On DVD & Blu-Ray: December 21, 2012

Killer Joe is nasty. There is no other way way to say it, there is no way to hide it. The film, from director William Friedkin, is a tale of the lowest type of people you could hope to find. They are without purpose and in that curse they are given the mentality that they are good for nothing and instinctively turn to actions that will lead more to trouble than it will to hope. As an actor who I always thought would get a big break in some award nominated film Emile Hirsch is Chris, a lousy drug dealer who is likely wanted by more than just the current batch of folks wanting their money back or wanting him dead, comes up with a plan destined to fail from the beginning. Needing money to pay back his debts Chris entices his father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) with the promise of getting a life insurance policy for $50,000 if they hire a hitman to kill his mother, Ansel's ex-wife. Seeing as the policy will go to Chris's younger sister Dottie (Juno Temple) a mentally ill young lady who is manipulated by everyone around her. Why Ansel decides to go along with his idiot son only allows us to assume his IQ level as well and when they hire "Killer" Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) we all know where this is heading (kind of). McConaughey is the shining light her as the twisted, violent, dressed in black title character. Adding to his resume and recent streak of playing diverse, interesting characters the actor, with this role in particular, displays his knack for tapping into the truly nasty (there's that word again) and insane. The film is certainly not one you would say you enjoy and you may never want to go back and re-visit it, but it is certainly a piece of the world you would be much better getting acquainted with through film than to encounter in real life. Killer Joe will either disgust you or have you gawking with disbelief while trying to restrain yourself from laughing. Either way, you won't be able to take your eyes off it. B+

Who would have thought long sequences of people riding bikes could be so entertaining? I realize it's the oldest trick in the book to open with a question to draw a reader in but that was the question I kept repeating to myself every time Premium Rush continued to surprise me. The film had become a sort of throwaway piece of entertainment as there was no real push in its advertising campaign to give it any real chance of reaching a broad audience to embrace it, but I don't know why. This is a thrilling little piece filmmaking that doesn't take itself too seriously and whips by as fast as its characters do in the streets of New York. Many movies will claim that the setting is another character in itself and seldom does that ring as true as it does here. Everything about the film is influenced by its setting and for those of us that have never been to New York ourselves it is a fascinating, ground look at the pace of the city and the atmosphere it breathes. The films running time is a mere 90-minutes and the adrenaline never stops pumping that entire time. The plot unfolds with a non linear fashion that keeps us guessing even if we might see where the film is heading a scene or two ahead of it actually getting there. It doesn't go down the normal, easy route of dealing with any kind of drug or generic road that makes us care less about the story and care more about the action but instead sets itself up for the challenge of having its characters being as invested in their quest as we should be in the film. It may not serve as any metaphor for something bigger going on in the world right now, it isn't addressing any political issues outright and in general seems to have no agenda other than to entertain. Sometimes that is all you need. And with a cast led by two greats such as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon you really can't go wrong no matter what kind of movie you're making. A

Early on in first time feature director Nicholas Jarecki's Arbitrage Richard Gere's character Robert Miller (a character with less zing in his name than Gordon Gekko but just as much if not more zeal in his greed) talks about the only thing that truly matters in his life are the wonderful people that have come to fill it. He is thankful for what he says is truly important to him, but it quickly becomes clear what little emphasis those people have on Mr. Miller's day to day decisions no matter how much he himself likes to think so. In what has become a rather interesting career Gere fills the shoes of this Bernie Madoff-like billionaire whose world begins to crumble after several years of fraudulent activities very well. Gere has become an actor who is now more regarded as safe and uninspired than he is the daring, diverse handsome face many people expected him to become after 2002's double whammy of Unfaithful and Chicago. In the ten years that have passed since his Golden Globe win for the latter Gere has gone more in the direction of standard roles for someone of his age and stature only every now and then wandering off the beaten path for such interesting work as The Hoax, I'm Not There, and even the underrated Brooklyn's Finest. Here, he again proves he can be just as interesting as he can sometimes be bland. As the film plays out carried by a story we recognize and for the most part realize, where it is going, we are not as much bothered by that as we are pleased with how well it uses it to its own advantage. The ins and outs of what Miller is managing pull us in while outside forces push us to understand who he really is, and what actually is important to the man. B+

No matter how much one loves film and loves to write about them there is always that passion for the writing aspect that comes first. There is just something to the process of it that is fascinating and we love to see that at work on screen. Or at least, I do. I have always imagined myself as a writer first even if that is not what you would call my official profession. Still, it informs everything I do and can certainly tell you a lot about me or someone who feels that same way about themselves. I also happen to love movies. Not just watching them, but dissecting them and learning about their motivations, why they were made, and what they mean to different people. They can be such a fascinating art form and I think we forget that sometimes. Thus, I couldn't help but to start writing about film. I do this not for any other reason that the fact I get pleasure out of it, a sense of gratification that I am actually contributing in some way. A way that has nothing to do with a sense of responsibility. This is not an article about me though, this is a film review of the latest film starring Bradley Cooper and a host of other recognizable faces who tell the story of a man who aspires to be what he has always thought himself to be. A man facing certain truths that he doesn't want to confront and a man who has to deal with a decision that he made to fulfill those dreams of his childhood that were made impossible by adulthood while stealing from him that sense of accomplishment. This film is The Words and it is about a writer. I'm a sucker for movies about writers, and this one sucked me in from the very beginning (The Words hits shelves Dec. 24). B

Also Out Today:

I have never seen any of the Resident Evil films and don't plan to start now but it is out today. Spike Lee's latest, Red Hook Summer, came and went without much stir and I haven't screened that yet either but it's synopsis sounds interesting and if time opens up I may run out and grab it as a rental. As for the final new release this week Trouble With the Curve is probably the most high profile and I will more than likely watch it at some point this weekend but never made it out to the theater to see it. I've heard mixed things about it but it seems to be a pretty middle of the road dramedy; certainly worth a rental this time of year.

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