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Now Available on DVD

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Hello, folks! In this segment I will break down 15 films I have recently viewed on DVD. A couple of them have been out for a few months, but you'll just have to deal with it. I've nearly seen every note-worthy and interesting film of 2011. So, in the near future I will re-release my top films of 2011, as well as my own personal Oscar picks, as they have both changed significantly. Have fun, and don't be afraid to chime in. Enjoy!

A Dangerous Method -- This is a mildly interesting and controversial film starring Michael Fassbender as Carl Jung and Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund Freud. David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises, A History of Violence) obviously has quite the resume and a knack for his craft, but this material is awfully boring on screen. Unless you're interested in the psychology aspects of the film I'd stay away, despite a pretty darn good performance by Keira Knightley. (B-)

Anonymous -- You obviously have to suspend your belief going into this film, being that…

The Cabin in the Woods (2012) R

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Well, after three years in the making, The Cabin in the Woods has finally been released! This movie, which was filmed in May of 2009 believe it or not, has been on my radar since summer of 2010. It was pushed and pushed so many times that I figured someone tossed the footage in a dumpster or a furnace. Alas, we finally got what we were promised: a "cabin in the woods" film like you've never seen before. And let me be the first to tell you, this is certainly a cabin in the woods film like you have never seen before.

But first a little background information on the project. As stated earlier, filming completed in May of 2009. It then was slated for a February, 2010 release. That was pushed back to January, 2011 because of MGM's (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) financial difficulties and rumors of converging the film to 3D. When MGM filed for bankruptcy, they were forced to sell the film to the highest bidder. After about a year of that the film was finally sold to Lionsgate, who o…

The Hunger Games (2012) PG-13

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The Hunger Games trilogy is underway, and director Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) has put together a faithful adaptation of a beloved young adult novel by Suzanne Collins. Collins also co-wrote the script, which was a serious plus. One might think she wouldn't of allowed a film to be made without her consent and involvement. Seasoned scribe Billy Ray (State of Play, Breach) also worked on the script.

The books are marvelous, entertaining and unforgettable. A lot of people were quite skeptical about a Hunger Games film from the beginning. Kids killing each other in an arena isn't exactly fun for the whole family. However, Ross' film is tastefully done and never quite seems as brutal as it probably should be; thanks in part to the film's star, Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone, X-Men: First Class). A star was born in 2010 with her tremendous performance in Winter's Bone, which undoubtedly helped her earn the much desired role of Katniss Everdeen.

One of the r…

Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) R

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Yes, this will in fact be my second consecutive Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House) film that I review. This film is one thousand times more terrifying than that supposed "horror" film ever could have been. People have been buzzing about Olsen's performance here since last spring, and I finally got a chance to see it for myself. It was absolutely worth the wait.

This is a haunting film that's certain to leave it's mark on most viewers. It's certainly open for interpretation and argument, which is almost always a good thing in this business. It's not often you get the privilege to view such a deep, well-acted and thought-provoking film from a freshman writer/director. Sean Durkin really out-did himself. And although the dialogue is at times average, he more than made up for it by getting wonderful performances from his actors and bringing the terrifying source material to life. This is definitely not a film for everyone. It contains graphic nudity, brief violenc…

Silent House (2012) R

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The husband and wife duo behind 2003's claustrophobic Open Water are back once more to make us squirm and beg for something to happen. While the film isn't as atrocious as that shark tale, it does ultimately fail to provide any real horror. What we get instead is loads of confusion, and eventually an unbelievably godawful ending. Writing/directing team Chris Kentis and Laura Lau had good intentions with this remake of the Uruguayan film The Silent House, but more often than not these types of film are destined for failure.

At least they got one thing right with the casting of young and forgotten Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene). Olsen is a star on the rise, even if the material here doesn't quite help her cause in becoming the next Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone, The Hunger Games). The storyline is quite simple, the dialogue is thin, the cinematography is shaky and the acting is sub-par. However, the first half of the film is actually quite watchable as we a…

Now on DVD

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Movie night? Make sure to take a gander at these titles to save yourself from renting a severely disappointing film starring Nicolas Cage or Hugh Jackman. Enjoy!

