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A&E Blog

Race Out and Rent

by Scott Renshaw
- Posted // 2009-09-29 -

It's a pretty decent week to be looking for new home-viewing options -- no matter what your tastes may be.

Audiences of all ages are likely to get a kick out of Monsters vs. Aliens, the DreamWorks Animation adventure about a team of freaks-of-nature -- including a 49-foot woman (Reese Witherspoon), a gelatinous mass (Seth Rogen) and a half-man/half-insect scientist (Hugh Laurie -- trying to save the earth from an extraterrestrial (Rainn Wilson) with evil designs. From the 1950s setting to the premise to the 3D release, it's an unapologetic celebration of B-movie pleasures, with plenty of fun gags and lively set pieces.

Slightly more sophisticate viewers might groove to the latest spry caper from writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick). The Brothers Bloom casts Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo as sibling con men out for one last big score before they retire -- so naturally the more sensitive brother, Brody, falls for their mark (Rachel Weisz). There are double-crosses and surprises, naturally, but also deadpan sight gags and plenty of small, satisfying touches that prove what a deft cinematic craftsman Johnson is turning out to be.

And for the documentary-lover, seek out Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037. Director Ben Niles profiles the craftsman at Steinway & Sons who continue to hand-make the most desired concert pianos in the world. It's interesting watching musicians discuss the unique signature tones of each instrument, but it's fascinating watching the working-class stiffs who take such a fierce pride in constructing a product for the most rarified of audiences. It's a celebration both of artistry, and the lost art of a job well-done.

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