Browse Josh's Portfolio and the Comic, Reviews or Blog archive.

DVD Shelf

Here are some of the DVDs that have been spinning recently in the Edelglass abode:

Recount — This HBO film chronicles the tumultuous 36 days that followed the contested 2000 Presidential election.  The cast is stupendous across the board:  Kevin Spacey plays Ron Klain, Bob Balaban is Ben Ginsberg, Ed Begley Jr. is David Boies, Laura Dern is Katherine Harris, John Hurt is Warren Christopher, Dennis Leary is Michael Whouley, Tom Wilkinson is James Baker, and Mitch Pileggi (A.D. Skinner!!) is Bill Daley.  For those of you out there who followed every minute of this political morass, most of those names are probably very familiar to you.  I’ll also add that Derek Cecil (Push, Nevada) plays Democratic lawyer and my former camp counselor, Jeremy Bash.  Although the film is at times heartbreaking to watch for a Democrat like myself, it is a terrifically well-told tale.  There’s a lot of very detailed information covered in its under two hour run-time, but the film never becomes a boring talking-heads history class.  Its dramatic and extraordinarily well-paced, bouncing back and forth between the Democratic and Republican camps trying to bring home the election for their candidate.

The Band’s Visit — An Egyptian band (the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra) arrives in Israel to play at a cultural event, but find themselves stranded in the tiny Israeli town of Petach Tikvah.  Stuck there for the night, the film follows the different members of the band as they interact (or don’t interact) with the local Jews, and vice versa.  This is a quiet film.  There is no great action — nor is there loud conflict or histrionics.  Instead, its a small, personal story about a group of Egyptians and a group of Israelis, each with their own problems and demons, and their efforts to find common ground for one lonely night.  Nobody LEARNS A BIG LESSON or FALLS MADLY IN LOVE and I respect the film for that.  This is a movie about ordinary people leading ordinary lives.  Occasionally it might be a little TOO slow for some tastes, but its worth a viewing.

The Good German — My wife Steph recently read the book (by Joseph Kanon), so we decided to check out the film.  I’d wanted to see the movie when it came out in 2007, but never got to it, so I was excited to give it a try.  Unfortunately, it was a disappointment.  The film boasts a top-notch cast that includes George Clooney, Tobey Maguire, and Cate Blanchett, but I never engaged with the story being told.  Part of the reason for that may be that the film has been molded to the style of a 1940’s film like Casablanca — in terms of the style of music, editing, etc.  That sounds like a neat idea, and the black-and-white photography is quite beautiful.  But ultimately, I think those choices keep the viewer at a distance.  It takes an incredible film — like a Casablanca — to overcome those old-style devices to remain interesting to a modern audience, and this film is no Casablanca.

Iron Man and Forgetting Sarah Marshall — I wrote about both these movies on this site when they were originally released last spring, and they both hold up just as well upon second viewings.  Iron Man is terrific fun, striking a perfect balance of humor and action.  It also features some astounding visual effects, from small details such as all the wonderful computer interfaces in Tony Stark’s home, to several great action set-pieces like Iron Man’s encounter with a pair of military jets and the armor-on-armor battle at the end with the Iron Monger.  And that Nick Fury post-credits scene is just fantastic.  I cannot WAIT until the next Marvel Universe movie adventures, coming in 2010.  As for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, that too is great fun.  The film is a riot, a parade of funny, funny people:  Jason Segal (Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, How I Met Your Mother), British comedian Russell Brand, Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live, Superbad), Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Jonah Hill (Superbad), Paul Rudd (Knocked Up, The 40 year Old Virgin, Anchorman), Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Heroes), and Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show, Family Guy).  I watched the extended version on the DVD, which is only about 5 minutes longer than the theatrical cut.  There are some small additions, mostly in the early pre-Hawaii part of the film, as well as a little extra nudity during Peter’s (Jason Segal) attempts to get over Sarah Marshall by having a lot of meaningless sex.  If you missed this comedy when it was first released (and I think a lot of people did), be sure to check it out on DVD.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone