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By Christopher Stipp

The Archives, Right Here

Check out my other column, This Week In Trailers, at SlashFilm.com and follow me on TWITTER under the name: Stipp

MONOGAMY - DVD REVIEW

monogamy_mediumColor me surprised at how much I liked this film.

At first glance you could see a movie about a photographer who takes clandestine pictures of clients who pay to be shot in the wild, an odd subset of humans who need to see what it’s like to be shown in their natural territory, as something Hitchcock would cook up when one of the clients takes it up a notch and gets a little freaky deekey, having a penchant for voyeurism.

Purposely antagonizing the guy, the sexualized client and photog share in a relationship that isn’t so much physical as it is cerebral. As, you see, the guy is getting married to Rashida Jones, a woman who is shown to be tamer than vanilla ice cream on a summer day. Both Rashida and our protagonist Theo are the quintessential couple of the 21st century: bland, common, and not very exciting. However, it’s the relationship that our camera man has with his client that shows him how much he’s missing, carnally, by being in a relationship that’s safe.

This is a movie that tests your idea of what it’s like to settle for “good enough” and what it would look like if you took that path less traveled with a partner who wanted nothing more than make you forget your troubles if for only a few minutes. The relationship, obviously, doesn’t go as planned and the fallout between fiancee and suitor isn’t very surprising. What is surprising, though, is how much this story keeps you riveted with its ideas about sexuality without ever becoming a passe exercise in been-there-done-that territory.

You absolutely need to find this film and watch how a relationship can erode in perhaps one of the most honest ways. What director Dana Adam Shapiro does well is to depict these people in a manner that is more honest than it is an exercise in seeing what would happen if two actors played the part of a couple and broke up. These feel like people you know. People you want to care about.

More details about the DVD:

Increasingly anxious about his impending marriage to Nat (Rashida Jones) and thoroughly bored with his day job as a wedding photographer, Theo (Chris Messina) establishes a hobby: he’s hired by clients to clandestinely snap voyeuristic photos of them as they go about their days. Things go smoothly until a sexy exhibitionist (Meital Dohan) leads him into an all-consuming obsession. As Theo stalks her day and night, the woman’s mysterious public trysts send him reeling, forcing him to confront uncomfortable truths about his sex life at home.

MONOGAMY is an acutely observed portrait of a relationship on the brink, a timely tale of masculinity tested by fantasy and fear of commitment.

DIRECTOR:
Dana Adam Shapiro was the co-director/producer of the 2005 Oscar-nominated documentary Murderball. His animated short My Biodegradable Heart premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. Other projects for Shapiro include the upcoming Screen Gems movie Holler, which he wrote and will be executive produced by Jennifer Aniston. Shapiro is a former senior editor at Spin Magazine and the author of the novel The Every Boy, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice that was optioned by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. MONOGAMY is Shapiro’s first narrative feature, and is a reunion with Murderball producing partners Jeff Mandel and Randy Manis, and producer Tom Heller (Precious - Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire).

DVD Features:

Music video for “You Don’t Know (Nat’s Song)” by Rashida Jones with Bummer and Lazarus
Deleted scenes
Collection of behind the scenes footage and outtakes with the cast & crew
Feature length screenplay by Dana Adam Shapiro and Evan M. Wiener
With an excerpt from Dana Adam Shapiro’s upcoming book “You Can Be Right Or You Can Be Married” and an exclusive essay by film critic Amy Taubin

WHO TOOK THE BOMP? LE TIGRE ON TOUR - DVD REVIEW

***Meek's_RetouchRecolorThis is a great concert documentary.

I don’t say this flippantly or with any amount of hesitation because this film is something that is not only an interesting expose into a hot indie band but it’s a comprehensive look at the women behind it. It’s not just live performances, it’s commentary on the state of music circa 2004-2005. It’s not just a set list punctuated with behind the scenes fluffery, it’s an indictment of those who would dismiss this band as anything short of revolutionary.

Yes, it’s just music but this is a band who I only casually knew of prior to watching but through a mix of film grade camera work mixed in with shaky cam video that simultaneously weaves in different perspectives on the songs presented this is a concert film that needs to be seen by those who would purport to be supporters of great music. Every tune isn’t a winner but it’s the band’s infectious energy and, at times, anger that makes you believe that Riot Grrrl power is still in effect and it’s coming through your ears with hard and fast guitars with an 80’s back beat.

The band’s leader, Kathleen Hanna, is the general in charge and after a successful run in Bikini Kill from the 90’s you can see echoes of that in their lyrics and stage presence. What could have been dismissed as a band just enjoying the success of independent adoration Le Tigre is a full throttle experience that I would not have otherwise known was such a thrill to watch if I didn’t see this. To hear Hanna belt out a song on a disc is one thing but to see her whip an audience into a frenzy is something you wouldn’t catch most navel gazing “alt-rock” bands doing nowadays.

