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At Any Price - DVD Review

At Any PriceDrama - 1 hr. 45 min.
Directed By: Ramin Bahrani
Written By: Ramin Bahrani
On DVD: Aug 27, 2013
 
Cast:
Dennis Quaid  - Henry Whipple
Zac Efron  - Dean Whipple
Kim Dickens  - Irene Whipple
Heather Graham  - Meredith Crown
Clancy Brown  - Jim Johnson
Chelcie Ross  - Byron
 
Genetically modified foods is something that is certainly topical. From radicals trying to stop the big agriculture companies from making modified seeds to activists destroying crops, it’s a controversial concept that is more-or-less destroying the natural food chain whether we like it or even know it. The new Dennis Quaid movie At Any Price is the first Hollywood flick to get based on a GMO farm. The film, which also stars Zac Efron and Heather Graham is a family drama that explores the cutthroat world of agriculture in the mid United States and how families and farmers contend with the business side of things. It gets released on Sony DVD and Blu-Ray on August 27.
 
Writer/director Ramin Bahrani explores the often ignored world of the farmer, in what appears to be a very real situation. Quaid plays Henry Whipple, a farmer who’s on the verge of losing some of his seed-sale territory, while at the same time increasing his own farm land with the assets of a dead cohort. Amongst the drama involving the family business, Whipple struggles with cheating on his wife with Meredith Crown (Graham), understanding his sons goals – Dean (Efron) wants to be a race car driver and Grant is off climbing mountains in Argentina – and he handles investigators from the agricultural giant Liberty who seek to prosecute him for re-using seeds, which is a violation of his contract.
 
From this film we learn that these massive GMO companies make our farmers sign agreements that they will not re-use any seeds produced from their crops, instead buying new ones from the company every year. It shows the heartlessness of these companies and the backwards thinking that something as natural as seeds must be manufactured in a factory somewhere and not obtained by natural means. It all comes down to money and the farmers can’t do anything about it.
 
Quaid gives his most striking performance yet, while Efron seems to be swaying a bit from his cute boy roles of the past. Graham is also adorable, but her character was begging for something more than just a love interest.
 
Overall the film openly explored some new territory by taking place on a large GMO farm and showing the modern troubles of farming in the US, but there seemed to be a lot more to explore here than what was presented. The Whipple farm could have been used to show new evidence into the GMO controversy and maybe serve as an awakening for those moviegoers not interested in documentaries.
 

Last Updated on Thursday, 15 August 2013 17:35

Hits: 581

The B52s: With The Wild Crowd - Blu-Ray Review

 

The B52s - With The Wild Crowd
4.5 stars

I’ve never had the chance to catch the B-52s live… ever. The band was not in town, except on days that I’ve been away. Hard to imagine for a band that’s had a 35 year career, but true nonetheless. Enter “With The Wild Crowd”, the band’s first ever live blu-ray – a 20-track career-spanning concert event in their hometown of Athens, GA.

Given that this concert marked the 34th anniversary of the band’s first ever live concert, the excitement was evident with the wig-wearing, boa-draped, glitter-covered fans who came from near and far to celebrate this historic concert and hopefully get caught on camera all glammed out. In a certain sense, this blu-ray was more about the fans than it was the live show.

In contrast to the albums, music videos and live YouTube videos, this was an aged B-52s proud of their history and enjoying the moment, but not near as wild and crazy as I remembered. The band was solid as a rock (Ski-doo-be-dop) and sounded perfect – even giving the older songs a very slight and subtle modern twist. Vocalist and master cowbell player Fred Schneider seemed reserved and almost too held back, moving very sparsely throughout the entire show and not interacting with the crowd as much as I’d liked or hoped for. Schneider does however, have a special charisma and charm that makes him the only man that could handle The B-52s lyrics. His Sprechgesang (a combination of speaking and singing) is like no other and remains the same after all these years.

The female vocal punch of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson are also flawless and timeless in this performance. Kate seemed the less reserved of the bunch, while Cindy appeared to get taken in with the music and floated with the sound.

Musically, it was all there – Private Idaho, Roam, Cosmic Thing, Love Shack, Planet Claire and the immortal Rock Lobster. Cranked up and watched on a big screen, it was like being there with all the glamsters in tow. Watch out, here comes a bikini whale!

B52s


 

Last Updated on Friday, 11 May 2012 20:43

Hits: 946

Striptease (Unrated International Edition) - Blu-Ray Review

Striptease
4.0

It’s always fun to see what Mr. Skin says when you know there’s a nude scene in a movie. With Striptease getting a new Uncut International Version on Blu-ray this month, you know Mr. Skin would have something to say about the film’s star Demi Moore. He says her pole-routine at the 55-minute mark of the film is her "all-time skinematic moment to beat". But what Mr. Skin doesn’t do, is explain that Striptease is much more than a skinematic masterpiece - it’s an intriguing story driven by a strong plot and a very strong cast led by Moore, Burt Reynolds and Ving Rhames.

Striptease got a bad shake when it was first released in 1996 falling prey to attacks that it would be a show-waster like Showgirls, which was released just before it. While Striptease has its moments of sexuality and exciting nudity, like the afore mentioned 55-minute pole-routine, it’s the strength of Moore’s character Erin Grant that gives the movie so much more.
 
