Archive for the DVD Review Category

I Saw A Film Today… Exit Through The Gift Shop

Posted in DVD Review, Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 14/12/2010 by Kevin Entrekin

I love street art. There is just something so raw, basic, authentic and untarnished about it. It is art for art’s sake, not profit (for the most part). And there is no street artist that intrigues me more than the mysterious Banksy. His art is cheeky, bold, and for the most part has something to say. So what happens when this secretive artist starts being followed by a french documentarian? You get Exit Through The Gift Shop.

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Thierry Guetta is an odd fellow. It’s not only the fact that he is French, it’s the fact that he goes around filming everything. Literally. But while on vacation in France seeing family, Thierry is introduced into the underground world of street art by his cousin, the infamous Space Invader.

From this moment on, Thierry becomes consumed with the world of street art and starts meeting up with some of the biggest names on the scene. He meets Shepard Fairey, Swoon, Ron English, Borf, and also the secretive artist himself, Banksy.

But Thierry does not just stop at filming the artist; he eventually becomes one. Soon the film takes an odd twist and begins documenting his rise (and subsequent greed) in the art world.

Exit Through The Gift Shop has to be one of the years best films. Now whether or not this movie is a hoax, it doesn’t matter; much like Banksy, the mystery is the entertainment.

For people who are unfamiliar with the world of street art, this is a great introduction to the medium. You are shown a side of not always legal side of art that not many outsiders get to see. You also get to see a behind the scenes view of Banksy, a fortunate insight into how this man makes his works of art. This in itself makes Exit Through The Gift Shop worth your time.

I can’t say enough about this documentary/mockumentary. It might be hard to get your hands on a copy of the dvd at your local shop in the United States, but it is now available on Netflix Instant. If you do get your hands on a copy, you wont regret that you did so.

Verdict: SEE IT!

Any comments or opinions about this film? Leave them below.

DVD REVIEW…The Girl Who Played With Fire

Posted in DVD Review, Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12/12/2010 by Kevin Entrekin

I was hoping not to get so sucked into this series. But after seeing the impressive first film, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I was hooked. It was so well written, so well acted, and most importantly really dark. Not to mention it introduced me to the Noomi Rapace, which is a modern Swedish treasure. The sequel to the above mentioned film is entitled The Girl Who Played With Fire. So does it stand up to the standards that the first one set.

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Dag Svensson is an enthusiastic young journalist who has just written a scathing essay on sex trafficking within high offices in Swedish politics. Svensson comes to Millenium magazine, the office of Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), to publicize his findings. Days later, he and his wife are found shot dead.

In a twist of events, Lisbeth Salander (Rapace) is accused of the shooting along with the murder of her probation guardian. Now the race is on to clear her name with her own investigation and the help of Mikael. But the farther Lisbeth digs into her investigation, the farther she digs into her own past.

The Girl Who played With fire was a great film but unfortunately was missing something the first film had. It was filled with great acting. It has a deep and engaging story. At times the plot was darker than a medieval cities back alley at midnight.

Maybe the film was just too broad in general for its own good. But this should not keep you from seeing this film, especially if you have seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It’s still a great film.

Noomi Rapace’s Lisbeth is consistently great and such an engaging character. She never fully lets you into her world but somehow find a way to still be interesting. Just as interesting and engaging is her peculiar relationship with Nyqvist’s Mikael, who is a fantastic leading man.

Even though The Girl Who Played With Fire is not as well put together as its predecessor, it does not make it skippable; Compared to most films, it is an outstanding accomplishment.

Verdict: SEE IT!

So have you seen TGWPWF? Leave comments and opinions below.

DVD Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Posted in DVD Review, Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/10/2010 by Kevin Entrekin

I am always weary of movies based on popular novels. For one, you have to deal with the people who always say “…the book was better”. My only response is a polite “Duh”. When reading a book, the reader is the architect. While the writer lays the brickwork with words, the reader builds in their mind what a room looks like, how a character carries itself, and so on. That is (ultimately) why the movie adaptions never meets your expectations. Your interpretation is rarely someone elses.

