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Documentaries to “Exit” 2010 With and More New DVDs

Documentaries to “Exit” 2010 With and More New DVDs (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD today:

“Gasland” (2010)
Directed by Josh Fox
Released by New Video Group

“Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”
Directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
Released by MPI Home Video

“Exit Through the Gift Shop” (2010)
Directed by Banksy
Released by Oscilloscope Laboratories

If you haven’t caught up on the year’s best documentaries in time to fill out your top 10 list, three of them will be hitting DVD shelves this week, beginning with Josh Fox’s Sundance award-winning “Gasland,” an exploration of the “hydraulic fracturing” going on in own backyard, a type of drilling that has spread to 34 states in the U.S. and has left a host of reservoirs of toxic waste and frequent gas explosions along the way. For something less serious, but equally compelling, there is also Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” which follows the comedienne through one of the busiest years of her life as she works on her ever-evolving act, deals with her unique brand of fame and breaks through her legendarily retouched exterior to reveal the trials and tribulations of surviving over a half-century in show business. And last but certainly not least, art provocateur Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” which has been available on demand and on iTunes for a few weeks, is getting a deluxe DVD set courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories, though don’t expect any new revelations on Banksy’s identity in the special features for this film where a paparazzo named Thierry Guetta reverses roles with the elusive graffiti artist and becomes a cause célèbre named Mr. Brainwash. (Alison Willmore’s review of “Exit Through the Gift Shop” is here.)

“The A-Team” (2010)
Directed by Joe Carnahan
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

It took awhile for “Narc” director Joe Carnahan to find his niche, but bloated action blockbusters may be just his speed. That’s no backhanded compliment as “The A-Team” is far more fun than it has any right to be, reviving the ’80s TV series about a group of dishonorably discharged army specialists whose latest mission is to clear their names after being framed by their rivals, with a warped sense of humor and flying tanks. Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, “District 9″‘s Sharlto Copley and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson star as the quartet.

“The Back Nine” (2010)
Directed by Ron Vignone
Released by Magnolia Home Entertainment

This documentary features Jon Fitzgerald as an average golfer who aims to make the professional tour while barely keeping above par in balancing his day job and family.

“The Black Pirate” (1926)
Directed by Albert Parker
Released by Kino

Douglas Fairbanks’ silent swashbuckler, famous for being one of the first films to experiment with Technicolor, is getting a pristine new Blu-ray courtesy of Kino.

“A Complete History of My Sexual Failures” (2008)
Directed by Chris Waitt
Released by MPI Home Video

Chris Waitt turns the camera on himself for this 2008 Sundance fave in which he looks back at all his past relationships and figures out where they went wrong.

12112010_Cyrus.jpgCyrus (2010)
Directed by Jay and Mark Duplass
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

The Duplass brothers long avoided the overtures of Hollywood in favor of having total control of their projects, but early word is that they were able to bring their loose, improvisational style to their first film for Fox Searchlight, a comedy starring John C. Reilly as a middle-aged divorcé who finds love with a new girlfriend (Marisa Tomei), but must vie for her attention with her grown son (Jonah Hill) who lives with her. Consider the film a bit of a dream project for Hill, who places “The Puffy Chair” among his favorite films – and it didn’t disappoint, as Hill told Matt Singer at SXSW.

“Dear Mr. Gacy” (2010)
Directed by Svetozar Ristovski
Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment

Arguably the only thing creepier than a film with William Forsythe is a film where Forsythe plays John Wayne Gacy. Svetozar Ristovski directs this film based on conversations between the serial killer and a college student (Jesse Moss) who reaches out to him for a school project, developing an unusual relationship as they test each other’s limits.

“Despicable Me” (2010)
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Released by Universal Home Entertainment

Before “Megamind,” “Despicable Me” was the year’s first computer-animated film to feature a supervillain who begins to change his ways. Steve Carell voices Gru, a dapper evil mastermind who takes in three orphaned girls for his latest plot to rule the world and winds up caring for them. The Neptunes provide the score.

