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DVD Reviews

The Dirt review : fast-paced and not suitable for children

Get the Jack Daniels and skinny jeans at the ready!

K.T Simpson

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Director:

Jeff Tremaine

Cast:

Douglas Booth, Colson Baker, Daniel Webber and Iwan Rheon

Run time:

108 mins

Rating:

If you’ve read “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band” by Neil Strauss, or even if you know anything about Mötley Crüe, you know you’re in for a wild ride with Netflix’s “The Dirt” – the comedy-drama biopic based on the aforementioned book. And a mere 5 minutes in, you’ll know that this film isn’t going to sugar-coat anything, with happenings that are probably too inappropriate to even mention in a film review beginning the story.

“The Dirt” introduces us to the backstory of Mötley Crüe, and through the trials and tribulations of their fast-moving career. With success comes tragedy, and the band generally spend more money on drugs than most of us will ever see in our lifetime – which ultimately makes them a little bit (read: a lot) unlikeable. But such is the story of how the glam metal band found fame in the ‘80s, where music comes second to partying and groupies.

Honestly, nothing is off limits for Mötley Crüe and “The Dirt” shows it. No girl is off limits – regardless if you’re already in a relationship or if it’s the partner of someone else in the band – no drug is unobtainable, and no hotel room will ever be the same when the band has something to do with it.

Casting-wise, “The Dirt” nails it. Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx is the standout, depicting the troubled life of an abandoned teen who finds solace in music and way too much heroin – and a cocktail of other drugs and alcohol. Supported by Colson Baker aka Machine Gun Kelly as Tommy Lee, Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars, and Daniel Webber as Vince Neil, the group bounce off each other very well and are a believable representation of Mötley Crüe.

As with any hour-and-a-half biopic about a decade of events, there’s simply not enough time to touch upon everything important about Mötley Crüe and their individual stories. As such, the film feels like it rushes through a lot, and is mostly focused on the antics the boys get up to, rather than the creation of the music that we all know so well.

Director Jeff Tremaine is also responsible for the “Jackass” movies, and that really shows through “The Dirt” in its direction style. It’s fast-paced and at time feels a little out of its depth – however coincidentally representing the band to an absolute T.

While you may have mixed opinions on each band member, you have to hand it to them for perseverance and for setting a new precedent with glam metal – and music in general. “The Dirt” really finds its material in their bad-boy antics, but what we really want to see is the suspended spinning drum kit and the pyro-technics that support their live show. If you want to see the latter, then perhaps track down one of their live DVDs and watch that. Ultimately, “The Dirt” wants you to see the nitty gritty, the cocaine snorting, the uninhibited sex, the family tragedies, and the arguments.

What I can promise you, however, is that you will want to blast “Dr Feelgood” at top volume in your living room, and swig some Jack Daniels straight from the bottle – or at least put a respectable size shot of it with some Coke in a glass, we are adults afterall.

DVD Reviews

Hunter Killer

K.T Simpson checks out the newly released Blu-ray

K.T Simpson

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Marquee-fave Gerard Butler’s latest cosplay involves donning the guise of an American submarine captain, navigating the rough waters of WWII, in an entertaining but lacking water-set thriller

Scripted by Jamie Moss and Arne Schmidt, “Hunter Killer” assigns Captain Glass (Butler, more serious than he needs to be here) on the lookout for an in-trouble sub, when he discovers a Russian coup in the making, threatening to turn the globe to dust. Leaving the radar for a spell, Glass is forced to lead a group of SEALs as they rescue a kidnapped Russian president and go undetected through enemy waters.

If director Marsh had balanced the silly to serious ratio a little better, offering up as many light moments as there are dark, the sub-thriller could easily have matched entertainment value with the likes of similar-themed ’90s popcorn fare like “U-571” and “Crimson Tide”.  Sadly,  the sombre, nostalgic actioner forgets to have some fun while dishing up its tale of watery heroics and as such will likely lose a few spectators throughout its voyage.

A polished movie, delicately photographed and with a terrific supporting cast – including Gary Oldman, Linda Cardellini, Common, and Michael Nyqvist – “Hunter Killer” looks better than it plays.

Blu-ray : With a reference-quality 2.40:1 transfer and an ear-hurting Dolby Atmos HD 7.1 soundtrack, this is a disc to show off to friends when they visit to check out the hot new home entertainment system you’ve purchased. Yep, it’s that good.

A commentary and all-encompassing featurette included.

