This week, the arrival of Valentine’s Day also brings a very nice assortment of new release Blu-ray and DVD options. A number of the films hitting shelves today were Academy Award hopefuls, with one even being heavily nominated by Oscar. So, let us dive right in and get started!
PICK OF THE WEEK
“The Edge of Seventeen”
This teen coming-of-age tale is really tremendous, with a Hailee Steinfeld performance that stands among the very best of 2016. Few stories about growing up can combine the specificity of an experience with the universality of teenage years like this film did. Here is just a taste of the rave review we have up on our site for “The Edge of Seventeen”:
It’s not often that a new release can feel like an instant classic. It doesn’t at all seem like hyperbole to write that ‘The Edge of Seventeen’ is going to deeply speak to a lot of teenagers as the years progress. It has such a specific yet timeless message about the confusion of growing up. However, in no way do you have to be a teenager to respond to it. This almost 30-year-old man was incredibly entertained, moved and outright blown away by it.
The arrival today of “The Edge of Seventeen” should entice you to race out to a store and pick it up. It’s absolutely worth it.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $14,431,633
Major Awards: Nominated for Best First Film at the Directors Guild of America awards
One of the most Oscar-nominated science fiction films ever now reaches an even broader audience. Aside from the Amy Adams snub in Best Actress, “Arrival” more or less cleaned up with the Academy, and rightly so. It was deservedly embraced as something more than just a genre outing. Clayton has a full-on rave here at the site for “Arrival,” which includes the following high praise:
The science fiction genre has evolved into some of the most prolific imagery and storytelling of the silver screen. Denis Villeneuve’s splendid ‘Arrival’ has the foreign director taking on uncharted territory and putting forth his finest film of his career yet.
“Arrival” is one of the better sci-fi movies of the last few years, so it’s pleasing to see it embraced by voters. Pick it up and relive the experience for yourself.
Special Features: Featurettes
Total Box Office: $99,412,735 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture
“Bleed for This”
A sports biopic with a committed Miles Teller performance at its core, this is just a cut below being good enough for awards contention. Fans of boxing films will recognize the beats, but likely enjoy it nonetheless. Mark had a Telluride Film Festival review in which he said the following about it:
‘Bleed for This’ isn’t ‘Creed,’ or even ‘The Fighter,’ but it is a highly entertaining, superbly-acted sports film…
Teller really does make this worth seeing.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $5,083,906
Major Awards: None
In honor of this week’s release of “Lovesong,” the pick is going to be a previous outing from the filmmaking team of So Yong Kim and Bradley Rust Gray. It’s “The Exploding Girl,” a mumblecore-style character study that’s really underrated. Zoe Kazan gave her first truly stunning performance here, absolutely blowing you away with her complex portrait of a young woman in New York City and marking her arrival on the cinematic scene. The New York Daily News raved about it, writing:
This quietly poetic little gem contains many beautiful things, not least of which is leading lady Zoe Kazan, who lets every scene billow and swirl around her effortlessly.
If you haven’t seen this one yet and you’re a Kazan fan, rectify that immediately!
Other Films Being Released
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides recommended titles like “Arrival” and “The Edge of Seventeen”:
“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”
Once upon a time, this war movie was a surefire Academy Award juggernaut. Director Ang Lee ended up with a big misfire, however. Overly concerned with visual invention and neglecting story, it’s a slog to get through. Clayton chimed in at the New York Film Festival with this review:
The demand for the awe that Lee besets upon himself is the film’s greatest crime. He focuses too much on building the medium and completely abandons the things that have made him such a prolific director in the first place.
Easily 2016’s biggest disappointment, it’s really only worth picking up as a curiosity.
Box Office: $1,738,477
In another world, Rebecca Hall would have been a major Oscar contender in Best Actress. That didn’t happen, obviously, but many still find her performance to be one of 2016’s best. The Chicago Sun-Times sure agrees in their review, writing:
Rebecca Hall gives one of the great performances of the year as the title character in ‘Christine,’ an intense, stomach-churning, unblinking drama.
Check it out and see what could have been for Hall.
Box Office: $298,525
This high concept financial thriller apparently wastes an inherently strong premise with mediocre execution. The AV Club panned it in this fashion:
‘The Crash’ fumbles between bad diatribe and bad domestic drama, complete with subplots about absent parents and childhood cancer.
Box Office: N/A
An homage in many ways to “Boogie Nights,” this crime drama is nowhere near as strong. In fact, it’s fairly poor. Variety summed it up well:
‘King Cobra’ is all smut and no soul … tacky, superficially titillating …
It’s just not very good, despite a committed performance from Christian Slater.
Box Office: $74,712
A really unusual film, it defies easy description, which is probably what kept it from finding an audience. Time Out had this to say:
An exciting, unsettling experience blessed with imagination and compassion.
It sounds different, if nothing else.
Box Office: N/A
A documentary about the notorious Kitty Genovese murder and its aftermath, particularly in regard to her family, it was an under-the-radar favorite for doc fans this year. The Hollywood Reporter said the following in their review:
Seen in vintage 8mm home movies, Kitty Genovese emerges as a vibrant, exuberant young woman whose violent death tragically came to overshadow her much too brief life.
Nearly nominated for an Oscar in Best Documentary Feature, this is a doc to make time for once we get through the actual nominees.
Box Office: $159,305
Special Criterion Collection Section
“The Tree of Wooden Clogs”
Joining the collection this week is this three-hour-plus foreign drama from Ermanno Olmi. No less than Roger Ebert praised it, writing in his review:
It is a very pleasant, even lulling, experience to watch these daily activities, and I found myself enjoying the film on a documentary level.
Pick it up and see why Ebert was a fan.
“Hap and Leonard: The Complete First Season”
“Kojak: Season One”
“Liberty’s Kids: The Complete Series”
“Mercy Street: The Complete Second Season”
“Star Trek Enterprise: The Complete Series”