RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Moneyball Slides into (Your) Home

Plus, a Jason Statham actioner, Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, and Jean-Luc Godard's latest.

Alright, now that we've got that terrible baseball pun out of the way, let's get down to business. Before we get into this week's new releases, however, we do need to mention that Universal Studios is celebrating its 100th anniversary with new DVD editions and/or Blu-rays of some of their best films, such as Do the Right Thing, Apollo 13, Babe, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Schindler's List, and more, so be on the lookout for those at your local stores. As for the new stuff, we've got the baseball film featuring a Brad Pitt performance that some have said evokes memories of Robert Redford at his prime, a new action flick starring Jason Statham and Clive Owen, and an Anna Faris rom-com. Then, in the limited release department, there's Jackie Chan's latest film, Vera Farmiga's directorial debut, and a typically auteurist vision of European culture from Jean-Luc Godard. See below for the full list!

Moneyball

94%

A baseball movie that mostly eschews game sequences for scenes of guys sitting around and talking about obscure statistics -- sounds like a winner, right? Well, yes, in the case of Moneyball. Brad Pitt stars as Billy Beane, the general manager of the small market Oakland Athletics; his mission is to find a way to field a winning team with a fraction of the money that the Yankees and Red Sox have to snag big time players. With the help of stat geek Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), Beane acquires a ragtag group of castoffs and old timers who share a common trait: they have abilities that the entrenched scouting establishment has ignored. Based upon Michael Lewis' bestseller, Moneyball got a standing ovation from the critics, and while baseball obsessives will find a couple things to quibble about -- the movie barely mentions the contributions of stars like Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, or Eric Chavez -- this is an intelligent, witty piece of moviemaking. A new Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet combo pack comes with several making-of featurettes and bloopers.

Killer Elite

25%

Jason Statham quickly went from witty Guy Ritchie discovery to fully fledged action star, so much so that he even earned a spot in the distinguished, testosterone-fueled lineup of Sylvester Stallone's Expendables franchise. Unfortunately, it's no secret that few of Statham's starring vehicles have hit it big with the critics. Enter Killer Elite, which teamed Statham with the legendary Robert De Niro and "why isn't he a bigger star" Clive Owen. That should help, right? Apparently, no, not really. Critics found Killer Elite, which had a De Niro-mentored Statham, a special ops vet, squaring off against Owen's militant crime leader, to be utterly by-the-books and disposable. Expendable, even. While there were a few who admitted to having a reasonably good time, most felt the proceedings were all too familiar, and with little to set Killer Elite apart from any other actioner, it managed a mere 25% on the Tomatometer. If you don't mind a bit of "been there, done that" in your shoot-em-ups, feel free to give this one a spin.

What's Your Number?

23%

There was a moment -- albeit a very brief moment -- when it seemed like Anna Faris might have had the potential to join the elite ranks of successful comediennes in Hollywood. Unfortunately things haven't quite yet panned out for the bubbly Scary Movie alum, who's lately spent most of her time in Rotten films, including her latest, What's Your Number?. Here, Faris plays Ally Darling, a recently unemployed woman who comes to the realization she's slept with a lot more men than other women have. Hoping to put a cap on that number, Ally revisits her old boyfriends to see if any of them have grown into permanent relationship material. Co-starring Chris Evans, Joel McHale, Andy Samberg, and Zachary Quinto, What's Your Number? could have possibly been better with a stronger script and a better director; as it stands, while critics found Faris sharp as ever, the film around her earned just a 24% on the Tomatometer.

Higher Ground

81%

Having established herself as an actress of considerable talent, Vera Farmiga turned her sights on the director's chair last year and tackled a fairly weighty subject for her directorial debut. Higher Ground. Based on a memoir by Carolyn Briggs (who co-wrote the script), Higher Ground also stars Farmiga as Corinne (and Farmiga's own daughter Taissa as the young Corinne), a woman who enters a radical church upon getting married and pregnant at eighteen, only then to question her faith several years later as her marriage begins to fall apart. Like her Up in the Air co-star, George Clooney, it seems Farmiga's transition to behind-the-camera work was a successful one, as Higher Ground is Certified Fresh at 81%, with critics calling it a challenging first film with some strong performances, including, of course, Farmiga in the lead role. It's a quiet, thoughtful drama that touches on some philosophical dilemmas, so let that guide whether or not it's your type of Friday rental.

