New on DVD:
The Killing: Season One

It would be wonderful to say that The Killing is the perfect riposte to all this painless butchery seen on the nightly cop procedurals. That finally cable television, in something of a creative slumber after a phenomenal pat few years, has chalked up an honest-to-god masterpiece, a piece of tough poetry which puts the broadcast networks to shame. That isn’t quite the case with this show’s first season, and perhaps it’s too much to ask of one collection of 13 episodes. But that doesn’t mean The Killing‘s arrival is not still cause for some quiet celebration…

The Killing: Season One is now available on DVD. You can read my review of this set at PopMatters.

New in Theaters:
Casa de mi Padre

There are good old gags and there are stale old gags. Some stopped working decades ago due to overuse and some never grow old. The Will Ferrell Spanish-language toss-off Casa de mi Padre is full of gags that are neither of these, as well as a couple of the stale variety. The one where a group of guys laugh long and hard at a joke and then keep laughing, and laughing, and laughing? That joke’s here. It doesn’t augur well for what’s to follow. While Ferrell works up a sweat trying to translate his trademark dunderheaded obstinacy into laughs, the effort is spread too thin over fallow material…

Casa de mi Padre opens today in limited release. You can read my full review at

In Film:
The Other Works of Marty

As much as people want to categorize him, Martin Scorsese has never let himself be boxed in. More so than almost any of the other members of the “movie brat” generation who reshaped Hollywood in the 1970s (Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, De Palma), he established a style and a favored subject matter within in a few years and then spent much of the rest of his career kicking those preconceptions to pieces. For every Goodfellas there’s a New York, New York, for every Casino, there’s a Kundun. Although the curious but nevertheless inflexible rules of public memory ensure that he will be remembered forever as a chronicler of gangsters, Scorsese has spent the past three-odd decades proving that he’s not a filmmaker who likes to be told what he can’t or shouldn’t do…

You can read “The 5 Greatest Martin Scorsese Oddities” at Short Ends and Leader.

In Television:
The Wire‘s Bracket

Omar listenin’

Grantland’s ‘Smacketology’ bracket for determining the ‘greatest character’ from The Wire is an exercise in futility; nevertheless, it begs the question(s): What makes a character great, and how can there be only one?…

You can read “Oh, Indeed: ‘The Wire’ and False Choices” in its fulsomeness at Channel Surfing.

New in Theaters:
The Snowtown Murders

For a film about John Bunting, one of the most infamous serial killers in Australia’s history, The Snowtown Murders comes at its subject stealthily and almost wholly without sensationalism. Creating a slow-burning portrait of its depressed South Australian suburban milieu and the layers upon layers of dysfunction found therein, Justin Kurzel’s assured feature debut approaches its themes with care. Even when the story shifts more towards Bunting’s murderous exploits, the tone remains even. It’s as though what’s happening is no surprise at all, just the natural outgrowth of this toxic brew of poverty, rage and sickening abuse…

The Snowtown Murders is playing now in limited release, and is worth seeking out in particular for Daniel Henshall’s stunning performance as Bunting. You can read my full review at Film Journal International.

New in Theaters:
The Secret World of Arriety

This smart, winsome fairy tale is not quite Hiyao Miyazaki, but it still might be the best animated film that (some few) will see all year; of course, it’s almost always a weak slate to start with… 
The Secret World of Arriety is playing now. You can read my article about it and the current state of animated film in general at Short Ends and Leader.

New in Theaters:
Last Days Here

The addict’s story is that of patience stretched, opportunities wasted, trust betrayed, and promise unrealized. That story is the one told with raw power by Don Argott and Demian Fenton’s killer new documentary, which follows down-at-heel cult heavy metal icon Bobby Liebling as he seethes and flails at those around him, as though challenging them to give up. It’s a film that you almost can’t bear to watch, as time and again the sandcastles of expectations are built up, only to be washed away. The pain of disappointment realized is almost as potent as the canned frustration that lingers in the film’s very air. Everybody around this wire-thin, muppet-haired 54-year-old rocker is killing themselves try to get him back on his feet, while he’s just busy killing himself…

Last Days Here is playing now in limited release. You can read my full review at

New in Film:
Five Oscars the Academy Got Wrong

Although just about everything has changed about the film business in the past couple of decades – the rise of CGI and 3D technology, the precipitous decline in the influence of marquee stars, the curious appeal of Adam Sandler – the Academy Awards continue to grind on as though nothing has changed. This year managed to be neither: a safe host thrown in at the (somewhat) last minute and a welcome shrugging-off of many of the trips down nostalgia lane that have cluttered up so many of these things. Certainly, there was bloviation laid on thick and pompous but at least the ceremonies didn’t bother (except for the odd iPad reference) trying to be relevant as a piece of television. Which it never has been. The curious part is really that so many of us watch the thing…

You can read “5 Oscars the Academy Got Wrong” at Short Ends and Leader.