This week, one of last year’s awards season juggernauts comes to Blu-Ray/DVD, along with only a handful of other titles. I don’t really feel enthusiastic about any of the films hitting shelves today, but one does stand out above the rest, without question. There could be another movie or two worth giving a shot to, but that’s just not how I see the lineup. My top pick is essentially a default one, but it’s at least a high profile one. Yes, for my PICK OF THE WEEK, I opted for an Academy Award winning epic, one we’ve discussed quite a bit here at the site. You’ll see what I mean shortly, but first, we’ve got a Vintage pick to discuss!
In honor of this week’s release of Holidays, I wanted to cite, instead of another horror anthology, a title from one of the flick’s directors. In this case, I’m going with Kevin Smith’s deeply underrated near horror movie Red State once again. From my high positive review (found here) at the time: “With ‘Red State’, Kevin Smith has a done a complete 180 as a filmmaker. The writer/director known for being a premiere comedy auteur has made a gritty horror/thriller satire that defies convention. It’s a rather brutal film, one that’s shocking in its sudden violence and unrelenting in its tension. The satire is sharp, but never light. The targets are fanatical religion and the egotistical overreach of the sloppy hand of government, and such heavy topics are treated as such. There are a handful of laughs in the film, but they mostly are just story beats to get you to the next surprising moment or revelation. Smith constantly is switching up the focus of the narrative, both in terms of what the story is about and who we’re following as the “hero”, and manages to do it deftly, never losing the audience. That being said, this definitely is not a flick for everyone. Cross a bit of ‘Hostel’ with ‘Race with the Devil’ and throw in the famous Waco incident, and you have an idea of what ‘Red State’ is about. If you’re thinking that it sounds nothing like a Kevin Smith movie, you’re right.” It’s a consistent recommendation from me, I know, but with Smith helming one of the better segments in this about to be released anthology, it’s the right time to revisit it, or even finally dive in and give the flick a look.
Other Films Being Released
With just one thing to pay tribute to today, here now is just a simple list of what else is hitting shelves on this day, sans my recommendation. Behold:
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon
This documentary about the National Lampoon is sitting on my desk, so I’ll get to it soon, especially with reviews like this one from Richard Roeper, who said: “A frenetic, rough-edged, unapologetic tribute to the Lampoon, featuring some amazing archival footage, nifty bits of animation and dozens of straightforward talking-head interviews that crackle and pop.” I’m sold, and frankly, it’s a shame that I haven’t gotten to it yet.
Box Office: $62,660
Fifty Shades of Black
Obviously, this satire is going after low hanging fruit, but it still managed some of the worst reviews of the year, including this one here in Variety saying: “At a minimum, a parody should be funnier than the film it’s sending up, but “Fifty Shades of Black,” a quick-and-dirty riff on last year’s S&M romance “Fifty Shades of Grey,” falls a laugh or two short of even that low standard.” I wasn’t interested to begin with, but I can easily pass with reviews like that.
Box Office: $11,686,940
Ip Man 3
I’m admittedly not big on martial arts films, so I’ve yet to see any parts of this franchise, but this review here from the San Francisco Chronicle says that it’s a fitting end, stating: “Yen is appealing, the story moves right along, and the martial arts sequences are (to my untrained eye) impressive. In short, a good enough conclusion to the Ip Man saga.” If you’re a fan, I’d imagine this one will work well enough for you.
Box Office: $2,679,437
For a quick moment, it seemed like this Maggie Smith vehicle (no pun intended) was going to get her an Oscar nomination. It didn’t happen, but my colleagues all seemed to rave about her work in the picture, including this one here from the Washington Post, which says: “There’s no use fending off the force of nature that is Smith. Sensitive and formidable, self-deprecating and brave, she elevates every role she’s in, as we know by now.” This a small movie, but one that I’d imagine is a must see for fans of Smith, at the very least.
Box Office: $9,738,796 (and counting)
I really wanted to see this indie, but just couldn’t make it work. Reviews were kind but not quite raves, like this one from the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which states: “Equally fascinating and frustrating, writer/director/actor Ross Partridge’s “Lamb” explores a threatening February and November relationship between odd kindred spirits.” I’ll be checking it out soon, so feel free to join me in that endeavor.
Box Office: $14,547
Another in a distressingly long line of barely released Al Pacino movies, it was roundly ignored. Entertainment Weekly had this to say in their review: “The movie’s silly-arty aesthetic is regurgitated Polanski, and there’s a shameless script steal from Presumed Innocent.” Seems like a safe one to pass on, if you ask me.
Box Office: N/A
Norm of the North
I missed this animated title, but apparently I didn’t miss much. Most of the reviews were like this one from Vulture: “It’s got elements of Happy Feet, Madagascar, Despicable Me, Ice Age, and any number of other films. But most of these elements go nowhere.” Yeah, that’s nothing I need to go out of my way for, and neither do you.
Box Office: $17,062,499
Raunchy comedies are often punching bags, but this little seen one actually seemed to have a few fans, including this very kind review here from the Los Angeles Times that says: “”Sex Ed” is a likable little comedy that features such a well-conceived and portrayed main character it makes up for the film’s slender concept and leaps in logic.” I haven’t seen it, but I’m actually very curious to check it out now.
Box Office: N/A
Family Matters: The Complete Sixth Season
Haven: The Complete Final Season
How the West Was Won: The Complete Third Season
Little House On The Prairie: Season Nine
Pretty Little Liars: The Complete Sixth Season
Salem: The Complete Second Season
Silicon Valley: The Complete Second Season *Joey’s Pick*
Veep: The Complete Fourth Season
PICK OF THE WEEK
Probably the runner up for Best Picture this past year, we still saw the revenge drama take home Oscars in Best Director for Alejandro González Iñárritu and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio. I found it to be a problematic but very well made and acted film, though Clayton was much fonder of it, saying here that: “Like a one-man solo act such as “All is Lost” and “Gravity,” Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s newest and most ambitious work “The Revenant” blends one man’s fight to survive with the even more visible theme of vengeance. With a career that is full of tremendous performances, five-time Academy Award nominee Leonardo DiCaprio offers an intense and moving testament to his legacy as one of modern cinema’s most gifted actors. On the other side, co-writer and director Iñárritu has seemed to hit his stride as one of our most innovative and meditative filmmakers.” It was a divisive picture for some, but it’s one that won’t be soon forgotten. With little else of note this week, it’s an easy pick for what’s most essential to own.
Special Features: Making Of
Total Box Office: $183,231,223 (and counting)
Major Award: Won Best Director (Iñárritu) and Best Actor (DiCaprio) at the Academy Awards
–What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!