The week of 3/15/2011
group edited by: Troy Anderson
Director: David O. Russell
Keeping the Faith HD
Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary*) HD
The Fighter grew on me like most of Russell’s work. However, it’s still his most conventional film and one that can be used to entice outside viewers to his larger milieu. Melissa Leo and Christian Bale have just come off Oscar wins for the film and I do believe that they were deserved. However, so much of the motion picture rests on Mark Wahlberg’s shoulders. Sure, he’s an actor that falls into familiar traps, but he tries so hard. There aren’t enough level-headed actors left in the industry that just want to function as the team anchor. I won’t worry for Wahlberg, as his time will come again. The release sports a set-up that I’m enjoying out of Paramount. While they know that they aren’t loading their discs with special features, they’re fighting the battle for your wallet. Loading a DVD and Digital Copy onto a lower priced disc, helps to get better films into the hands of more people. Kudos to them.
Directors: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Classic Promotion Footage with 16 year old Nicole Kidman
BMX Bandits arrives on Blu-Ray from my heroes at Severin. Porting over most of the special features from the two-disc Australian Special Edition release, Severin has given us what must be the definitive release for this film. I know that younger readers might not have had the opportunity to watch this flick on a loop thanks to vintage Showtime and The Movie Channel airings, so I’ll give a quick breakdown. A couple of Aussie kids discover a carton of walkie-talkies. Using their new found gadgets, they stumble upon the plans of some local bank robbers. This leads to BMX feats of daring-do, as the Bandits beat the robbers with BMX justice. Yeah, I know it sounds dumb, but it’s fucking awesome.
Director: Edward Yang
Newly restored digital transfer, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrackAudio commentary by writer-director Edward Yang and Asian-cinema critic Tony Rayns
Video interview with Rayns about Yang and the New Taiwan Cinema movement
U.S. theatrical trailer
Original English subtitle translation by Yang and Rayns
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film writer Kent Jones and notes from the director
Yi Yi is one of the best family dramas ever made. Staring down death, financial difficulty and general self-doubt…three generations of one family makes their way through life in Taipei. What Edward Yang accomplishes with this film is a goal that countless other directors spend careers trying to illustrate. The point being that truth is irrelevant, as human behavior and free will is constantly reshaping our world and our definition of truth. There is truth that we hold to the self and truths that we are asked to accept as blind fact. When the individual begins to question the authority of these truths, that’s where see the internal drama and strife that has been plaguing these family pieces since the days of Sirk.
Section By Jeb D.
DANCING BACKWARD IN HIGH HEELS
New York Dolls
Possibly the most ironic aspect of the Dolls being referred to as “Godfathers of Punk” (or similar catch phrases) is that the ossification of the “punk” attitude into one of smug nihilism couldn’t be farther from that of the Dolls: frontman David Johansen is arguably the warmest, most open and honest rock and roll singer since Rod Stewart’s glory days, and such songs as “Kids Like You” and “You Don’t Have To Cry” recall heart-on-the-sleeve classics like “Maggie May” or “You Wear It Well.” And while punk spent most of whatever heyday it had limiting its sonic possibilities, the Dolls were always open to everything from girl-group kitsch to Stones crunch and anything in between, and in their instinctive-and amateurish-way, they made those sounds into something completely their own. While the Dolls’ two previous “comeback” albums were among my favorites of the past few years, this one might be even better. Rather than shooting for the hard-rocking focus that characterized their 1973 debut, this has more of the musical grab-bag quality of 1974’s Too Much Too Soon. The band is helped enormously by the addition of former Blondie guitarist Frank Infante, who is better able than his recent predecessors to bring just a touch of the late Johnny Thunders’ mad spirit to the proceedings. And there’s Noo Yawk attitude aplenty, from the kiss-off snark of “I’m So Fabulous” to the sax-driven frenzy of “Round and Round We Go.” Johansen has rarely been more cheerfully cracked than on the cover of “I Sold My Heart To The Junkman,” and he reaches back to his solo debut for a spirited “Funky But Chic.” Great stuff, fellas, but c’mon: we’re three albums into the New Era, and where’s “Teenage News”? But, then, I suppose, none of us are teenagers anymore, are we?