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a swedish thriller that starts with Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist), a journalist who has just lost a libel case against an industrialist and must now spend three months in prison.

Unknown to Blomkvist is that he is under the surveillance of a 24 year-old computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace). After gathering all her data, she delivers it to a representative of another industrialist company, The Vagner Group. Shortly after, Blomkvist is approached by Henrik Vagner with a strange request:  to investigate the disappearance of his niece on Children’s Day in 1966. Blomkvist accepts.

Still spying on Blomkvist laptop, Lisbeth becomes drawn into the investigation and eventually teams up with him to help. But both investigators are met with frosty and unfriendly hands. It becomes apparent quite early that their presence is not wanted. They continue on their way down the twisting and turning rabbit hole anyways, uncovering many unsavoury Vagner family secrets.

A note to parents: If you have let your children read this international best seller, do not make the mistake of letting them see this film. Wait for the American remake in 2011; it will undoubtably tone down the sexual violence and disturbing violence against women ( The original Swedish title for this book/film translates to “Men Who Hate Women”). In one scene, Lisbeth is attacked by her social worker and raped. She eventually gets her revenge two-times over, even tattooing “I am a rapist and a sadistic pig” on his naked flesh. This film is definitely a grown-up action thriller, but a good one at that.

Noomi Rapace’s portrayal as Lisbeth is one the strongest female leads in recent years. She plays her with an icy intensity that makes her all the more interesting. The supporting cast is great too, especially Michael Nyqvist, but they are all here to supplement Lisbeth’s investigation. In the end, she exits just as mysteriously as she appeared.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is one of the best thrillers to be released in recent memory. To quote Roger Ebert, “It has sex, but not eroticism. Its male lead is brave and capable, but not macho. Its female lead is sexy in the abstract, perhaps, but not seductive or alluring. This is a movie about characters who have more important things to do than be characters in an action thriller.”

Verdict: SEE IT!

DVD Review: Up in the Air

Posted in DVD Review, Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30/09/2010 by Kevin Entrekin

Lately a few of my reviews have George Clooney in them (First The American http://wp.me/pEs5L-aA and then Fantastic Mr. Fox http://wp.me/pEs5L-bg) . While this is purely coincidental, it does give me a chance to talk about his ever expanding impressive career. His screen presence always has a very relaxed and natural feel, kind of like Jeff Bridges. Whether he is playing Danny Ocean in the popular heist series or even a psychotic serial killer in a vampire-infested bar, he always is in command of his performance. So should we expect anything less of him in Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air?

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Ryan Bingham is a man who travels around the country laying off people from their jobs and occasionally giving motivational speeches at conventions. While this would seem like an unbearable job to most people, Ryan relishes in this because it gives him the opportunity to live the life free of intimate relationships that he talks about in his motivational speeches. Along the way Ryan meets Alex (Vera Farmiga), a woman who lives a similar life as him. But his lifestyle may now become extinct with the introduction of a new process of laying off people via web-cam.

The inventor of this process is Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick), an ambitious young graduate. Ryan believes that she does not understand that his job is better done in person and is roped into taking Natalie on one of his trips. Along the way they both begin rethinking their philosophy on life. Will Ryan stay in his quiet little world of solitude or will his “casual” relationship with Alex flourish?

Early in the film Ryan is having a conversation with his sister in which she comments on his isolated way of life. To this Ryan replies “Isolated? I’m surrounded”. In one simple phrase Ryan summarized an entire generation of people who live out of their suitcases.

Up in the Air is an amazing piece of filmmaking that should not be overlooked. Jason Reitman skill improves with each movie he releases, which was already well-formed in his first feature, Thank You for Smoking. His writing is as sharp as ever and his direction is expertly executed.

