We're back! The Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco and South by Southwest in Austin combined to double-whammy JBO out of existence, but it's back with a vengeance this week, even during the midst of PAX East. So read the gaming news, cue up a movie, and let us know what you're watching.
Recommendation of the Week:
Breaking Bad (Blu-ray, Season 1 -- $49.95 and Season 2 -- $39.95, lower at retailers)
Why are you reading this? You should be watching Breaking Bad. Seriously, I can wait until you're back to carry on. The internets will still be here. Back? See what we're talking about? Bryan Cranston is pure genius in this as a man at the end of his rope. He's a low-paid high school science teacher with a disabled son and a pregnant wife. He's working a demeaning second job at a car wash just to make ends meet, and, on top of that, he finds out he has inoperable lung cancer. So what does he do? He decides to start cooking crystal meth so he can leave his family a small fortune. The opening scene of episode one is worth the cost of both sets alone. This is genius basic cable programming from AMC that just started its third season this past week, so catch up on the first two seasons with these Blu-rays that look ultra-sharp with tons of extras.
Read on after the break for the rest of our recommendations, then chime in below!
Xbox Live Video Marketplace (Xbox 360)
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (360 ($4.50) HD, 240 ($3) to rent. 800 ($10) to buy SD)
Yes, I know Mike is in this, and not Joel, but there is just something endearing about this movie. There's the classic "normal view ... Normal View ... NORMAL VIEW!" singsong line, incredibly high-definition shots of The Satellite of Love and general hilarity. Yes, it's weird that they made a movie out of this TV show, and it doesn't really shoehorn nicely into the moviespace, but short of making Mystery Science Theater 3000: Mitchell (the best episode ever) into a Blu-ray disc, it's a bizarrely satisfying film event thingy. It's a pity that you can't experience this in a theater full of stoned college students anymore, as you could during its extremely brief heyday, but invite a few friends over, drink anytime Tom Servo says something mildly snide and enjoy the retro-ness of MST3K: The Movie.
Netflix Watch Instantly (Mac/PC, Xbox Live, PS3, subscription required: starts at $8.99 per month)
Reign of Fire
What's cooler that fighting dragons in medieval times? Fighting dragons in a post-apocalyptic world. What's cooler than having a boring dude in armor alongside a white-bearded, hippie-robed wizard fighting dragons? Having Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale fighting dragons. Seriously, this isn't the type of movie I would have pegged either of these guys tackling, which might be precisely why it works. If you're looking for pure action that feels 100 times more original that the overly recycled buddy cop stories and tired vampire dramas than inundate Hollywood. Instead, it's honest to god fire-breathing dragons intent on roasting human ass, facing off against good ol' boy McConaughey and his axe. Boffo filmmaking.
PlayStation Store (PlayStation 3 or PSP)
The Man Who Wasn't There ($4.50 HD, $2.99 SD to rent $9.99 HD, to own)
We geek out about the immersive worlds of Wes Anderson below when we wax poetix about The Fantastic Mr. Fox, but the Coen Brothers were doing it long before Mr. Anderson was. The Man Who Wasn't There is a perfect example of a created world that sort of fell into the nooks and crannies and was missed. People go in expecting Fargo or The Big Lebowski and it's just not that kind of movie. It's a movie about a man who muddles through his mundane life as a barber, constantly living in the shadow of the other people in his life. But everything changes one day, as it always seems to do the in the movies. Painstakingly shot in black and white, this is a gorgeous, methodical film with outstanding performances from Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Shalhoub, Frances McDormand and James Gandolfini. Well worth it.
Blu-ray Disc (PlayStation 3)
The Fantastic Mr. Fox ($39.99 MSRP, much lower at many retailers)
Wed Anderson is a genius. I don't care how many people whine about The Life Aquatic not being very accessible, the guy is beyond reproach. I want to live in the worlds he creates with each one of his movies, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox is no different. It's a delightfully whimsical film based on Roald Dahl's childrens novel of the same name. George Clooney does a fantastic job voicing Mr. Fox ... so good in fact that you'll stop believing it's George Clooney at all. The Blu-ray has four making-of featurettes that all combine into a 45-minute long documentary called "Making Mr. Fox Fantastic" that is a great peek behind the curtain, but the meat and bones of this is the immersive stop-motion world that Anderson has created. You will seriously love it.
So, what are you watching?