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Walk Away Renee, Roseanne, The Wicked

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Walk Away Renee DVD

Walk Away Renee (NR)

IFC Films

I was never a big fan of Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation, and I'm even less a fan of his most recent documentary Walk Away Renee. While Tarnation was about Caouette's family, this is supposed to be about his mentally ill mother, but, instead, he once again shifts the focus away to a far less interesting idea: himself. Like Morgan Spurlock before him, it's obvious that Caouette wants to be a star, and with this well-dipping retread, it reaches a boiling point of annoyance. The idea of the filmmaker documenting his cross-country move with his mother in the midst of her losing her lithium and other medicines should have been an enthralling, moving character study. But, instead, too many times this is pushed to the wayside by Caouette and his need to be in front of the camera. It feels exploitative and self-serving. Just get it over with and make a documentary about yourself, man. — Louis Fowler

Roseanne: The Complete Series DVD

Roseanne: The Complete Series (PG)

Mill Creek Entertainment

It's hard to overstate the importance of Roseanne's debut in 1988. Marking the end of an eight-year U.S. war on the poor, Barr's family sitcom was a deft display of what blue-collar families who relied on the social services Reagan nearly demolished actually looked like. The Conners loved and laughed hard, dancing clunkily around creeping despair, aided by a brilliant writing staff that included Joss Whedon, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Tom Arnold and Danny Jacobson. Roseanne mirrored the Average Joe's American experience, and by the final episode, the Conners' latter-season financial upturns were revealed as a fantasy the matriarch concocted to ease the tragic weight of real life. At the time, the move was derided as a cop-out. Now, it's clear what truly made Roseanne famously cackle in the opening credits: the very notion of escaping one's circumstances. — Justin Strout

The Wicked DVD

The Wicked (NR)

RLJ Entertainment

I just knew from the first three minutes that The Wicked would not be a good movie, clues ranging from the obviously melodramatic use of child endangerment to the painful overuse of cheap spectral special effects. I'd hoped we'd at least be getting a watchable bad movie, but even that proved too much to ask. Instead of focusing on "the Wicked" — a local evil ghost-witch thing that eats children who break the windows of her house, or something like that — the filmmakers spend far too much time with the unlikable cast of pretty teens who drink, smoke weed, fornicate and get Justin Bieber haircuts. Even the subplot about the local troubled girl and her romance with a sensitive boy is grating. No one cares about these people, and we spend so much time with them that we just quit caring altogether. The only thing wicked here is how much time I wasted watching this. — Louis Fowler

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