WHAT’S NEW ON DVD THIS WEEK:

    Adam-12, Vol. 1
    Alamar
    All In The Family: The Complete Eighth Season
    Alpha And Omega
    Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Vol. 1 – Escape From Aggregor
    Beyblade: Metal Fusion, Vol. 2
    Black Butler: Season One (Standard Edition)
    Black Butler: Season One (Limited Edition)
    Booky’s Crush
    Candyman: The David Klein Story
    Comedy Central Roast Of David Hasselhoff
    Criss Angel: Mindfreak – Season Six
    Dances With Wolves (20th Anniversary Edition)
    Doctor Who: Story 44 – The Dominators
    Doctor Who: Story 111 – Meglos
    Downton Abbey
    Dragnet 1968, Vol. 1
    11 Eyes: Complete Collection
    ER: The Complete Fourteenth Season
    The Freebie
    Funny Or Die Presents: The Complete First Season
    Greek: Chapter 5 – The Complete Third Season
    The Green Hornet: Movie Edition (1940)
    Happy Ever Afters
    Heartbreaker (L’Arnacoeur)
    The Hessen Conspiracy
    Hot In Cleveland: Season One
    How To Get Ahead In Advertising
    Kathleen Madigan: Gone Madigan
    The Last Brickmaker In America
    A Long Ride From Hell
    Louis C.K.: Hilarious
    Love Hurts (2009)
    Magic Man
    The Narnia Code
    NFL: Top 100 – NFL’s Greatest Players
    Once Upon A Time In America (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Reissue)
    Our Planet
    Picture Me: A Model’s Diary
    Piranha (2010)
    Psychosis
    Punk: Attitude (Reissue)
    The Real Housewives Of New Jersey: Season Two
    The Real Housewives Of Orange County: Season Three
    Rules Of Engagement: The Complete Fourth Season
    Shake Hands With The Devil
    Skins, Vol. 4
    The Social Network
    Sordid Lives: The Series
    Soul Kittens Cabaret
    Stonerville
    A Summer In La Goulette
    Top Chef: D.C. – The Complete Season Seven
    Top Shot: Season One (History Channel)
    The Universe: The Complete Season Five (History Channel)
    Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea: Season Four, Vol. 2

    WHAT ELSE IS NEW ON BLU-RAY THIS WEEK:

    Alpha And Omega (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
    Army Of Shadows (Criterion Collection)
    Dances With Wolves (20th Anniversary Edition)
    The Endless Summer
    Gabriel Iglesias: I’m Not Fat … I’m Fluffy
    The Great Debaters
    LENNONYC
    Kathleen Madigan: Gone Madigan
    Once Upon A Time In America
    Piranha (2010)
    Piranha 3D (2010)
    Raging Bull (30th Anniversary Edition) (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
    Rob Roy
    Robinson Crusoe On Mars (Criterion Collection)
    The Social Network
    Sordid Lives: The Series
    The Universe: 7 Wonders Of The Solar System (3D) (History Channel)
    The Universe: The Complete Season Five (History Channel)

    THE SALES

    NEW RELEASES

    The Social Network                                $16.99 $19.99

    Alpha and Omega                                   $17.99 $22.99

    Chuggington: Let’s Ride the Rails    $12.99

    Piranha      (2010)                                  $19.99 $19.99

    DVD SALE

    $4.75

    Semi-Pro

    Happy Gilmore

    The Great Outdoors

    The Shawshank Redemption

    $10

    Julie & Julia

    The Hangover

    It’s Complicated

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

    $14.99

    Twilight

    $19.99

    Twilight: Eclipse

    Twilight: New Moon

    BLU-RAY SALE:

    $17.99

    The Other Guys

    $19.99

    Machete

    The Expendables

    Shrek: The Final Chapter

    Wall Street

    The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

    Monsters, Inc.

    A Bug’s Life

    Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue

    Beauty and the Beast

    Toy Story

    Toy Story 2

    TV on DVD SALE:

    $4.75

    Best of the Cosby Show

    Best of Betty White

    $8.99

    I Dream of Jeannie: Seasons 3-4

    That 70s Show: Season 2

    $12.99

    The League: Season 1

    JAG: Seasons 1 and 2

    $14.99

    Firefly: The Complete Series

    Bones: Season 3

    FITNESS DVD SALE

    $10

    Bob Harper: Cardio Conditioning

    Jillian Michaels for Beginners: Backside

    Dancing with the Stars: Misc. Exercise DVDs and more!

    NEW RELEASES

    The Social Network                                $12.99 $16.99

    Alpha and Omega                                   $16.99 $24.99

    Dances with Wolves                             $24.99

    Piranha  (2010)                                        $16.99 $22.99 $29.99

    DVD SALE

    $4.99

    Howard the Duck

    The Great Outdoors

    Slap Shot

    Mallrats

    Sixteen Candles

    Fried Green Tomatoes

    $7.99

    District 9

    Angels and Demons

    $9.99

    The Runaways

    Ed Wood

    Terminator: Salvation

    The Losers

    BLU-RAY SALE

    $14.99

    The Other Guys
    The Town
    Inception
    The Expendables
    The A-Team
    Sorcerer’s Apprentice
    Beauty and the Beast

    Toy Story 3

    Air Force One/In the Line of Fire
    Hitch/Jerry Maguire
    Hancock/Ghost Rider
    Gattaca/The Fifth Element
    Grumpy Old Men/Grumpier Old Men
    Dirty Harry/Magnum Force

    $16.99

    Tommy Boy/Black Sheep

    Defiance /Enemy at the Gates

    Wayne’s World / Wayne’s World 2

    $24.99

    Salt

    Resident Evil: Afterlife

    V: Season 1

    TV on DVD SALE

    $19.99

    Community: Season 1

    South Park: Season 12

    The Big Bang Theory: Season 3

    Fringe: Season 2

    V: Season 1

    Smallville: Season 9

    VIDEO GAME SALES

    Best Buy:

    EA Sports Active 2: $49.99 (PS3/Wii)

    The Sims 3: $29.99 (Wii)

    - Buy any of the following 6 Playstation games, get the second for 50% off:

    The Fight – Lights Out: $39.99 (PS3 Move)

    The Shoot: $39.99 (PS3 Move)

    The Sly Collection: $39.99 (PS3 Move)

    Eyepet: $39.99 (PS3 Move)

    Start the Party: $39.99 (PS3 Move)

    Party Pack: $39.99 (PS3 Move)

    Target:

    Call of Duty Black Ops: $49.99 (360/PS3)

    Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: $39.99 (360/PS3)

    Fable III: $39.99 (360)

    Halo Reach: $39.99 (360)

    Kingdom Hearts ReCoded: $34.99 (NDS) – Get $5 Target Gift Card w/purchase

    Toys R Us:

    Call of Duty Black Ops: $49.99 (PS3)

    Smack Dows BS Raw 2011: $49.99 (PS3)

    Need for Speed Hot Pursuit: $49.99 (360)

    Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: $49.99 (360)

    EA Sports Madden 11: $49.99 (360)

    K Mart:

    The Fight: $29.99 (PS3 Move)

    The Shoot: $29.99 (PS3 Move)

    Kung Fu Rider: $29.99 (PS3 Move)

    Resistance 2: $19.99 (PS3)

    InFamous: $19.99 (PS3)

    Little Big Planet: $19.99 (PS3)

    Killzone 2: $19.99 (PS3)

    Monsters Deluxe: $6.99 (PSP)

    Twisted Metal: $6.99 (PSP)

    Medal of Honor Heroes: $6.99 (PSP)