“Disengagement” (2007)
Directed by Amos Gitai
Released by MPI Home Video

This politically-charged drama starring Juliette Binoche has taken its time to make it across U.S. shores, telling the story of a woman who travels to Israel with her estranged stepbrother after the death of her father to look for the daughter she abandoned two decades prior and get caught in the country’s military pullout of the Gaza Strip in 2005. Jeanne Moreau, Liron Levo and Hiam Abbass co-star.

12112010_DoubleTake.jpg“Double Take” (2010)
Directed by Johan Grimonprez
Released by Kino

Multimedia artist Johan Grimonprez’s latest continues to indulge his fascination with cinematic suspense that he examined with his surreal 2005 Hitchcock-inspired short “Looking for Alfred” by rejiggering film and television clips to create a parallel narrative to the 1960s that positions Hitchcock as a history professor caught up in the Cold War frenzy. British novelist Tom McCarthy co-wrote the script that sees Hitchcock battling his mirror image (Burrage) as television battles for supremacy over cinema. (Bruce Bennett’s review of the film is here.)

“Fishmen and Their Queen” (1995)
Directed by Sergio Martino
Released by Mya Communication

A sequel to “Island of the Fishmen,” schlocky Italian director Sergio Martino’s follow-up centers on two teens who navigate a radioactive wasteland to find an island where they’re enslaved by a sea queen and must fight for their survival.

“Frenemy” (2009)
Directed by Gregory Dark
Released by Lionsgate

Back when Zach Galifianakis was doing porn…actually, that’s not quite true, but it’s a testament to the “Due Date” star’s increasing level of fame that Lionsgate has dusted off this 2009 comedy, originally titled “Little Fish, Strange Pond,” from softcore-turned-legitimate director Gregory Dark. A veteran of the Hollywood, Austin and Cinequest Film Festivals, this comedy actually stars Matthew Modine as a killer whose conscience manifests itself into a companion named Mr. Jack (Callum Blue), sharing a deep conversation about existential matters until they’re rudely interrupted by a robbery at an adult bookstore owned by Galifianakis’s shady Bucky. Adam Baldwin, Paul Adelstein and Liza Weil co-star.

“Guy Maddin: Quintessential 5 Films from the Heart”
Directed by Guy Maddin
Released by Zeitgeist Video

Maddin’s 1990’s “Archangel,” 1992’s “Careful,” 1997’s “Twilight of the Ice Nymphs,” “Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary,” and 2004’s “Cowards Bend the Knee” fill out this four-disc set, but it’s the extras of this limited edition box that make the collection of the Canadian filmmaker’s recent works that make it really special with an hour-long doc narrated by Tom Waits, audio commentaries on each film by Maddin and assorted cast and crew, six of Maddin’s shorts, radio interviews, “imagined audition reels,” production design collages and more.

“The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle” (2009)
Directed by David Russo
Released by Tribeca Film

Seattle-based filmmaker David Russo’s first feature was reportedly inspired by his own experience as a janitor, serving up sci-fi/comedy hybrid that stars Marshall Altman as a recently laid off computer programmer who turns to mopping up floors and cleaning toilets for a new job, which becomes considerably more interesting when the cookies he eats at the corporation he works for result in his giving birth to a blue fish. Tania Raymonde, Vince Vieluf and Natasha Lyonne co-star.

“The IT Crowd: The Complete Fourth Season”
Released by MPI Home Video

We don’t feature many TV shows as part of this column, but we’ll make a shameless exception for “The IT Crowd” – if you can’t get enough on IFC, repair to the basement of Reynholm Industries where Roy, Moss and Jen toil away in this office comedy.

“Killjoy 3″ (2010)
Directed by John Lechago
Released by Full Moon Entertainment

If you were aware there was a “Killjoy” 1 or 2, you might be interested to know there’s a third, continuing the rampage of Trent Haaga’s killer clown, who pulls in a group of college students through a magic mirror in order to torture them.

