New Blu-Ray/DVD Releases (1/21/14)

imagesBLUJASQuad-1060x655This week, two of the more well regarded (and now Oscar nominated) films from 2013 headline the titles coming to Blu-Ray and DVD. Lucky for all of us here at the column, they’re not alone today in terms of quality offerings, though they’re certainly the best of the bunch and each features one of the best lead performances of the year. I have at least one other film worth mentioning among this varied slate, plus the usual mixed bag of other flicks, but that’s just the name of the game here. This isn’t a true top notch slate of releases like last week, but few ever will be. Overall, it’s a solid group and represents continued movement back in the right direction for this column after some of those leaner weeks we’ve had to deal with in the recent past. As long as this continues on, you won’t hear me complaining one bit. As I’ve hinted above, there are two movies contending for my top honor here today, but only one flick could emerge victorious. It was pretty close, but for my PICK OF THE WEEK, I opted to go with the new Woody Allen film over the new Paul Greengrass film. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of mystery, I know (seriously, if you don’t know the movies I’m talking about, you just haven’t been reading this site closely), but before we talk more about them, there is some other business to attend to…namely, the Vintage section, so here we go to that section folks!

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Vintage Viewing

Liv_Tyler_in_The_Strangers_Wallpaper_8_1280In honor of this week’s release of Stranger by the Lake (which I saw back at the New York Film Festival…my review of which can be found here), my choice is another film with the word Stranger in the title…sort of. It’s the home invasion flick The Strangers, and honestly, I just felt like reminding people that is a really unsettling movie and a real solid option to watch late at night. It’ll give you some goosebumps, that’s for sure. I still remember audiences freaking out when that first trailer hit. Especially if you’ve never seen it before, this is a good one to check out at some point this week!
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Recommended Movies

I have two titles this week that get this particular honor from me, though one of them is pretty clearly the runner up. There’s no use stalling or anything like that, so without any further delay, here it is:

captain-phillips-movieCaptain Phillips

We can all basically agree that Tom Hanks deserved an Oscar nomination for his title role in this movie, but beyond that it’s just a really strong thriller. The aforementioned Greengrass continues to do excellent work as a filmmaker and Barkhad Abdi was a real find. Especially for the final scene with Hanks having a breakdown, this is one to revisit for sure. It’s also a Best Picture nominee, so Oscar completists should want to own it as well. Either way, you really can’t go wrong with this one.

Special Features: Audio Commentary, a Three Part Making Of feature, and more…
Total Box Office: $105,743,000 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards…

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In a World…

This directorial debut from Lake Bell is a very solid romantic comedy, if nothing that reinvents the wheel. It has the clever concept of dealing with the voice over actors that do their thing during movie trailers, but that’s just the window dressing here. I’ll be curious to see what Bell does next, as this suggests some real talent. If you’re looking for a low key watch this week, you can do a lot worse than this…

Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $2,963,902
Major Awards: One of the Top Ten Independent Films of 2013 from the National Board of Review…

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Other Films Being Released

Here are the other titles coming out this week for your potential purchasing pleasure, with some mixed degrees of quality here on display here…

Best Man Down

Sort of the other Justin Long indie flick of 2013, this dramedy was mostly ignored, especially during its brief theatrical run. I believe it did better on VOD, but considering that it’s nothing special to begin with, I suppose the lack of attention was justified.

Box Office: $1,938

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charlie-countryman03-e1384990518706Charlie Countryman

I didn’t care much for this Shia LaBeouf flick back when it was called The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman and I saw it at Sundance (though my more generous than required review is here). It also played more on VOD than in theaters, but it really should have gone just direct to DVD. It’s style over substance and rather forgettable.

Box Office: $11,650

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Instructions Not Included

I didn’t see this surprisingly profitable comedy, and from what I heard, it’s solid yet unspectacular. Still, it managed to connect with audiences, so that says something, right? Give it a shot or don’t, I can’t vouch for it either way…

Box Office: $44,467,206

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Machete Kills

Was anyone really asking for this sequel? No, I didn’t think so. I’ve yet to see it for myself, but I’m not in any hurry at all and I’d imagine that neither are most of you. It just doesn’t seem like it’s worth anyone’s time…

Box Office: $8,008,161

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Sunlight Jr.

Clayton saw this one at Tribeca while I was off seeing something else (though I forget exactly what, to be honest), though considering that it didn’t even publish its box office haul, he seems to be one of the few. I think you could do worse today than this, but you can do better as well…

Box Office: N/A

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TV Releases

Bounty Hunters: The Complete First Season
Comedy Bang Bang: The Complete First Season
Crossing Lines: Season One
Dilbert: The Complete Series
NYPD Blue: Season 5
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PICK OF THE WEEK

Blue Jasmine

o-blue-jasmine-trailer-facebookI’d say this new Woody Allen movie is in his top 15 of all time, and that’s saying something, at least in my book. Cate Blanchett is phenomenal, Sally Hawkins is great, and even Andrew Dice Clay is excellent, so this is one of Allen’s best ensembles in some time. I really enjoyed his take on A Streetcar Named Desire and I know I’m not alone. This is a perfect time to pick this one up and revisit Blanchett’s performance, especially as she tries to hold off Amy Adams in the Best Actress race at the Oscars. If you need convincing, my near rave review can be found here, while my interview with Blanchett (still a very cool moment last year for me) is right here, along with a report from the press day here. Enjoy!

Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $33,157,200 (and counting)
Major Award: Won Best Actress at the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards, plus nominated for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards…

What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!