DVDs for 09/28/10 – The Killer, The Law and Mr. Lawrence

The blockbuster releases of the week are featured at MSN—I review Iron Man 2 (Paramount) and leave Get Him to the Greek (Universal) to my colleague Mary Pols—and the release of the week, Criterion’s superb new edition of Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line on DVD and Blu-ray, is featured on my blog here. Here are the rest of the releases…

The Killer Inside Him takes a break

Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me (IFC) is actually the second adaptation of Jim Thompson’s violent pulp novel about a blankly pleasant and reflexively polite lawman, Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), taking his place in his small Texas hometown. He also happens to be a sociopath taking his revenge on a few choice community leaders and using bystanders as bait. Winterbottom directs with a chilling calm even as the violence erupts, and he doesn’t flinch from showing the brutality of the beatings he unleashes with cold fury and cool focus. I admire his nerve—the violence, presented in almost clinical detail, is neither exploitative nor titillating—but the film saves the most brutal scenes for violence perpetrated against beautiful young women. He batters the head of Jessica Alba (whose dazed look of betrayal is heartbreaking) into a bloody pulp and kicks in the ribs of another with the seething anger of a man putting the blame on her with every blow and Winterbottom presents both with unflinching focus. It’s the misogynist edge of a sociopath and it sparked many debates over the ethics showing violence onscreen, and it’s so visceral and unpleasant that some audiences will simply want to steer clear of the whole film.

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