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Midnight in Paris -- This is a wonderfully charming Woody Allen film with terrific performances by the entire cast, especially Owen Wilson (believe it, or not). This film won an Oscar for best original screenplay, and it's well deserved. Even Wilson haters can find a lot to love about this film.

Take Shelter -- Easily one of the five best films of 2011. Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road, Bug) has slowly become one of the most tantalizing actors in recent memory. I personally think his performance here was the best by an actor in 2011. Give this one a hard look.

The Ides of March -- A loaded cast helps make this film one of the best in 2011. It's written and directed by George Clooney (who also has a large role in the film), and stars Ryan Gosling, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti. It's a rather simple politic…

2nd Annual You Don't Know Jack Winners

I announced my award nominations last week, and now I will reveal my winners! There will be no The Artist winners here, so you can take a sigh of relief. Let's get to it!

Best Film: Drive
Best Actor: Michael Shannon, Take Shelter
Best Actress: Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn, Drive
Best Directorial Debut: Sean Durkin, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture: The Ides of March
Breakout Performance (Male): Craig Roberts, Submarine
Breakout Performance (Female): Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
Best Screenplay (Original & Adapted): Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Best Original Score: Michael Danna, Moneyball
Best Cinematography: Jeff Cronenweth, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Best Film Editing: Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Best Visual Effects: Rise of the P…

2012 Academy Award Winners

The 2012 Oscars went pretty much according to plan, while the show itself lacked humor or substance. The Artist and Hugo cleaned up (five wins a piece), which should definitely come as no surprise. I went 8/14 in the major categories, which is usually how I fare. Well, in case you missed it, here are your 2012 Oscar winners...

MAJOR CATEGORIES:
Best Picture: The Artist
Best Actress: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, The Help
Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Art Direction: Hugo
Cinematography: Hugo (Robert Richardson)
Film Editing: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall)
Music (Original Score): The Artist (Ludovic Bource)
Sound Editing: Hugo
Visual Effects: Hugo
Writing (Adapted Screenplay): The Descendants (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash)
Writing (Original Screenplay): Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)

OTHER WINNERS:
Short Film (Anima…

2nd Annual You Don't Know Jack's

Jacks are wild this award season, as I'm releasing my second annual award nominations. I will release the winners sometime after the Oscars on Sunday. I haven't seen every film this calender year, but I've seen over 80% of the ones worth watching. If I haven't seen a film, it can NOT be nominated. Simple as that. Remember, I have not seen Melancholia, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Shame, The Descendants, The Help, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or We Need to Talk About Kevin. With that being said, here are your second annual You Don't Know Jack's!

Best Feature Film:
50/50
Bridesmaids
Drive
Hugo
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
Take Shelter
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Ides of March

Best Actor:
Daniel Craig, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
Michael Shannon, Take Shelter
Owen Wilson, Midnight in Paris

Best Actress:
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Elizabeth Olsen, Martha Marcy May Marlene
C…

The Woman in Black (2012) PG-13

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Life after Harry Potter has begun for young Daniel Radcliffe, and it starts with The Woman in Black. It's a curious decision because haunted house films these days are quite the bore, if you know what I mean. However, a solid screenwriter by the name of Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) helps give this film some credibility. Young director James Watkins (Eden Lake) still has a lot to prove, but I enjoyed Eden Lake and I have to say, this film isn't half bad...

This "horror" film is based on Susan Hill's 1983 novel by the same name. This may be your traditional ghost story that relies on suspense and atmosphere, but it pretty much works here. Watkins put together a small cast, led by Radcliffe, and they work well off of each other. It never hurts having brilliant veteran supporting actor Ciaran Hinds (Munich, The Eclipse) on board.

