New Blu-ray/DVD Releases (03/14/17) – Sturdy ‘Fences’ And Underrated ‘Passengers’

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This week, a trio of Oscar nominated titles his Blu-Ray and DVD. They happen to be a varied bunch in “Elle,” “Fences,” and “Passengers“. That makes today one of those days with something for everyone. Don’t believe me? Just see below for proof!

PICK OF THE WEEK

Passengers

Unfairly maligned upon release, this space set science fiction romance has more to offer than meets the eye. The pairing of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt exhibit solid chemistry, while the first half is chock full of ideas. If the third act is a bit rote, it only keeps a good movie from being better. In addition, the Oscar nominated production design is really quite gorgeous. Ignore the manufactured controversy and enjoy this flick for what it simply is. Here’s a bit from our “Passengers” review here on the site:

In the end, provided you don’t get caught up in the supposed “twist,” there’s a good chance that “Passengers” will entertain you.

“Passengers” is flawed, yes. It’s still entertaining and unique. That goes a long way these days. If you avoided it in theaters, give it a shot now. You just might like what you find.

Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $99,350,204 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Production Design and Best Original Score at the Academy Awards

Recommended Movies

Elle

Probably the most controversial film of 2016, content wise. Isabelle Huppert blew audiences away, at least those bold enough to sit through the whole movie, with this performance. Finally nominated by the Academy, she was mostly one of the passengers on the awards season train, but it was still nice to see her cited. Furthermore, this is just one of her very best roles. Here is what Clayton said in a review out of the New York Film Festival:

Driven by a tremendous and powerhouse performance from Isabelle Huppert, “Elle” electrifies in its slick and throwback call to the ’90s thriller.

“Elle” aims higher than something like “Fences” or “Passengers” in its ambition, though outside of Huppert it’s somewhat of a mixed bag.

Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $2,283,069 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Actress (for Huppert) at the Academy Awards

Fences

Denzel Washington‘s third directorial outing is his strongest yet, ably adapting the August Wilson play of the same name. Featuring an Oscar winning turn by Viola Davis, this is completely an acting showcase. Davis and Washington go toe to toe, with audiences emerging as the winner. Furthermore, fans of Wilson have to be pleased with this final product as a way of honoring the late playwright. Clayton raved about this one in his review, writing:

Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington has made his mark on film history with such films as “Malcolm X” and “Glory.” His work as a director has admittedly struggled to find the right voice and aesthetic to capture the same passion he’s brought to his acting roles. In the adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Fences,” the iconic actor can now attach the term “iconic director” to his already impressive resume.

Leaps and bounds ahead of “Antoine Fisher” and “The Great Debaters” in terms of filmmaking, this is an important movie for Washington. “Fences”

Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $57,388,479 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for four Oscars at the Academy Awards, winning Best Supporting Actress for Davis

Vintage Viewing

In honor of this week’s release of “Song to Song,” the pick is going to be an independent flick starring Ryan Gosling. It’s “Half Nelson,” which scored Gosling his first Academy Award nomination. He’s absolutely riveting in this character study, blowing you away. The work still stands among his very best, bar none. The Los Angeles Times had this rave back about a decade ago:

Made with assurance, restraint and psychological acuity by director Ryan Fleck and anchored by Ryan Gosling’s commanding performance, this paradigmatic American independent feature approaches recurring themes in a compelling new way.

If you’ve never seen this one, make it your business to check it out ASAP. You won’t regret it!

Other Films Being Released

Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the recommended trio of “Elle,” “Fences,” and “Passengers”:

American Violence

A crime flick featuring a wasted Bruce Dern, this film has barely even been bothered with. This review at RogerEbert.com explains why:

American Violence seems defiantly unconcerned with addressing the actual issues at play, delivering a generic crime thriller instead.

Alas.

Box Office: N/A

Collateral Beauty

Will Smith has been making some questionable choices of late. This would be tearjerker seems to be his most questionable in some time. Rolling Stone abhorred it, putting out this pan:

It’s near impossible to make a movie with no redeeming features – but this tearjerker hits the zero-stars jackpot, taking an all-star cast on a journey from absurd to zombified with frequent stops at pretentious.

Pass. What a shame.

Box Office: $31,016,021

The Love Witch

This offbeat grindhouse tale of sorts was one of the more popular independent releases of 2016, critically speaking. Plus, it really stands as something different in the marketplace. The Hollywood Reporter loved it and championed it quite a bit, writing the following in their rave review:

Destined to be a cult classic, this sophomore effort by Anna Biller is a heady throwback to the American and European sexploitation horror films of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

This is one to certainly make an effort to check out, provided you like the cut of its jib.

Box Office: $226,453

Solace

A throwaway genre outing that wastes a solid cast, this used to be a direct to video type offering. The New York Times was not a fan, putting forward the following:

Staggeringly silly and visually disordered, this unfortunate misfire has been kicking around Europe and elsewhere for a couple of years under different titles, and it’s easy to see why.

Nothing to see here folks.

Box Office: N/A

Special Criterion Collection Section

Canoa: A Shameful Memory

This 1976 film joins the collection today. Criterion has this to say about it:

One of Mexico’s most highly regarded works of political cinema

Pick it up if that sounds like your thing!

Special Citation

Ghost in the Shell

A re-release worth mentioning this week is “Ghost in the Shell,” which Mondo is putting out ahead of the live action remake. Roger Ebert was a fan, once upon a time, writing:

I enjoyed its visuals, its evocative soundtrack (including a suite for percussion and heavy breathing), and its ideas.

Check it out as another options besides “Passengers” et al!

TV Releases

“As Time Goes By: Complete Series 2”
“CHiPs: The Complete Fifth Season”
“COPS: The Animated Series”
“Drunk History: Season Four”
“The Jamie Foxx Show: The Complete Second Season”
“Newhart: The Complete Final Season”
“Pee Wee’s Playhouse: Complete Collection”
“Six”
“Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition”
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season Two”
“What I Like About You: The Complete Second Season”

Thoughts on what to watch this week on Blu-ray or DVD? Share them in the comments below!

  • Joey Magidson

    Eclectic options this week, no doubt about that.