This week, one of 2017’s best documentaries leads the charge of new releases coming to Blu-Ray and DVD. Up until two years ago, “11/8/16” would have been just a random day, though now it’s one that will live in infamy. The election themed doc highlights a slate that would have been better today, had a specific title not underwhelmed so much. More on that below!
PICK OF THE WEEK
A one of a kind documentary, you’ll never look at the election the same way again after watching this. Following a number of regular folks on during the day of the 2016 Presidential election, it’s absolutely fascinating. Furthermore, knowing what’s coming makes it a bit of an under the radar horror flick too. Watching the night turn from joy over a presumed Hillary Clinton victory to the horror of a Donald Trump win is quite visceral. Words almost don’t do it justice. The Village Voice does a great job of trying though, writing:
A slow-burning psychological horror story, a portrait of a country in the moment its people all finally understood just what they were capable of.
“11/8/16” will be an uncomfortable watch for a lot of people. Still, it’s just riveting to watch unfold. If you’re a political junkie, this is one to definitely seek out!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: N/A
Major Awards: None
In honor of this week’s release of “Isle of Dogs,” the pick today is the other stop motion animated effort from Wes Anderson. It’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” which is just an utter delight. Anderson has an acquired taste that yours truly doesn’t really mesh with in his live action outings. The animated ones, however? A whole different story. TIME Magazine helps to explain why this format works so well for the filmmaker:
Anderson’s stop-motion Fantastic Mr. Fox is both a delightful amusement and a distillation of the filmmaker’s essential playfulness.
With his latest animated outing about to hit screens, be sure to revisit his prior take on the genre!
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the sole recommended title “11/8/16”:
“The Divine Order”
This was one of the most surprising Best Foreign Language Feature nominees of last year. The entry from Switzerland was not expected to crack the Academy Award lineup, but managed to after some higher profile contenders were snubbed. The Hollywood Reporter has a take that sums things up well:
An entertaining if also largely predictable story of an individual swept up in the tide of history.
If you missed it prior to the Oscars, you can pick it up now and try to see what voters saw in it.
Box Office: N/A
No, not the Quentin Tarantino western. This pseudo biopic of musician Django Reinhardt is more a wartime set drama, with some music thrown in. The response to this one was tepid, with no strong responses either way. NPR contributed this review of the movie, which was on the more negative side:
The film’s story – loosely adapted from Alexis Salatko’s novel Folles de Django – manages to feel at once oversimplified, underfed and overburdened.
Something to consider this week, though hardly a first option.
Box Office: $56,556
At one point last year, a lot of pundits looked to Alexander Payne‘s passion project as a huge potential Oscar player. Then, we saw it. This satire is Payne’s first true misfire. And what a misfire it is. What a total calamity and letdown from a filmmaker that is almost always reliably excellent. The A.V. Club properly took Payne to taste for this wasted opportunity:
Downsizing is less a fully-formed satire than a clever idea stranded in first draft and stretched uncomfortably to feature length.
Easily one of last year’s most disappointing movies.
Box Office: $24,449,754
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”
A smash hit, this reboot of “Jumanji” really captured the hearts, minds, and wallets of audiences. This was the rare example of a property no one needed back in their lives, but was done well enough that it’s more than welcomed. Clayton was among the many who feted it thoroughly, writing the following on the site:
Chock-full of laughs, it’s an enjoyable flick for a family outing
This franchise is alive and well. If you loved the film, pick it up and enjoy!
Box Office: $400,273,598 (and counting)
“Pitch Perfect 3”
The “Pitch Perfect” franchise mercifully comes to an end. The first two films were passably enjoyable enough, but this outing was atrocious. Devoid of charm, derivative, and a clear cash grab, it’s a chore to sit through. Audiences stuck around, but critics abandoned it en mass. The Hollywood Reporter put forth a pan that was very much on point:
Whatever charms the first two movies possessed (and they were considerable thanks to the talented and appealing cast) have been thoroughly lost in this soulless installment.
At least it’s all over now.
Box Office: $104,897,530
“The Vanishing of Sidney Hall”
Despite a tremendous cast, this drama fell rather flat. Ignored by both audiences and critics, it’s the sort of independent title that essentially gets erased from existence in short order. Variety ended up with one of the more moderate takes, though still definitely a thumbs down:
There are few things more frustrating than a mystery without a satisfying conclusion, unless it’s a mystery that didn’t need to be a mystery in the first place.
Sadly, a waste of a cast.
Box Office: N/A
This doc about a fascinating prison program fell below the radar, but seemed to be one of the most highly regarded of the last 12 months. In another world, it probably would have competed to win the Oscar. The Wrap was one of many outlets to be rather fond of it, stating the following:
A simple, tense, gritty auditing of a collective unburdening that obviously brings some needed clarity, and the promise of rehabilitation, to some hurt, searching souls.
Definitely something to consider checking out, especially if you want to double down on “11/8/16,” documentary wise.
Box Office: $5,853
Special Criterion Collection Section
Our first Criterion release today is an interesting relic from the German cinema of the 1970’s. An adaptation of a play from the 1910’s got an update here, one that is being given a very nice honor. The Collection sells this one to you as such, in case you’re not familiar with it:
Volker Schlöndorff transported Bertolt Brecht’s 1918 debut play to contemporary West Germany for this vicious experiment in adaptation, seldom seen for nearly half a century.
If you’re curious, trust Criterion and give it a shot!
“The Passion of Joan of Arc”
Also joining the collection this week is a silent film for the ages. When you talk about this era, this movie is pretty much required as a conversation topic. Director Carl Theodor Dreyer crafting something that’s a film school staple. Just allow Criterion to explain it all to you:
Spiritual rapture and institutional hypocrisy come to stark, vivid life in one of the most transcendent masterpieces of the silent era.
Cinefiles would do well to pick this one up!
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