Pardon me, but could you help out a fellow American who's down on his luck?
Before we get into this month's list of reviews, I want to call your attention to a donation button on the sidebar of this website. It's there for a specific purpose: I want to buy a Blu-ray player. Unfortunately for me, this means upgrading all of my equipment, not just the player. It's a big move. I currently have access to a Blu-ray and will be reviewing some in the near future (and even one this month), but my time on it will be limited.
Why am I looking to donations? Well, it's simple: I don't make any money at this. My payment for all my reviews is the entertainment itself--even when I buy the discs out of pocket, as I sometimes do. I'm not complaining, mind you. I live a happy life as a freelance writer, and this is a way I have worked out to be able to consume the cinema I want and still get by on the cheap. Though I make my money writing other things, other than the DVDs and the movie screenings that come my way, all I get for film reviews is the $20 or so I receive every three or four months because of the nice folks out there who click my Amazon links before buying things--a kickback I almost always use to buy Criterion DVDs I've missed.
Now, a donation is a donation. This is no guilt trip. I thought about using Kickstarter, but I'd prefer to save that option for a future project. Instead, I am basically leaving it up to you guys. If you feel you want to put something in the jar because you like my reviews, go for it. If not, hey, that's cool, too. This is the internet. I'm doing it for the love of it, you know?
If you do donate, I will set it aside and hold it for when I finally pull the trigger on my upgrade, hopefully in the next couple of months, depending on what kind of financing plans I find. How about, too, if you donate $20 or more, you can add onto the donation a request for a review from something from the Criterion back catalogue that I have not written about. If there's a movie that you've always wondered my opinion on, well, this is your chance!
Again, do what you feel. I have no high horse, I read tons on the internet, too, and only sometimes donate when the site sets up a donation button. I'll keep on keeping on regardless, and I hope you'll keep reading.
Okay, now onto the fun stuff...
* The American, George Clooney in Anton Corbijn's unconventional spy picture. People keep mentioning Melville's Le samourai, but for some reason, I keep wanting to watch Bertollucci's The Conformist again.
* The Expendables, starring Sylvester Stallone, steroids, and special-effects blood. It's the old man movie not to see this weekend.
* Get Low, starring Robert Duvall and Bill Murray, it's the old man movie you should see this weekend.
* Mesrine: Killer Instinct, the first part of an expertly executed crime epic straight outta France. Vincent Cassel plays the notorious bank robber Jacques Mesrine.
* The Other Guys, a Will Ferrell vehicle that kind of crashes and burns. Yeah, I know, big surprise. But this one comes with an economics lesson at the end!
* Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the movie to see this weekend. Period.
* Valhalla Rising, a dream-like story of Vikings in the new world, directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, the guy who brought us Bronson. I liked it, but kind of can't figure out why.
* Winnebago Man, the documentary about YouTube sensation "The Angry RV Guy." An interesting idea gets lost somewhere along the way, right around when the filmmaker sticks himself in front of the narrative.
* Burning Paradise, Ringo Lam's dark martial arts fantasy from the mid-'90s.
* The Good, the Bad, the Weird, a modern Korean western that just could be the most fun I had at the movies all year.
* Helen, Ashley Judd is mentally ill, thanks to the director of Mostly Martha.
* Henson's Place: The Man Behind the Muppets, an all-too-brief but still fascinating portrait of Jim Henson made for the BBC in the 1980s.
* Home, an interesting eco-parable with Isabelle Huppert that kind of goes nowhere.
* John Rabe, a fairly good WWII drama set during the Nanking Massacre.
* Laughology, a documentary on laughing that fails to contrive any mirth.
* Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, a newly restored version of the utterly bizarre Albert Lewin romance. Starring James Mason and Ava Gardner.
* Red Riding Trilogy, a remarkable trio of films from England. Three directors tackle the book series by David Peace. Grim, unrelenting, and yet...hopeful.
* The Square, a tense thriller from Australia that goes a few twists too far. The short film Spider included with the extras is the real gem here.
* Temple Grandin, Claire Danes shines in this inspiring biopic of a woman with autism who revolutionized how we take care of beef cattle.
* The Thorn in the Heart, Michel Gondry's touching documentary about his aunt goes to some surprisingly dark places.
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