Culture » Film



The Job (R)

Magnolia Home Entertainment

I don't know quite what to make of The Job. I've watched it twice, just to be certain I didn't miss anything, and I still have this nagging feeling that I did. Based on his award-winning off-Broadway play, Shem Bitterman directs the kind of film that the Coen brothers made at the height of their wacked-out creativity; think Barton Fink or Hudsucker Proxy. Here, jobless schlub Bubba (Patrick Flueger), through a stroke of luck, finally finds himself employed as a reluctant killer, paid to strangle a willing victim. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and Bubba finds himself on the wrong end of his employer's patience. The Michigan landscapes are surreal, the atmosphere is dreamlike, and constant references imply this all may be the work of Satan — but the story never follows through. Or does it? Maybe a third viewing will tell. Louis Fowler


The Joneses (R)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Writer-director Derrick Borte's self-delighted quasi-satire of stealth marketing in McMansionland gives us Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Amber Heard and Ben Hollingsworth as a too-perfect family assembled by corporate operatrix Lauren Hutton to sow the seeds of lifestyle-envy and inspire shopping in their gated suburb. Eventually the family members start wanting more from their own lives than overtime work as walking catalogs. Adapted from a story by Randy T. Dinzler, Borte's freshman feature struggles a little with a surfeit of cheeseball soundtrack pop and a gradual failure of nerve. Even with decent performances from the lead actors, and a usefully soulful one from Gary Cole as a neighbor inclined to do the proverbial keeping up, the film still can't always manage to capitalize on its clever concept. Jonathan Kiefer


After.Life (R)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

I know I'm probably in the minority here, it's never been high on my list to see Christina Ricci naked. Especially for extended periods of time. But the makers of After.Life (their period, not mine) have created a bizarre horror-thriller featuring Ricci that will be enjoyed by the Mr. Skin crowd for years to come. She plays a disaffected schoolteacher in a horribly snippy relationship with Justin Long. After a disastrous dinner, she's mangled in a car accident and awakens on a slab in a funeral home, where only mortician Liam Neeson can communicate with her. She refuses to accept that she's dead and desperately wants to find a way out. The whole thing has an early-1980s Jess Franco/Euro-trash feel to it, except, you know, with an actual budget and behind-the-camera talent. While it's worth a look, I wouldn't kill myself to find it. Louis Fowler

Batman: Under the Red Hood (PG-13)

Warner Premiere

These DC Comics straight-to-DVD animated movies continue to put their live-action theatrical releases to shame. The latest, Batman: Under the Red Hood, offers an adaptation of the popular story line that brought the second Robin, Jason Todd, back from the dead. There's some pretty violent, decidedly adult stuff going on here — Joker beats Robin to death with a crowbar, for instance — so don't mistake this for a Saturday morning superhero retread. With great visuals, a compelling story and professional voice-acting, this is one of the best DC has done in the animated line. Also included on the disc is the DC Showcase short Jonah Hex, which at only 12-minutes, makes the recent theatrical release look like some kind of prank. And no Megan Fox! Louis Fowler

Bull Durham (R) (Blu-Ray)

MGM Home Entertainment

If you've read any book or website about sports movies, you've probably found that the majority of critics say Bull Durham is the best movie ever made about the "spirit" of baseball. While I vehemently disagree with them — I mean, have you seen Tom Selleck's Mr. Baseball?—the arrival of Durham on Blu-Ray will be celebrated. I had never seen it before and, while it is charming in a sleazy, sticky way, it's less about the game and more about the intense sexual chemistry between Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon, which eventually culminates in a brutally uncomfortable 15-minute intercourse-filled finale that rivals late-night Cinemax offerings. Only with baseball. You need to be a fan of Bull Durham to love this DVD and, according to my sources, most of you do. Home run for your team. Louis Fowler

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