More chirpy complexity from San Francisco. The Dodos stand out from the run of today’s indie-rock mill with their focus on big, busy upfront percussion. Even more so than on previous releases, though, this album actually offers a few tunes that stick to the ribs: “Going Under” is catchy and inescapable, “Black Night” rhythmically intense, and “Don’t Stop” boasts a radio-ready melody. Typically, though, the album is more about sound than sense: “Companions” begins with brisk, urgent finger-plucking, followed by deep, resonant second guitar, then some electric whine, string ostinati, and always the pounding drums… it’s compelling stuff, but the hazy, droning vocals don’t really take the song anywhere: “If I can wait / Could you be my / Companion?” Neko Case lends backing vocals, demonstrating yet again that she’s the rare singer who can effectively take a step back from her leading role, blending elegantly without needing to command attention. Despite the title, it’s definitely not a colorless album: the instrumental textures and vocal harmonies will keep you coming back for more, even if the songwriting’s not always up to the instrumental acumen on display.
THE BIG ROAR
The Joy Formidable
A lot of people seem to find this band—singer-guitarist Ritzy Bryan, Drummer Matt Thomas, and bassist Rhydian Dafydd—the Next Big Thing, but I mostly hear the latest step along the Curve/Pale Saints/Garbage continuum, fronted by a singer whose voice is perfectly serviceable, but decidedly lacking in character when matched against Halliday or Manson. The wall of sound is appealing in a heavy-muzak kind of way, but any time a chorus actually seems to bob to the surface (“The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie,””Heavy Abacus,” ) I’m more put in mind of Evanescence than I’d prefer. And even the catchier melodies, like “I Don’t Want To See You Like This,” are tied to fairly rote breakup sentiments like… well, like “I Don’t’ Want To See You Like This.” It’s possible this one will be a grower, as it’s pleasant enough when you don’t have to pay attention to it. But that’s not exactly my idea of high praise.
PURSUIT OF RADICAL RHAPSODY
Di Meola’s always backed his impressive guitar chops with unusual strength as a composer and bandleader, and of all his jazz-prog peers, he might have the most instinctive sense for the melding of Latin and North American jazz. Following on the recent successful Return to Forever reunion, Di Meola’s World Sonfonia band (accordionist Fausto Beccalossi, second guitarist Kevin Seddiki, bassist Victor Miranda, drummer Peter Kazsas, and percussionist Gumbi Ortiz) blend Argentinian tango, Spanish flamenco, music of the Middle East, and a generous helping of Afro-Cuban salsa. Guests include bassist Charlie Haden and Havana-born pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba. Most of the compositions are Di Meola originals, and the Afro-Cuban influence is lush and exhilarating on “Gumbiero” and “Destination: Gonzalo.” Di Meloa and company also flex their chops on surprisingly apropors covers of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Over the Rainbow.” Clear, brisk recording, and polyrhythms you could practically swim through: I expect this to be an early candidate for best jazz album of 2011.
Other Notable 3/15 Releases
Noah and the Whale, Last Night on Earth. With Mumford and Sons upfront, and Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling on the flanks, the odd-men-out of the current Brit-folk revival take a swerve to pop. Sugar Ray comparisons are premature, but not completely out of line. U-Decide: “”L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.”– 2011 summer radio classic or future teeth-grinding annoyance?
Trap Them, Darker Handcraft. Says here these guys are “bleak, angry and desperate.” That should tell you if they’re in your wheelhouse, as the hip kids say these days.
Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, Rare Bird Alert. If a clutch of great original numbers like “Atheists Ain’t Got No Songs,” and guest appearances by Paul McCartney and the Dixie Chicks, to go along with some damned accomplished playing aren’t enough, could I tempt you with a bluegrass version of “King Tut”?
Rise Against, Endgame. If we’re to have song cycles about coming to the end of a fucked-up civilization, I’ll take this straight-faced old-school stuff over the dilettante’s noodling of My Chemical Romance. I’ll admit, however, that song cycles about coming to the end of a fucked-up civilization aren’t as high on my list of priorities as they might be. But points for coming out against gay teen suicide and Katrina, guys.
The Naked And Famous, Passive Me Aggressive You. Drawing inspiration (and sometimes melodies) from Radiohead, Pendulum, The Raveonettes, MGMT, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem… if there’s a modern pop influence that Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith have overlooked, let them know and I’m sure they’ll get right on it.
