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Trouble With the Curve (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Clint Eastwood had originally stated that 2008's Gran Torino would be his final acting gig. Then filmmakers, including friend and frequent co-worker Robert Lorenz—making his directorial debut—convinced the squinting man to come out of thespian retirement.

Clint should've quit while he was ahead.

Eastwood plays Gus, an aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves on an important trip to check out a prospect. Problem is, Gus can't really see anymore, so buddy Pete (John Goodman) talks Gus' lawyer daughter, Mickey (Amy Adams, playing a character presumably named after Mickey Mantle), into traveling with Gus and helping him out.

Right there, you can call bullshit. Such a scenario, with the Atlanta Braves or any other major league team, would never happen. (Well, perhaps with the Marlins.)

Anyway, the film is part-relationship movie, as the crusty dad and feisty daughter try to learn how to like each other again. It also wants to be a baseball movie, but it's embarrassing on that level. By the time a couple of prospects are battling in front of head-office honchos at Turner Field, the film has lost all credibility in terms of baseball.

It also wants to be a romance, with Justin Timberlake playing a former pitcher turned scout trying to get into Mickey's pants. Timberlake and Adams have zero chemistry, and its painful watching them go through the motions.

Eastwood is doing his old haggard shtick here, offering the same sort of performance he gave in Gran Torino, minus the racism. Adams is a good actress, but she can do little with the silly character she has been handed. Timberlake should just try to get his ass on Saturday Night Live as a regular, because he isn't cutting it at the movies ever since his Facebook film.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There are a couple of featurettes: one with Eastwood and Lorenz discussing their collaborations, and another where Adams and Timberlake basically waste your time.

Killer Joe: Unrated Director's Cut (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Matthew McConaughey had a great year. His turn in Magic Mike is the best part of that film; he was the only good thing in The Paperboy; he played an excellent lawman in Bernie.

Then there's what he did as a lawman in this movie. Put this entertainingly nasty bad-cop thriller alongside Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (which featured an unhinged Nicolas Cage) as a prime example of a good actor going nuts in a fine way. McConaughey plays Killer Joe Cooper, a detective with a name that lets you know his favorite hobby.

Under the direction of William Friedkin (that fellow who gave us The French Connection and The Exorcist), McConaughey is a perverted mystery man for the ages. He's quiet and sinister for the majority of the film, but when he goes off (including a rather shocking moment involving Gina Gershon and fried chicken), he achieves a deranged villainy that has gone unmatched this movie year.

He's in good company. Emile Hirsch is terrific as Chris, a stupid weasel who calls upon Killer Joe for an insurance scheme—a move that puts his entire family in jeopardy. Thomas Haden Church has never been better; he plays Ansel, Chris' dimwitted father. The same goes for Gershon as his disgusting stepmom. Juno Temple continues to show a willingness to put it all out there as Dottie, Chris' sister—and the unfortunate apple of Joe's eye.

McConaughey, like Cage before him, doesn't give a damn about his "nice guy" actor's image in this one. Killer Joe is a bad, bad man, and McConaughey wants you to know it.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get a Friedkin commentary (Hooray!), a nearly half-hour making-of doc, and a nice Q&A with the cast.

Sleepwalk With Me (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

I'm quite happy about how this movie year has gone. This is one of the many films I can say came along, surprised me, and thoroughly entertained me.

Comedian Mike Birbiglia plays a thinly veiled version of himself, a man trying to make a living as a standup comedian while dealing with a condition that leaves him prone to scary sleepwalking episodes. His story is funny—and just a little scary. Some of the stuff this man puts himself through while sleeping is undeniably funny, but you do wind up more than a little bit concerned for him.

Count Birbiglia as one of the year's breakout performers; he is a total kick. Throw in some great cameos by David Wain and Marc Maron, and you have yourself one of the year's most-underrated films. Do yourself a favor: Seek, and enjoy.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A Birbiglia commentary, some footage of some filming mishaps, and a making-of featurette help make this a disc worth getting.