The movie begins with Grant losing her daughter in a custody battle with her ex-husband, who steals wheelchairs for a living. As a result of her ex’s activities, Erin was also fired from the FBI as a secretary. Stuck needing work, she joins a weird and whacky group of ladies stripping at the Eager Beaver to pay her rent and hopefully win back her daughter.
 
The 1080p transfer is very clean and keeps its clarity thoughout, even though the film is filled with dark nightclub and evening scenes. The sound is also very clean and pumps into full mode at the club.
 
Although IMDB reports that the Uncut International Version contains an additional two minutes of footage, it doesn’t say what that extra footage is. There doesn’t seem to be any obvious new scenes, so the two extra minutes must be additional footage added during the strip routines, giving the film a bit more nudity overall, but nothing really noticeable as "uncut".
 
Striptease was a good film when it came out in 1996 and it’s even better all these years later. Moore gave her all for this performance and it shows in her character’s desire to screw the bad guys and get her daughter back.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 May 2012 19:02

Hits: 1069

District B-13 - DVD Review

District B-13

Before putting on District B-13 you might want to start with a quick safety check: push back the coffee table and move the floor lamp away from the couch. You’ll need room for thrashing. Next, turn the bass up on your subwoofer and crack a beer. Now get pumped for District B-13.

District B-13 (2004) is one of several films that director Pierre Morel and screenwriter Luc Besson have so far collaborated on and is also probably their best. That’s no small claim, considering their other films include The Transporter (2002), Taken (2008) and From Paris With Love (2010), to name a few. So if you liked the heavy-hitting panache of those three films, District B-13 is a definite must-see.
 
In District B-13 Morel brings in martial artist, Cyril Raffaelli, and Parkour founder, David Belle, to help carryout his ass-kicking agenda, which is done with all the elegance of an MMA match on a trampoline. The film is set in the near future in a Paris ghetto, or banlieue, known as B-13. Though the city has allowed B-13 to fall to ruin, one local resident, Leïto, who’s played by Belle, decides to fight back against the drugs and gangs that are destroying his neighborhood. Not surprisingly, this puts Leïto on the bad side of Taha, a notorious drug kingpin, played by Bibi Naceri. After Taha and his massive army of men are permitted to kidnap Leïto’s sister by the local police chief, Leïto kills – ahem, decapitates – the police chief and is placed in prison.
 
Six months later, Taha’s men steal a neutron bomb, which is triggered and set to explode in 24 hours. Damien Tomaso, an undercover police agent played by Raffaelli, is put on the mission to deactivate the bomb. Knowing he’ll never succeed alone, Damien is forced by his superiors to solicit help from Leïto by breaking him out of prison under the guise that Damien is himself a prisoner. Of course, Leïto’s no fool, his street smarts see through Damien’s act immediately, but they have a common goal to work towards – saving Paris. Serious, I mean serious, ass-whooping pursues.
 
District B-13 isn’t a good movie in the traditional sense. The characters are pretty two-dimensional and mostly stereotypes, anyway. And the plot is certainly clichéd. Furthermore, the blind stab District B-13 takes at making a political statement for its conclusion is so misguided and hypocritical that it’s almost laughable. But never mind that. This is an action movie, son. When shit starts popping off you don’t stop to think about plot and morality, you just run and jump. And when you do, just be glad you moved the coffee table.

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 May 2012 19:02

Hits: 830

Johnny English Reborn - Blu-Ray Review

Johnny English Reborn
3.5

In the grand tradition of the comedic antics of Rowan Atkinson (who Canadians know best as the British buffoon Mr. Bean) comes Johnny English: Reborn, the second film in the life of the English Mi7 secret agent. The first film, which came out nearly eight years ago, was basically a spy version of Mr. Bean, with several blunt and over the top antics, foul-ups and general laughs. While it’s hard not to see Atkinson as Mr. Bean, Johnny English does afford the opportunity to forget about him now and then.

The new movie, Johnny English: Reborn, follows suit with much of the same. But as silly as it seems at times, one can’t help but laugh and some of the scenes and antics.
 
In the years since MI7's top spy vanished off the grid, Johnny English has been honing his unique skills in a remote region of Asia. But when his agency superiors learn of an attempt against the Chinese premier's life, they must hunt down the highly unorthodox agent. Now that the world needs him once again, Johnny English is back in action. With one shot at redemption, he must employ the latest in hi-tech gadgets to unravel a web of conspiracy that runs throughout the KGB, CIA and even MI-7. With mere days until a heads of state conference, one man must use every trick in his playbook to protect us all.
 
Atkinson is a master of the foul-up. He can do all wrong - from accidentally hitting a cat out the window of a high-rise to the drug-induced, lipstick, barrel-of-laughs finale in the film. While it’s still hard to imagine him as anything other than Mr. Bean, the new English film shows a more aged spy hero, complete with graying hair.
 
It might not be Citizen Cane, but Johnny English: Reborn sets out to do what it’s supposed to. It makes us laugh for a few moments and forget our sorrows as our hero helps save the world from those dastardly evil villians.
 

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 May 2012 19:02

Hits: 846

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