As usual, George Clooney is outstanding in this film. He naturally slips into the character of Ryan and delivers one of the best performances of his career. In some small (or large) way we can relate to him. The Supporting cast of Anne Kendrick and Vera Farmiga are fantastic and rightly so were recognized at this year’s Oscars. Even the cameos of Zach Galifianakis, J.K. Simmons, and Sam Elliott are nice touches.

Up in the Air is a film that only comes along every once in a while. It is a film that defines a generation. It will be a film we keep coming back to because of it genuine look at life at this point and time.

Verdict: SEE IT!

Have a comment or opinion on Up in the Air? Leave it below

DVD REVIEW: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Posted in DVD Review, Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 22/09/2010 by Kevin Entrekin

Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors. His style is just so unique and unmatched. It is the way his characters respond to their somewhat real and unreal environment, the way he films scenes in a straight forward way, his brilliant use of colors…I could go on and on. In Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson branches out into new territory: animation. But not just any form of animation, it is stop-motion animation. So is Anderson’s distinctive personality still present in the animated world?

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Mr. Fox (George Clooney) is a former food thief who upon a promise he made to his wife Felicity (Meryl Streep) has reformed from his ways and is now a journalist for the local paper . Two years later (12 fox years), Mr Fox has a son named Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and is tired of living in a hole in the ground. Mr. Fox decides to buy a new home in a tree in close proximity of three farms. Too tempted by the produce of the three farms, Mr. Fox slips into his former ways and steals from all three farms.

Boggis, Bunce, and Bean (the owners of the farms) are none too happy to hear about Mr. Fox’s deeds and they also unfortunately know the location of his home. This leads to the Fox family being forced to flee their home and stay in the sewers with other families who were relocated because of the farmers actions. The time has come for Mr. Fox to step up to the Whack-bat plate and save everyone’s home…the only question is will he?

Mr. Fox was a great joy to watch. Wes Anderson somehow took a stop-motion animated film and gave it the same flavor and feel as his last two films. This film is witty, well written, and funny too. You almost forget that someone put multiple hours into moving these characters frame by frame and just enjoy the comedic story. There is nothing better than watching Mr. Fox and Bill Murray’s Badger arguing and asking “…are you cussing with me you little cuss?”

The voice acting in this film is superb. George Clooney was the perfect choice to voice the mischievous Mr. Fox. I never really have been a fan of Meryl Streep,but she was the right choice for the stern voice of Mrs. Fox. Of course what is A Wes Anderson film without a couple of returning actor such as Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Willem Dafoe.

There really is nothing bad to say about Mr. Fox; he really is fantastic. Fantastic Mr. Fox is available on Blu-ray and DVD and I suggest you pick yourself up a copy.

Verdict: SEE IT!

Have you seen the Fantastic Mr. Fox? Did you like or do you think I’m cussing with you? Leave your comments and opinions below.

DVD REVIEW: Gomorra

Posted in DVD Review, Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , on 14/09/2010 by Kevin Entrekin

One stereotype that the film industry has had for a long time is that if you are going to make a gang-related film, its main focus should be on either 1) An Italian gang or 2) A gang whose rival is Italian. I am not saying that all gangster films are like this but a hefty number of them are. I am guessing that it originated with the success of the Godfather films (and history obviously) and grew from there. As entertaining as these films are, I was really looking for a movie with a fresher approach to the genre. Along came Gomorra, a film based upon a book about an actual Italian gang called the Comorra. I was immediately intrigued.

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Gomorra is set in Naples, Italy and tells five separate stories that eventually intertwine at some point in the film. First there is Don Ciro, a mousey looking middleman who distributes money among families of imprisoned gang members. The next is the tragic story of Totò, who is a 13-year-old boy who joins the above mentioned gang. His view on the importance of family, friends, and the gang become violently skewed after joining.

