This week, a couple of well-regarded dramas from last year’s Sundance Film Festival lead the charge. Chiefly, we have “What They Had” as one of the top Blu-Ray/DVD releases today. There are a handful of other worthy titles hitting shelves as well, so this is a pretty solid week. The home video picks definitely beat the theatrical options right now!
PICK OF THE WEEK
This drama about a family dealing with their matriarch suffering from Alzheimer’s can be a tough sit. It can also be hilarious at times. With committed performances from Blythe Danner, Robert Forster, Michael Shannon, and Hilary Swank, it’s often an acting showcase as well. Filmmaker Elizabeth Chomko took her own struggles in real life and turned it into an emotional cinema that demands to be seen. Clayton was a fan of the film, writing the following here on the site:
Headlined by a strong cast, with the likes of Robert Forster and Blythe Danner standing out, a portrait of affection and family is at times, very moving
“What They Had” is incredibly moving. Forster deserved more of a shot in Best Supporting Actor than he received from the precursors. If you want a good cry, this is the choice option today!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $260,136
Major Awards: None yet
Jonah Hill‘s directorial debut is a lived in a bit of nostalgic filmmaking. The sense of place and time is impeccable, showcasing what Hill can do as a filmmaker, even this early on. He also deserves credit for casting Lucas Hedges very much against type in an intriguing supporting role. It wouldn’t be surprising at all for Hill to soon be in the awards conversation if he sticks with directing. He has a cinematic eye that’s worth following closely. This is what we wrote in our positive review around the time of the New York Film Festival:
Hill has pulled off an impressive directorial debut, one that showcases a confident hand behind the camera.
“Mid90s” suggests a real future behind the camera for Hill. While the subject matter isn’t quite that essential for most, the way he captures it is. Give it a shot and see what all the fuss is about!
Special Features: Audio Commentary and Deleted Scenes
Total Box Office: $7,362,439 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Editing at the Film Independent Spirit Awards
This drama very nearly approaches greatness. The final act builds to a powerful moment, but then it ends. That sense of disappointment is only due to how strong everything else is. John David Washington is the standout in Reinaldo Marcus Green‘s intense story, which also is his filmmaking debut. Washington’s segment is the fullest and most interesting of the three, but each aspect of the two works. Rolling Stone was quite fond of it, as you can see:
John David Washington is at his forceful best in this racially-charged drama from debuting filmmaker Reinaldo Marcus Green that uses the perspective of three persons of color to examine the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white cop
“Monsters and Men” has a lot going on. Had it been able to put it all together into a more satisfying thesis, it would have given “What They Had” a run for its money as top pick. Instead, it has to settle for a very solid second place. Still, definitely look out for this one, especially since it contains another strong turn from Washington.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $500,101
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Supporting Male (for Washington) at the Film Independent Spirit Awards
Filmmaker/star Karen Gillan also made her directorial debut in 2018. Her movie is an equally funny and sad character study that pulls no punches. Gillan gives herself a tough part to play and then absolutely aces it. The execution is quite stunning, at times. She’s got the good, folks. That goes without saying. Our review here on the site had this to say:
It’s a fully fleshed out character study, one that slowly builds to an effective conclusion.
“The Party’s Just Beginning” is a great calling card for Gillan. Watch out for her, as she’s got talent to spare!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: N/A
Major Awards: None yet
In honor of this week’s release of “The Upside,” the pick today is going to be the original version of this story. It’s “The Intouchables,” which was a hugely popular French film back in 2012. Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart have the remake gig, but Omar Sy was the original standout. Essentially a buddy dramedy, it’s the sort of foreign film that your grandmother can get behind. This was our take on the site back in 2012:
An enjoyable enough crowd pleaser that was heavily nominated by France’s César Awards (winning one for Best Actor and receiving another 8 nominations), ‘The Intouchables’ is a mature comedy that handles its potentially tough subject matter well, but never elevates things to the level of something more than simply entertaining.
The remake faces an uphill challenge to match the original. If you haven’t seen it yet, now is the time!
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides “Mid90s,” “Monsters and Men,” “The Party’s Just Beginning,” and “What They Had”:
Maika Monroe is a terrific young actress. She deserves to be a much bigger star than she currently is. Her time will come, but for now, she’s a standout in some compelling little independent works. Here, she’s paired with Jeremy Allen White in a romantic drama that deals with cancer. Monroe is the best part, as you can see in Variety‘s take below:
Monroe’s grounded presence keeps the film’s feet on the ground, while White allows his character to spin into orbit when self-pity commands it.
Monroe fans should give this one a look.
Box Office: N/A
As weird as cinema can get, this bizarre comedy is hard to fully explain. It works under its own strange sense of logic. So, it just comes down to if you can get on to its wavelength or not. That’s really where the dividing line is. For indieWire, it was something they were able to sufficiently manage, as you can see:
An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn adheres to a logic of total absurdity, but it’s just everyday life for the characters struggling through it.
Make of this one what you will.
Box Office: $6,701
The concept behind this horror outing is a solid one. Horror set at an amusement park? It’s a great excuse for some creative kills and real genre fun. Unfortunately, the execution is way too scattershot to leave an impression. It just lays there, totally unable to impress. What a disappointment. The AV Club sums it up well:
It delivers the tedious, heavy-breathing buildup associated with the genre, but skimps on the scares and the gory, gooey good stuff.
Box Office: $11,107,431
A comedy about coming out to your family needs to be handled gently. The wrong tone can come off as insensitive. Luckily, that wasn’t the case here. In part, that’s likely due to the aces supporting cast, which includes Bruce Dern, Cloris Leachman, and Kevin Pollak. They elevate things and give it an extra sheen. The Hollywood Reporter was charmed by it, writing the following:
Lez Bomb may traffic in clichés, but it delivers its messages of love, tolerance and acceptance in such light-hearted, warm fashion that they’re easy to overlook.
The cast definitely makes this another one to consider today.
Box Office: N/A
Ike Barinholtz writes, directs, and stars in this satirical comedy. A timely takedown of how divided we are as a country, politically speaking, there’s a lot to like here. Barinholtz throws everything at the wall and just waits to see what sticks, but it largely works. It’s messy, but it’s also a pretty solid amount of fun, with a relatable sense of angst thrown in for good measure. Entertainment Weekly got a chuckle out of this, putting forth this take on the material:
The laughs laced with a sigh as we watch arguments play out that have brought us to a collective national state of exhaustion and despair.
One more to consider this week!
Box Office: $401,463
Special Criterion Collection Section
For our one and only new Criterion release this week, we’re going to turn our attention to a recent title. It’s from 2017 and is the last work from filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. The Iranian director passed away around the time this movie came out, but his legacy lives on. The Collection honors him by adding this effort to their shelves. They describe it like so:
A sustained meditation on the process of image making, 24 Frames is a graceful and elegiac farewell from one of the giants of world cinema.
Kiarostami fans should definitely pick this one up!
“Castle Rock: Season One”
“Family Guy: 20 Greatest Hits”
“The Purge: Season One”