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DVD Reviews

The Mule

The intimate, slow-burn drama arrives on Blu-ray from Roadshow Home Entertainment

K.T Simpson

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Inspired by a true story, hat-juggling Clint Eastwood’s ostensible swan-song focuses on a man in his 80s, broke as a bent nail, who is forced to accept a job as a drug-runner to pay the bills.

Earl Stone (Eastwood) is facing foreclosure of his horticultural business when he’s offered a seemingly straight-forward job – all he would have to do is drive product from point A to stop B. What Stone soon realizes is that he’s transporting drugs for the Mexican cartel. Doing so well at it, Stone’s cargo increases, and he’s assigned a handler. But while the handler is keeping tabs on the old guy’s movements, so is the DEA – in particular, uber thorough agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper).

Money might be aligning Stone’s pants again but the mistakes he’s making – and some he’s also made in the past, particularly in regards to his ex-wife (Wiest) – slowly come back to haunt, ultimately leaving ‘The Mule’  with less and less times to correct his path.

An intimate, sombre slow-burn drama that showcases the ever-present directorial and performance skills of the seemingly unstoppable Eastwood, 89, “The Mule” relies heavily on the charm of it’s key character, and his engrossing, panicky plight, to capture the audience. It does that effortlessly, and with such a strong ensemble backing the big guy up – Cooper, Wiest, and even Andy Garcia, playing chief crook – remains consistently entertaining for its 2-hour runtime.

Blu-ray : The video (presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio) and audio (5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track) is seamless and effective, trumpeting the film’s combined use of the Arri Alexa XT and Arri Alexa Mini cameras and chat-heavy soundtrack. The extras component, consisting of a short featurette and a song, is pretty disappointing though.

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DVD Reviews

Ben is Back

A Blu-ray review of the Roadshow release, starring Julia Roberts

Jeremy Werner

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“Ben is Back” starts out well-intentioned enough, but by the end it comes off as a hyper-exploitive freak out. The movie, a day in the life of the Burns’ family, tackles the dire issue of opioids from several different angles. Sometimes it tackles it in very realistic terms, specifically the pain and awkwardness it can create for families in its wake. However, it predominantly tackles it like a daytime soap opera, with the gauche touch of those 80’s drug PSAs.

Ben (Hedges) has unexpectedly returned home on Christmas Eve. His younger siblings, who have no memory of the terrifying nights he put his family through, are happy to see him; His sister and mother not so much. Holly (Roberts), Ben’s mom, immediately goes to work hiding drugs that could trigger her son’s addiction, as well as jewelry and other sellable knick knacks, just in case he’s already relapsed. It’s in these opening moments that the film is emotionally riveting by not holding back on any of its emotional gut punches. Then it starts going off the rails when Holly confronts Ben’s old doctor at the mall and tells him that she hopes he rots in Hell. Merry Christmas from the Burns family!

To dive into the specifics of why “Ben is Back” continues to fall off the wagon, and hard, would be to ruin the film’s second act, which feels more like another movie with the same actors was flipped on in the projector booth. What should have been a harrowing story about addiction, becomes an even more over-the-top “August: Osage County,” involving drugs and crime. There are also several moments where I can just hear Nancy Reagan bemoaning the horrors of addiction and paralyzing viewers with fear that we too can suffer every feasible scenario from just one night of drug use.

It’s not that the things that happen to and around Ben, haven’t happened before or could happen to an addict and their families, but it’s the frequency, severity, and occurrence of which it happens in “Ben is Back” that’s laughable. I half expected Walter White of “Breaking Bad” to pop-up and tell Ben to stay out of his territory. That’s how comically bad it gets. Because of the dire subject matter though, it takes a veteran actor or two to wring out any semblance of seriousness in the script.

No matter how bad the dialogue gets, Roberts and Hedges tow a fine line to keep their characters within the realm of “maybe this could happen.” It’s actually quite impressive seeing Hedges go toe-to-toe with Roberts when they argue or clash. I couldn’t imagine anyone else, in either role, pulling off the same acting acrobatics and making it remotely watchable. In that regard, “Ben is Back” is admirable in its dramatic attempts. Like I said, it’s well intentioned and the first 30 to 40 minutes are good, but sometimes the best of intentions can hurt the cause you’re reportedly fighting for.

Blu-ray : A crisp, clear transfer is accompanied by Commentary by Director Peter Hedges, an Image Gallery and Trailers.

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