Monday 24 May 2010


Slacker on DVD's is a round-up of this weeks most notable releases on DVD and Blu-Ray, along with some of the less notable ones too.

More after the jump...

Also known as 'the one where they all got nominated for Oscars but none of them won'. Up in the Air is Jason Reitman's follow up to Juno, starring George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a man whose job it is to go to businesses and fire the employees for the spineless executives. Boy, they managed to time that idea well. Arriving in the middle of a credit crunch where people were losing jobs left, right and centre, corporate mistrust is at an all time high. Ryan Bingham is a lonely man, with the only goal in life of achieving enough air miles to gain elitist status. His life is thrown out of order when two women enter his life; Alex the businesswoman who may just be a kindred spirit, and Natalie, the young professional who is threatening to make his job redundant. This really is a film of two halves. The first half with Clooney travelling the country living his shallow life is definitely the better section, the second half where we get to meet the family he's grown distant to may offer more in character development, but lets the film down a bit. It's clear why all the main acting and filmmaking talent was Oscar nominated, they're all quite uniformly great. But even though it's a good story and there's some good work here, it's not the kind of film you can revisit in the same way as the charming Juno.

Hot on the heels of last weeks Just For The Record, here's another faux documentary starring Danny Dyer in a small role that sees him put front and center on the cover. A documentary crew follows Woody, a small time pimp whose girls keep going missing. Chinese gangsters are threatening to muscle in on the whole industry, and soon Woody finds himself in receipt of what appears to be a snuff film starring one of his girls. If you've ever seen Man Bites Dog, the french mockumentary that follows around a serial killer on a days work, you know what this film is aiming for. Robert Cavanagh (also directing) is an adequate lead, but the documentary conceit is stretched too much and too often to fit the story. Danny Dyer appears as the head of this particular sex trade organisation, and the film is better when he's not in it. It does verge on the distasteful regularly, and is extremely racist towards any minority in a way that's not really acceptable. It is interestingly shot at times, and at least it's not another Just For The Record.
Michael Moore continues his crusade to fix a broken world with this essay on the failings and trapping of capitalism. The American government seems to be getting privatised via the back door, and it's only a matter of time before it happens here in the UK. Again, a lot of what he has to say is quite interesting but as can be seen by the cover, his insistence on being the 'main character' is getting a bit annoying. I realise he wants to be the spokesperson that we see this world through, but his blue collar roots don't seem to ring true anymore. The message is interesting, and it's good to see there are some politicians out there who aren't completely corrupt, even if Moore does seem to conclude that maybe communism might be the way forward.
Jim Sturgess stars as Jamie, a social outsider with a very visible birthmark. Finding himself shunned by society, he lives as a creature of the night. Unfortunately for him, there's other creatures out there that are a bit more deadly. After his mother is killed by a gang of demonic hoodies, Jamie seeks to find revenge, finding help and encouragement from a man who may be the devil. He offers Jamie to heal his birthmark and help with his revenge, but in exchange Jamie has to kill a man and deliver his heart to the local church. Jim Sturgess is strong as the shy, vengeful outcast, and Noel Clarke is good support in his brief appearance. This is an extremely well made film that, although it features some scenes of Clive Barker standard grisliness, is never fully effective as a horror film. Though it does feature some great set and sound design (even if it relies too much on jump scares), this is essentially an art-house horror, acting more as a meditation on the human condition. Definitely worth a look.
From Justin Kerrigan, the director of Human Traffic, this is the story of a young boy who is constantly being moved around by his single father. Is his father a spy or is there a simpler explanation for his strange and erratic behaviour?
Human Traffic was 11 years ago, and Justin Kerrigan has been awfully quiet since, so it's a shame he didn't make his big comeback with a better film. Apparently this is based on his relationship with his own father, and the relationship here is sweet if rather dysfunctional. But unfortunately the film doesn't know if it wants to be a gangster thriller or family drama, and it doesn't show either side convincingly. An average film let down by a horrendously over dramatic film score.

After finding one half of a secret ring in the St Trinians library, the girls are soon on the hunt for pirate treasure, with dastardly David Tennant hot on their kitten heels. This is the kind of film that's designed for little girls, so I'm not really part of the core audience. Hopefully anyone who's seen the first film would agree the the best bits feature Rupert Everett and Colin Firth, and that the girls are all annoying. Gemma Arterton only appears briefly (by what I'm guessing is contractual obligation), so she's replaced as head sassy girl by Sarah Harding from Girls Aloud, never looking more like a 30 year old in her entire life. The plot is complete nonsense involving pirate gold and secret rings, and David Tennant makes for a wet villain, but there's a couple of good gags in there. It's just a shame that its never the school girls who get to deliver them.

Precious Jones is not having an easy life, and things are getting worse. Pregnant at 16 for the second time and living with her verbally and physically abusive mother, she continues to be let down by the system. Her aspirations are not inconceivable; all she dreams of is having a light skinned boyfriend and providing for her bastard children.
Precious wants to go to school to learn how to read and write, but life keeps beating her down to the gutter. She wants to eat healthily, but then can't resist stealing a bucket of fried chicken. The mother, played by Oscar winner Mo'Nique, is a vile human being, claiming to care about her daughter but really only looking out for her own interests. There is a cycle of abuse here that we hope Precious can break free from, but its continuation is hinted at in the cruel name of her first born child, Mongo. Anchored by some fantastic performances, it's a snapshot of a life you'll be happy isn't your own. A unique experience.
What if that creepy guy in your office really was a serial killer? What would be the signs to look out for? This film has been a long time coming onto dvd. Joel Moore made this before he started filming Avatar (he's the geeky avatar driver who isn't Sam Worthington), and it had its UK premiere at Frightfest in August 2007. So why has it took so long to be released? Well, because it's not very good. Co-scripted by Moore, it's really just for him to use as a calling card. He's the psycho who may just be a misunderstood artist, sketching his victims before slaughtering them. There's moments that recall American Psycho, and at times it's slightly unsettling, but lacks any real scares that could make it memorable.

DVD of the week? Precious.

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