I'm not lying when I tell you this is a very simple ghost tale, so the plot won't take long to explain. Radcliffe play…

The Grey (2012) R

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Liam Neeson's (Taken, Unknown) career is an interesting one, as he has become an action hero of sorts nowadays. He's re-teaming with The A-Team director Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smokin' Aces), and the results do vary. Carnahan and company put together a decent cast of undervalued actors and the cinematography (Masanobu Takayanagi) is top-notch, but there are problems at the core of this action-packed, claustrophobic disaster film.

Neeson plays John Ottway, a weathered sniper whose job is to shoot and kill Alaskan wolves who threaten oil drillers hard at work. The film opens with Ottway walking into a dirty, manic bar. A bar fight rages while the music blares and the beer flows like the salmon of Capistrano. Neeson takes a shot of the hard stuff, walks into the alley and puts a rifle into his mouth. His wife has obviously left him or has died, as flashbacks of the pretty brunette make him tear up. Right before pulling the trigger a wolf howls in the distance, and for some unknown…

2012 Oscar Nominations

The Oscars are just around the corner and the nominees were announced yesterday. There were a few surprises, sure, but overall things went according to plan. There's pleanty of Hugo, The Artist, The Descendants and War Horse nominations to go around. My guesses will carry asterisks (*).

Best Picture:
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
*The Artist*
The Descendants
The Help
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Best Actress:
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
*Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady*
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

Best Actor:
Damian Bichir, A Better Life
*George Clooney, The Descendants*
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Best Supporting Actress:
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
*Octavia Spencer, The Help*
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Best Supporting Actor:
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick …

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) R

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David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) has become one of the most reliable directors in Hollywood in the past couple of years. His exceptional filmmaking ability is evident in every single take. We're truly blessed to still have such dedicated directors in these dark, dreary days. You combine Fincher's tremendous gift, Steve Zaillian's (Moneyball, American Gangster) spotless script, the game-changing original novel by Stieg Larsson and a brilliant cast and I think we may just have something here.

The unique and unusual novel, by the same name, is one of the best books I've ever read. The trilogy itself is an amazing achievement. So, I was extremely excited for Fincher's adaptation. While the Swedish films are adequate and serviceable, this film definitely puts them to shame.

The film centers around investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) and computer hacker/researcher Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). Blomkvist has just been convicted of libel …

2012 Golden Globes

Well, the 2012 Golden Globes aired last night, and they didn't quite go as expected (I went 5/12 in the major categories). The Artist cleaned up, while The Descendants snagged two of the biggest awards. Meryl Streep apparently still has a following. And I guess Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg still got it. Keep in mind that the Oscars will probably go very differently next month. Winners are in bold.

Best Picture, Drama:
Hugo
Moneyball
*The Descendants*
The Help
The Ides of March
War Horse

Best Picture, Comedy:
50/50
Bridesmaids
Midnight in Paris
My Week with Marilyn
*The Artist*

Best Actress, Drama:
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
*Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady*
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Best Actor, Drama:
*George Clooney, The Descendants*
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Michael Fassbender, Shame
Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Best Director:
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
George Clooney, The Ides of March
Micha…

Movie Night

So it's movie night, eh? Well, before heading to the Redbox or Blockbuster (or rearranging your Netflix queue), take a look at these recent DVD releases for guidance. This covers a pretty wide variety of films spanning over three of four months, so take that in mind. I've divided the films by letter grades, as I usually do. Enjoy!

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Moneyball -- Easily one of the top five films of 2011. Brad Pitt is marvelous and Jonah Hill is a revelation. I don't think you have to love/like baseball to fall in love with this film, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Pitt, Hill, director Bennett Miller (Capote), and co-writers Steve Zaillian (American Gangster, Gangs of New York) and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Charlie Wilson's War) will undoubtedly be nominated for Oscars here in a few weeks.

B+
Beginners -- Terrific performances by the entire cast (Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Melanie Laurent in particular), and a terrific script by director Mike Mills (Thumbsucker) lead …