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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

DVDs In Brief: November 18, 2009

Illustration for article titled DVDs In Brief: November 18, 2009

An awful lot in J.J. Abrams’ re-imagining Star Trek (Paramount) doesn’t make much sense, starting with the way smug, show-offy asshole James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) hops over an entire military hierarchy to become captain of the starship Enterprise. But that’s par for the course in this energetic Trek, which is more interested in sleek, pretty actors and heady action than in the well-intentioned but sometimes clunky humanist preaching of Treks gone by. It isn’t always palatable or believable, but it’s almost always exciting…

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After Borat transformed Sacha Baron Cohen from pay-cable cult hero to ubiquitous comic superstar, audiences wondered whether his massive fame would prevent him from being able to continue his sneak-attack provocation. Brüno (Universal), a summer vehicle for Cohen’s Austrian über-gay fashionista character, answered that question affirmatively, but audiences didn’t find the joke so amusing this time around. Brüno is still funny, but it lacks its predecessor’s freshness and novelty…

Based on the Jodi Picoult bestseller, My Sister’s Keeper (New Line) deals with the delicate issue of a young girl (Abigail Breslin) essentially conceived as a “donor child” for her cancer-stricken older sister, and the problems that arise when she tries to wrest legal control over her body from her parents. Given a story so inherently suffused with strong emotions, many filmmakers would choose to pull back on the reins, but not The Notebook director Nick Cassavetes, who wants tears to roll like a mighty Mississippi. Very few of them are earned…

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Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits Of Control (Universal), about a stone-faced hit man’s journey through Spain on his latest job, tested the devotion of even his most ardent fans with its deliberate pace, repetitive encounters, and studied deconstruction of the crime and road-movie genres. If approached in the right spirit, however, the film works as a slow, hypnotic reverie through JarmuschLand, aided immeasurably by cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who provides lovely impressions of Spain’s cities and countryside…

The ideal way to experience the hilarious, sneakily profound no-budget gem Humpday (Magnolia) is to catch it on faith, with no knowledge of the outrageous conceit at its center. So to put it in the vaguest possible terms, the film tells the story of two once-close friends—a married, gonna-be family man (Mark Duplass) and a freewheeling drifter (Joshua Leonard)—whose reunion takes a fascinating turn.

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