The week of 2/22/2011

group edited by: Troy Anderson


HOME VIDEO


SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS

Director: Alexander MacKendrick

Criterion

Buy it at Amazon!

Special Features:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New audio commentary by film scholar James Naremore
  • Mackendrick: The Man Who Walked Away, a 1986 documentary featuring interviews with director Alexander Mackendrick, actor Burt Lancaster, producer James Hill, and more
  • James Wong Howe: Cinematographer, a 1973 documentary about the Oscar-winning director of photography, featuring lighting tutorials with Howe
  • New video interview with film critic and historian Neil Gabler (Winchell: Gossip, Power and the Culture of Celebrity) about legendary columnist Walter Winchell, inspiration for the character J. J. Hunsecker
  • New video interview with filmmaker James Mangold about Mackendrick, his instructor and mentor
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Gary Giddins, two short stories by Ernest Lehman featuring the characters from the film, notes about the film by Lehman, and an excerpt from Mackendrick’s book On Film-making

Sweet Smell of Success is one of the great American Classics of the 1950s. Burt Lancaster thrives under MacKendrick’s direction, as he brings life to J.J. Hunsecker. Hunsecker is one of those great movie villains that goes ignored by the modern film audience. Ernest Lehmann helps MacKendrick to create a perfect knock-off of the New York Theater scene, while examining what truly doesn’t work in show business. When Hunsecker and lowly press agent Sidney Falco team up to ruin a jazz musician, you see the damaging effects of public exposure. This is one of several titles that Criterion rescued from MGM and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got next. Sure, I know that Senso arrives this week too. I just don’t believe that it’s upper tier Visconti.

MEGAMIND

Directors: Tom McGrath

Dreamworks

Buy it at Amazon!

Special Features:

Commentary
Featurettes
Deleted Scene
and more!
Megamind was a decent offering from Dreamworks Animation. But, I don’t really ask as much from DW anymore. For every Kung Fu Panda or How To Train Your Dragon that escapes the studio, we get another Shrek. This film starts off well, as it plays upon the Superman origin story to examine socio-economical impact on the rise of superhumans. Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt play well in the animated spectrum without resorting to the usual Dreamworks Animation claptrap. However, none of the material is inspired outside of Justin Theroux’s take on Brando’s Jor-El. The added animated short was pretty fun, but it helps to have seen the film first.

GET LOW
Directors: Greg Schneider

Sony Pictures Classic

Buy it at Amazon!

Special Features:

Featurettes
Commentary

and more!

Get Low arrives on home video for those that missed its theatrical bow. I would like to take this moment to advise you to watch this film. It’s a low-key indie flick with big names that will make it easier for you to stomach so much dialogue. Robert Duvall plays a crazy old hermit who has suffered a great tragedy. After several decades in isolation, he ventures out into the world and asks for a living wake. Since it’s the Depression and nobody has television, the town agrees to take part. Sissy Spacek shows up as a lady that Robert Duvall used to bang, while Bill Murray serves as the third banana. Good times abound.

ALL STAR SUPERMAN

Director: Sam Liu

Warner Brothers

Buy it at Amazon!

Special Features:

Sneak Peek at “Green Lantern: Emerald Knights”
Featurette: “Superman Now” – In a moment of inspiration, Grant Morrison was provided an opportunity to revamp the Man of Steel into something modern, something more relevant for today’s audience. This is the story of All-Star Superman – where it all started, and what it came to be
Two bonus episodes from “Superman: The Animated Series” handpicked by Bruce Timm
Featurette: “Incubating the Idea” – A conversation with Grant Morrison
Audio Commentary: Bruce Timm and Grant Morrison
All-Star Superman Virtual Comic Book

All Star Superman is a DC’s best attempt at making a DTV flick worth a shit. While there were far too many compromises to get Morrison’s original work to fit to an animated feature format, it still works. The visual aesthetic of Frank Quitely’s work plays better onscreen than it has on the printed page. The voice acting is top notch, while the key elements of the comic are translated to the screen. But, the entire affair feels rushed. The added bonus for buying the Blu-Ray is getting a commentary track with Grant Morrison. Morrison spends time talking about the film, Superman and his views on the adaptation. Listening to Morrison speak is a treasure and one that’s well worth a purchase.

Music

Section By Jeb D.

21

Adele

BUY IT FROM AMAZON!

