Monday, January 19, 2009

DVD Reviews

My Kid Could Paint That:
Documentary that explores the talents of a 4-year old painting prodigy that not only questions the authenticity of her work but examines the question of just what is art.

American Roots Music:
Excellent 2-disc review of the history of American roots music and the diverse cultures that originated it. Forget all the democracy crap. The greatest contribution to the world from America is the diverse and ever-evolving musical landscape.

A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar…..
Documentary looks at the love/hate relationship toward lawyers in this country and follows several individuals as they study for and take the California Bar exam. Very interesting.

Tropic Thunder:
Very funny comedy. Robert Downey Jr., as an Australian actor playing a black, American soldier in a movie, is hysterically funny. Jack Black is his usual manic self and Nick Nolte is perfectly cast as a grizzled, old Vietnam vet.

The Fountainhead:
The Ayn Rand novel is brought to life following Gary Cooper’s defense of individual dignity against the collectivist mob. The court room speech he delivers near the end of the film is a real jewel.

Shut Up And Sing:
Documentary that gives an intimate close-up of the Dixie Chicks as they deal with the controversy surrounding the disparaging remarks made by singer Natalie Maines against the War Emperor. Their response, as they rebuild their careers artistically and business-wise, is very impressive.

X-Files- I Want To Believe:
The latest X-Files movie does not quite have the wiz-bang fun of past efforts but is still entertaining and somewhat thought provoking.

Will Smith stars in a post-modern look at superheroes with a couple of interesting twists.

Searching for the Wrong-eyed Jesus:
Songwriter Jim White takes a trip through the Deep South to explain and explore the essence of the region. The result is a captivating, soulful journey accompanied by some interesting roots music.

The Dark Knight:
The hype about Heath Ledger playing The Joker is legitimate- and he seems to have a great time doing it. More fun and movie magic with the Caped Crusader’s “wonderful toys.”

Fun With Dick and Jane:
This remake is not quite the usual vehicle for Jim Carrey’s extreme comedic abilities, but he does it well. The slightly different plot from the original is a nice adjustment to the changing economic times.

Freddie King- Live in Europe:
It’s good to discover that filmed performances of the blues singer/guitarist exists. Mr. King died quite young and I’m glad that future generations can enjoy his intense stage presence and searing guitar. I saw Mr. King perform in the early 1970’s, around the same period of time these concerts were recorded.

Don Cheadle is a Muslim bomb expert with questionable loyalties, to both sides. Well acted and interesting story. Lesson: Don’t allow yourself to be used by states and religious fanatics.

River Queen:
Though the writing and acting aren’t the best, this movie does give some insight to a period of history rarely dealt with- the Irish colonization of New Zealand and the resulting conflict with indigenous tribes.
(Barely) recommended

Gram Parsons- Fallen Angel:
Excellent, detailed documentary about the life of singer/songwriter Gram Parsons. Parsons was integral in turning on the young masses of the 60’s to country music through his involvement with The International Submarine Band (arguably the first country/rock band), The Byrds, and the Flying Burrito Brothers. A brilliant talent who flamed out at much too young of age.

Ghost Town:
Ricky Gervais is quite funny as a person who can see and communicate with ghosts. A comedy to be enjoyed while being reminded just what is important in life.

Winter Soldier:
The fact that this documentary was banned from network television is enough reason to watch it. The film documents the 1971 Detroit Winter Soldier Investigation in Detroit. Nothing fancy. Just testimony after testimony of the atrocities committed by US Troops in Vietnam. The film provides still more evidence that the state converts men into murderous beasts.

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