This week, Ethan Hawke‘s “Blaze” leads the pack of new Blu-Ray/DVD releases. This small scale film joins a massive animated sequel as part of the choice options available on shelves today. Read on for more!

PICK OF THE WEEK

Blaze

Ethan Hawke hypnotically tells the story of musician Blaze Foley with his latest directorial endeavor. Filled with beautiful music and a wonderful performance from Ben Dickey, Hawke crafts a small scale gem here. It further cements him as a talent with just as much skill behind the camera as in front of it. AwardsCircuit filed this rave from last year’s Sundance Film Festival here on the site:

Ethan Hawke is a talented actor and writer. His multiple Academy Award nominations prove it. Although “Blaze” does not mark his debut as a director, it is the film that proves he is as good off-screen as he is on it.

“Blaze” is a beguiling character study, boosted even further by Hawke’s filmmaking. It stands tall this week and is more than worthy of picking up.

Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $704,955
Major Awards: Won a Special Jury Prize for Ben Dickey at the Sundance Film Festival

RECOMMENDED MOVIE(S)

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

After the surprise success of “The Lego Movie,” a sequel was inevitable. Though a step down from the original’s magic, this follow-up is certainly cute and witty. Had the first film not been such a wonderful burst of unexpected originality, this would seem even better. The comparison simply does it no favors. Still, good is good, even if it’s not great. Entertainment Weekly summed it up well:

Everything is still awesome. Just a little bit less so.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is a clear downgrade from the first, however, it remains a fun time for adults and children alike.

Special Features: Deleted Scenes, Featurette, and more
Total Box Office: $105,732,993 (and counting)
Major Awards: None yet

VINTAGE VIEWING

In honor of this week’s release of “Charlie Says,” the pick today will be a prior entry from filmmaker Mary Harron. It’s “American Psycho,” the captivating adaptation of the controversial novel by Bret Easton Ellis. The first of many times Christian Bale would transform himself for a role, it remains one of his crowning achievements. Roger Ebert raved about Bale in his review:

Christian Bale is heroic in the way he allows the character to leap joyfully into despicability; there is no instinct for self-preservation here, and that is one mark of a good actor.

Any excuse is a good one to revisit “American Psycho,” so prepare for Harron’s latest by giving another look to her best work to date.

OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED

Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the two recommended titles in “Blaze” and “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part”:

Everybody Knows

Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi found his first brush with critical indifference with this feature. A thriller set in Madrid, instead of his usual melodrama, this attempt to do something different did not gauge critics as well as his previous work. Its festival reception was respectful, but not up to his usual standards. AwardsCircuit had this to say from his AFI Fest review:

Asghar Farhadi has crafted brilliant films in his illustrious career, which is why his latest feels more disappointing than it should.

Farhadi is incapable of not making an interesting movie. This was a slight letdown for fans, though still a work worthy of attention, especially for stars Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.

Box Office: $2,660,165

Her Smell

Elisabeth Moss goes above and beyond in this rockstar character study from Alex Ross Perry. At times difficult to watch and filled with unique characters, it’s a niche offering that Moss puts on her shoulders. Variety felt that way too, in their take:

Once you’re in there, you go with it. Elisabeth Moss’s commitment, and the burnished bravura of her talent, pull you through.

Moss makes this one worth giving a shot to.

Box Office: $217,763 (and counting)

My Scientology Movie

This documentary examines the Church of Scientology in a very nuanced manner. Instead of a talking head approach, the film uses actors and re-creations in an attempt to let the membership speak for itself. It’s occasionally messy, though never boring in the least. The Hollywood Reporter had this to say:

New look at well-charted territory adds just enough to justify its existence.

The uniqueness of how the topic is approached helps to set this one apart.

Box Office: $22,936

The Prodigy

A small horror film from earlier this year, it’s the latest in a long line of evil child pictures. Starring Taylor Schilling, it was largely met with a shrug by critics, though some found it to be devilishly effective. Variety found plenty of nice things to say about the work:

While it lacks gripping, nail-biting tension, the unnerving horror that underscores the family drama brings it to life.

Horror fans can certainly do worse.

Box Office: $14,856,291

They Shall Not Grow Old

Peter Jackson makes World War I archival footage come alive through the creative use of 3D and coloration. Telling the stories of soldiers long gone, the filmmaker is able to cinematically bring these men to life in this documentary. Rolling Stone raved:

In this profound documentary event, Peter Jackson creates digital miracles-in 3D yet-to revitalize archival footage of World War I until faded history comes to vivid, vital life. You won’t believe your eyes.

Anyone curious to see Jackson utilize technology in a new way would do well to give this one a chance.

Box Office: $17,950,523 (and counting)

What Men Want

Reversing genders for a remake at least gives a film a novelty. For this comedy rehash, Taraji P. Henson takes over for Mel Gibson. Her charismatic performance helps give the film a dose of originality that the project would otherwise not have. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Henson displays impeccable comedic timing in creating a character who is deeply flawed but inherently likable, and someone we’re rooting for every step of the way.

See it for Henson.

Box Office: $54,611,903

Special Criterion Collection Section

The Heiress

Our one and only title coming to Criterion today is one of William Wyler‘s best films. Starring Montgomery Clift and Olivia de Havilland, who would win the Academy Award for Leading Actress for her performance, this drama easily stands the test of time. The Collection goes above and beyond in pitching this movie to potential new audiences:

A graceful drawing-room drama boasting Academy Award–winning costume design by Edith Head, The Heiress is also a piercing character study riven by emotional uncertainty and lacerating cruelty, in a triumph of classic Hollywood filmmaking at its most psychologically nuanced.

Wyler fans should definitely pick this one up.

TV RELEASES

“Baskets: The Complete Season Three”
“Better Call Saul: Season Four”
“Toys That Made Us: Seasons 1 & 2”

THOUGHTS ON WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK ON BLU-RAY OR DVD? SHARE THEM IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

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