Next comes the story of Roberto, an excited and bright young man who is given the opportunity of working with a toxic waste management company (which happens to be funded by the Camorra without his knowledge). But after working with his boss Franco, he soon learns that the company he is working for cuts corners when it comes to properly disposing waste. The next story is of a garment factory tailor by the name of Pasquale. The factory he works at is also run by the gang and they are less than happy when they find out he is helping a competing Chinese factory get started.

The final and most tragic of the stories is that of Marco and Ciro, two zealous and out of control teens. They both are influenced by American gangster films, such as Scarface, and commit gang-like acts on their own, much to the dislike of local gang-leaders.

Gomorra was a gripping film, even though I believe some time editing could have been done. Instead of nice green fields and gorgeous marble architecture, we instead get a more disturbing look at modern Italy. The setting is the poverty-stricken underbelly of Naples, which will be a shock for some viewers of this film.

It is also quite a haunting film. In one scene, Marco and Ciro steal guns from another gang. They then proceed to strip down to their briefs and randomly fire the weapons across a local river, even blowing up a boat on the banks. This is just one of the disturbingly real feeling scenes in this film. Also notable in the film were the performances. They could have easily been over done but  many of them come out understated and natural.

As I stated before, Gomorra is a haunting film. It is hard to imagine a place so freely prevalent with violence. I believe that the lesson of this movie is that this kind of thing is not only happening in Italy…It is happening in our own backyards.

Verdict: SEE IT!

Got an opinion about this film? Leave your comments and thoughts below.

DVD REVIEW: The Runaways

Posted in DVD Review, Film Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 31/08/2010 by Kevin Entrekin

I remember The Runaways…maybe I should unpack that statement since I was born well after the 1970’s. It was the summer before my freshman year of high school and the Christmas before I got my first guitar, a Fender Strat. One summer day while sitting on the couch banging away at some chord progression, a band called the The Runaways came on VH1 Classic’s rock hour singing (I believe) ‘I Love Playin’ With Fire’.  I loved them and every once in a while would catch a song on the radio. Then news reached my ears about a movie that chronicled the history of the revolutionary rock group; needless to say I was pretty excited about seeing it.

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The Runaways focuses primarily on the effects that the rise and fall of the  band has on Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) and Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning). Jett is a rebellious teen who wants to start an all girl band and happens to meets Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon) outside famed club English Disco. With his help, the band begins to take shape but is missing a key element: A singer.

Enter young Cherie, who fills the position of singer at the young age of 15. After many rough shows and clashes with male bands, The Runaways start having a following and eventually get signed. But as their fame grows bigger, so do their problems. The band dissolves after having many arguments and a disastrous recording session. Now the ladies are now left with the struggle of staying on top in the music industry.

Do not let the names Fanning and Stewart trick you into thinking this is a family film: this movie is gritty, dirty, and full of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll…which is the way it should be. This movie may start off a little too slow but it certainly makes up for it with great writing.

Usually when I hear Dakota Fanning’s name, I cringe at the though of her making an appearance in a film. She just acts too cute for my taste and looks like she’s still 8 years old. But in The Runaways she is a full on young woman, acting her age and acting it well.

This also goes for everyone’s favorite vampire/werewolf/unicorn mistress Kristen Stewart. She has shown that she could handle a mature role before in Adventureland, and she does so again in this film. Her portrayal of Joan Jett is nothing short of great (it might have helped that one of the executive producers was the rock goddess herself). Michael Shannon has always been a talented actor and his roll as the overly sexual record producer Kim Fowley is another great example of his career.

Honestly, music biographical movies have never really translated well for me. The only two that I can think of off the top of my head right away are the wonderful Walk the Line (Story of Johnny Cash) and the under appreciated Control (The story of Ian Curtis/Joy Division). But The Runaways perfectly captures the spirit of seventies rock and is a great film that was overlooked this year. Seek it out and you will be happy that you did (but make sure the kiddies are in bed before you do).

Verdict: SEE IT!

Did you see The Runaways? Have an opinion? Leave it below.