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Absentia

PHASE 4

MOVIE B

SPECIAL FEATURES B

DVD GEEK FACTOR 7.25

(OUT OF 10)

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I got this movie—with its rather shocking (and misleading) cover art—in the mail. I had never heard of the film, but I put it on the pile of stuff to watch, because I was curious.

I'm quite impressed. Made for $70,000 by a group of friends who can act really well and know how to scare people, the film sucked me in and managed to creep me out.

Tricia (Courtney Bell), a pregnant woman plastering her neighborhood with posters about her missing husband, Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown), is visited by her sister Callie (Katie Parker). It's the seventh anniversary of Daniel's disappearance, and he is about to be declared dead "in absentia."

Tricia is haunted by nightmarish visions of her husband, while Callie sees strange people in the creepy tunnel by the apartment. Strange noises and bumps in the night ensue, followed by a twist that caught me way off-guard.

Parker and Bell are excellent as the sisters; they show a sibling-like bond that gives us characters to care about. They both have a nice, naturalistic approach to their craft, and I'm ready to see them in more movies. Brown, who appears in ghostly visuals, knows that he's scarier than all hell, and he takes mighty advantage of this.

Writer-director Mike Flanagan allegedly wrote this in two sittings. He has a tremendous flair for dialogue and top-notch pacing abilities. He's good at making viewers wait.

If you are a horror fan, and you hate those cheapie found-footage films that are attacking cinemas like a virus, get your hands on this one. See what smart people can do with $70,000.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The filmmaker, cast and crew recount their production experience in a well-made retrospective on the movie. There are also deleted scenes.


The Iron Lady (Blu-ray)

ANCHOR BAY

MOVIE B+

SPECIAL FEATURES B-

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 7

(OUT OF 10)

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I couldn't stand watching Billy Crystal on this year's Oscar telecast, and I wanted very much to turn the damn thing off. However, I'm glad I hung in there, because I got to see one of the year's most wonderful awards surprises.

Meryl Streep was my sentimental pick to win the Oscar for her magnificent portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in this underrated film, but I was pretty sure Viola Davis was going to get the gold for The Help. Surprise, surprise ... Streep got the Oscar. Of the actresses nominated for the award, she was the most deserving.

Some critics have griped that this film offers a whitewashed view of the former British prime minister's tumultuous time in office. I happen to think it is an effective, complete life story that gives ample time to her personal life and, most notably, her tragic recent dementia.

It was a nice move to award this film with the Best Makeup Oscar, because that was also deserved. As opposed to, say, the awful makeup work in J. Edgar, this film used makeup to an extent that had me forgetting I was looking at Meryl Streep. Physically, the actress disappeared into the latex.

Jim Broadbent is excellent as Thatcher's supportive hubby, both when he is alive and appearing in Thatcher's hallucinations.

Those looking for a politically charged film that examines the controversial side of Thatcher's reign might be disappointed. I, for one, think this is a tremendous showcase for one of the finest actresses in cinema history.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A decent making-of doc, and some featurettes on the costumes and the re-creation of a young Margaret Thatcher.


The Chemical Brothers: Don't Think (Blu-ray)

ASTRALWERKS

MOVIE B-

SPECIAL FEATURES B-

BLU-RAY GEEK FACTOR 6

(OUT OF 10)

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While attending the Coachella festival, I've made my way a couple of times into the rave tent to watch The Chemical Brothers. I love their music, and I listen to their albums often, but I'm just not a rave guy. I'm not into stranger sweat splashing on me. It's stinky and, in extreme cases, can cause hives. (That part probably isn't really true; I'm just a paranoiac.) As a result of my anti-social leanings, I usually only make it through a couple of TCB tracks before I have some sort of panic attack and run away to hide in one of those blue portable toilets. The thing is, there are usually strangers in there, too, so I just can't win.

Until now! This approximately 90-minute concert film catches the brothers in all of their glory. The sound will make your stereo drool, and the visuals are the sort of thing that will make you want to get up and dance in your dwelling. (However, some of the crowd footage gets a little repetitive.) You can take in their show without the splash of stranger sweat, unless you keep jars of that shit around for some reason. If you do, seek help.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A bonus CD is all you get—but that is a pretty good bonus.

More by Bob Grimm

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