12112010_LastInternationalPlayboy.jpg“The Last International Playboy” (2008)
Directed by Steve Clark
Released by MTI Home Video

A veteran of the Slamdance and Oxford Film Festivals in 2008, Jason Behr steps into the titular role of a man whose luck with the ladies doesn’t extend to his true sweetheart from childhood (Monet Mazur) who’s getting married to another, which when combined with the suicide of his mother, leads him to befriend an 11-year-old neighbor (India Ennenga) to confide his troubles. Krysten Ritter co-stars.

“Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” (2010)
Directed by Zack Snyder
Released by Warner Home Video

After popularizing the use of CG environments with live actors, “300” and “Watchmen” director Zack Snyder went the whole way with computer animation in this adaptation of Kathryn Lasky’s series of novels about an army of owls who are tasked with protecting the owl kingdom against an uprising. Jim Sturgess, Helen Mirren, Ryan Kwanten, Joel Edgerton, Hugo Weaving and David Wenham lend their voices to the birds.

“Micmacs” (2010)
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

“Amelie” director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s latest elaborate mouse trap of a movie stars French comedian Dany Boon as Bazil, a man who lives one day at a time, thanks to a bullet lodged in his brain from a freak gun accident. He then makes it his mission to initiate a war between the local arms factories and recruits a collection of oddballs including a human cannonball (Dominique Pinon) and a contortionist (Julie Ferrier) to put his plan into place. (Nick Schager’s interview with Jeunet and Matt Singer’s review of the film are here.)

“Mother and Child” (2010)
Directed by Rodrigo Garcia
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

“Nine Lives” director Rodrigo Garcia that takes a few notes from its executive producer Alejandro González Iñárritu in weaving together the stories of a nurse (Annette Bening) who gave up a baby as a teen, her grown-up biological daughter (Naomi Watts) and a woman (Kerry Washington) who is looking to adopt since she can’t conceive. Jimmy Smits, David Morse and Samuel L. Jackson play the men in their lives. (Matt Singer’s review is here.)

“Nanny McPhee Returns” (2010)
Directed by Susanna White
Released by Universal Home Video

Thanks to the mindboggling international success of Emma Thompson’s toothy caretaker, there was demand for a second installment which sees Nanny McPhee head to the farm of a mother of three (Maggie Gyllenhaal) while her husband’s away at war. Ewan McGregor, Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith and Rhys Ifans are among the heavyweights who offer support.

“The Nature of Existence” (2010)
Directed by Roger Nygard
Released by Walking Shadows

“Trekkies” director Roger Nygard goes to an even more final frontier than space in this doc that surveys such minds as Orson Scott Card, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Richard Dawkins, Leonard Susskind, the late Irvin Kershner and more in an effort to get the answer to one of most fundamental of questions.

12112010_OtherGuys.jpg“The Other Guys” (2010)
Directed by Adam McKay
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg play low-level cops who stumble into the case of their careers after a parking violation leads to the exposure of a massive Ponzi scheme in the latest from “Step Brothers” director Adam McKay. Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes, Steve Coogan, Samuel L. Jackson, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson co-star. (Matt Singer’s review is here.)

“Resonnances” (2006)
Directed by Philippe Robert
Released by Synapse Films

The good folks at Synapse usually know their stuff, so this low-budget French thriller about a guy and his three female pals whose trip into the mountains for a getaway that turns into a nightmare involving an escaped convict and an underground beast is probably worthwhile for horror fans.

“Seeing Heaven” (2010)
Directed by Ian Powell
Released by Breaking Glass Pictures

One man’s search for his twin brother in the underground world of gay hustling and porn shoots leads him to have unusual visions in this horror film from Brit director Ian Powell.

