DVDs In Brief: December 1, 2010

DVDs In Brief: December 1, 2010

You can call Sylvester Stallone’s star-studded mega-action movie The Expendables (Lionsgate) many things: dumb, gimmicky, cynical, maybe a little fascist. (Just don’t say it to its face. It’s bigger than you.) But in its dunderheaded way, the film represents an uncanny throwback to the Cannon productions of the ’80s, when movies were powered wholly by machismo and explosions. It’s a surprisingly appealing nostalgia trip…

Based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s popular memoir, Eat Pray Love (Sony) finds a travel writer (Julia Roberts) whisked away on a nearly yearlong trip to Italy (for food and other pleasures), India (for spiritual enlightenment), and Indonesia (for a balance between the two), with the side effect of helping her get over a divorce. In other words, the world becomes a giant, therapeutic spa treatment, and the film isn’t keen on acknowledging her privilege or overbearing narcissism…

The recent appearance of the slimmed-down, cleaned-up, laughing Joachin Phoenix on David Letterman takes much of the queasy mystique out of I’m Still Here (Magnolia), the fake-umentary his brother-in-law Casey Affleck directed about his supposed “lost year” as an erratic, addled crank trying to leave acting and get into rap. Deprived of the “Is this real?” question, the film becomes more obviously a textured, carefully assembled fakery, but also a less compelling one. Still, the few people who found the project interesting should check out the DVD, which features deleted scenes, interviews, and an intriguing alternate ending that would have punctured the pretension by openly laughing off all the pretense…

With the START treaty with Russia currently stalled in Congress, the activist documentary Countdown To Zero (Magnolia) either gains or loses relevancy, depending on your perspective. In either case, the film frets about the inevitable disaster-in-waiting caused by loose nukes in the wake of the Cold War. It’s a convincing argument, but it needed only 20 minutes, not 90.

More DVD Review