See Amanda Seyfried’s sexpot seduce Julianne Moore in Chloe.
Atom Egoyan delivers about 90 percent of a fantastic film as Moore plays a suspicious wife who hires a bombshell prostitute (Seyfried) to seduce her husband (Liam Neeson). The increasingly nutso relationship between the wife and obsessed escort is genuinely tense, as kinky screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson (Fur, Secretary) gins up the sexual tension. The plot kicks, the tension builds, and the sex is wickedly hot. Then it all goes haywire with a ludicrous conclusion. But what’s terrible for the film can be great fun for your DVD night. Here’s an interactive DVD feature that isn’t included in the box: At the 85-minute mark, turn off your TV, and ask everyone in your living room to jot down their worst, most tasteless idea for how to end the movie. After the film’s real, wretchedly nonsensical and horribly disappointing conclusion, open the pieces of paper and compare answers. Anyone who can come up with something worse is a winner! (Advice: Don’t play this game with M. Night Shyamalan.)
Is Noah Baumbach's Greenberg irritating in a good way? Or Not? Fight with a friend!
Few recent films have triggered such equal loathing and love as Greenberg, and it’s all thanks to Ben Stiller’s irritating, contemptuous, cynical prick of a main character. There’s a monster-movie element to the way the plot progresses, as Greenberg’s noxious, cynical, aging-hipster persona inexorably expands and envelopes his younger, malleable love interest/victim (Greta Gerwig). “There’s nothing to do except wait for the protagonist to appall you one more time,” New York’s David Edelstein wrote in his review. But it’s not all horror show. From Kicking and Screaming to The Squid and the Whale, Baumbach has always been a sharp, perceptive chronicler of overeducated Gen-X malaise, and he at least uncorks a brilliant riff in the middle of a young-folks house party, where the grousing Greenberg is utterly out of his element. Stiller’s stoned, envious riff on the mysterious youth of today — that inconceivable optimism, that freakish lack of irony! — is one of the most sharply written scenes of the year.
The Greatest might not be the greatest — but Carey Mulligan is pretty great
So maybe you read all the hype over Carey Mulligan, but An Education didn’t quite convince you that she’s the next big thing? Maybe Shana Feste’s film will do the trick. Mulligan (who next stars in Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go) plays the pregnant girlfriend of a dead kid, whose parents (Susan Sarandon and Pierce Brosnan) take her in — and, yes, the overliteral melodrama grinds at times. But with arguably weaker material than she was given in An Education, and without any cute 1962 costumes, Mulligan proves she just may be the greatest, able to hang with Sarandon and make even a middling film something great.
For more, read our interviews with Carey Mulligan and Pierce Brosnan.
Visit Alabama’s den of sin in the Film Noir Collection Classics: Volume 5
By the time you get to volume five of any DVD series, you’re reaching deep into the archives. Warner’s latest crime-flick garage sale offers up eight films you’ve never heard of: Cornered, Desperate, Dial 1119, Armored Car Robbery, Crime in the Streets, Deadline at Dawn, Backfire, and the fascinating The Phenix City Story. Phenix City, Phil Karlson’s tale of local Southern corruption, pits an upstanding war vet against the pimps and crooks of an Alabama town, and that town is the film’s real star. Shot documentary style, seedy, trashy Phenix City — “Alabama’s city of sin and shame,” the posters roared — is a great place to visit for 90 minutes.
Is The Bounty Hunter the worst film of the year? There's only one way to find out!
In late December, there will be arguments over which film is absolutely the worst film of the year. While The Last Airbender, Marmaduke, Killers, and Furry Vengeance will offer stiff competition, you really can’t ever rule out Jennifer Aniston (See: Love Happens, Along Came Polly, Rumor Has It), especially as an unconvincing crook thrown in a trunk by Gerard Butler. To prepare for your end-of-the-year Razzies pool, rent (do not buy) this one now. And in the meantime, see how Butler fared when compared with another famous bounty hunter, Boba Fett.
Also out this week:
Mystery Science Theater 3000 XVIII; Neil Young Archives, Vol. 1; Our Family Wedding; Psych: The Complete Fourth Season; Saint John of Las Vegas; Saving Grace: The Final Season; Saving Marriage; Street Hawk: The Complete Series; Two Films by Yasujiro Ozu; White Collar: Season One; Zift.