1911

8%

Historical epics have been a part of Chinese cinema for a long time, and now that Jackie Chan has grown just a tad too old to pull the insane stunts of his youth, it makes sense that his latest film, his first directorial effort since 1998's Who Am I?, is 1911, a historical drama about the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew China's last imperial dynasty. Released on the 100th anniversary of the revolution and marking Chan's 100th film, 1911 was unfortunately a failure here in the States, where it took home just over $135,000 at the box office and earned Chan some of the worst reviews of his career. The problem, according to critics, was that the film relied too heavily on title cards to explain already convoluted plot points, rendering the proceedings more akin to a history lesson than a piece of entertainment. If you aren't already familiar with the story taking place, you may find 1911 tedious, overlong, and dry, three words you'd never have thought to associate with a Jackie Chan movie.

Film Socialisme

58%

As one of the biggest names associated with the influential French New Wave of the 1960s, Jean-Luc Godard has been in the business for a long time, and he's one of the few who has remained steadily busy over the course of his entire career. His latest film, Film Socialisme, first screened in 2010 at the Cannes Film Festival, but opened here in the States during the Summer of the following year to very little fanfare, leaving theaters as quietly as it had entered them. The film, Godard's first to be shot entirely in a digital format, is broken into three "movements:" the first follows conversations on a cruise ship, the second features two young children putting their parents on trial for the answers to some big questions, and the third visits six world sites of historical importance. Critics are fairly split on Film Socialisme, but even those who endorse it concede that the film is likely to please mostly only ardent Godard fans, as it lacks a traditional narrative and serves as more of a visual essay on European culture and politics. At 55%, this one's a gamble for anyone not already familiar with Jean-Luc Godard.

Comments

David Tanny

David Tanny

I'll check out Moneyball. Bummer about 1911 though. I thought that would be a great film.

Jan 9 - 05:01 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

I'll be getting Moneyball. Very enjoyable film with a great performance by Pitt.

Jan 9 - 05:04 PM

That Random Albino Kid

Dominic Dold

Money ball was really good. I lived in San Ramon (a town by Oakland) for 7 years and it was pretty cool to see a movie about the team i grew up with.

Jan 9 - 05:20 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Godard's "Film Socialisme" is the one for me! When the day comes that he makes a crowd-pleaser, we'll know the end is indeed nigh. It's funny how we've swept all the controversy over "Breathless" under the rug and acknowledged its status. But some people really hated that movie at the time too. "Moneyball" is a must, I haven't read the Michael Lewis book, but I've enjoyed other books by him. "Killer Elite" and "1911" are probably inevitable as well. How bad can they possibly be? "Higher Ground" is an intriguing test of Farmiga's talents, and I'll be looking for interesting selections from the Paramount releases.

Jan 9 - 05:52 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Didn't see Killer Elite, but 1911 was like a really bad history channel documentary for me.

Jan 9 - 07:54 PM

David Tanny

David Tanny

That's too bad. I was looking forward to 1911. What a major disappointment.

Jan 9 - 08:24 PM

Dave J

Dave J

The Killer Elite starts off very conventional but only after the first hour! After that it depends on what your own definition of routine is since it's based on an actual incident!

Jan 10 - 01:16 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Actually, the direction is similar to the Jason Bourne movies, except that despite based on an actual incident the Jason Bourne movies are still more credible!

Jan 10 - 02:18 PM

Cold P.

Cold Pillow

Godard is amazing. One of my favorites. I might check out "Film Socialisme" for just that reason. The guy's track record is impeccable: "Breathless", "Alpaville", "A Woman is a Woman", "Band of Outsiders"...to name a few..

Jan 10 - 01:13 PM

Cold P.

Cold Pillow

Meant to say Alphaville not Alpaville. Also look at my profile pic. My man Belmondo from Breathless.

Jan 10 - 01:15 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"Alphaville" is a favorite of mine too. (For some reason I thought your pic was Richard Widmark!) Also: Weekend, Pierrot le Fou (actually his 65-67 period is all worth watching - very prolific), Contempt, Passion, Detective, and recent films like In Praise of Love and Notre Musique.

Jan 10 - 01:51 PM

Swampfox

Pat Marion

I might be the only person to think that "Breathless" is the most overrated piece of garbage movie there is. It's seriously so god damn bad.

Jan 11 - 07:00 AM

Cold P.

Cold Pillow

You're right. You are the only one.

Jan 11 - 01:12 PM

Max Harkness

Max Harkness

I'm down for Godard.

Jan 9 - 06:27 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Didn't see Killer Elite, but 1911 was like a really bad history channel documentary for me.

Jan 9 - 07:54 PM

David Tanny

David Tanny

That's too bad. I was looking forward to 1911. What a major disappointment.

Jan 9 - 08:24 PM

Dave J

Dave J

The Killer Elite starts off very conventional but only after the first hour! After that it depends on what your own definition of routine is since it's based on an actual incident!

Jan 10 - 01:16 PM

Dave J

Dave J

Actually, the direction is similar to the Jason Bourne movies, except that despite based on an actual incident the Jason Bourne movies are still more credible!