The Big Voice returns, with an army of hot producers and studio pros at her back. With that kind of support (and one glance at her picture), it would be hard to take these generic tales of heartbreak and misery too terribly seriously; in particular, the self-pitying passive-aggressive loser at the heart of these songs feels wholly at odds with the sheer raw vocal power pushing the lyrics forward. But Sony didn’t spend umpteen production dollars on polishing the sound to perfection for nothing: every track on here is a sonic gem, whether wrapping the ear in the plushness of “I’ll Be Waiting,” or thundering onto the dance floor with the inescapable “Rumour Has It” (note, too, the classy Brit spelling). It’s also clear that Adele is in it for the long haul, as she’s quick to borrow a few tricks from up-and-comers like Lady Antebellum and demographic demolishers like Alison Krauss. Plus, she’s managed to come up with an even dumber title for a song than “Chasing Pavements”: I mean… “Set Fire To The Rain”? Huh?


JEFF BECK’S ROCK N ROLL PARTY HONORING LES PAUL

Jeff Beck, Imelda May, and Special Guests

BUY IT FROM AMAZON!

If I were honoring the Henry Ford of the electric guitar, I don’t know that my first thought would have been to pair rock’s most eccentric ex-Yardbird with Dublin’s hottest little mama and her crackerjack band, but I won’t argue with the results. In the driving “Double Talkin’ Baby” and “Train Kept A’Rollin’” that kick off the proceedings, Beck reminds us that his urge toward experimentation has always gone hand in hand with a masterful ability to push his sharp, clean tone from roughness to the edge of distortion in just the right measure; switching guitars from track to track he gets a consistently gorgeous woody tone that embodies perfect rockabilly rawness. The backing he gets from May’s band (including her hubby, singer-guitarist Darrell Higham) is vibrant and sympathetic, and amazingly well-integrated, given the likely minimal rehearsal time that went into the project. The guest spots are a delight—Brian Setzer matching Beck chop for chop on “Twenty Flight Rock,” Trombone Shorty blaring out the brass part on “Peter Gunn.” The real highlight, though, comes on the “tribute” portion of the set, as Beck and May sail through such Les Paul/Mary Ford classics as “How High The Moon” and “Vaya Con Dios,” her voice alternating brightness with seduction, his fluid playing doing an amazing job of standing in for Ford’s typical multi-tracking. Think of this as your reward for staying awake through last year’s Emotion & Commotion.

SMART FLESH

The Low Anthem

BUY IT FROM AMAZON!

The market for low-key, low-fi folk-rock gets a bit more crowded every day (Smoke Fairies, Mountain Man, Civil Wars, etc.), but The Low Anthem’s latest stands out a bit from the rest with the multi-instrumental textures of Jocie Adam, and the vocals of Ben Knox Miller, who possesses a buzzsaw whine reminiscent of the young Bob Dylan (and few writers since Dylan would have attempted an image like “her saccharine luster” or croaked “Will you be the one / To nest beneath my Gatling gun?”). There’s a certain “press-agent’s-dream” quality to the story of the band recording this album in an abandoned pasta factory, but there’s no question that the sound is lush and spacious, creating a setting that adds a hint of weight and history to the quirky, slight material. There’s nothing on Smart Flesh quite as immediate as “This God Damn House,” but give a few listens, and it grows on you, pleasantly if not quite compellingly.

ALLIGATOR RECORDS 40TH ANNIVERSARY

Various Artists

BUY IT FROM AMAZON!

40 years seems like a long time, but it’s also a little surprising to realize that Alligator Records hasn’t been around since the beginnings of the blues. Instead, Bruce Iglauer’s label has spent the post-Sun/Chess era shepherding and cultivating the wide range of American music that falls under the general heading of “the blues.” Favorites are near-impossible to choose: the raw “garage blues” of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers remains, for me, the signature sound of Alligator, all sinew and energy. Classic Chicago blues is another area of strength, where Iglauer’s stable rivaled that of Leonard Chess: Koko Taylor, Son Seals, and Lonnie Brooks, among others, are well represented. Maybe the heart and soul of the collection, though, are the sections focused on the blues’ principal instrumental calling cards: the harmonica (check out Charlie Musselwhite’s insane “Where Highway 61 Runs”) and the electric guitar: not only are there choice selections from Guitar Shorty, Roy Buchanan and Johnny Winter, but it’s hard to top the classic guitar summit of Albert Collins, Robert Cray, and Johnny Copeland on “T-Bone Shuffle.”. And Iglauer’s always been open to the wide umbrella that the blues encompasses, with the boogie-woogie piano of Marcia Ball, gospel blues from Mavis Staples, and the Cajun lilt of Buckwheat Zydeco. Far as I can see, this is the best album you can buy this week, and my only complaint is that it’s too short: serious blues fans will already have an awful lot of what’s here, and an extra disk or two of rarities would have been appreciated.

