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The Killing

CRITERION

MOVIE A-

SPECIAL FEATURES B+

DVD GEEK FACTOR 7.75

(OUT OF 10)

The Killing
  • The Killing

I had never seen this early Stanley Kubrick film starring the great Sterling Hayden as Johnny Clay, a likable thief looking to knock over a horseracing track with the help of some crooked track employees and a very strange horse assassin (played by the awesome yet odd Timothy Carey).

Kubrick knew how to make a great movie right out of the gate. The heist is engaging; the performance by Hayden is a total winner; and the camerawork is out-of-this-world good. The mask that Hayden wears during the robbery is a weird, creepy-looking thing that feels like it should be in a Kubrick film.

Kubrick was trying to make a nonlinear story, and the studio balked at his first cut. Kubrick caved and included a voiceover to explain certain plot points. This must've enraged the man.

Hayden would later play Brig. Gen. Jack Ripper in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, perhaps his career-defining role. However, his turn here as Johnny Clay is just as good, so the two men made for a spectacular combination.

Look for Rodney Dangerfield in the hilarious fight scene near the film's end. He's down at the end of the bar, and he runs away when fists start flying. According to the Internet Movie DataBase, Rodney was an extra on the set.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get some cool interviews with a casual Hayden as he hangs out in San Francisco, along with a new interview conducted with the film's producer. You also get a second disc with another early Kubrick film, Killer's Kiss.


Bridesmaids (Blu-ray)

UNIVERSAL

MOVIE B+

SPECIAL FEATURES B+

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7.25

(OUT OF 10)

Bridesmaids (Blu-ray)
  • Bridesmaids (Blu-ray)

Kristen Wiig's performance in this very funny movie is one of the year's best. It's still early, but she could find herself in the Oscar race, and most certainly should get consideration from the Golden Globes. She's that good.

Wiig co-wrote the script and stars as Annie, a down-on-her luck former bakery owner whose best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), is getting married; she makes Annie her maid of honor. Annie gets a challenge from Helen (Rose Byrne), Lillian's rich friend who seems determined to take over all aspects of the wedding ceremony, much to the chagrin of Annie.

On top of the funny wedding stuff, the film features a sweet romance between Annie and Officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd), an affable cop who pulls over Annie and becomes smitten. Melissa McCarthy is a scream as Megan, a husky bridal-party member who is not afraid to say what she is thinking.

Standout scenes include a dress-fitting that goes horribly awry after some questionable meat consumption; the culminating moment, in the middle of the street and featuring Rudolph, might be the film's best. Wiig's bridal-shower freak-out is an absolute thing of beauty, as is her drunken plane ride.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get two versions of the film: the theatrical version, and an unrated one. I did notice a couple of new scenes on the unrated version, and they fit into the film just fine. You also get a gag reel, deleted scenes, a rather-lengthy behind-the-scenes look, and extended and alternate scenes. There's a commentary featuring Wiig and much of the cast along with director Paul Feig.


X-Men: First Class (Blu-ray)

20TH CENTURY FOX

MOVIE B

SPECIAL FEATURES B+

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7

(OUT OF 10)

X-Men: First Class (Blu-ray)
  • X-Men: First Class (Blu-ray)

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender own it as younger versions of Professor Charles Xavier and Magneto in this highly entertaining yet slightly flawed installment of the mutant-hero franchise.

I have no qualms about the work of these two fine actors here, and the Cuban Missile Crisis subplot amounts to an engrossing use of real history in a fictional way. Fassbender is especially good as the troubled Magneto, basically a good man who just has no choice but to be bad.

However, I am not so crazy about January Jones as Emma Frost. She looks spectacular in her wardrobe, but her acting leaves much to be desired. She always seems distracted.

While I was a big fan of Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone, she sort of blows it as a younger version of the blue-bodied, yellow-eyed Mystique. Her performance is a little too laid-back for my liking, and her interactions with Magneto are weird and underdeveloped.

Flaws aside, the film features some solid action set pieces and one of the year's better cameos. This film didn't exactly set the box office on fire, but it looks like producers are forging ahead with a new Wolverine pic anyway.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The most notable special feature, Children of the Atom, is an hour-plus-long look at the making of the film. You also get something called "X Marks the Spot" which allows you to watch the film with intermittent breakaways to making-of videos. There are also deleted and extended scenes.

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