This week, the highlighted titles coming to Blu-Ray and DVD are a myriad bunch. There’s the Oscar nominated “Lady Bird” for one, along with a comedic Marvel movie. Throw in Woody Allen‘s latest and the slate is a pretty solid one. Today, as we recover still from the Academy Awards, let us dive in to some new home viewing options!
PICK OF THE WEEK
Greta Gerwig‘s solo directorial debut was one of 2017’s best films and deserved every bit of acclaim it received. Funny, tender, and painfully real, it’s something truly special. Gerwig’s writing and directing are flawless, while Saoirse Ronan is iconic in the title role of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson. In addition, Laurie Metcalf joins the pantheon of complicated screen mothers with a portrayal that damn near won her an Oscar. Clayton saw it with me at the New York Film Festival and raved about it in his review:
“Greta Gerwig steps behind the camera for the first time as a director and hits it out of the park with her deeply entertaining “Lady Bird.” Stitching together a splendid cast led by the ebullient Saoirse Ronan, the film has all the marvelous characteristics that measure up to one of the most lively times at the movies this year.”
“Lady Bird” is sadly one of the few movies that went home empty handed on Sunday night. Still, it will live on as an instant classic. Hot take: it’s also the best performance from Timothee Chalamet in 2017. Pick it up and relive what made it all so very special!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $48,321,868 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director (Gerwig), Best Actress (Ronan), and Best Supporting Actress (Metcalf) at the Academy Awards
“BPM (Beats Per Minute)”
A few months ago, it would have seemed for all the money like this was going to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Feature. The fact that it never really caught on is puzzling, though the film itself is still quite strong. A perfect companion piece to “How to Survive a Plague” from a few years back, it’s a searing look at the AIDS crisis. Our staff was quite big on this one, as seen in a review on the site that includes the following bit:
“The film’s title (originally “120 Beats Per Minute”) refers to the beating heart. And as it sends us off with the throbbing sounds of electro dance music, the film’s message is clear. The beat – and the lives affected by AIDS – must go on.”
“BPM (Beats Per Minute)” isn’t quite in the league of “Lady Bird,” but it’s still easy to recommend today. Pick it up and see what everyone back at the Cannes Film Festival fell for…
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $118,384 (and counting)
Major Awards: Won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival
Marvel went for comedy and had one of their most interesting hits to date with this third Thor outing. Not only did they find the humor in Thor, Loki, and even the Hulk, they managed to get Jeff Goldblum and let him run wild. It all made for some of the most purely fun times that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has produced. Clayton dug it too, writing up the following:
“You can kick back and enjoy your superhero-blasting and deadpan humor for two hours without a hitch.”
“Thor: Ragnarok” is nearly as funny as “Lady Bird” (or any other MCU outing), helping to distinguish it from the superhero pack. Outside of “Deadpool,” this is probably the most overt comic book blockbuster out there. Even just for Goldblum alone, it’s a must see.
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, and more
Total Box Office: $314,965,819 (and counting)
Major Awards: None
Woody Allen is a hard filmmaker to defend these days. Even beyond allegations about his personal life, his output over the last decade has been spotty. This return to New York is a middle of the road outing for him. Kate Winslet and the cinematography are incredible, while the writing is some of his weakest in some time. Clayton and yours truly also both took it in at NYFF, with the boss having this somewhat mixed take on it:
“There’s something robust about the story that Allen is trying to tell despite the punchy way in which he chooses to tell it.”
Remove Allen from the equation and “Wonder Wheel” is still worth watching on an artistry level. I’ve often said I’ve yet to find an Allen movie that I don’t like, and the streak continues. This is just one not to go nuts over. If you remain interested in his work…here it is.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $1,401,853
Major Awards: None
In honor of this week’s release of “The Death of Stalin,” the pick today will be the previous feature from Armando Iannucci. It’s of course “In the Loop,” an hilarious political comedy that hasn’t gotten any less relevant as the years have passed. As funny as it is, it’s also depressingly on point about the way politics goes down. From The AV Club at the time:
“A mercilessly funny film that, beneath the laughs, chillingly falls on the believable side of how politics really gets done.”
Iannucci fans should revisit this one ASAP, as it’s only gotten timelier. Pair it with “Lady Bird” and/or one of the other recommended titles and you’ve got a nice slate on your hands…
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the recommended quartet of “BPM (Beats Per Minute),” “Lady Bird,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” and “Wonder Wheel”:
An Oscar nominee in Best Animated Feature, this little movie has more than its share of fans. One of them actually resides here on the site, and put the following forward in their highly positive review back at the end of last year:
“This isn’t a film with bright visuals or catchy songs. Instead, it relies on simplicity.”
Give it a shot if your animation tastes run towards the more independent side of the coin.
Box Office: $309,736 (and counting)
One of the worst films I’ve seen in some time, this comedy is absolutely painful to sit through. Even worse, it comes from a good director in Dito Montiel. I saw it at the Tribeca Film Festival and filed this absolute pan, which gave me no joy at all to write. Behold a choice bit from the review:
“Aside from a charming soundtrack, nothing works here. It looks for humor in all the wrong places. It sets up a chemistry-free romance. Attempts at satire fall flat. At times, it almost seems to be intentionally off the mark.”
No need to subject yourself to this one.
Box Office: N/A
Another Academy Award nominee, this one in Best Documentary Feature, it would have made Agnes Varda the oldest winner had it emerged victorious. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, but it takes nothing away from the doc itself. Rolling Stone raved about it, boasting the following:
“Sheer perfection. French New Wave veteran Agnes Varda and the young photographer JR leap fearlessly into the art of making art in the year’s best and most beguiling doc.”
One of the rare 100% Rotten Tomatoes films, doc fans should pick this one up without question.
Box Office: $900,000 (and counting)
“The Man Who Invented Christmas”
This holiday origin story of sorts was the other notable Christopher Plummer performance in 2017. Far less seen than “All the Money in the World,” it scored surprisingly strong reviews, even if few were over the moon for it. One such restrained yet positive take came from The Hollywood Reporter, as you can see:
“[Offers] enough enjoyable Masterpiece Theater-style moments to entice Anglophiles and those who can never get enough of Ebenezer Scrooge.”
Make of this one what you will…
Box Office: $5,676,487
A would be awards player, particularly for Melissa Leo, this drama fell far short once the precursor season kicked into gear. Once thought to be prime Best Supporting Actress material (Metcalf and “Lady Bird” ended up Allison Janney‘s prime competition for her winning turn in “I, Tonya“), Leo just never happened. Clayton banged the drum though, putting out a highly positive review from the Middleburg Film Festival on the site:
“Ambitious and thematically striking, Margaret Betts makes her feature writing and directing debut with the marvelously absorbing “Novitiate.””
For me, this was one of the most overrated films of 2017. For Clayton, it was the exact opposite. The choice is yours.
Box Office: $580,346
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