“Slave” (2010)
Directed by Darryn Welch
Released by Phase 4 Films

Natassia Malthe stars as a woman who thinks she’s going to meet the father of her fiancé in Spain when she’s abducted and sold into sex slavery as her fiancé tries to figure out where she’s disappeared to in this horror film from Darryn Welch.

“Taxi Zum Klo” (1980)
Directed by Frank Ripploh
Released by Breaking Glass Pictures

Frank Ripploh’s semi-autobiographical film about a gay school teacher in West Berlin torn between his public and private identity is getting a remastered director’s cut in honor of its 30th anniversary.

“The Town” (2010)
Directed by Ben Affleck
Released by Warner Home Video

Ben Affleck directs and stars in this adaptation of Chuck Hogan’s novel “Prince of Thieves” about bank robbers whose allegiance to each other is tested when a witness (Rebecca Hall) to their latest heist threatens their operation and the FBI, led by Jon Hamm’s dogged investigator, begins to close in. (My review of the film is here.)

12112010_TheTrotsky.jpg“The Trotsky” (2009)
Directed by Jacob Tierney
Released by Tribeca Film

Canadian actor/director Jacob Tierney has already finished his second collaboration with the very busy Jay Baruchel called “Good Neighbours,” but in the mean time, you can catch his first, this comedy that stars the “Undeclared” star as a high school student in Montreal who believes he’s the second coming of Leon Trotsky and aims to bring Marxism to the public schools after getting transferred there by his father.

“Trouble in Mind: 25th Anniversary Special Edition” (1985)
Directed by Alan Rudolph
Released by Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory is giving another spin to Alan Rudolph’s neo-noir starring Kris Kristofferson, Keith Carradine, Lori Singer and Genevieve Bujold as denizens of the shadowy Rain City.

“True Grit” (1969)
Directed by Henry Hathaway
Released by Paramount Home Video

For a point of comparison with the Coen brothers’ adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel about a grizzled U.S. Marshal and a Texas Ranger come to the aid of a young woman to find her father’s killer, Paramount is releasing the Blu-ray of John Wayne’s Oscar-winning version of the film.

[Additional Photos: “Cyrus,” Fox Searchlight, 2010; “Double Take,” Kino, 2010; “The Last International Playboy,” MTI Home Video, 2010; “The Other Guys,” Columbia Pictures, 2010; “The Trotsky,” Tribeca Film, 2010]

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

maryhartman

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

ikea heights

IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

fresno

When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

soap

Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

cooks2

Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

darkplace

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

attitudes

Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

peaks

Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

invitation

Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

stomach

The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

joey

Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

acorn

First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

pointplace

In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

spoils

Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

spoilsdying


15. All My Children Finale, SNL

allmychildren

SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

The Ten Best Straight-to-DVD Releases of 2010

The Ten Best Straight-to-DVD Releases of 2010 (photo)

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For the fifth year running, we tally up the Other Year’s Best — the films that made it to DVD (or onto U.S. home video in any format) but not to theatrical, which generally meant they posed too much of a marketing challenge. As in, the films were either too odd, too original, too archival, too subtle, too something. DVDs still stand as our go-to B-movie-distribution stream of choice, although as I’ve barked every year, video debuts are still not eligible for any year-end toasts or trophies. Except ours.

10. “Parking” (Chung Mong-hong, Taiwan) At first blush a Taiwanese riff on “After Hours,” this measured little odyssey is more realistic, evoking those all-night odysseys we’ve all had, when time evaporates and tiny logistical dilemmas drive us insane and eventually it’s morning and something about our lives is different. Chung doesn’t spring for laughs when you think he will — he holds back, shoots his urban tapestry as if he were Wong Kar-wai and Ridley Scott’s bastard son, and luxuriates in the secretive weirdness. Asian demigod Chen Chang stars as a husband in a shaky marriage who stops to buy a cake for his wife, and returns to his car to find it blocked by double-parking, sending him across the paths of two crisscrossing gangster herds, a beleaguered Chinese hooker, a one-handed barber with a secret past, an executed murderer’s family, a mishandled fish head, and so on. (The original review.) (Evokative Films)

