Tag Archives: DVD

Hesher filled with Anarchy and Heart

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been building a name for himself as a dynamic, charismatic actor since 2005’s Brick.  But in his latest role, Hesher, Gordon-Levitt goes deeper down the rabbit hole than ever before, playing a loathsome, repulsive character well enough for us to love him. It’s a film about grief and anger, but it illustrates how most of us refuse to show those emotions, and Gordon-Levitt’s character has the wonderfully cathartic ability to draw us out of it. The result is both heartwarming and vulgar. Continue reading

Five DVD labels who consistently push good films

When you walk into a videostore or check up on your Netflix queue, it’s generally a crapshoot finding new movies you haven’t heard much about. Here at The Filmsmith, we’ve made a habit of letting you in on some of the underground releases every week, movies you might not have heard of otherwise. But we typically can only get to one a week, and there are dozens of others making their way to home video, some for the first time. Here’s a list of a few DVD companies who have consistently put out good films – to such a degree that if you see something released by them, you can bet it’s probably top notch stuff. Continue reading

DVD Monday: The Unloved

Every now and then, an actor has the opportunity to work with great directors, and thereby learns a bit about the craft. These experiences can awaken a dormant passion to not just be a part of a film, but to create one. More often than not, these actors fall on their face, believing that money and influence will make a good movie without the talent possessed by their mentors and peers. But some actors-turned-directors, like Clint Eastwood, Charles Laughton and Ben Affleck, end  up making immense contributions to cinema. Out on DVD this week is the first film by Samantha Morton (Minority Report, The Messenger, Morvern Callar), and it turns out that one of the most underrated actresses of our time is well on her way to becoming one of the most underrated directors as well. Continue reading

DVD Tuesday: White Material

I went into this film very cautiously. Regrettably, I knew next to nothing about the French filmmaker who helmed White Material, save that her film from last year (35 Shots of Rum) was rumored to be better than this. When film friends and cohorts recommended it to me, I figured I would give it a shot on DVD, and I’m glad I did. Aside from the mesmerizing performances given by Bankole and Huppert, this film is made with such energy and vision that my hesitation in viewing it evaporated within the first few seconds. Not only is seeing this film a worthwhile experience, its poetic frenzy of sounds and images transforms its colonial themes into something much more universal. Continue reading

DVD Tuesday: Fernando di Leo Crime Collection

The history of cinema is deeply entrenched in the history of crime. Gangster films, heist films, film noir, and other sub genres have always offered movie-goers an abundance of style, and occasionally profundity of theme. This week sees the release of a collection of crime films from Fernando di Leo on DVD for the first time in the US. They are not the deepest of movies, they offer little moral or thematic context, but they have proved to be hugely influential. And together, they form one hell of a ride. Continue reading

DVD Tuesday: Inside Job

When the envelope was opened last Sunday, one of my favorite films from last year, Exit Through the Gift Shop, lost to a documentary I had yet to see. Anticipating some of Banksy’s potential antics, I blamed the result on the Academy voting against the elusive artist instead of voting for any given film. Now that Inside Job has come out on DVD, I see that they were completely right. Exit Through the Gift Shop remains one of my favorite films of the year, but if ever a documentary deserved that Oscar, it’s this one: a film so relevant, so timely, and so perfectly executed that it has earned all of its recognition. Continue reading

DVD Tuesday: Love & Other Drugs

From a young age, I have always had a soft spot in my heart for romantic comedies. Perhaps this is an odd thing for a guy to admit, but there was something comforting to be found in the trope, and in each film’s deviation from it. “Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl back” was told a hundred different ways, and none of them quite matched up to the formula exactly. Love & Other Drugs, then, I was expecting to at least enjoy. Unfortunately, due to the lackluster performance by both leads, due to the irrelevance of the social commentary, and most importantly, due to the complete lack of originality, this is the worst film I have seen from last year. Continue reading

Inception making-of featurette details hallway special effects

The hallway scene from Inception was originally explained by The Filmsmith back in February 2010.  With the release of Inception on DVD last week, the following making-of feature has made it to youtube, further detailing our original explanation.  For special effects geeks (myself included), it’s quite interesting to see the full mechanics required to rotate the hallway and the struggle to choreograph the fights inside the turning tunnel:

It’s nothing short of amazing the lengths to which they went to avoid using CGI – and it looks all the better for it.

Blockbuster Bankrupt

According to the L.A. Times, Blockbuster has lost over 1.1 billion dollars since 2008 and is finally going bankrupt.  They have already closed almost a 1,000 stores in the last year and will close another 500 of their weaker outlets.  The plan is to move further into the Redbox and Netflix game to stay competitive, something the major studios support.  Right now Blockbuster is the only place where you can watch most brand new releases, since Netflix has a 28 day holding period on most new films as per their contract with big film distributors like Warner Bros.  If Blockbuster goes under then it’s open season.

One of the other big rental chains, Hollywood Video, recently went under and Blockbuster has failed to properly maneuver itself to stave off bankruptcy.  I just moved to Iowa City and the ONLY video rental store is a lonely Blockbuster.  So enjoy your video stores while you have them folks.

Carriers: One of the Best Apocalypse Films You Didn’t See

Thanks to a random trailer hanging out on the right hand side of a Yahoo News article, I found out about a little film called Carriers.  This is another post-apocalypse scenario, whereby a tuberculosis type virus has destroyed a majority of the population.  Fortunately for me, it received a small release here in Edinburgh and I had a chance to see it (I was geeking out with enthusiasm that the theater was using an old slide projector and that the film was actually projected on 35mm).

If you only watched the trailer, you’d mark it for another dumb zombie film.  However, this little gem is a solid film, with great acting, story, and of course, the fine details that make the apocalypse setting feel real (I will not spoil it).  This isn’t a zombie movie and it isn’t just a Horror film.  Like all greats, it’s really a drama with a horror backdrop.  The film’s pathos is remarkably palpable as characters make tough choices in order to survive.


This, plus the people we meet on this roadtrip to “safety” make the film immensely believable; we’re just as haunted by what happens to those left behind as those in the film.  Plus, who knew Chris Pine, the new Captain Kirk, could swing from asshole leader, to crying mess, to menacing monster so well?


Sure, it’s a bunch of attractive young white kids running around, but my wife Bethany and I spent the hour walk home discussing the film’s characters.  These weren’t the teenagers from Friday the 13th you wished death upon via machetes.  This isn’t the best post-apocalyptic film, but I firmly give it a good, which is why it deserves a lot more attention.

This officially came out before Zombieland, so try not to be too harsh when it mentions “the rules” for survival.

Now that I’ve prepped you, go out and see this thing!  Carriers is out on DVD in the U.S.*

*evidently the distributor for Carriers, Paramount Vantage, closed shop which is why this only received a limited release in the U.S. in September and then sent to the DVD house.

Other recommendations:

Blindness, Children of Men, The Mist, The Descent, 28 Days Later, Mad Max, The Thing, Pontypool (see my review)