A Film Unfinished
In the early years of World War II, before the unholy machinery of extermination was fully engaged, the Nazis massed nearly a half-million Jews into the Warsaw Ghetto’s three square miles, which is memorably described in Yael Hersonski’s piercing documentary, A Film Unfinished, as “the holding pen before the Final Solution”…
A Film Unfinished is in limited release now. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.
The Tillman Story
A pro football hero who shuns a multi-million dollar payday in favor of signing up with Army Rangers to go fight evil overseas? Fantastic story, the kind that could (rightfully) bring a little salty moisture to the eyes of History Channel and ESPN Classic viewers late at night. That same Army Ranger gets killed by friendly fire, after which the Pentagon not only fabricates the facts of his death but leans on his family to go along with the whitewash and a full-on patriotic memorial service? Horrible story, but one that motivates Amir Bar-Lev’s powerful and insightful documentary, The Tillman Story.
The Tillman Story opens in limited release today, and certainly has Oscar potential. You can read the full review at filmcritic.com.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
It’s tough being an alt-geek these days. Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera, good as he’s ever been), 22-year-old Torontonian and epically anxious slacker, knows this all too well. He’s still moping over being duped last year by a girl who’s now the singer for a skyrocketing band named for the old Nintendo game “The Clash at Demonhead.” (Such references are strewn throughout the film: when a band’s hanger-on is asked what he plays, he slowly answers, “Zelda… Tetris,” as though his life depended on it.) Scott’s in his own band, the stutterifically named Sex Bob-omb, but they can barely get a gig, while his ex’s pouty visage taunts him from promos all over the local record store…
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is in theaters now — see it! Read the full review at PopMatters.
New on DVD:
This weak-kneed comedy is guilty of many sins, the most surprising of which is the utter and complete miscasting of Steve Carell and Tina Fey…
Date Night is now available on DVD, if that matters. You can read the full, dispiriting review at PopMatters.
The Korean War
Although its dust jacket would have you believing that it’s simply a generalized and shortish (at least as compared to the tome-prone lengths of military histories) encapsulation of the Korean War, Bruce Cumings’ book is anything but just another history. With a directness that’s disarming for the field – which is riddled with writers who approach their subjects in slow and circling accretion of detail – Cumings wastes no time limning many long-ignored facts and striking down sheaves of clichés and shibboleths of received learning about this “forgotten” war. It’s an insurrectionary work of history that leaves few preconceptions intact…
The Korean War is on sale now in bookstores pretty much everywhere and is quite worth your time. You can read the full review at PopMatters.
The Other Guys
The cop-buddy flick has long depended on humor to get by. In today’s uncertain Hollywood times, when even the most thoroughly test-marketed product frequently fails to catch fire, the formula needs something extra, something more than the usual bickering detectives running down the perps and telling their captain where to shove it. Who knew that something extra would involve a light FM-obsessed Will Ferrell cruising in a Prius?…
The Other Guys opens today pretty much everywhere. You can read the full review at PopMatters.
It will be the temptation of nearly everyone who sees or even hears of Samuel Maoz’s Lebanon to make some reference to Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot. They shouldn’t, because Maoz’s film—while even more spatially confined and relentlessly assaultive than Petersen’s—is in a place by itself. If a comparison must be made, then a more apt one would be to Picasso’s Guernica, whose sense of sickened powerlessness Maoz evokes on more than one occasion...
Lebanon opens Friday in limited release. You can read the full review at Film Journal International.
New on DVD:
Stephen Fry in America
Supposedly, the conceit behind laconic British wit Stephen Fry’s six-episode tour of each of the 50 United States of America came from his nearly having been born an American. In the ‘50s, his father nearly took a job at Princeton University, but turned it down because he wanted his children to be raised in England. So it is that the looming, alternately gregarious and shy Fry states at the beginning of his show that he wanted to reconnect with “my other self, the strange American, Steve.” …
Stephen Fry in America is now available on DVD. You can read the full review at PopMatters.