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I'm Still Here (Blu-ray)

MAGNOLIA

MOVIE B+

SPECIAL FEATURES B

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7

(OUT OF 10)

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Joaquin Phoenix gives one of 2010's most unique performances in this crazy movie directed by brother-in-law Casey Affleck. Phoenix is mighty believable as he plays a version of himself going through a nervous breakdown in a film that amounts to much more than just a prank on the movie-going public.

Phoenix and Affleck set out to shine a negative spotlight on the media and celebrity, and I think they succeeded. They've also managed to make a funny movie if you watch it knowing that Phoenix is merely acting.

I admit: The first time I saw an interview in which Phoenix said he was quitting acting for a music career, I was almost convinced. However, his Letterman appearance and his failed concert attempts (all shown in the film) were just a little too crazy to be believed and left me convinced that he was engaging in some insane form of performance art. Yes, he was playing a part, but he was truly living it, letting his hair and belly grow out and behaving like a self-righteous prick.

The resulting film is fun to watch, because Phoenix really does give it his all. Without a script to rely on, he creates a riveting depiction of somebody falling apart. Cameos by Ben Stiller and Sean Combs are funny, with both actors putting on decent poker faces.

While I watched the movie, I didn't get a sense that it was a hoax or an attempt to put people on. It strikes me as nothing but a cinematic experiment, and a very entertaining one at that.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Multiple commentaries, including both Affleck solo and Affleck with Phoenix, in which everybody speaks candidly about what they were trying to accomplish. You get a couple of conversations with journalists, including the gentleman who happened to be standing there when Phoenix first announced his plans to become a rap star. There's also a large selection of deleted scenes, most of them left out for clear reasons.


Inception (Blu-ray)

WARNER

MOVIE A

SPECIAL FEATURES B

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 8

(OUT OF 10)

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I am very happy to have this one on home video. It looks pretty on my TV, and I can stop and rewind it during the parts that initially went over my head.

As many of us know, Christopher Nolan's excellent dreamscape of a movie definitely benefits from more than one viewing. I only saw it once in theaters, so seeing it again at home was mighty helpful in answering a few questions gnawing at my brain.

Visually, nothing in 2010 beats this movie, and I will probably go to my grave citing this film as one of the more visually unique experiences I've ever had at the movies. Cities actually fold up like panini.

This should garner a bunch of Oscar nominations, especially for the visuals. As for Leonardo DiCaprio, he is, once again, brilliant, but I'm thinking his work in Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island takes the medal as the best 2010 DiCaprio performance.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine get high marks for stellar supporting performances. Nolan also wrote the movie, a labyrinthine screenplay that goes well beyond the surface to create something refreshingly complex. It's a big movie that actually challenges your mind.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You can watch the film in "Extraction Mode," during which the movie is interrupted by mini-documentaries explaining how Nolan and friends pulled things off. (You can also watch the segments in succession without interrupting the movie.) As these segments show, Gordon-Levitt did a lot of his own stunts during those weightless fight scenes. You get a second disc with Gordon-Levitt hosting a documentary about dreams, and a stop-motion prequel comic. The disc has some of the best audio I've ever heard on my home-entertainment system. I'm thinking my neighbors weren't very pleased when this one was playing in my home.


Fantasia (Four-Disc Special Edition Blu-ray + DVD)

DISNEY

MOVIES FANTASIA B;

FANTASIA 2000 B+

SPECIAL FEATURES B

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7.5

(OUT OF 10)

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With this nifty package, you get both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 on Blu-ray and DVD, and while both films have their sleepy passages, they are certainly worth your while.

I had never seen Fantasia 2000, something I didn't realize until I popped it in for this review. I'd thought I had seen it, but it turns out I had just watched snippets. I was surprised to see the likes of Steve Martin, James Earl Jones and Bette Midler introducing segments. I was also surprised to find out that I actually liked it a little better than the original. It even carries over "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," Mickey Mouse's showdown with possessed brooms.

Fantasia 2000 also features Donald Duck as Noah, and a nice finale involving "The Firebird Suite."

The original scores high points for originality, but moments like the dinosaur sequence don't quite work.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentaries, interactive art galleries and documentaries.

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