New on the Shelf: Priests, mice, and Keanu Reeves

Posted on 06 April 2009 by HansKlopek

Hey all. Hans here pinch-hitting for Shep this week with New on the Shelf.  Kind of a slow week, but hopefully, you’ll see fit to wet your beak on potential pedophilia, resilient mice, and Keanu Reeves very much in his slightly dazed, detached sci-fi mode that we have all come to love so much.

doubtdvdThe hot pick this week is Doubt. If you didn’t see this film when it was in theaters, then you need to get on that shit now that it is coming to DVD. What an awesome picture. Based on John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, it tells the story of a potential case of pedophilia in a Bronx catholic school presided over by the tyrannical Sister Aloyisius (Meryl Streep). The possible pedophile is Father Flynn (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), an apparently decent man whose close relationship with an African American student has Aloyisus and a fellow nun (Amy Adams) suspicious. The boy’s behavior one day returning from the rectory gives them what they think of as call for alarm. Flynn denies any wrong doing, but it doesn’t stop Aloyisius from proceeding on her own hunt for the truth, though her motives aren’t as virtuous as you might first suspect.

This is an excellent movie. Hoffman, Streep, Adams, and Viola Davis, who pops up toward the end in a heartbreaking scene as the boy’s mother, were nominated for Oscars, and Shanley (who also directed) recieved a screenplay nomination for adapting his own play. It puts forward several interesting characters each with a unique point of view, and explores its terrain of moral ambiguity with fairness and intelligence. If you want to check out a smart character film, you could do little better.tale-of-desperaux2

Another big release this week is The Tale of Desperaux, an animated film that looks like it is about mice who sing and dance and fight and persevere. It has drawn comparisons to Ratatouille, a big animated hit from last year, and boasts an all-star voice cast that includes Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson, and Kevin Kline. I’m not a big animated film guy, but if you need to keep the kids entertained for a couple of hours while you finish some work or just really dig animated movies, then this could be your cup of tea.yes-man1

Jim Carrey is apparently still trying to keep his very 90s schtick alive, and his latest film, Yes Man, is the appalling evidence. Didn’t see this one in the theater, but it underperformed, got bad reviews, and didn’t look very good as it sported a lame premise: Carrey plays an extremely negative guy who enrolls in a personal development program and decides to start saying yes to everything. Beyond just sounding retarded, all clips and trailers for this one have indicated a lame product, with no quality jokes to speak of unless you consider Carrey trying to trade on the comedy success and style of Liar, Liar over ten years later to be funny.

I promised Keanu, and I refuse to let you down. The Day the Earth Stood Still remake comes out this week on DVD and Blu-Ray, and my hands are a little bit up in the air on this one. The movie keanudidn’t get terribly positive reviews, but it is a big sci-fi picture that sports kind of a goofy premise, so the critics probably weren’t going to like this one from jump street. Reeves plays an alien man who comes to Earth in a big ship with a robot pal named Gort (don’t you wish you had one?) who has the ability to destroy Earth if he wants to. Reeves’s character (named Klaatu), is benevolent, but of course the dumb humans don’t understand his intentions which leads to conflict with the newly arrived visitors. Jennifer Connelly costars as the lady who befriends Klaatu and has to help him save the Earth from destruction at the hands of Gort. The movie was directed by a guy I like, Scott Derrickson, who did the terrific The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and I respect a lot of the actors involved (Kathy Bates and Jon Hamm, from Mad Men, also star) but you never know if this one is just another big budget sci-fi flick with little to offer. Hey, it looks fun. If that is what you are looking for, then check it out.

Not Easily Broken also comes out this week, a family drama about a deteriorating marriage starring Morris Chestnut and Taraji P. Henson (recently nominated for Benjamin Button). Looks like it could be good as both actors are generally pretty excellent, but my hands are kind of in the air because I don’t know anyone else on the project. If you are weighing between this and Doubt, pick Doubt. dvopbtow8rwntp_l

If you’re looking to add to your Blu-Ray collection this week, think about checking out the new 2 disc special edition of No Country for Old Men. The first run of this DVD was kind of weak, as I think they put it together before the Oscars happened. But since the movie took so many awards, they have a lot of interesting bonus material on there as far as featurettes and interviews with the Coens go. I say if you love the hell out of that movie, as I do, then think about bringing it home and basking in the glory of it for the weekend. Other titles on Blu-Ray this week: American History X, The Wedding Singer, and Collateral Damage.

No real interesting re-issues this week, but there is one cool tidbit coming out: Universal has opened up its vaults to bring us Pre-Code Hollywood Collection, a collection of 6 films that were made in Hollywood before the production code was established in 1934. Before the code, Hollywood wasn’t prey to any censorship and movies could often be as decadent as the filmmaker wished. These movies star a lot of screen legends like Cary Grant, Claudette Colbert, and Frederic March. If you have ever wanted to see these people doing heinous shit, and if you have the means, I say check this one out.

Anyway, that’s all I got this week. Out.                           

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