Schulz's MediaCom VOD Picks
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Take Me Out of the Ball Game: "The Benchwarmers," "Take the Lead," and "ATL" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 11 April 2006 18:00

Jon Heder, Rob Schneider, and David Spade in The BenchwarmersTHE BENCHWARMERS

The audience laughter at The Benchwarmers chilled me to the marrow. What in God’s name are we allowing to pass for “children’s entertainment” these days? Dennis Dugan’s “comedy” is about a trio of aging dweebs (Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Jon Heder) who – seeking retribution for their childhood humiliations – arrange to play in a Little League tournament, and it’s better for everyone’s mental health that I ignore the logistics of the plotting.Suffice it to say that the film is an empowerment fantasy for middle-aged booger-eaters everywhere. But it isn’t geared toward adults. (At least, not adults with IQs in the triple digits.) The Benchwarmers is a diversion aimed squarely at kids, and as such, it’s almost unspeakably repellent – the movie is so hateful that you want to file a restraining order against it.

 
Crooks, Slugs, Ice, Death ... and Larry: "Inside Man," "Slither," "Ice Age: The Meltdown," "Stay Alive," and "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 04 April 2006 18:00

Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster in Inside ManINSIDE MAN

Spike Lee’s Inside Man, with its script by Russell Gewirtz, might look like a conventional blockbuster, but it has been structured with incredible finesse. Ostensibly, the movie is a standard heist thriller: Clive Owen and a trio of accomplices take over a Manhattan bank, hold the tellers and customers hostage, and – after news of the robbery breaks – make demands to Denzel Washington’s negotiator.

 
DVDs to Watch, and Watch Again: "The Squid & the Whale" and "The Dying Gaul" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 28 March 2006 18:00

THE SQUID & THE WHALE and THE DYING GAUL

Before accepting his career-achievement prize at the Academy Awards this year, director Robert Altman – his voice-over accompanying clips from his works – explained his raison d’etre: “Stories don’t interest me,” he said. “Basically, I’m more interested in behavior.” Considering his contributions to film, the admission made perfect sense – how do you adequately describe the story of M*A*S*H or Nashville or Short Cuts? But it also touched on something elemental about the movie-going experience, in terms of the emotional connections we often make with the characters on-screen. When these literally two-dimensional figures reveal themselves to be as complicated and unpredictable, as human, as we are – when we recognize their behavior with a laugh or a nod or a wince – “story” doesn’t really matter a damn; the experience of watching characters just being can be its own spellbinding reward.

 
E for Extraordinary: "V for Vendetta," "She's the Man," "The Shaggy Dog," "The Human Body," and "Bugs!" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 21 March 2006 18:00

Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman in V for VendettaV FOR VENDETTA

A day after seeing it, I’m still a bit shaken by John McTeague’s graphic-novel adaptation V for Vendetta. Action blockbusters – not to mention action blockbusters based on comic books – have been so dour and pedestrian of late that I don’t know if I’ve fully grasped the extent of Vendetta’s greatness yet; it’s the kind of explosive, overwhelming work that gets better and better the more you think of it. The film is a little 1984, a little Phantom of the Opera, and, with its screenplay by the Wachowski brothers, more than a little Matrix-y, but it casts an extraordinary, devastating spell. It may be the most fully realized film of a graphic novel the genre has yet seen, a movie you want to talk (and argue) about long after the closing credits.

 
Radioactive Blast: "The Hills Have Eyes," "The Libertine," "Failure to Launch," and "Ultraviolet" PDF Print E-mail
Reviews
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 14 March 2006 18:00

The Hills Have EyesTHE HILLS HAVE EYES

The setup for The Hills Have Eyes – Alexandre Aja’s remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 horror classic, with Craven himself on board as a producer – couldn’t be simpler. A vacationing family, headed for California, stops for gas at a filling station near an abandoned nuclear-testing site in New Mexico. The station’s gnarled and suspiciously friendly attendant guides them to a shortcut. The shortcut is a trap, set by the attendant and a family of horribly mutated, not-entirely-inhuman cannibals. And from there on, the plot boils down to three words: Us Against Them.

 
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