There is a time and place for everything, to be sure, but there is a place to rock out and the stage is where it’s at. WHO TOOK THE BOMP? is a wonderful exploration into the ways that our past shape our present and how art can be made from the experiences we’ve had and that need an audience to see it. It’s heartbreaking, hilarious, insightful, biting, but, best of all, it’s a concert film that wants you to move and groove. I went from casual fan to full-on disciple in a matter of minutes as you realize that there are bands out in the wild who really do want to do more than craft interesting melodies, there are bands that make you want to r-r-rock.

And, if you’re still on the fence about wondering whether to check it out, peep this clip from the film.

SYNOPSIS

WHO TOOK THE BOMP? LE TIGRE ON TOUR follows iconic feminist electronic band Le Tigre on their 2004-2005 international tour across four continents and through ten countries. Supported by a community of devoted fans and led by outspoken Riot Grrrl pioneer Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill), Le Tigre confronts sexism and homophobia in the music industry while tearing up the stage via performance art poetics, no-holds-barred lyrics, punk rock ethos, and whip-smart wit in this edgy and entertaining documentary. Directed by Kerthy Fix (STRANGE POWERS: STEPHIN MERRITT AND THE MAGNETIC FIELDS), WHO TOOK THE BOMP? LE TIGRE ON TOUR features never before seen live performances, archival interviews, and revealing backstage footage with these trail-blazing artists.

DVD Features:

Video commentary with Le Tigre about the film (2009)
Rare performances from the tour: “After Dark,” “What’s Yr Take on Cassavetes,” “Mediocrity Rules,” “Nanny Nanny Boo Boo,” “Seconds,” “Well, Well, Well,” and “Punker Plus”
Outtakes with Johanna and JD
Live show in Vienna, Austria (2002)
Rattina the puppet interviews the band at Ladyfest (2001)
With an exclusive essay by filmmaker Matt Wolf (Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell)

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU - CONTEST

adjustment_bureau_dvdI didn’t get a chance to see this in the theaters when it came out and I am looking forward to being able to do so when this comes out this Tuesday, June 21st. The film garnered a more than healthy score on Rotten Tomatoes but this was a film that seemed to come and go before anyone had a chance to really enjoy what it was selling, to follow-up on the number of people who said, “It’s really good.” People I knew who really responded to it talked about the questions it raised and the way the story played out. I’m glad I don’t have to wait much longer to see what the buzz was about and hopefully this film gets a second chance on the home video market.

To that end I am giving away five copies of The Adjustment Bureau to those who can tell me who wrote the short story this movie is based on and can send a note to Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com. Good luck and hopefully you’re one of the chosen few.

About the DVD:

Academy Award® Winner Matt Damon and Golden Globe® Winner Emily Blunt Star in the Heart-Pounding Action Thriller THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU

Available on Blu-ray™ Hi-Def Combo Pack and DVD on June 21, 2011

From Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Universal City, California, April 19, 2011—A rising politician finds himself caught up in a pulse-pounding, mind-bending conspiracy in The Adjustment Bureau, the acclaimed film coming to Blu-rayTM Combo Pack and DVD on June 21, 2011 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Academy Award® winner Matt Damon (the Bourne series, True Grit) and Golden Globe® winner Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, The Wolfman) are the star-crossed lovers chased by mysterious forces that threaten to destroy their futures unless they abandon one another. Deleted and extended scenes, filmmaker commentary and exclusive bonus features offer behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the film. Plus, for a limited time only, the Blu-ray™ Combo Pack of The Adjustment Bureau includes a downloadable digital copy of the film that can be viewed anytime, anywhere, on an array of digital devices.

Written for the screen by George Nolfi (Ocean’s 12, The Bourne Ultimatum) who also makes his directorial debut, The Adjustment Bureau is based on the short story “Adjustment Team,” by visionary writer Philip K. Dick (Total Recall, Minority Report, Blade Runner). The Adjustment Bureau also stars Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Eagle Eye), John Slattery (”Mad Men,” Iron Man 2), Michael Kelly (Changeling, Dawn of the Dead) and Terence Stamp (Wanted, Valkyrie).

