In Theaters

Quite a good portion of Claude Chabrol’s tasty cocktail of romance and jealousy, A Girl Cut in Two, has gone by before you realize that, in essence, nothing much of consequence has happened. This is not a bad thing, and is more a testament to Chabrol’s talent behind the camera that he’s able to keep his film engaging well past the point that it should have any real right to be. It gives the film a certain drifting quality, even if one knows that something more momentous is waiting in the wings.

A Girl Cut in Two is in limited release now. Read the full review at filmcritic.com.

New on DVD

All good things come to an end. Everyone knows that cliché is true, or at least nods knowingly when it’s invoked. That doesn’t make it necessarily any easier to deal with that conclusion when it comes around, though. In the same sense, everyone knows it’s better for TV series to close up before things take a turn for the worse, when the desire for more seasons eclipses the need for those seasons. This doesn’t mean, though, when a series that could be the single best piece of televised drama ever broadcast decides it’s time to close up shop, that one wants to see it go. It’s a great thing to go out on top, a beautiful thing. But knowing that fact doesn’t quell the petulant little inner voice that is shouting, “What’s going to happen to Bubbles? What happens next?

The Wire: Season Five is out on DVD now and should be rented. Soon. Read the full review at PopMatters.

In Comics

As 2008’s sultry midpoint has come and gone, the looming tower of incoming books and comics often begins to attain critical mass. Perhaps it’s the approach of the holiday season that spurs the increase, or maybe it’s nothing more than the recalcitrant procrastination of the receiving writer. Unfortunately, these books aren’t going to review themselves, though hopefully such plans are in the works at Amazon’s R&D department. One can dream.

Whatever the truth may be, the year has so far been an impressive one for graphic novels, whether they’re of the brooding caped superhero type or your standard-issue shoe-gazer indie introspective. The sheer number seems to grow from year to year, but so too does the quality increase, with a respectable stream of praiseworthy work coming out of a number of the smaller houses, who haven’t let the major publishers’ forays into the field crimp their style. And so, on to looking at what’s worth reading, graphic novel-speaking, before fall comes calling…

The remainder of the article, covering new graphic novels like Nate Powell’s creepy Swallow Me Whole and Yoshiro Tatsumi’s excellent Good-Bye, can be read at PopMatters.

In Theaters

Cute where it should be savage, writer-director Rodger Grossman’s take on the rise and fall of early American punk legend Darby Crash has great respect for the troubled artist, and it’s that respect which kills the movie’s chances for greatness. Like many films where the point of view is a tricky creature from the start, What We Do Is Secret uses a faux-documentary approach for much of the film. This allows Grossman’s star to wax grandiloquent in interviews and the rest of the cast to directly deliver their exposition—this in lieu of carefully crafting plot and characters through fictionalized drama. While this directness means the film doesn’t drag, it also keeps the characters at arm’s length. Given Crash’s propensity for direct confrontation, Grossman’s approach doesn’t do his subject any favors.

What We Do Is Secret is now in limited release, for better or worse. The full review is at Film Journal International.

In Theaters

Some years ago, it may have seemed the kiss of death to cast Ben Kingsley in a film based on a Philip Roth novel. Fortunately, in Isabel Coixet’s Elegy—a just-tasteful-enough version of Roth’s The Dying Animal—we are seeing Kingsley in his more liberated later period, an actor of impeccable manner who can downshift into the basest emotions without skipping a beat. Without him, this perfectly competent film might have lapsed into indolent literary respectability, something the world could well do without.

Elegy opens in limited release today. You can read the full review at Film Journal International.

In Theaters

Yet another summertime widget of gleeful obscenity and disarming male vulnerability to come out of the Judd Apatow comedy factory — Apatow had the original idea, while Superbad‘s Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg wrote the script — Pineapple Express comes with high expectations, not all of which are dashed. While much of Apatow’s previous work has focused on the perils of sex or the camaraderie of social outcasts, this film comes with more of a standard-issue plot that harkens back, mostly in unfortunate ways, to the action-comedy hybrids that ruled the multiplex back in the 1980s.

Pineapple Express opens today. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.