Tuesday, September 1, 2009

DVD Releases: September 1, 2009

This week three new releases hit video shelves, all of which deserve your attention. The obvious must-see is Steve McQueen’s amazing debut Hunger, but the Sundance hit Sin Nombre, and the mainstream thriller State of Play are also worth a look.

Hunger ****
Writer-Director Steve McQueen (no not that Steve McQueen you idiot, he’s dead) is about the IRA hunger strike in the early 1980s. Michael Fassbender gives an amazing performance as the head IRA prisoner who at first tries to war with the guards, who treat him like crap, and keep him in terrible conditions, but soon realizes the only way to effect change is a hunger strike. The last half of the movie, we essentially watch him wither away to almost nothing. McQueen’s camera lingers – he favors long shots that rarely move – as he captures all the details of what is happening. The centerpiece of the film is a long conversation between Fassbender and a priest (Liam Cunningham) – a 12 minute, unbroken shot – where they debate the merits of what he is doing. Hunger was one of 2008’s best films, and announced a major new director to the world. For my original review please see: http://davesmoviesite.blogspot.com/2009/05/movie-review-hunger-2008.html

Sin Nombre *** ½
Sin Nombre tells the story of two very different young people from South America trying to make their way across the border into America. One is a poor girl from Hounduras whose father has returned to bring her to America to live with him and his new family. The other is a low level Mexican gangster, on the run after killing his boss. They meet on top of a train heading for the border, and form a strange bond with each other. He knows that his gang is after them, and will kill him if they get the chance to, so he is only half heartedly running. He tries to push the girl away, because he does not want to endanger her, but he cannot. While Sin Nombre is a story we have seen before, and it does not quite measure up to City of God – an obvious influence – it is well handled by debut director Cary Fukunaga, and the performance are top notch – especially by Paulina Gatlin as the girl. For my original review please see: http://davesmoviesite.blogspot.com/2009/05/movie-review-sin-nombre.html

State of Play ***
While Kevin Macdonald first three films – the documentaries One Day in September and Touching the Void, and feature The Last King of Scotland with Forest Whitaker’s Oscar winning performance – are all much better than his most recent film, State of Play, it must be said that the later is still a top notch, mainstream thriller. Russell Crowe (for once not working for Ridley Scott) is very good in the role of a reporter who stumbles onto a news story involving his old college roommate (Ben Affleck) who is now a major player in the US Senate. No matter what way he turns, he sees conspiracy upon conspiracy, and people who would love to cover it up. Crowe and Affleck, along with Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, Jeff Daniels and Jason Bateman are all wonderful in their roles, and the movie moves quickly from one point to another. Certainly an entertaining night at the movies. For my original review please see: http://davesmoviesite.blogspot.com/2009/04/movie-review-state-of-play.html

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