This week, Neil Armstrong gets another shot at cinematic glory, as “First Man” leads the charge of new Blu-Ray and DVD releases. There are some other really interesting titles hitting shelves today, but Armstrong’s biopic stands tall. Read on for more!
PICK OF THE WEEK
One of 2018’s very best, this look at what actually led to Neil Armstrong walking on the moon is incredible. Ryan Gosling brilliantly portrays the astronaut, under the perfect direction of Damien Chazelle. Gosling, Claire Foy, and the entire cast are incredibly compelling. Chazelle actually managed to make something intimate out of what initially seemed like a potential blockbuster. The fact that it wasn’t a commercial hit, despite the critical acclaim, is a real shame. If that’s part of why it didn’t fully hit during the precursor season, well, that’s an even bigger shame. Mark fell for it at the Telluride Film Festival, writing the following rave:
One of the great moments in the film is the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, as the movie hurtles towards its climax. Chazelle keeps us with the astronauts for the entire journey, while others might have shown the crew at Houston celebrating, or the people back home reacting in the moment to those immortal first words. This decision was a stroke of genius and allows us to feel an ounce of the solitude and confinement the brave crew experienced.
“First Man” is a triumph. It’s a must own, especially in 4K, where Chazelle’s prowess really shines. In addition, we’ve got a ton of interviews with the talent behind the scenes to convince you. Check out our chats with composer Justin Hurwitz (here), editor Tom Cross (here), makeup designer Donald Mowat (here), screenwriter Josh Singer (here), and visual effects supervisor Paul Lambert (here).
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $44,936,545
Major Awards: Won Best Original Score at the Golden Globe Awards
This YA adaptation forgoes science fiction for something far more immediate and real. With a terrific turn from Amandla Stenberg, as well as a deep social conscience, it aspires to be more. At times, it wildly succeeds. At others, not so much. Despite its imperfections, it’s well worthy of the praise that has been bestowed upon it. Clayton was mixed on it, though his review on the site summed it up well:
One half of the film is a harrowing, deeply moving examination on how a community interprets the death of one of their own, and the isolation in which they can feel it. The other half is an overly dramatic, and overlong study that seems unable to contain all the various messages its trying to convey, summing up to an uneven venture.
“The Hate U Give” is a good movie that occasional reaches for greatness. It’s well worth picking up, as the ambition within is easy to applaud.
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Extended Scenes, Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $29,719,483
Major Awards: None Yet
In honor of this week’s release of “Serenity,” the pick today is a different vehicle for Matthew McConaughey. It’s “Killer Joe,” one of the nastier entries into his filmography. It isn’t always easy or fun to watch, but you find yourself unable to look away. It’s one of a kind in its grimy oddness. McConaughey would move on to Oscar glory shortly after, but this was a hint at what he had within him. Roger Ebert had this to say:
“Killer Joe” is one hell of a movie. It left me speechless. I can’t say I loved it. I can’t say I hated it.
There’s an embargo on McConaughey’s newest until the day before release, so make of that what you will. In the meantime, “Killer Joe” is a singular option to indulge in.
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides “First Man” and “The Hate U Give”:
This foreign crime drama was at one point in the running for Best Foreign Language Feature at the Academy Awards. With some stylish filmmaking and a compelling concept, it’s often engaging. At the same time, it’s kind of a surface level story. Your mileage may vary, depending on how much value you put into its look. Our take on the site here stated the following:
Those interested in “The Angel of Death” himself, Carlos Robledo Puch, might be frustrated by the lack of information one gets from the movie. However, as an engaging mood piece, “El Angel” offers a good-enough two hours and a really interesting turn by Lorenzo Ferro.
You can do worse this week, especially if you’re looking for some foreign fare.
Box Office: $94,481
Been jonesing to see Tommy Wiseau in something new? Well, Wiseau and his “The Room” co-star Greg Sestero have teamed up again in this two volume tale. Sestero wrote this one, though Wiseau did not direct. That fact may be what decides if this is worthwhile to you or not. On the one hand, it’s far more competently made. On the other, the inept charm of “The Room” is nowhere to be found. This is just a weird indie, through and through. This what Birth.Movies.Death. had to say, in particular with regard to director Justin MacGregor:
As for the film itself, director Justin MacGregor certainly plays into the absurdity of the script’s strange premise and twisted plotting.
Wiseau fans at least should give it a shot. Plus, it’s two films for the price of one!
Box Office: $252,410
A biopic of someone you’ve never heard of isn’t inherently a bad thing. That can actually lead to a sense of discovery. So, if the name of fitness guru Joe Weider doesn’t ring a bell, that’s not the issue. A sense of rushing an otherwise worthy story? That seems to have shot this one in the foot from the start. The Wrap was disappointed:
A missed opportunity, the kind of yo-yo-ing highlights version of a life that seems less examined than expedited.
Sounds like nothing to make a fuss over.
Box Office: $46,382
Rowan Atkinson is a fun physical comedian. Especially on television, his characters work. On the big screen? Not so much. A little bit goes a long way. The “Johnny English” series has always seemed fairly unnecessary, with this latest outing only furthering that sense. This was the negative take that Entertainment Weekly put forward:
Every gag in this movie has already been done before, and better, presumably by one or both of the earlier Johnny English films.
Pass, unless you’re a huge fan of the franchise.
Box Office: $4,412,170
Special Criterion Collection Section
For the first of two new Criterion release this week, we have a recent gem of a foreign title to discuss. Romania’s director du jour these days is Cristian Mungiu, who has a distinctive feel to his work. Uncompromising in his realism, you know a movie of his when you see it. This was his most praised effort, something the Collection hits on in their sales pitch:
Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu shot to international prominence with this rigorously realistic Palme d’Or–winning second feature.
If you have the stomach for tough fare, this is one to definitely grab.
The other title joining the Collection today is this Elaine May effort. May isn’t initially thought of as the filmmaker to tap for a gangster tale, but that’s part of what sets it apart. John Cassavetes and Peter Falk starred in the film, which also gives it a one of a kind sense. Criterion is high on it, as you can see below:
Elaine May crafted a gangster film like no other in the nocturnal odyssey Mikey and Nicky, capitalizing on the chemistry between frequent collaborators John Cassavetes and Peter Falk by casting them together as small-time mobsters whose lifelong relationship has turned sour.
Fans of either Cassavetes, Falk, or May should give it a shot!
“Killjoys: Season Four”
“Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind” *Joey’s Pick*
“The Wayans Bros.: The Complete Fourth Season”