Film & TV

“Declaration of War” Depicts Misfortune Culminating in Unexpected Triumph

Elizabeth Pyjov

Declaration of War” (La guerre est déclarée), France's foreign-language film submission for the Oscars, has the merits of lightness and inventiveness. The director, ValérieDonzelli, freely expresses herself through whichever tool she finds most useful in each particular moment, whether it is comedy in a tragic situation, magical realism, insertion of a song she wrote herself, or a cut to abstract images outside of the scene.

Video Verdict: “50/50,” “Paranormal Activity 3” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

Since “50/50” was released into theaters in September, it has racked up an impressive string of accolades, including a Golden Globe nomination for best motion picture (comedy or musical) and a National Board of Review award for best original screenplay. Written by Will Reiser and directed by Jonathan Levine, the movie walks a fine line between drama and comedy, creating a truly moving viewing experience.

Video Verdict: “Ides of March,” “Abduction” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

George Clooney is a great actor, but he’s even more impressive as a director. Each of his previous directorial efforts – “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” “Good Night, and Good Luck” and “Leatherheads” – has been outstanding, and “The Ides of March” is just as solid.

Angelina Jolie’s Directorial Debut Highlights the Troubled History of Former Yugoslavia

Trevor Laurence Jockims

In The Land of Blood and Honey, written and directed by Angelina Jolie, focuses on the relationship between Danijel (Goran Kostić), a Bosnian-Serb soldier, and Ajla (Zana Marjanović), a Bosnian Muslim. Aside from a handful of largely forgettable films (Welcome to Sarajevo, Behind Enemy Lines, and Savior come to mind), the wars of 1992-1995 in the former Yugoslavia have received limited attention from Hollywood. 

Video Verdict: “Moneyball,” “Boardwalk Empire” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

 “Moneyball,” director Bennett Miller’s fascinating biopic about Oakland Athletics manager Billy Beane was a critical hit in theaters. Now, it seems primed for an Oscar run. The movie is up for multiple honors at both the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, and these ceremonies have a good track record of predicting Oscar nominees.

 

Why “The Artist” Will Sweep the Golden Globes and Oscars

Elizabeth Pyjov

Michel Hazanavicius wrote and directed “The Artist.” He had been planning to make this film for more than 10 years, and producers refused to work with him because  Hazanavicius had his heart set on filming a silent, black-and-white movie. The idea sounded anachronistic and bizarre. Finally, Thomas Langmann took a risk and agreed to invest in the film, becoming its producer. To the fortune of audiences worldwide, “The Artist” was finally  released in late 2011. It is a project Hazanavicius loved and stayed devoted to for more than a decade, and in the end he created a work of exceptional beauty.

Video Verdict: “Contagion,” “The Guard” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

Steven Soderbergh has a catalogue of great movies, including “Traffic” (2000), “Erin Brockovich” (2000), “Ocean’s 11” (2001) and “The Informant!” (2009). Now, he can add “Contagion” to that list.  The film takes a multi-pronged look at the spread of a virus that kills within days and leaves international healthcare professionals baffled. 

Director Steve McQueen Presents a Controversial Anti-hero in “Shame”

Elizabeth Pyjov

Some of the best movies have no villain  or hero. Director Steve McQueen’s main character Brandon, played by Michael Fassbender in what ought to be an Oscar-winning performance in “Shame,” is neither. McQueen’s new film is executed to a startling perfection. It reveals deeper truths about self-control and a lack thereof, and how self-control on the surface could be used to conceal a certain chaos and desperation within. 

Video Verdict: “Final Destination 5,” “The Borgias” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

The “Final Destination” films have been around since 2000, and there is no foreseeable end to the franchise, despite 2009’s entry being heralded as the last. How do filmmakers continue a trip that was supposedly over? They make a prequel, of course.

 

Video Verdict: “Midnight in Paris,” “Warrior” Arrive on DVD, Blu-ray

Forrest Hartman

“Midnight in Paris” scored multiple nominations for the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, and the accolades are well-deserved. Written and directed by Woody Allen, the film is a slice of nostalgia that’s both a love letter to Paris and a reminder that there’s no time like the present.  

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