BONUS FEATURES AVAILABLE ON BOTH DVD AND BLU-RAY™ COMBO PACK:

DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES
LEAPING THROUGH NEW YORK – An inside look at how the production team filmed David Norris’ (Matt Damon) race to the courthouse, featuring interviews with Damon, director George Nolfi, special effects coordinator Mark Russell and producers Michael Hackett and Chris Moore.
DESTINED TO BE – The Adjustment Bureau provided Matt Damon with his first opportunity to play a true romantic lead in a feature film. Co-star Emily Blunt, director George Nolfi and Damon himself reflect on this new role for the star and the relationship between David Norris and Blunt’s character, Elise Sellas.
BECOMING ELISE – A look at Emily Blunt’s dance training for the role of Elise. Blunt, Matt Damon, George Nolfi and Blunt’s dance choreographer discuss her transformation from slender actress to well-muscled athlete.
FEATURE COMMENTARY WITH WRITER AND DIRECTOR GEORGE NOLFI

SYNOPSIS

On the brink of winning a U.S. Senate seat, charismatic politician David Norris (Matt Damon) meets Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), a woman unlike any he’s ever known. As he realizes he’s falling madly in love with the beautiful, contemporary ballet dancer, strangers conspire to keep the two apart. David learns he is up against the men of the Adjustment Bureau, who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent the pair from spending the rest of their lives together. In the face of overwhelming odds, he must decide whether to accept his predetermined path and let her go…or defy Fate and risk everything to be with the woman he loves.

Super 8 Hugs and Shrugs By Ray Schillaci

super-8-posterBefore I even get started, I already know the argument that will be placed before me from the emotionally charged set– if you think you can do any better, show us. Of course, that is not a requirement on my part. I’m the one going in, like everybody else, paying my hard earned money, hoping to be entertained. Did J.J., Spielberg and company do it? In a way yes, the talent achieved that task. Did they deliver an original piece of entertainment that will rock cinema history or remain in our minds for years to come? In a way no, at least not in the minds of the audience that has already been initiated to the wonders Spielberg thirty year ago.

“Super 8″ reeks of the sweet nostalgia of great movies that have gone by. That is not a bad thing especially when we are taking it all in with an absolute winning performance by Elle Fanning. The first half of the film is mired in a combination of reminiscent shots from other greater Spielberg movies that were far more original in their day; Close Encounters, E.T., Jurassic Park and yes, even Goonies (the last being directed by Richard Donner – having all the earmarks of a Spielberg directed film).

Where J.J. Abrams trips up is somewhere in the middle of all the action, when the film shifts from coming-of-age to monster movie. It’s not without its fun, but it’s a little schizophrenic and the big pay off feels quite small compared to the well developed buildup. Director Abrams has proved to be a wonderful storyteller with LOST and Star Trek, but he appears to be weighed down in the shadow of a fabulous mentor that does not do him any favors.

The story starts off with a beautiful and touching homage to those wonderful, innocent days of super 8 filmmaking. Boys are wrapped up in telling their stories to the best of their abilities with their favorite subjects (monsters, zombies, etc.) with their less than shoestring budgets. This is also a great way to meet girls and Elle Fanning as Alice Dainard is the object of affection and she provides all the magic to break our hearts.

Eventually, there is the all too publicized train wreck that the kids witness and a bizarre chain of events ensue. Don’t get me wrong, the train wreck is a breathtaking spectacle; a worthy footnote in disaster film history. But the drama that ensues is more weaving a story that does not matter as much as what has already been set up.

The story from there feels more stitched together for momentous sequences rather than the simple tale it could have been. It reminds me of Spielberg taking his wonderful classic, “Close Encounters” and monkeying with it after the release; providing two other versions that had all the David Lean, Cecil B. DeMille like spectacle, but lost the personal vision originally intended. All the Spielberg trademarks are here; children appearing to have it more together than the adults, covert government activity, a hapless hero searching for answers and great action set pieces. Even specific shots are mimicked from earlier Spielberg films. Bicycles, flashlights and arguing kids will bring to mind many of the producer/director’s films of the past.

There are wonderfully directed scenes that tug at our hearts and make us laugh. But there are also scenes that actually have made audiences speak out loud and state, “Oh, just like E.T.” or “Didn’t I see that bus scene in Jurassic Park?” I think it was actually “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”. It’s those particular moments that take us out of the magic of “Super 8″ and that’s a shame. The trailers also do not do justice to the film, giving it a false sense of what it is truly about and if I am not mistaken, there are moments in the trailers that are not in the film.

Audiences will embrace J.J. Abrams new opus for good reason, it brings back a nostalgic sense of entertainment and that is a good thing. But, like having Chinese food, one will be hungry an hour later. It is not a movie that knocks our socks off or demands repeatable viewings like earlier Spielberg classics.

Is it unfair to compare “Super 8″ to those other films we have such fond memories of? In a way yes, when the amount of talent is compiled and a media blitz touts that we are about to witness something amazing. After all, this is the cinematic birth of Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams. It’s a well developed child, but with no special abilities.

Comments:

One Response to “Trailer Park: THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, MONOGAMY, WHO TOOK THE BOMP? LE TIGRE ON TOUR, SUPER 8”

  1. George Love Says:

    Great review, really captured what I thought about the film - basically like ET with a darker edge but still a great film.

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