Hitting The Play Button: Classic DVDs
Share on Facebook!
Share to MySpace!
Share on Stumbleupon!
TicketNetwork- Buy Tickets Direct And Save


duplicityUniversal, 2009, Color, 125 mins.- Universal DVD

Clive Owen: “Nobody trusts anybody, we just cop to it.”

For ex-MI6 operative Owen, nothing beats the thrill of coming up against (in more ways than one) a woman who shares his professional spy qualities of distrust, manipulation and self-interest. Fortunately for him, he encountered CIA op Julia Roberts one night in an embassy in Dubai…and unfortunately for him, she pretty much took him to the cleaners in a professional sense. Years later, the two meet again in the world of corporate espionage, as companies headed by rivals Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti try to one-up each other in bringing new stuff to the consumer hordes. As rumors of a big new product heat things up, the forces deployed by each side employ all of the gadgets and guile at their disposal- but do any of them really know who all of the players are, or what kind of game they’re playing?

Writer/director Tony Gilroy follows up his previous story of corporate shenanigans, Michael Clayton, with this more lighthearted look at some giants of capitalism. The CEOs involved are an interesting contrast to each other, with Giamatti an impulsive chap and Wilkinson a thinker who espouses a theory of “Corporate evolution.” But the story focuses on Owen and Roberts, and some of the key twists and turns are driven by their history with each other, with plenty of verbal jousting involved. At times there is a bit of a mean streak in the film, with various characters tweaking each other and an on-the-job seduction of an innocent woman by Owen played for laughs. But there are some plain old silly moments also, and both Owen and Roberts dive right in and sell them, whether its Owen getting caught up in his work for a frozen pizza company or Roberts searching desperately for a badly needed photocopier.

If you like caper flicks with fun performances and snappy dialogue, this one is worth a look- you may see the resolution coming a mile away, but the humor will keep you interested in it. Disc extras are limited to audio commentary with Gilroy and his editor/coproducer brother.


sunshine_cleaningOverture Films, 2008, Color, 91 mins.- Anchor Bay DVD

Emily Blunt:“Turns out it’s against the law to throw biohazards in the dumpster. Who knew?”

Well, when you’re new to a business, you make mistakes. Blunt isn’t thrilled about joining her sister Amy Adams in cleaning up crime scenes and other biological leftovers, but she needs the money. As does Adams, whose youngster Jason Spevack is headed for private schooling due to his disruptive behavior. Adams’ old flame, Steve Zahn, is a cop who suggests to Adams that her cleanup skills could be more profitable in the crime-related field. Adams and Blunt’s dad, Alan Arkin, gets in some quality time with Spevack as the girls tackle jobs that affect them both physically and emotionally. But their exposure to the fragility of life doesn’t insulate them from their own frailties, and a big mistake threatens to drive the sisters apart…

NThis indy number has director Christine Jeffs working from Megan Holley’s script, which got started on the path to production by winning a screenwriting contest. It’s another one of those flawed movie families with a shared tragedy in their past who support each other…most of the time, anyway. The setup and self-actualization through odd circumstances plotting are no great shakes, but the two female leads are something special. Adams’ character peaked in high school, and has been looking for the sort of validation she got as a cheerleader ever since- she may have put up a “You can do anything” note for herself, but the rah-rah sentiment is at odds with her circumstances. Blunt is the younger, less responsible one, the cool but slightly naughty aunt to Spevack, the one who gets a little too invested in the lives that the sisters are cleaning up after. Adams and Blunt give performances that always feel real, even when the story veers a little too far into indy film quirkiness.

The supporting players aren’t bad either- Zahn does fine in a dramatic turn, Spevack makes you wonder how he’ll turn out as an adult, Clifton Collins Jr. does an interesting turn as a janitorial supply guy, and Arkin is a welcome screen presence even though he doesn’t get much humorous material. Some pathos, some laughs, some blood and gore, and some good work from rising stars Adams and Blunt- this one will scratch the ol’ indy flick itch for sure. Extras include audio commentary with the writer and producer and a featurette about a real-life pair of female crime scene cleaner-uppers.


JuliaStudio Canal, 2008, Color, 145 mins.- Magnolia DVD

Tilda Swinton: “This, uh, happens to me sometimes.”


And when you’re an over-the-hill party girl who’s drinking both your money and your life away, there’s a lot that can happen. Swinton’s reached a point in her life where she’s disappointed everybody else so many times that she can barely even fool herself anymore with the old booze-fuelled rationalizations. And when she screws up the latest job favor from her AA sponsor Saul Rubinek, desperation pushes her towards fellow alcoholic Kate del Castillo, who wants to regain custody of her young son Aidan Gould by criminal means. Swinton convinces herself that she can run her own play and set up a lifetime Vodka supply by ransoming the kid to his rich grandfather. Problem is, del Castillo is clearly off her rocker, and Swinton is no criminal mastermind, so things start to go downhill immediately. Swinton winds up taking Gould on the lam all the way into Mexico, where she runs afoul of some crooks who are just as desperate as she is- but way more dangerous.

French director Erick Zona’s latest is a variation on the sorta-classic John Cassavetes action picture Gloria, replacing that film’s ex-gangster moll with a self-destructive alcoholic. Swinton is either a great or a terrible choice for a kidnapper, as she has some of the worst female/child relationship skills ever. When she isn’t drugging the kid and tying him up, she’s feeding him a line about how great his mother is- and as with her self-rationalizations and amateurish criminal dealings, it’s sad and awful and funny at the same time. But things get less amusing- or at least, less deliberately amusing- with a wacky crossing of the Mexican border and a slide into full-bore B Movie territory. It’s energetic but shallow stuff, and is basically just an excuse for Swinton to turn up the acting steam- which pretty much sums up the whole movie.

Yes, Swinton does bring it, and seeing her character’s amorality get tempered by some finer traits is satisfying. But apart from the always-dependable Rubinek, none of the other characters are that interesting, and when you’re past the two hour mark you start wondering why so much time is being devoted to stock bad guys. If you’re a fan of Swinton, alcoholics or evil Mexicans, you might get a kick out of this, otherwise you can miss this one. Extras are limited to some deleted scenes and the trailer.