Recommendation of the Week:
The Dungeon Masters ($3.99 three-day rental, $14.99 to purchase, Amazon VOD)
We don't normally include Amazon VOD in this list, simply because it's not (readily) accessible from gaming consoles ... although you can watch it on your Mac or PC. However, I just had to share this movie with you. I was lucky enough to see director Keven McAlester's The Dungeon Masters at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008, and it is finally coming to a screen near you. The documentary chronicles the exploits of three D&D dungeon masters (and one who is also a gamer) and the trials and tribulations of living with their obsession. You can watch the trailer for the movie and pre-order it on Amazon VOD. The bad news? It doesn't come out until February 12. (Buy now, watch later!) The good news? It's amazing. Depressing at times, sure, but a telling and realistic portrait of certain types of gamers. You know the ones. A perfect movie to watch as you bust out the 4th Edition and start rolling.
Read on after the break for the rest of our recommendations, and let us know what you're watching!
Xbox Live Video Marketplace (Xbox 360)
30 Rock (240($3) HD, 160($2) SD, to own)
Have you ever seen this show? It is probably the best written, snarkiest show on television. This is their fourth season after all and I kept thinking they'd start slipping, but after watching both new episodes on NBC last night and laughing my ass off, I have to admit that they haven't lost a step. Here's a tidbit from last night: James Franco (as himself) falls in love with a Japanese body pillow, and Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) making an awesome Tron joke. One simple reason that the writing shines so well on this show: Alec Baldwin. This truly is a perfect vehicle for him, and he really shines in it. He gets to spout things like "I'm already not liking some of these people. It reminds me of being on the bus." All the time. Tracy Morgan, Tina Fey, Jack Brayer, Jane Krakowski and the rest of the cast are great, but Baldwin makes this thing roll.
Netflix Watch Instantly (Mac/PC, Xbox Live, PS3, subscription required: starts at $8.99 per month)
The Last Picture Show
Before Larry McMurtry was known for his books (and later miniseries) like Lonesome Dove and the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, he was known for his early novels Horseman, Pass By (which became the movie Hud with Paul Newman) and The Last Picture Show. This 1966 novel was later turned into a film and directed by Peter Bogdanovich. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won two (Best Supporting Actor - Ben Johnson, and Best Supporting Actress - Cloris Leachman). It also stars a very young Jeff Bridges and Cybill Shepherd in her film debut (and with a nude scene to boot), and is a painfully realistic portrayal of life in the small town Texas in the early 1950s. It was filmed in black and white when color was the norm, and was one of the first films to use a soundtrack made up only of period songs. This is one of my very favorite movies, so love it or leave it.
PlayStation Store (PlayStation 3 or PSP)
The Hurt Locker ($5.99 HD $3.99 SD, to rent. $14.99 to own in SD)
This film by director Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break, K-19: The Widowmaker) came out somewhat quietly last summer, and has been gaining considerable steam since then. At this point, it's on the probable shortlist for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards. Bigelow calls it the first real film about the Iraq War, but it's really about one man and his obsession over his job as a bomb disposal technician. Sure, it's set amidst the backdrop of the Iraq War, but you aren't embedded with troops on the front lines. This is a careful character study of one man on the edge, and how he deals with an occupation that could kill him several times a day. The script and the direction are fantastic, but Jeremy Renner is the real reason this film works. His understated performance is terrific, and he keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat the entire time.
Blu-ray Disc (PlayStation 3)
Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs ($39.95, much lower at many retailers)
We all know that Pixar has a lock on CGI animated films right now. Everything it does seems to turn to gold, almost automagically. Which is why this Sony Pictures Animation gem caught a lot of people off guard. Cloudy spins an entire feature film out of the thin picture book of the same name (from 1978!) and modernizes everything without losing sight of what made the original charming. Namely, food coming from the skies. However, as good as the movie is, that's only half the fun. The extra features on this include the ability to throw (virtual) food at the screen (the yellow button scrubs them off with a squeegee), and actor Bill Hader who voices Flint Lockwood in the film joins directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord on the commentary track, which is hilarious. There are a ton of other extras as well, and seeing this on Blu-ray is really the only way to appreciate the work that went into detailing all of that food. Just check out how detailed the cheeseburgers are when they hit the ground and fall apart.