Jan 10 - 02:18 PM

Kriftonucci

Jim Ylonen

Moneyball unfortunately, looks like the only interesting choice, let alone the only movie I actually saw.

Jan 9 - 08:10 PM

David Tanny

David Tanny

That's too bad. I was looking forward to 1911. What a major disappointment.

Jan 9 - 08:24 PM

Gordon Franklin Terry Sr

Gordon Terry

Moneyball . . . is still playing at our local theater; it looks like just another jive-ass "sports movie" to me; of course if I see it on On Demand or cable then I'll watch it.

To me "sports movies" are antitheses (plural) to horror and science-fiction movies;

sports (like Football, baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis) require NO IMAGINATION (okay sports movies require a DIFFERENT IMAGINATIVE SKILL-SET) then sci-fi and horror novels, games, and movies.

Watching sports is totally unnerving to me; watching a ball, or puck go back and forth or watching baseball for 3 hours can be so mind-numbingly boring (there's nothing in sports for my mind to decipher or put-together)

-----
1911 . . . American audiences don't want to see a bunch of Chinese people acting out Chinese history for 3 hours, directed by a Chinese director with Chinese dialogue and American subtitles (in yellow no doubt).

The Last Emperor, a movie about Chinese History that North Americans DID want to see was directed by Bertolucci and featured Peter O'Toole. Chinese culture is vastly different from American culture; to make a Chinese-Movie for American audiences REQUIRES bridging the cultural gap.

For an "important film" like 1911 to earn a 9% and a low-budget Horror Movie like The Devil Inside to earn a 7% on the Tomato-meter like one of the films or both films were under appreciated or misunderstood altogether.

Jan 10 - 07:44 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Or they both suck the high hard one...just to present an alternative hypothesis.

Jan 10 - 08:13 AM

kidnova

Mark Holler

The fact that you believe that sports require no imagination tells me a lot about your lack of one.

Jan 10 - 08:23 AM

Christopher256G

Christopher Greffin

You miss the point with 1911. It's just a bad movie. The so called breach in culture is exagerated. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragaon, House of Flying Daggers and Farewell My Concumbine were all praised heavily by American critics, and all were made by Chinese directors (though I guess Ang Lee can be concidered a bit of a westernized Chinese director, the directors of the other two movies certainly aren't). Great movies breach culture lines.

Jan 10 - 12:04 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

You also have the "Ip Man" movies, John Woo's "Red Cliff" films, Zhang Yimou's great films, "Mongol", "Emperor and the Assassin", "City of Life and Death" (still waiting for this one!), "Bodyguards and Assassins" (another one I still have to see) is an award winner that covers the similar build-up against the Qing Dynasty. One thing to keep in mind is that many of the historical film's covering these events are heavily restricted by the Chinese state, and "1911" is practically a state production. But given all the other critical successes, it may be premature to cry Sinophobia for "1911"s poor reviews.

Jan 10 - 12:27 PM

Cold P.

Cold Pillow

I don't get your logic in the last part. A bad film is a bad film.

Jan 10 - 01:17 PM

Stepping Razor

Stepping Razor

I agree with the RT general consensus. As I said in a separate post below, what hurts 1911 the most is that it feels like a Cliffs Notes version of history. It uses text to not only introduce characters but to explain big events... events and battles that feel whittled down to short summaries. While the revolution may be a rather unwieldy set of events to cover, the filmmaker should have strived to show us what happened and why, rather than merely tell us. It's worth a cheap rental, nothing more. Then just fast forward to the battle scenes and the parts with Jackie Chan. Because I was told what was happening and what resulted from each battle or dramatic scene, I didn't feel much of anything. At times, it felt like I was reading plot points on a piece of paper.

Jan 10 - 01:29 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Or they both suck the high hard one...just to present an alternative hypothesis.

Jan 10 - 08:13 AM

kidnova

Mark Holler

The fact that you believe that sports require no imagination tells me a lot about your lack of one.

Jan 10 - 08:23 AM

MisterVile

Mister Vile

Grabbing Moneyball this week. What's Your Number? is such a crappy idea for a movie i am glad it failed horribly and will hopefully end Farris' career. Not because she herself is bad, just because her character can never actually be in a good movie.

Jan 10 - 10:32 AM

Christopher256G

Christopher Greffin

You miss the point with 1911. It's just a bad movie. The so called breach in culture is exagerated. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragaon, House of Flying Daggers and Farewell My Concumbine were all praised heavily by American critics, and all were made by Chinese directors (though I guess Ang Lee can be concidered a bit of a westernized Chinese director, the directors of the other two movies certainly aren't). Great movies breach culture lines.

Jan 10 - 12:04 PM

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