9. “How to Live in the German Federal Republic” (Haroun Farocki, Germany) A scrapbook toss-off by one of Europe’s most adventurous documentarians, this assemblage stares dead-eyed at more than 30 real-life scenarios, all shot before reunification, in which West Germans are being trained for living, engaging in classroom reenactments of everything from diapering babies to handling job interviews, launching shoulder rockets, having domestic fights, setting dinner tables, even stripping in nightclubs. Life, here, is not even a movie but an endless preparation for one; it’s a doc, but it’s 100% pretend. (The original review.) (Facets)

12082010_skeletons1.jpg8. “Skeletons” (Nick Whitfield, Great Britain) This deadpan metaphorical farce posits two shabby, suited contractors in black suits making house calls to literally extract poisonous secrets out of people’s closets. Of course they cross their profession’s line and must be exorcised themselves, but the textures are funny and mysterious, and the symbology gets richer the deeper you go. (Indiepix)

7. “Yesterday Girl” (Alexander Kluge, West Germany) Kluge, a New German Cinema pioneer all but unknown here, grabbed the New Wave mantle for his homeland with this intimate, Godardian 1966 critique, in which a disaffected, rebellious girl from East Germany confronts the Darwinian recalcitrance of modern Capitalism in Berlin, beginning with a prison stint for a petty crime. Cut like a pile of mirror shards, and beguilingly generational. (Facets)

6. “Daytime Drinking” (Noh Young-seok, South Korea) A peripatetic generation-Z comedy that’s as eventless, but as seductive and wistful, as a real afternoon boozing spree, following a lovelorn dope as he drunkenly buses to a snowy vacation town expecting to meet his buddies, but arrives alone, and can’t quite leave. Soju-soaked and shruggingly comic, Noh’s movie isn’t high concept, but rather Jarmuschian, ambling along organically, as if it happened on its own, like a mushroom patch or blast of sunlight on a cloudy day. (The original review.) (Evokative Films)

(more…)

The Best Double Features of 2010 (Updated With Reader Suggestions)

The Best Double Features of 2010 (Updated With Reader Suggestions) (photo)

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The double feature is the moviegoing ritual most deserving of a comeback. It’s the stuff of movie palaces, drive-ins, and getting more bang for your entertainment buck. The double feature is that magic that happens when two totally separate movies get juxtaposed together and begin talking to one another in strange and exciting ways. As part of IFC.com’s year-end hullabaloo, I decided to list the five most interesting hypothetical double features of 2010, along with five more runners-up. In no particular order, they are:

12072010_fighttown1.jpgMoney, Family, and Escape in Modern Boston
“The Town”
Directed by Ben Affleck
with “The Fighter”
Directed by David O. Russell

Though these films are from totally different genres — one a classic one-last-job heist movie, the other an inspirational boxing film — they share a common theme at their respective cores: a working-class man’s obligation to his friends and family and his realization of his need to escape its stifling grip. Both feature exceptional use of real New England locations, both come fand both feature enormously talented ensembles. Plus if you’re a stickler for bad Boston accents, you’ll appreciate Affleck and “Fighter” star Mark Wahlberg’s ah-ganic ah-thenticity.

The Monsters are US!
“The Crazies”
Directed by Breck Eisner
“Monsters”
Directed by Gareth Edwards

Pairing these two films together certainly makes thematic sense: both movies tell stories about Americas blighted by horrifying creatures and even more horrifying governments. But each film also exposes the strengths and weaknesses of the other: “The Crazies” could use more of “Monsters”‘ elegiac imagery and naturalistic cinematography while “Monsters” would benefit from performances as good as Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell’s and a bit more oomph in the scare department. Each movie is good but flawed. Together, they’re a damn good night of spooky scares and military paranoia.

