Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

DVDs In Brief: February 16, 2011

A.V. Club Staff

Tony Scott produced his tightest, most entertaining film in years with the runaway-train thriller Unstoppable (Fox), though as usual, he does everything in his power to sabotage his own work. The true-ish story of an unmanned train careening through Pennsylvania has a simple excitement that doesn’t need much embellishment, but Scott throws in gratuitous helicopter-view tracking shots and a weird fast-zoom technique just to keep viewers from really enjoying themselves…

With gems like Match Point and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen temporarily appeared to reinvigorate his career by changing locations from Manhattan to cosmopolitan Europe, but You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger (Sony) feels like same shit, different continent. Characters flit in and out of each other’s lives, have affairs, and talk a lot, but to what purpose is a mystery Allen fails to sort out…


The state-of-American schools documentary Waiting For Superman (Paramount) surprised a lot of folks by not even getting nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in a year when it appeared to be the odds-on favorite to win. Who could have guessed that Exit Through The Gift Shop, a pop-art provocation by professional smartass Banksy, would get nominated before an important manifesto about a failing public institution from the director of An Inconvenient Truth? The snub seems at least partially attributable to the controversy the film provoked for its scathing take on powerful teachers’ unions and its evangelizing on behalf of charter schools…

Kites (Image) attempted to appeal to both Hollywood and Bollywood audiences by meshing the broadest conventions of both regions into a shamelessly pulpy stew. The results are laughably clichéd, with two gorgeous star-crossed lovers (Hrithik Roshan and Barbara Mori) emoting gigantic emotions while running a gauntlet of gun battles, car chases, and a dance-off. But shamelessness can be fun, and laughing at Kites doesn’t preclude enjoying its pandering dedication to every kind of cinematic wish-fulfillment.

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