Other Notable 2/22 Releases

G. Love, Fixin to Die. With assist from the Avetts, more sly, tasty funk-lite.

Toro Y Moi, Underneath the Pine. Laptop music is growing into its own genre. Less energetic than Wavves, but with a consistent, ruminative groove.

Johnny Cash: Bootleg Volume 1: Personal File and Bootleg Volume 2: From Memphis to Hollywood. The attic-cleaning commences, as a year-long project of releasing material from Cash’s personal archives begins. Performance and recording quality vary, but for collector’s, they’re rich troves of treasure.

Brad Mehldau, Live In Marciac. One of the most distinctive and wide-ranging jazz pianists of the day in a warmly-recorded recital that ranges from standards like “Secret Love” and “My Favorite Things” to unusual cover choices like “Martha My Dear” and Nick Drake’s “Things Behind The Sun.”

Earth, Angels of Darkness Demons of Light 1. Take the first eight bars of Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs,” slow it down to half-speed, then loop it for forty minutes. Or just buy this album.

The Flying Burrito Brothers, Authorized Bootleg: Fillmore East Late Show. Supervised by Chris Hillman, a previously-unreleased live set recorded on the same tour as the legendary Last Of The Red Hot Burritos, and since the two only overlap by a few songs, it makes a nice supplement.

Emerson Lake & Palmer, Live at Nassau Coliseum 78. I’m sorry, I reviewed three goddam live ELP albums last year. Enough is enough.

VIDEO GAMES

edited by: Justin Clark

KILLZONE 3
Sony
PS3
2/22
$59.99

CLICK TO BUY FROM AMAZON!!

Killzone is a prime example of the problem I have with the modern FPS genre, in that it’s a multiplayer game that needs to just cut the foreplay and get down to what it really wants to do altogether, which is get a bunch of people together, dress them in suits of armor, and have them fire inordinately large dick enhancement contraptions at each other. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that at all, but don’t try to dress it like your soldiers are fighting an important, vital war for the fate of humanity. Bullshit. Praise God, pass the portal nuclear weapon launchers, and shut the fuck up, Killzone. I’d rather you not try than give us a single player as useless and insulting as you’ve given us so far than give us this Helghast fuckery that just breaks up the mediocre overcooked gunplay.

BULLETSTORM
EA
360, PS3, PC
2/22
$59.99

CLICK TO BUY FROM AMAZON!!

And in the other corner is Bulletstorm. Bulletstorm, like Team Fortress 2 and Left4Dead to a lesser degree, GETS IT. It’s still a game that’ll bring out the swinging dick douchebag in all of us, but gloriously so. It revels in its true nature, bathes in it, allows the player to go as ridiculous as possible with the kills, and rewards you for it. And best of all, it has FUN. Remember when an FPS could be blatantly fun? The fact that you might get splattered a few times across a cactus because you couldn’t stop laughing at someone being called Dicktits or Sausagenipples is irrelevant. You’ll love every second, whether you win or not. If the focus is going to be on multiplayer, where there’s nothing at stake except the fun factor, being able to have fun and not take shit seriously is what will help your game fly, as opposed to the slog the Gears of Wars, Halos, CODs and, yes, Killzones of the world feel like most of the time, because we have to stop killing every 5 minutes so sad piano can play because Neckless McTesticles misses his daughter.

RADIANT HISTORIA
Atlus
DS
2/22
$39.99

CLICK TO BUY FROM AMAZON!!

Atlus is an RPG company on the brink. Their RPGs usually don’t do anything we haven’t seen before, but what they do, when they put their minds to it and keep the anime bullshit to trace levels, they do very well. Radiant Historia takes the time traveling aspects of Chrono Trigger (a series, by the way, in severe need of a reboot. Or, at least, the long overdue Chrono Cross port on the PSN, for fuck’s sake.) to their ultimate conclusion, crafting an RPG where the changes you make in the past can have a seriously wide range of repercussions in the future. It’s still pretty standard turn-based stuff otherwise, but the story’s getting some high praise, and the number of paths available to find “the true history” seems to be rather impressive. I can think of worse ways to spend the wait till portable Okami blesses us all.

