This week, James Gray‘s long-gestating passion project “The Lost City of Z” hits Blu-Ray and DVD. It’s the biggest release today, as well as the best. Now, let’s dive right in and examine the whole slate!
PICK OF THE WEEK
“The Lost City of Z”
It took years for Gray to finally bring “The Lost City of Z” to screens. Luckily, the final product, which screened at the Closing Night selection at the 2016 New York Film Festival, is one of his best yet. Epic and wonderful to look at, but still full of Gray’s sensibilities, it really works. After recent efforts like the deeply underrated “Two Lovers” were ignored, it was nice to see audiences actually give this filmmaker the chance he deserves. This NYFF review up at the site examines why:
Gray is reaching back to the past, not just for his story, but for the feel of this picture. Some might find it a bit plodding, but that’s somewhat intentional. Gray and “The Lost City of Z” march you into the unknown of the jungle, but at their own distinct pace.
Gray has gotten the praise he deserves for “The Lost City of Z.” Stay tuned to see if it can get him finally into the awards season. Plus, it’s just quality cinema!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $8,536,338 (and counting)
Major Awards: None yet
“A Quiet Passion”
Also playing at NYFF last year was this biopic of Emily Dickinson. Thankfully, it’s not what you would normally expect from a prestige period piece. Mainly notable for Cynthia Nixon‘s performance, it’s something fairly different, especially considering what it could have been. Nixon knocks it out of the park. Back at the festival, this review of ours marveled at how it subverted expectations:
What could have been stodgy and dry is instead lively and at times even a bit fun.
See “A Quiet Passion” for Nixon and her wonderful turn as Dickinson. Additionally, see it if you normally think period pieces need to be more fun!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $1,861,177
Major Awards: None yet
In honor of this week’s release of “War for the Planet of the Apes,” the pick today is the previous film in the franchise. It’s “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” which saw Matt Reeves turn the series into something epic. Clayton is a big fan of this flick, putting forth the following in his rave review at the time:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes isn’t just a summer blockbuster, it’s a full on dramatic epic.
Until the new one hits, dive back and check out the last installment of the franchise.
Other Films Being Released
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the recommended duo of “The Lost City of Z” and “A Quiet Passion”:
“The Fate of the Furious”
The eighth film in this ridiculous franchise continued to rake in the cash. Some pundits have found diminishing returns, including the critic at Slate. They put forth the following:
It feels like the movies have gotten as big as they can get, and the gleeful absurdity that drove them is losing ground to the specter of obligation.
If it’s your thing, enjoy. To be sure, it’s about as far from “The Lost City of Z” as it gets.
Box Office: $225,587,340 (and counting)
“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer”
Richard Gere scored some strong notices for this odd little character study. It won’t get him his first Academy Award nomination, but he’s perhaps doing his best work ever, which is undeniably saying something. One day it will probably end up paying off. For now, he just has another quality turn to his credit. Time Out certainly agreed about Gere’s performance, writing up this positive take:
Gere, his Cheshire-cat smile only improving with age, has found his most essential role, one that pushes his smooth operator’s desperation to the limit.
Check it out for Gere’s turn.
Box Office: $3,788,380
“Smurfs: The Lost Village”
This franchise still is putting out animated features, believe it or not. Reviews were as poor as could have been expected. The Hollywood Reporter was as merciful as it could have been:
A mediocre effort that nonetheless succeeds in its main goal of keeping its blue characters alive for future merchandising purposes.
Box Office: $44,860,854
A strong little flick that flew under the radar earlier this year. Variety went to bat for it, however. Here’s a taste:
A relentlessly charming romantic comedy that sees director Lone Scherfig … finally expand the sensibilities she displayed with “Italian for Beginners” and “An Education” into a more commercial direction.
Consider this another viable option this week, in addition to “The Lost City of Z.”
Box Office: $3,603,484
Special Criterion Collection Section
The first release to get the Criterion treatment today is this last film from Robert Bresson. Here’s what the good folks at the Collection have to say:
In his ruthlessly clear-eyed final film, French master Robert Bresson pushed his unique blend of spiritual rumination and formal rigor to a new level of astringency.
Give it a shot!
“Roberto Rossellini’s War Trilogy”
The other title joining the Collection is this collector’s set. The site has this to say about it:
Roberto Rossellini is one of the most influential filmmakers of all time. And it was with his trilogy of films made during and after World War II—Rome Open City, Paisan, and Germany Year Zero—that he left his first transformative mark on cinema.
Some solid value here!
“Class: Series One”
“Magicians: Season Two”
“The Missing: The Complete Second Season”
“Underground: Season 1 & 2”
“Underground: Season 2”