Film » Cinefiles



Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection (NR)

Acorn Media

Scotland Yard detective Helen Mirren. 'Nuff said, right? Let's just add that Mirren's upcoming turns as a machine-gun-toting ex-CIA agent in Red and, yes, Shakespeare's "Prospera" in The Tempest should be walks in the park after Prime Suspect. A benchmark both of addictive TV and of gritty police procedurals, the highly and rightly lauded British drama, collected here on nine discs, still ranks among the ballsiest offerings in PBS history. Begun in the early '90s and spanning seven seasons and 15 years, it's dated only by the occasional strain for topicality, but otherwise still feels momentous and alive. Enjoy the supporting "wow he looks so young" performances from the later-famous likes of Ralph Fiennes, Ciarán Hinds, Jonny Lee Miller, David Thewlis and Tom Wilkinson, then bow before the glory of the Dame. The Prime Suspect modus operandi, as explained in the making-of: "If in doubt, cut to Helen." — Jonathan Kiefer


The League: The Complete Season One (NR) (Blu-Ray)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

FX's The League is another in a long string of recent television shows that spotlights the puerile exploits of man-children, this time based completely on fantasy football. A decent enough idea, completely ruined by never-ending attempts to mimic the how-far-can-we-go ethos established by other FX shows like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. They replace any and all overtures to honest comedy by going right for the LCD, including lame sex gags, stereotypical emasculating women and numerous racial bits that are more uncomfortable than anything else. The final episode, dedicated to the total obliteration of an Indian female (and former nerd) the boys knew in high school, is like watching a hate crime in progress. They even dedicate a song to her to the tune of "Hava Nagila." I don't know what I was expecting, but it really wasn't this, and I'd be happy to never have to deal with it again. — Louis Fowler


My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (R)

First Look Studios

Werner Herzog and David Lynch? Working together on a film? The only way I know this isn't a dream is because there isn't a dancing little person whispering "garmonbozia" in my ear. A fevered Michael Shannon stars as an unstable guy who, while whitewater rafting in Peru, begins to hear voices he later believes belong to God, speaking from an oatmeal container. Not helping matters: He's already in a manic state, constantly hounded by an oppressive mother, and obsessed with a Greek tragedy where a son slays his mother with a sword. Inspired by a true story, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done is a taunting, haunting, well-paced psychological fable that even goes so far as to cast Willem Dafoe in the most likable role of his career. This might actually just head to the top of my Best of 2010 list, the more I reflect on it. — Louis Fowler

Just Wright (PG) (Blu-Ray)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Queen Latifah is a beautiful woman and, in Just Wright, a pretty cool chick that pretty much any guy in real life would be ecstatic to form a relationship with. But, sadly, this is pure Hollywood product and she isn't a typical anorexic starlet, so Latifah's instead cast as a lovelorn physical therapist pushed aside by a professional basketball player for her gold-digging cousin with zero personality or charm. When the b-ball star gets sidelined with an injury, the cousin leaves him and Latifah nurses him back to health, inspiring him and building his confidence to play again. And the jerk still has a hard time choosing who he's really in love with! Of course he makes the right choice, but, still, romantic comedies like this are so utterly aggravating for their total lack of any realistic depth. Even after all that, however, it's still a cute enough movie that's entertaining, especially when based completely on Latifah's ample likability. — Louis Fowler

Hatchet (NR) (Blu-Ray)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

Subtitled "Old School American Horror," Hatchet is an immensely fun (and purposeful) throwback to the '80s hack 'n slash era of horror where (semi) good-looking, idiotic teenagers are torn to pieces (quite literally) by an overly powerful, near-mythological monster-figure that has no sense of right or wrong. In this case, it's the deformed man-beast Victor Crowley (played by Jason Voorhees himself, Kane Hodder). Understandably, Victor doesn't want anyone intruding on his New Orleans bayou home, so when a tour group does just that, he goes balls-out nutso. With his incredible strength and total unwillingness to be killed, Vic plows through our hapless tourists, in the most beautifully graphic ways possible. America needs a new bogeyman, and with Jason, Freddy and Michael cannibalized to the point of parody, I heartily nominate Crowley. — Louis Fowler

Glee: The Complete First Season (NR) (Blu-Ray)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

I can see why people like Glee. I really can. It's bright and bouncy and colorful and filled to the brim with toe-tapping numbers that will have you singing along in no time at all. But once you get past all the eye-candy, you see a show with no real depth or heart. It's all so plastic and soulless and utterly manufactured. I gave the show 22 episodes to impress me, and just constantly found myself annoyed by how badly written every single character is; they have one trait and one note, and that's all there is to them. The music is fun, but relies on jukebox nostalgia one too many times, no matter how talented the kids are. Are we really coming back around to fully appreciating Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch? Glee is for those who found the lunchroom in Fame too gritty and realistic. But, then again, maybe that's all people really want these days. — Louis Fowler

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