This week we can gloriously celebrate one of the best slates of Blu-Ray/DVD titles hitting shelves in a very long time. Last week was a welcome reprieve from the hard times during the past month or so, but this haul of high quality titles really is something special. In fact, I’d say this is one of the very best slates this year, and among the best last year as well! Any week that features one of my 10 favorites of the current year and one of my top 20 from last year is one to truly be reckoned with, and today we have just that sort of situation, with a few other strong choices to boot. It certainly makes my top pick a bit harder than usual, but I always welcome that kind of a challenge. In terms of my PICK OF THE WEEK, I was choosing between an Oscar winner from last year and a long shot Oscar hopeful for this one. Which one did I wind up choosing? Well, I went with the slightly more low profile title. It’s:
One of my favorite films so far in 2012, Richard Linklater’s supremely entertaining true life crime dramedy/docudrama is one of his best movies to date. The flick features nomination caliber work from Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine along with a solid supporting turn by Matthew McConaughey (is this turning out to be his year or what?), but the inventiveness on display by Linklater is as enjoyable as anything else. Black especially wowed me as the title character, but it’s incredibly good all around and in my eyes one of the 5 best of the year to date. It’s a very different movie than I think you’re expecting, and it’s also likely just simply a better one as well. I really can’t recommend it enough, and now that it’s out on Blu-Ray and DVD, I hope everyone picks it up and sees why I dig it so much. You won’t regret it one bit!
-Coming in a close second place is Asghar Farhadi’s pretty much universally acclaimed drama A Separation. While I loved it too, my love is just a little bit lighter than most, otherwise it would have likely been my top pick instead of the above title. This fascinating tale of divorce in contemporary Iran is a wonderful film that everyone should see. Obviously it had a limited release last year for Oscar qualification (and scored a Best Original Screenplay nod to go along with a win for Best Foreign Language Feature), but now anyone who missed it can find out what all the fuss is about. You’ll very likely be impressed…
-Also getting a thumbs up from me today are the compelling drama Weekend and the Disney animal documentary Chimpanzee. They couldn’t be more different works, but they’re both well worth checking out since neither was widely seen during their theatrical runs. The former is much better than the latter, but I can recommend them both without hesitation.
-The rest of the titles out this week include the uneven but funny comedy The Dictator, the disappointing drama Virginia, and the action flick Freelancers, which I haven’t seen. I can’t speak for the last movie in question, but the other two are hardly bad…they just could have been much better than they ultimately were. If you laughed at Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest antics or are dying of curiosity about Dustin Lance Black’s directorial debut, then you’ve got reason to pick those up, but aside from that…you can obviously do better this week.
-My Vintage pick, in honor of this week’s release of Premium Rush, is a look back at Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s finest action related work to date. I have my doubts that his new film will be one for the ages, but who knows. Still, he’s made some terrific ones, and I wanted to cite one that may have gone under the radar for him (and also one I haven’t yet mentioned when recommending JGL films in this column. It’s The Lookout, and this is a real underrated gem in my book. Not only is Joseph Gordon-Levitt absolutely fantastic in the role, but the film itself is a taut and exciting crime flick that not enough people saw, too few remember, and far too many forget about. Give this movie a first or second watch before seeing his last one, and expect to see more JGL films referenced in this section as the years pass…
-What will you be watching on Blu-Ray/DVD this week? Discuss in the comments!