Tuesday, August 17, 2010

THIS JUST OUT: Scantily Clad Ricky Gervais Edition

Posted on Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Every Tuesday, all the latest video games, DVDs and CDs are released, taunting you with their entertainment possibilities. In order that we might entice you further into wasting your hard-earned money on shiny baubles, here's a run-down of what's out today.

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MUSIC
Andrea Bocelli, Carmen: Duets and Arias
Since Luciano Pavarotti's death in 2007, Bocelli has been the (only) opera singer anyone talks about. Though strong as always, he's more than a little inconsistent. Apparently you're better off getting the full libretto — the "supporting" cast belts out a more impressive performance than the guy whose name is almost as big as the title.

  • Iron Maiden, Final Frontier — A concept album (the band's favored output method), Final Frontier starts off a bit slow but soon gets to the rocking. A worthy offering is this, the band's 15th album.
  • Hey Monday, Beneath It All — Because you can never have too much femme pop-punk, amiright? Infinitely more musically inclined than your typical Ke$ha, Hey Monday's new EP mixes in a little country-western twang.
  • John Mellencamp, No Better Than This — Though it sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of a barrel (in 1934, no less), at least it's honest. After 20 (!) albums of the same thing, Mellencamp makes a serious departure from his country arena-rock roots.
  • Trace Adkins, Cowboy's Back In Town — Testosterone, thy name is Trace Adkins. You don't need steroids if you get your hormones from the power of your RAWK. Despite a few ballads that prove there's a heart somewhere under that hat, Back in Town is just more of what you love (or hate).
  • NOFX, Longest Ep — Oh, it's not an EP. It's an hour of 30 EP tracks, unreleased outtakes, out-of-print tracks and rarities. It just goes to prove that even if you're been playing the same music for 25 years, you can always find some way to sell out.
  • American Hi-Fi, Fight the Frequency — The band's first release on its own label, Fight the Frequency is the band's latest attempt to continue riding on the success of "Flavor of the Weak."

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DVD
Cemetery Junction
From the creative duo responsible for the OG Office, Cemetery Junction is distinctly, profoundly British (it's got Ricky Gervais in a wife-beater). As a continental, I won't pretend to know all of the varying social intricacies about the class structure of England. But as an American (grunt), Cemetery Junction is still enjoyable. It's got funny bits — as you'd expect — but overall it's a pathos-laden portrait of lower-middle class England in the 1970s. Deftly weaving in some Kevin Smith-ian existentialism (do you define happiness on your own terms or on the basis of everyone else's?), it's a romantic tale of overcoming one's societal slot in life by eschewing it. And yes, one of the main characters does have bad teeth.

  • Furry Vengeance — Brendan Fraser (The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, Journey to the Center of the Earth, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, George of the Jungle) is, as his filmography will attest, a master of his craft. I'm tempted to call this "unbearable," but that pun might be too funny and confuse people into buying the DVD. Good luck with The Mummy 4, Fraser.
  • Me and Orson Welles — Despite the presence of Zac Efron, this still manages to be a fairly good movie. A fine little bildungsroman set in 1937 against the backdrop of the famous Orson Welles.
  • The Last Song — This movie is to Miley Cyrus as Crossroads was to Britney Spears. What? You don't remember Crossroads? Exactly. Don't forget to update your Celebrity Dead Pools. ---
  • Dexter, Fourth Season — If you like Dexter, you already know about this. If you don't already partake, you don't care. Basically, this blurb is a waste of both of our times.
  • Temple Grandin — Claire Danes (in her second DVD of the week, after Me and Orson Welles) provides a surprisingly nuanced performance as Temple Grandin, a woman with autism who became an unlikely hero to America's cattle industry. Helen Keller for the autism set?
  • Friday Night Lights, Fourth Season — The danger of TV shows set in high school lies in having to cycle through your cast every season. Luckily, Friday Night Lights has proven time and time again it's capable of gutting out good episodes. Season four is the best example yet.
  • Insane Clown Posse: Big Money Rustlas — Proof that awful taste is alive, well and — apparently — still dictating what gets released on DVD. And there's no way it can be as good as Tom Green's Gathering of the Juggalos documentary (Hint: It's the only place where Tom Green doesn't stand a chance of being the craziest person there).

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VIDEO GAMES
Kane and Lynch II: Dog Days (X360, PS3, PC)
Kane and Lynch II is, as one might surmise from the title, a sequel. Now, sequels don't necessarily carry the same baggage in the video game world as they do for films. Metal Gear Solid, Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed — all of these had successful sequels that, in some cases, even surpassed the original. KLII is better than its predecessor, but the original had some significant issues to deal with. Evoking a user-generated "YouTube" style of presentation, KLII is visually arresting — with a good story to back it up. Basically, what you have here is a genre movie — if you're a fan of the crime thrillers, you'll probably enjoy the game. If you're a die-hard Maddeniac, it's probably not your cup of tea. Because they don't drink tea. They drink blood. Or something.

  • Gold's Gym Dance Workout (Wii) — Just as guitar-based games were all the rage a few years ago, so too has dance sashayed its way to the forefront of the cash-cow races. Cons: It's another cookie-cutter adaptation of games you've already played. Pro: That never stopped gamers before; if you liked it once, why wouldn't you like it again?
  • Top Gun (PSN) — Know how they say Hollywood has no ideas? Well, whatever the Hollywood-equivalent of video games is, they're drawing from the same well. Literally.
  • House, M.D. (Mac, PC) —See above. Frankly, I'm shocked it took them this long to put out an accompanying game. Something tells me this would have been way more successful three or four years ago.
  • Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (X360A)— Solely available via XBOX Live (until late September, when it will be available on PSN and PC), LCGL manages to shake up the most repetitive gameplay in video game history … without messing with the fundamentals that make Lara Croft so popular (read: barely covered mammary glands). Now with multiplayer! Well, in September it'll have it. Wait, why didn't they just wait to release this in September?
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