CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
CHICAGO – Danny Boyle’s “Shallow Grave,” recently released on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD, is such a striking debut and has held up significantly better than many films of its day. Not only does it fully display future Oscar winner Danny Boyle’s notable degree of style but it’s a daring film in its willingness to present unlikable characters caught in a situation that they arguably deserve.
CHICAGO – Clive Owen is a fantastic actor, one of the best of his generation in films like “Children of Men” and “Trust.” His co-star in “Intruders,” Carice Van Houten, generally makes everything she does more interesting (and memorably appears in the new season of “Game of Thrones”). And yet neither of these talented thespians can do a thing to save “Intruders,” an inert, boring supernatural thriller, a flick that joins the crowded subgenre of childhood boogeyman scare-fests that fail to find the spine-tingling power of what we think may be under the bed.
CHICAGO – One of the most beautiful films of 2009 is only available in standard definition DVD with barely a special feature and a mediocre technical transfer. There are few recent releases that aggravate me as much as that of the great “Bright Star,” a spectacular film given unbelievably shoddy treatment by its studio.