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New on DVD – October 19, 2010 – Predators and Please Give


From the latest iteration of the old-man-versus-killer-aliens series Predators to the funny and sharply nuanced comedy Please Give, here’s a gander at what’s coming our way this week on DVD and Blu-ray.

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We’re all familiar with the Predator race of aliens, correct? Big dreadlocked guys with impressive personal arsenals who like nothing more than landing on earth and hunting humans. Things usually go poorly for the humans. In the newest version of the evergreen series, a ragtag international band of humans chosen for their martial abilities (soldiers, assassins, gangsters) get dumped on an alien planet for the Predators to have fun with. Our critic thought it was a “thoroughly professional journeyman thriller that avoids surprises and stays well within the genre.”

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In Nicole Holofcener’s urbane comedy of urban guilt, Catherine Keener plays a Manhattan mother who co-owns an antique store with her husband (Oliver Platt) and spends most of her time feeling bad about other people’s problems — particularly the next-door apartment that she’s going to buy once the old lady in it dies. Our critic was impressed by Holofcener’s tart, funny, and meaningful intermingling of vibrant personalities “with a gentle yet insistent touch” that creates characters “primed to live beyond the movie’s frame.”
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An
historical drama from the director of The Sea Inside, Agora tells the
story of Hypatia (Rachel Weisz), a mathematician, astronomer, and proud
atheist who lived in Alexandria in the late fourth century, during a time
when Christianity was violently spreading around the Mediterranean.
Although there is great potential here for stirring, ideas-based drama,
we found this to be instead a “helplessly obvious film that barks
and shouts vital concepts as if they were meant solely for bumper
stickers.”

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In the United States, metalheads have often been unfairly denounced as Satan-worshipping freaks. According to this documentary, a band of Norwegian black-metal enthusiasts in the early nineties took the violent
messages of their songs quite seriously: church burnings and murder
resulted. While the film takes on a fascinating subject, our writer
thought that for most viewers, “who will come to the film without any
knowledge of the music scene being depicted,” the film “may be a
confusing experience.”

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Though his iconic shots of Jackie Kennedy strolling around Manhattan in the seventies are etched in pop-culture history, Ron Galella’s nothing like a
household name — and this documentary is unlikely to change that fact.
Our critic found Leon Gast’s film a too-sympathetic
portrait of one of America’s original paparazzi, one that
all too briefly explored how the “shifting sands of celebrity and the
paparazzi business” seem to have left Galella “as just another face in
the press line, remembering the glory days of Jackie and Liz and
Brando.”

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Dario Argento practically wrote the book on visually stunning Italian schlock-horror during the seventies and eighties with films like Suspiria (in a genre termed giallo).
But his latest offering — starring Adrien Brody as a detective hunting a serial killer in Turin, Italy — doesn’t give much indication of what the master was once capable of. “While the title would hint at a clever self-awareness,” our critic writes, “Giallo‘s uninteresting plot
and paper-thin characters are inexcusable this late in Argento’s career.”

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