Weekly DVD Rundown

Worth a Purchase:

Broken Embraces (Pedro Almodovar, 2009)

With Penelope Cruz.

I loved Almodovar and Cruz’s previous collaboration in Volver, but Broken Embraces is miles ahead of that film.  If you haven’t had a chance to see Cruz’s work in Spanish-speaking films, do yourself a favor and check this one out.  Broken Embraces reaffirms her status as one of the world’s greatest working screen actresses.  It’s also got some great work from a Patrick Swayze look-alike named Lluis Homar.  The plot is impossible to explain without spoiling, but it is a noir-ish story that involves a blind screenwriter reminiscing about a passionate affair he had while filming a movie 14 years ago.  It is erotic, suspenseful, tragic and haunting – everything a good noir should be.  If I were to rework my best of ’09 list today, this might top the list.  I don’t care if you don’t like reading subtitles.  Just watch it.  I can’t wait to see it again.

Rating: 10/10

RIYL: 8 1/2, Sunset Boulevard, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Match Point.

Worth A Rental:

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

With voice work from Terrance Howard, John Goodman, Keith David and Oprah Winfrey.

I haven’t seen this one, and I highly doubt I will ever watch it (Rated G = Boring).  I’m recommending it as a rental mainly if you have kids.  It’s got an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes and it was nominated for several Oscars (including “Best Animated Feature”) so it has to be pretty decent, right?  Moreover, I appreciate it for trying to do something traditional and against the popular trend of 3D computer generated movies.  The classics are classics for a reason.  Thanks for remembering that, Mr. Disney.

Not Worth Your Time:

Armored (Nimrod Antal, 2009)

With Matt Dillon, Jean Reno and Lawrence Fishburne.

Armored is essentially your standard second-rate heist thriller.  It has a decent cast and a rockin’ score, but that doesn’t change the fact that we’ve seen this all before.  It’s only about 83 minutes long, but it still feels slow.  The first half hour or so is wasted on overly talky scenes trying to make us sympathize with the characters.  It doesn’t work.  I still found myself cheering for the “bad guys” because the “good guy” was just so damn stupid, and there are several other plot points that just don’t make sense.

Rating: 4/10

Watch these instead: Reservoir Dogs, The Bank Job, Dog Day Afternoon.

These titles are also available but are of no interest to me:

The Fourth Kind:  Does anyone else just want this paranormal bullshit trend to end?

Have You Heard About the Morgans?: Yeah… I heard it sucked.  I think it’s funny that Hugh Grant (who I strangely like) has made so many Rom-Coms that Sarah Jessica Parker is the only actress left for him to work with.  Romance and SJP are two things that should never go together.

Astro Boy: I didn’t even know Nicolas Cage had a voice part this movie until I overheard the trailer playing at work.  Yep, that’s how well it was promoted.  Nice job, Summit.  Boy, that Nic Cage sure stays busy though.  Kudos to him.

Ninja Assassin: I hate movies about ninjas, except those 3 Ninjas when I was a kid.  Those were cool.  Anyone remember those?

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