J Mascis, Several Shades of Why. You’ll file this mostly-acoustic outing with Bob Mould’s Workbook. Whether you’ll listen to it more than a couple of times is another story, but I kinda like Workbook, so I might stick with this one for a bit.
edited by: Justin Clark
360, PS3, PC
Homefront, as gameplay and as pure storytelling, looks fantastic. The best parts of Modern Warfare 2, combined with the urban guerilla warfare that parks the first and third acts of Half-Life 2, with a realistic military viciousness that pulls zero punches. All this, fine in theory. At the same time, you know you’re in trouble when Six Days In Fallujah seems fair and balanced by comparison. Homefront, as speculative fiction, just plain looks bad for us. Previews give the impression that Korea, in Homefront, is basically conducting an American holocaust. We’re good, they’re bad, KILL. The game has the right idea, from a standpoint of pure artistry, creating a tension and atmosphere war games could definitely use, but taking cues off a real-world scenario where things most certainly do NOT skew that black and white, then asking the player to not acknowledge how fucked up it is when 12 year olds are gunning down North Koreans with extreme prejudice while calling each other dickniggers on XBox Live kinda shames us all.
Capcom loves you. It has been said and proven numerous times. They love you so much they’re giving you fuckers one more, and I MEAN one more chance to prove that gamers are not, collectively, assholes. I understand why you might not have played Okami. It came out on the PS2 when everybody was focused on the 360 and PS3. I get that. And the remake came out on the Wii, which means its target appreciative audience never saw hide or hair of the thing. Despite the fact that you people should’ve been starved for the cel-shaded Zelda-esque action that game provided, I even get that. Okamiden, on the other hand, is on the fucking DS. HUNDREDS of millions of you, from all walks of gamer life, own that thing, and rightfully so. THERE IS NOW NO EXCUSE. Own a DS, own this.
I really wish I liked this series more. Actually, scratch that. I wish this series was better, for one. The stories have been quality, but the combat’s always been clunky as hell. But at the same time, I’d be loath to say I hate the fact that they keep happening. They’re the only ones trying to do the GTA thing in a Japanese setting, even if the U.S. does keep getting screwed on the little Japanese quirks that make the locales feel rounded out. So, we’re on number 4 now and I’ve been trying to find out what’s different and besides the fact that hostess bars apparently made the cut, I’m coming up goose eggs. Still, this game has a fanbase, and I can’t really fault any of them.
MOTO GP 10/11
Slowly but surely, Capcom’s been catching on that bike simulations just don’t seem to work, and have been trying their damnedest to open the gameplay up to a casual audience. Never minding that we’re years overdue for a Road Rash revival, or that Midnight Club got this right, like, games ago, the effort’s appreciated. The fact that many of the updates released for the previous game are carrying over on top of that open nature and the budget pricing really is admirable. I mean, I still have no interest in buying it, especially since I have a 3DS to buy in two weeks, but hey.
OOOHHHH: ON THE DLC TIP
HALO REACH: DEFIANT MAP PACK
800 MS pts
Ordinarily I’d pass this off as Yet Another God Damned Map Pack and move on, but this is at least significant in that this pack may represent Bungie’s last benevolent act as the developers of Halo before Microsoft picks up the reins for good and runs that motherfucker into the dust. And there’s at least more Firefight coming out of this, which is one of the few multiplayer experiences to really defy the problems that keep me from enjoying actually multiplayer in most games nowadays. Namely, other people.
ROCK BAND TUESDAY
OK Go – Shooting the Moon
The Police – So Lonely
The Police – Every Breath You Take X
War – Spill the Wine
$1.99/160 MS pts per track
X-Pro Guitar and Pro Bass expansion available for 99 cents/80 MS pts
The majority of people are gonna download Every Breath You Take without a second thought, but seriously, Puff Daddy has murdered that song beyond the reach of merciful black magic to resurrect. So Lonely’s an underrated track, and deserves just as much of the attention. You probably never heard the OK Go track, and that’s okay, since it’s on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack, but it is my sad duty to report, it’s actually a good soundtrack, and probably worth a spin if you get a chance/ready to hang yourself. It’s not really a track I’d peg for Rock Band, though. Spill The Wine just reminds me there’s still a gaping hole that only Motown can fill in these games.
