The Adjustment Bureau: Matt Damon stars a hot shot politician who meets and immediately falls for Emily Blunt’s aspiring ballerina but is told by the titular men in stylish gray tones that their coupling will lead to disaster. I had a lot of hope for this movie before its release. It has a strong cast, an intriguing premise and visual affect that seemed to split the difference between Inception and Black Swan. Now I realize those are some unfair comparisons to load the film down with but even without them this film was a dud. It’s a series of empty allusions and it has a groan educing undercurrent of quasi mysticism that makes the whole enterprise feel a half baked film school final and not the imaginative Philip K. Dick adaptation. It’s like the filmmakers behind this movie fell in love with the Matrix series but decided that it needed less action and more endless scenes of philosophical wheel spinning. Also, I’ve grown concerned about Matt Damon’s taste level. With this and the equally ponderous Hereafter, Damon seems to be entering into some kind of middle aged what-does-it-all-mean phase of his career. I’m beginning to think Bret Easton Ellis was right when he said that the problem with most Hollywood films is that most filmmaker are more passionate about losing than winning. Also starring Anthony Mackie, Terence Stamp and John Slattery.
Special Features: A digital copy of the film, four featurettes, deleted and extended scenes, and commentary with writer/director George Nolfi.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules: A prime example of that failing is this film right here. Jeff Kinney’s Dairy of a Wimpy Kid graphic novel struck a chord with readers all across the country and became a best-selling success series, which was then adapted into a wildly profitable film ($75 million gross against a $15 million production budget) which then led to the not quite as wildly profitable adaptation of the series’ second volume Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules ($67 million against a $21 million budget). It’s disgusting that weak minded pap like this is sold – successful – as appropriate entertainment for children since its moral is if you find yourself ostracized and brutalized by your members of your immediate family, just for a Disney Channel style non-disaster to resolve all your issues for you; no will power or self motivation is required to change your life, things will just will just work themselves out. This is a terrible thing lesson for children that only reinforces the culture of irresponsible self indulgence that permeates our society. You want your children to grow adults of detectable moral character? Introduce a little Paranoia Agent into their diets. Aversion therapy works. This is not to say that you should continually expose your children to potential scaring entertainment but consuming a constant stream consequence free fiction just isn’t good for you. Starring Zachary Gordon, Devon Bostick and Robert Capron.
The Eagle: Kevin Macdonald, of The Last King of Scotland and Touching the Void fame, directs this throw back period actioner about a young Roman officer’s (Channing Tatum) quest to recover the lost Eagle Standard of his father’s legion in the wilds of Northern Britain. On his quest his is aided a stoic Pict warrior (Jamie Bell) turned Roman slave with whom he slowly develops an abiding friendship. This stunningly beautiful film feels, at times, like a film out of time. It’s ostensible a historical adventure film but Macdonald is clearly more interested in making a film that documents the joys of (curiously erotic) male bonding than challenging Ridley Scott’s title as period action champ. The Eagle is a vivid film that seems more expensive that it’s $25 million budget would allow but it’s an oddly bloodless and it suffers tremendously from having a lead as vacant as Tatum. This is a film that is easier to admire than to actually sit through. Also starring Donald Sutherland, Mark Strong and Tahar Rahim.Special Features: A digital copy of the film, seven bonus shorts, deleted scenes, alternate ending, gag reel, and commentary by Kinney and director David Bowers.
Special Features: Digital copy of the film, unrated version of the film, alternate ending, deleted scenes, making of, commentary by Macdonald.
Cedar Rapids: Ed Helms of The Hangover cycle stars in this dramedy about a goofy but lovable insurance salesman who goes to a regional conference in titular city where he encounters all manner of sinful excess including the company of prostitutes and drugs use. The film is directed by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl) and produced by Alexander Payne (About Schmidt) and it reflects the bland but vaguely disturbing overlap in their cinematic styles. The film is funny but it’s melancholy humor and unhurried pace make it a slightly more low key piece then it should be despite the presence of a very game John C. Reilly. However, The Wire’s Isiah Whitlock Jr. plays a supporting role as a stereotypical black nerd who does a killer Omar impression that should be seen by all fans of the acclaimed crime series. Also starring Anne Heche, Kurtwood Smith and Stephan Root.
Special Features: Deleted scenes, three featurettes, a gag reel, and something described as a top notch commercial.
All of the releases mentioned here have links to their respective Amazon pages but you can also visit Cleveland area Blockbusters, Family Videos, and redboxes for these and other new releases.
Mario blogs regularly at A Polemic Killer Room.