DREAMCAST COLLECTION
Sega
360, PC
2/22
$29.99

CLICK TO BUY FROM AMAZON!!

As if it’s not enough of a donkeypunch that there’s no Jet Grind Radio, no Shenmue, no Chu Chu Rocket, Ecco The Dolphin, Samba De Amigo, Skies of Arcadia, or Soul Calibur, two of the games on this disc were released as stand-alone titles not terribly long ago, the Bass Fishing game is useless without the fishing rod peripheral that went with it, and Space Channel 5, while I got nothing but love for that game, is not worth $30 by itself. This is as much a proper Dreamcast collection as Thom Yorke autotuning dropping a deuce in a bucket of water is a Special Edition of OK Computer.

OOOHHHH: ON THE DLC TIP

NO MAJOR DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT THIS WEEK
Like you’ve beaten Hard Corps Uprising yet. And I mean on Arcade, you fucking pansy.

ROCK BAND TUESDAY

Pat Benatar Pack 01 ($9.99/800 MS pts)

  • Fire and Ice
  • Love is a Battlefield
  • Shadows of the Night
  • We Belong X
  • Invincible
  • Promises in the Dark

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

For my money, this should’ve been last week’s slate. To hear Pat Benatar’s voice is to hear some fucking heartbreak. Heartbreak set to synthesizers and tight pants. Regardless, we’re getting it this week, and while vocalists will obviously have their work cut out, there was some tricky drum work on those tracks if my memory from the 80s is holding up okay, and any time 80s stuff gets released, keyboardist fingers just instinctively bleed. This one’s bound to be a fun week.

WHAT’S NEW ON DVD THIS WEEK:

Alien Vs. Ninja
All-Star Superman (One-Disc Standard Edition)
All-Star Superman (Two-Disc Special Edition)
Armless
Birdemic: Shock And Terror
Black Lightning
Black Rodeo
Brutal Beauty: Tales Of The Rose City Rollers
Carmo, Hit The Road
Change Of Plans
Chrono Crusade: The Complete Series
Climate Of Change
Clover
The Darling Buds Of May: The Complete Series
Dennis Miller: The Big Speech
Due Date
Eddie Griffin: You Can Tell ‘Em I Said It
Fish Tank (Criterion Collection)
FLCL: The Complete Series
The French Art Of Seduction: La Vie Promise/La Petite Lili/La Desenchantee/Seaside
Get Low
Ghost Month
Gintama, Collection 4
The Guild: Season Four
The Haunted Casino
Have Gun — Will Travel: The Fifth Season, Vol. 2
Huge: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory)
I Am Alive: Surviving The Andes Plane Crash (History Channel)
Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season Four (History Channel)
Invader Zim: Operation Doom
The Killing Jar
Kings Of Pastry
Last Train Home
Leaving (Partir)
Legacy
London In The Raw
Luke And Lucy: The Texas Rangers
Making The Crooked Straight
Massillon (Facets Limited Edition)
Memento
Mesrine: Killer Instinct (Part 1)
Midsomer Murders, Set 17
Midsummer Madness
Nature: Elsa’s Legacy – The Born Free Story (PBS)
New Tricks: Season Three
Nurse Jackie: Season Two
One Week Job
Patrice O’Neal: Elephant In The Room
The Patriot (Alexander Kluge Collection) (Facets)
The Phantom Of The Opera (1925) (With Bonus T-Shirt In Size L)
The Phantom Of The Opera (1925) (With Bonus T-Shirt In Size XL)
Psych:9 (Ghost House Underground)
Purple Sea
Rising Stars
Road, Movie
Room In Rome
See What I’m Saying
Senso (Criterion Collection)
The Stieg Larsson Dragon Tattoo Trilogy
Sunny And Share Love You
Suspicion (1987)
Sweet Smell Of Success (Criterion Collection)
Sword Of War
The Temptation Of St. Tony
Ten Inch Hero
Two In The Wave
UFC 124: St-Pierre Vs. Koscheck 2
Weeds: Season Six
Zapatista
Zenith

WHAT ELSE IS NEW ON BLU-RAY THIS WEEK:

Alien Vs. Ninja
All-Star Superman (Standard Edition) (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
All-Star Superman (Limited Edition With Litho Cel) (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Amazon Exclusive)
Birdemic: Shock And Terror
Due Date (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Embodiment Of Evil (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Fish Tank (Criterion Collection)
FLCL: The Complete Series
48 Hrs.
Get Low
Ghost Month
How The Earth Was Made: The Complete Season Two (History Channel)
Ice Road Truckers: The Complete Season Four (History Channel)
Killshot
The Last Unicorn (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Luke And Lucy: The Texas Rangers
Memento (10th Anniversary Special Edition)
Mesrine: Killer Instinct (Part 1)
Nature: Elsa’s Legacy – The Born Free Story (PBS)
Nurse Jackie: Season Two
Psych:9 (Ghost House Underground)
Senso (Criterion Collection)
The Stieg Larsson Dragon Tattoo Trilogy
Sweet Smell Of Success (Criterion Collection)
Weeds: Season Six
WWE: Bragging Rights 2010

THE SALES



NEW RELEASES

Due Date                                                                         $16.99  $24.99
Megamind                                                                      $16.99 $22.99  $22.99
All Star Superman                                                      $12.99  $17.99
Weeds: Season 6                                                          $16.99  $24.99
Nurse Jackie: Season 2                                             $24.99  $24.99
Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Ballet Adventure    $12.99


DVD SALE

$4.75

Super Mario Bros: Mario’s Movie Madness
Sesame Street – Follow That Bird
Groundhog Day

BLU-RAY SALE:

$9.99

Office Space
The Terminator
Super Troopers

$19.99

The Social Network
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Knight and Day

TV on DVD SALE:

NOTHING!

NEW RELEASES

Due Date                                                                         $13.99 $19.99  $24.99
Megamind                                                                      $13.99  $19.99
All Star Superman                                                      $13.99  $19.99
Weeds: Season 6                                                          $23.99  $25.99

DVD SALE

$8.99

Toy Story 3
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Resident Evil: Afterlife
Let Me In
Legends Of The Guardians: Owls Of Ga’Hoole
The Last Exorcism
Family Guy: It’s A Trap
Sex And The City 2

$11.99

The Social Network
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
The A-Team
The Sorceror’s Stone
Shrek: The Final Chapter
Alice In Wonderland (2010)
How To Train A Dragon
Beauty And The Beast

BLU-RAY SALE

$13.99

Toy Story 3
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Resident Evil: Afterlife
Let Me In
Legends Of The Guardians: Owls Of Ga’Hoole
The Last Exorcism
Family Guy: It’s A Trap
Sex And The City 2
$16.99

The Social Network
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
The A-Team
The Sorceror’s Stone
Shrek: The Final Chapter
Alice In Wonderland (2010)
How To Train A Dragon
Beauty And The Beast

TV on DVD SALE

Nothing


VIDEO GAME SALES

Best Buy:

Killzone 3: 59.99 (PS3), Collector’s Edition: $129.99 (PS3)
Bulletstorm Epic Edition: $59.99 (360/PS3)
– Get Gears of War Triple Pack for $5 when you buy Xbox 360 Bulletstorm Epic Edition.
007 Bloodstone: $24.99 (360/PS3)
NAB 2K11: $29.99 (360/PS3)
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood: $34.99 (360/PS3)
Dead Space 2: $49.99 (360/PS3)
Star Wars the Force Unleashed II: $34.99 (360/PS3/Wii)
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2: $39.99 (360/PS3)
Halo Reach: $39.99 (360)
Fable III: $39.99 (360)
Just Dance 2: $29.99 (Wii)
Michael Jackson Experience: $34.99 (Wii)

Target:

Killzone 3: $59.99 (PS3)
Bulletstorm Epic Edition: $59.99 (360/PS3)
- save $20 when you purchase Bulletstorm or Killzone 3 and any one of the following 4 titles:
Assassin’s Creed, Gears of War Triple Pack, Gran Tursismo 5, Little Big Planet 2

Toys R Us:

- Free $40 gift card when you buy any 2 of the following games OR Free $5 when you buy and 1 of the following games:
Dead Space 2, Call of Duty Black Ops, Dance Paradise, Just Dance 2, Bulletstorm, NBA 2K11, Killzone 3, de Blob 2

K Mart:

Killzone 3: $59.99 (PS3)
Bulletstorm Limited Edition: $59.99 (PS3)
Bulletstrom Epic Edition: $59.99 (360)