WHAT’S NEW ON DVD THIS WEEK:
Barbie: A Fairy Secret
Batman: The Brave And The Bold – Season One, Pt. 2
Battle Of Los Angeles (Asylum)
Be My Teacher
BMX Bandits (1983 Movie)
Candlelight In Algeria (VCI Best Of British Classics)
Child In The House (VCI Best Of British Classics)
Clannad: The Motion Picture (Anime)
Coach: The Fourth Season
D.Gray-man: The Complete Second Season
Gamera Double Feature: Gamera Vs. Zigra/Gamera – The Super Monster
Gunslinger Girl: Complete Collection
Hemingway’s Garden Of Eden
Killer Queens: Five Ruthless British Queens
Laramie: The Complete First Season
Nature: Extraordinary Birds (Questar)
No One Knows About Persian Cats
100 Years That Shook The World (Three-Disc Special Edition)
Pokemon: DP Galactic Battles, Vol. 1
Pokemon: DP Galactic Battles, Vol. 2
Pokemon: DP Galactic Battles, Box Set 1
The Red Green Show: The Delinquent Years – Seasons 1997-1999
Renown British Mystery Double Feature: The 20 Questions Murder Mystery/Tread Softly
Rhyme And Punishment
A Shine Of Rainbows
Thunder In The City (VCI Best Of British Classics)
Vampire Knight Guilty, Vol. 1
The Virginian: The Complete Third Season
Waste Land (Arthouse Films 019)
Who Do You Think You Are? Season One
The Wildest Dream: Conquest Of Everest
WWE: The True Story Of WrestleMania
WWII: Crimes On The British Home Front
WHAT ELSE IS NEW ON BLU-RAY THIS WEEK:
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
Au Revoir Les Enfants (Criterion Collection)
Battle Of The Warriors (Dragon Dynasty)
BMX Bandits (1983 Movie)
The Fighter (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Hereafter (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Heroic Age: The Complete Series (S.A.V.E. Edition)
Nature: Extraordinary Birds (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Questar)
Nature: Predators – Moment Of Impact (Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Questar)
The Wildest Dream: Conquest Of Everest
WWE: The True Story Of WrestleMania
Yi Yi (Criterion Collection)THE SALES
Barbie: A Fairy Secret $12
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The Transporter 3
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
TV on DVD SALE:
The Fighter $15.99 $22.99
WWE: The True Story of Wrestlemania $19.99 $24.99
Super Mario Brothers
Quantum of Solace
Resident Evil: Extinction
TV on DVD SALE
Psych: Season 4
30 Rock: Season 4
House: Season 6
The Office: Season 6
VIDEO GAME SALES
Homefront: $59.99 (360/PS3)
– Kinect Games on Sale for $39.99: Dance Central, Kinect Sports, Zumba Dance Party, Dance Paradise, Kinectimals, Kinect Joy Ride
– Kinect Games on Sale for $34.99: Motionsport Play for Real, Your Shape Fitness Evolved, The World’s Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout, Body and Brain Connection
Super Mario All Stars: $29.99 (Wii)
– Wii Games on Sale for $19.99: You Don’t Know Jack*, The $1,000,000 Pyramid, Jeopardy, Family Feud, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Wheel of Fortune, Toy Story 3*, Toy Story Mania, Guilty Party
*also available on 360 and PS3 for the same price
Homefront: $59.99 (360/PS3)
Topspin 4: $59.99 (360/PS3), $49.99 (Wii)
Pokemon White/Black: $34.99 (NDS)
– Buy 1, Get 1 50% off: Valid on the following 8 games + 25 more in store. See store for details:
Just Dance 2: $39.99 (Wii)
Zumba Dance Party: $39.99 (Kinect/Move)
Kirby’s Epic Yarn: $39.99 (Wii)
Sonic Colors: $39.99 (Wii)
Dance Central: $49.99 (KInect)
Dead Space 2: $59.99 (360/PS3)
Bulletstorm: $59.99 (360/PS3)
MLB 11 The Show: $59.99 (PS3)
Toys R Us:
– Get $15 gift card when you buy any of the following 3 games for 360 or PS3:
Homefront: $59.99 (360/PS3) also comes with free strategy guide, a $19.99 value
Dragon Age II: $59.99 (360/PS3)
Major League Baseball 2K11: $59.99 (360/PS3)
– Buy either Pokemon Black or White and get one of a select few NDS games for $10. See store for details (I don’t feel like listing them here)
Homefront: $59.99 (360/PS3)
– The following Kinect games are on sale for $39.99: Dance Central, Dance Paradise, Kinectimals, Game Party in Motion, Body and Brain Connection, The World’s Biggest Loser Ultimate Workout