Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

DVDs In Brief: March 16, 2011

A.V. Club Staff

The story of half-brothers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund, both boxers from working-class Lowell, Massachusetts, is one of those rare occasions when real life conforms nicely to underdog sports-movie formula. David O. Russell’s The Fighter (Paramount) follows Micky (Mark Wahlberg) as he tries to develop as a junior welterweight contender, but Dicky (played by deserving Oscar-winner Christian Bale), his trainer, battles crack addiction. Their triumph may seem like Hollywood hooey, but Russell and his cast make it authentic and rousing…

The Jeffrey Eugenides short story “Baster” is a bitter piece of work that ends where The Switch (Buena Vista), a truly mystifying adaptation/expansion, gets going, with a bathroom scene where the hero (in the movie, Jason Bateman) replaces a sperm sample intended for his best friend (Jennifer Aniston) with a donation of his own. In Eugenides, it was deliberate act; in The Switch, it’s a wacky drunken accident. The difference between those two gestures goes a long way toward explaining why the film is so weak…


The critical and commercial response to Hereafter (Sony), Clint Eastwood’s supernatural drama, wasn’t muted so much as downright somnolent. That’s only fitting, given the sleepy nature of the film, which opens with one of the most thrilling sequences in Eastwood’s long career—a massive tsunami that won the film a left-field nomination for a best special-effects Oscar (and recently got the film pulled from Japanese theaters). But after that, it settles into a groove as it quietly explores the angst of reluctant psychic Matt Damon and a continental cast of characters surfing the thin line separating the living and the dead…

Located outside Rio de Janeiro, Jardim Gramacho is the world’s largest landfill, collecting an astonishing 70 percent of the city’s garbage, and a full 100 percent from the surrounding suburbs. It isn’t just a dump, it’s a village populated by “pickers” who rummage through the piles for recyclable materials and take their earnings back to families in neighboring shantytowns. The fine, pictorially striking, Oscar-nominated documentary Waste Land (Arthouse) explores this remarkably sophisticated subculture.

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