This week, one of the more sadly overlooked films of 2014 so far is coming to Blu-Ray/DVD, and it’s part of a fairly diverse group of titles hitting shelves as well, so there’s that. I’m sure many will be expecting a different top pick than the one I’m citing, but hey…it’s my column. The runner up this week will be the one many flock to, but it’s second place for a reason in my eyes. For my PICK OF THE WEEK, I opted to go to a return to form of sorts for a filmmaker and actor (a duo who should work together more often, I might add). We’ll get to the title in question shortly, but since I’m keeping it simple here, why don’t we move on now to the Vintage section and get this wagon train on the trail? Good.
In honor of this week’s release of Jersey Boys (which I’m seeing tomorrow, for better or worse), I wanted to cite the last Clint Eastwood directed movie that I really liked. It’s Million Dollar Baby, and while the film has become a punching bag (no pun intended) over the last few years to some, it remains incredibly powerful to me. I’m sure if you go back and revisit it you might see more to like if you’re a holdout, especially if you remove it from the conversation of being a Best Picture winner. Give it a shot…
The other title I’m about to discuss here for a moment isn’t quite as good as my top choice, but it’s still certainly worthy of discussion, so that’s what I’ll be doing now:
The Grand Budapest Hotel [CLAYTON’S PICK]
I’ve never been much of a Wes Anderson fan, but he did a solid job of (mostly) winning me over here with this new comedy. As I wrote in my review (found here) of the film:
“I’m not particularly wild about Wes Anderson, that much is probably clear to you all by now. His cinematic view of the world just doesn’t usually jive with mine, but I always go into a movie of his with an open mind. Usually, these films don’t do much for me, but now with The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson has finally managed to crack my code. While his typical quirk and odd nature is fully on display, this time Anderson has some incredible ambition to go along with it, and for once it didn’t seem like his typically amazing cast was being wasted to some degree. Part of that certainly has to do with getting Ralph Fiennes to take on the lead role…”
Fiennes is terrific and there’s a great sense of fun to the whole thing. You can also find my interview with Fiennes here, but if you somehow haven’t seen it, give it a shot now!
Special Features: Various Featurettes, Production Stills, and more…
Total Box Office: $58,109,813 (and counting)
Major Awards: None yet
Other Films Being Released
Here now is just a pretty simple list of just what else is hitting shelves on this particular day, sans my own personal recommendation. Behold:
A decent enough thriller, I didn’t find anything to really like or dislike here. It’s a crummy description, but it’s the truth. This movie just, well…is. If you’re looking for something to pass the time, you could do worse for sure, but you definitely do better as well.
Box Office: $13,809
I wasn’t aware that this sci-fi horror hybrid existed until just now, and that’s never particularly a good sign. I can’t vouch for this one in any way, shape, or form, so if you take an interest, you’ll be going in blind…
Box Office: $8,447
This foreign flick slipped under my radar this year, though I do want to try and give it a shot at some point. Perhaps you feel the same way? If so, don’t be shy and let me know what you think if you watch it in the near future!
Box Office: $557,236
It’s a bit of a silly reason, but I’ll be watching this one in the next day or so mainly because Kaley Cuoco is in it and I enjoy her work on television. Also, this is one of the last films to feature Dennis Farina in it, so there’s that as well. If anyone else wants to go on this journey with me, feel free to.
Box Office: N/A
An animated awards hopeful from last year, I didn’t see the whole thing, so I can’t really give it a recommendation, but I know it has some pretty big fans out there. If you’re one of them, now’s the time to add this one to your collection and enjoy in the comfort of your own home. A snippet from Clayton’s review:
This year, the animation studio is at it again with their captivating French film Ernest & Celestine. Touching all the sweet parts of my cinematic heart, the Daniel Pennacwritten film tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a grumpy bear and a young mouse. Encompassing the powerful elements of honesty, truth, and acceptance, Pennac’s screenplay, once again, fixates on the small details that bring our story full circle and unimaginably to life. It’s one of the great surprises of the film year. Pennac is quickly becoming one of my favorite animated film writers working today.
Box Office: $262,075
I saw this drama back at last year’s New York Film Festival and found it well acted but rather underwhelming. It seemed to want to emulate certain scenes and themes from The Master, but with diminishing returns. You certainly can do worse I’m sure, but make sure to keep your expectations in check if you pop it in.
Box Office: $24,329
I’m sure I’m some sort of a monster for first watching this one basically as you’re reading this, but even I miss certain high profile screenings. Trust me, I’m keen to check it out. Perhaps it would have been my top pick if I had? Watch social media today/tomorrow in order to see what I thought of it!
Here’s a snippet from Joseph Braverman’s rave review:
Colorful and heartfelt, fascinating and involving, thoroughly quotable and intellectually sound, The Lego Movie stands tall as the best film of 2014 so far. It may not have the “wow” factor or progressiveness that made Frozen the biggest animated success story in ages, but it’s another reminder that the genre is moving in the right direction so long as terrific talent is involved. When a movie cast feels like its having the time of its life from frame one, you know you’ve stepped into something that’s worth far more than box office numbers. Playing everywhere nationwide, The Lego Movie doesn’t just deserve your time — it cherishes it.
Box Office: $256,344,435 (and counting)
This sci-fi flick is fairly interesting at times, but overall incapable of completely holding my interest. It’s far from bad, but I’d argue that it should have turned out at least a bit better than it ultimately did.
Box Office: N/A
Walk of Shame
Dumped in theaters for one weekend, this Elizabeth Banks vehicle is apparently terrible, but I’ll first be subjecting myself to it this week, so here’s another one to stay tuned for, I guess…
Box Office: $59,209
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season
House of Cards: The Complete Second Season (Joey’s TV Pick)
Regular Show: The Complete Third Season
Teen Wolf: Season 3, Part 2
PICK OF THE WEEK
When he’s on and motivated, Nicolas Cage is one of the best actors out there, though I’ll concede it doesn’t happen much these days. When he’s not chasing an odd flight of fancy, David Gordon Green is one of the most underrated filmmakers out there as well, so I was delighted to see them collaborate on this one, and luckily the results were quite good. As I wrote in my review (here) of the flick:
“With Joe, Green and Cage are doing some of their better work in some time. I’ve long admired Green for his ability to change up his career path, and here he’s doubled back to make something more akin to his earlier works like George Washington and Undertow. Cage also is reigning it in and reminding you of the days when he appeared to be one of the best actors in the business. Along with another strong performance from young Tye Sheridan, Joe is a gritty and sometimes even nasty coming of age story, but there’s some beauty and hope beneath the grime and grit”.
This one deserved to be seen in theaters, but now’s the time to correct that mistake and give it the audience that it should have already had…
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $373,375
Major Award: None yet
–What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!