New on DVD:
Community – The Complete Second Season

The first season of NBC’s Community was something of a suicide mission, albeit one with some crazed integrity. Launched into the network’s Thursday-night lineup alongside stalwarts like The Office and 30 Rock, it was intended to be another of that evening’s “smart” sitcoms that eschewed the live studio audiences and crudely normative, housebound mechanics that kept powerhouses like Two and a Half Men chugging along, no matter how unfunny they were. The tradeoff made sense for the network: build a clutch of boundary-pushing shows that might attract smaller but (it must be said) more educated audiences that advertisers would pay to reach. (Why the network thought the disaster that was Outsourced fit into this mold is another question.)…

The second season of Community is out on DVD now. You can read my full review at PopMatters.

New in Theaters:
Moneyball

Brad Pitt seems ambivalent about Moneyball. As Billy Beane, the onetime star pro baseball rookie who washed out and ended up as general manager for the perennial underdog team the Oakland A’s, Pitt carries himself just right. He has the loose-limbed swagger of the former athlete who never let himself go physically, as well as the wary combativeness of a man who has to work at getting along with people. Beane is a man who never had anything come easy to him and thinks, correctly, that he has to fight for all that he wants. Pitt brings off this performance with a tired ease that’s too easy for him – it’s like watching Russell Crowe play an over-the-hill detective or George Clooney a washed-up gigolo…
Moneyball is playing everywhere now. You can read my full review at Short Ends and Leader.

New in Theaters:
Semper Fi: Always Faithful

“If I die tomorrow, my family gets nothing,” says Denita McCall, one of the former Marines profiled in Semper Fi, Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon’s inspiring documentary about the aftereffects of polluted water at the Corps’ largest base, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. But she also points out where she received her stubbornness from—the very Marine Corps that she is now attempting to get help from: “They trained me to be this way”…
Semper Fi: Always Faithful is playing in limited release. You can read my full review at Film Journal International.