Banks Suck
“Inside Job”
Directed by Charles Ferguson
with “The Other Guys”
Directed by Adam McKay

We’ve all been affected by the financial crisis. We all want to understand how it happened and why, and what we can do to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. Charles Ferguson’s documentary about corruption and greed inside the banking industry may provide the answers, but it might also leave you a tad enraged in the process. So what better way to vicariously relieve some of that anger than by pairing the film with “The Other Guys,” the underrated Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg buddy cop comedy set against the backdrop of corruption and greed inside the banking industry. The two films mesh pretty well; Steve Coogan’s oily CEO could have appeared as a talking head in Ferguson’s doc saying “I don’t believe I have to discuss that with you,” and “The Other Guys”‘ chart-laden closing credits sequence that takes us right back inside the horrifying details of our economic collapse. But at least now the absurdity of it all has you smiling about it. (Note: weirdly, both films were released by divisions of Sony.)

12072010_dragonwolf1.jpgSupernatural Fathers and Sons
“How to Train Your Dragon”
Directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois
with “The Wolfman”
Directed by Joe Johnston

It’s a classic story: the father who can’t bear the son who he sees as a disappointment; the son who forever tries to impress a father for whom nothing will ever be good enough. Two movies this year took that archetypal framework and added layers of supernatural surprise and suspense. “How to Train Your Dragon” went light while “The Wolfman” went dark, but both explored very similar narratives: a father and son bonding and feuding as they come to understand the monsters that threaten their isolated community, whether they’re Vikings or Brits (were they Brits? With Benicio Del Toro’s accent(s), it’s hard to tell). The two films also offer a study of the highs and lows of the modern studio system. When CGI animated films like “How to Train Your Dragon” work, they represent the factory model of filmmaking at its best: creators and executives at the top commanding enormous brigades of artists and craftsman all working together to execute a single vision. When big budget remakes of old properties like “The Wolfman” don’t work they represent the factory model of filmmaking its worst: shoddy goods cobbled together from shabby raw materials assembled by a workforce with a severe disconnect between management and labor.

(Kind Of) Playing Yourself Onscreen
“I’m Still Here”
Directed by Casey Affleck
with “Alamar”
Directed by Pedro González-Rubio

The line between fiction and documentary got awful blurry in 2010, never more so than during these two films. One got a lot of attention, one went almost unnoticed but both employed nearly identical stylistic techniques: real people playing fictionalized versions of themselves in the hope of reaching some Herzogian ecstatic truth about the worlds in which they are set: Hollywood and celebrity culture in the case of “I’m Not There,” a simple fishing village on the Chinchorro Reef in the case of “Alamar.” The most interesting contrast here is the outrage that greeted the former and the indifference that met the latter, even though all the charges leveled against one could just as easily be applied to the other. Apparently, famous people can never play pretend or experiment with their own lives, a fact that may have been Affleck’s point all along.

Five Additional Possibilities:
Reality and The Documentary: “Exit Through the Gift Shop” and “Catfish”
Repression and Repulsion: “Black Swan” and “Dogtooth”
Celebrating And Ridiculing 80s Action Nostalgia: “The A-Team” and “MacGruber”
Craven Filmmaking: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “My Soul to Take”
Angelina Jolie Mistaken Identity Thrillers: “Salt” and “The Tourist”

Great Reader Suggestions
Lonely, Tech-Savvy Nerds: “The Social Network” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (from @EAKEN)
The World is a Video Game: “Inception” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (from @jeuneski)
Heroic Animated Villains: “Megamind” and “Despicable Me” (from @returnofsmith)
The Beginning, Middle, and End: “Babies” and “The Human Centipede: First Sequence” (from @neoprag)
“Send Help Please” Triple Feature: “Frozen,” “Buried,” and “127 Hours” (from @fisackerly)

Have your own favorite possible double feature from 2010? Share it with me on Twitter and I’ll add it to this list.

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