Surrogates

Director Jonathan Mostow has never offended me as a filmgoer. His pictures have been routinely well-constructed and visually interesting (“Terminator 3,” “U-571,” “Breakdown”), even in the face of underwhelming plots and misguided performances. “Surrogates” is undoubtedly a misfire for the filmmaker, but it’s an interesting failure, peppered with a few memorable sequences and an appropriate, timely message highlighting the acceleration of social disconnect. While ambitious, the rhythm is off on this limping picture, with hints of severe studio interference derailing the movie from the moment it starts.

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Rating: C
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Cinematic Titanic Live – East Meets Watts

Cinematic Titanic took off the majority of the 2009 DVD release year to do something few riffing outfits do: tour across America. While a joyous occasion, the cities the group visited were limited, keeping to only a few hotspots, while the rest of us unlucky souls were left in a comedy phantom zone, without any new product to satisfy the insatiable Cinematic Titanic urge. Well, the wait is finally over, with our riff heroes blazing back to ravenous DVD players with their most harmonious project yet, “East Meets Watts,” which not only serves as their long-awaited new release, but also as a document of the live Cinematic Titanic event a majority of admirers haven’t had the opportunity to devour.

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Rating: A
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Extract

I’m sure there will be much hullabaloo accompanying the release of Mike Judge’s “Extract,” as the film is a return to the workplace blues genre that made Judge a cult hero with the 1999 picture, “Office Space.” The comparison needlessly reduces “Extract” to an afterthought when it’s actually a sturdy, uproarious comedy that solidifies Judge’s voice as a relaxed filmmaker with impeccable timing and a valuable interest in blending the absurd with the awkwardly real.

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Rating: A-
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G-Force

The screenplay for “G-Force” seems to fumble the joy of the concept, hunting for a more impactful way to tell a very silly story. This might be the reason there’s a frantic, suffocating thinking that ends up marring the picture. This is a team of super spy guinea pigs getting into all sorts of hijinks, there’s little need to add pathos or rigid character arcs. “G-Force” feels the urge to present audiences with a sympathetic portrayal of talking animals, when it’s clear that potential viewers, both young and old, would rather see these heroes in all stages of miniature combat and furry teamwork instead.

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Rating: C
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Cat Ladies

The image of the typical cat lady is a portrait of severe mental disturbance, often used comedically like in “The Simpsons,” where Springfield’s unshowered feline connoisseur leaps into action, using kittens as throwing stars as she clears the room with her garbled ranting. Of course, there’s a dark side to this lifestyle, a portrayal offered a brief but harrowing spotlight in the spellbinding documentary “Cat Ladies.”

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Rating: A-
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Gilda Live

Gilda Live

It’s hard to believe Gilda Radner passed away twenty years ago, and it’s sad to see her star has faded over time. A more proper DVD release of Mike Nichols’ film of her 1979 Broadway show “Gilda Live” could have been a good start to getting that resurgence going, but alas, it’s only being put out as part of Warner Brothers’ print-on-demand Warner Archive project. For those unaware, the Warner Archive project releases a few dozen older television shows and movies each month on a simple DVD-R with no extra features that is burned, imprinted with a full-color title artwork on the front of the disc and shipped to the customer within a week. At least “Gilda Live” is being offered in a proper widescreen presentation.

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Rating: A
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