New Blu-Ray/DVD Releases (9/16/14)

fault-in-our-stars-landscape-posterThis week, two of my absolute favorite films of the year so far are hitting shelves, but without anything else really to accompany it. Yes, today’s Blu-Ray/DVD offerings are not just top heavy, they’re almost exclusive. I’m not complaining, considering how fond I am of the two flicks that I’m going to be citing, but still…we’re used to more quantity, even if the quality is as high this week as it’s been in a very long time. Both movies could easily have been my top pick today, so it came down to really thinking about which one has my heart in a bigger way, which then made the answer a little more obvious. For my PICK OF THE WEEK, I was initially torn between a blockbuster franchise reboot and a blockbuster literary adaptation, ultimately going with the latter. You’ll see which is which shortly, but at this current moment, I want to move on to my Vintage picks!

Vintage Viewing

red stateIn honor of this week’s release of Tusk (my review of which is coming shortly), I wanted to cite Kevin Smith’s last movie, which was a cinematic rebirth of sorts for him. It’s Red State, and back when I saw it (and wrote this review here) I said the following:

The writer/director known for being a premiere comedy auteur has made a gritty horror/thriller satire that defies convention. It’s a rather brutal film, one that’s shocking in its sudden violence and unrelenting in its tension. The satire is sharp, but never light. The targets are fanatical religion and the egotistical overreach of the sloppy hand of government, and such heavy topics are treated as such. There are a handful of laughs in the film, but they mostly are just story beats to get you to the next surprising moment or revelation. Smith constantly is switching up the focus of the narrative, both in terms of what the story is about and who we’re following as the “hero”, and manages to do it deftly, never losing the audience. That being said, this definitely is not a flick for everyone. Cross a bit of ‘Hostel’ with ‘Race with the Devil’ and throw in the famous Waco incident, and you have an idea of what ‘Red State’ is about. If you’re thinking that it sounds nothing like a Kevin Smith movie, you’re right.

A number of subsequent viewings later and it still holds up. With a really interesting new work of his hitting screens in a few days, I urge you to check this one out…

Recommended Movie(s)

The other title I’m going to discuss here isn’t quite as good as my top choice, to me at least, but it’s still more than worthy enough of discussion, so that’s what I’ll be doing right now:

Godzilla

godzilla-movie-posterFew people seem to have enjoyed this reboot of the king of the monsters like I did. When I saw it, I emerged with a review (found right here) that had this to say:

I love when a summer blockbuster can do things with a bit of art. Such is the case with the reboot of Godzilla, a monster movie that aims to be a bit more, often with some level of success. Director Gareth Edwards goes from the micro budgeted Monsters to this $100 million plus production, and it’s a seamless transition. Edwards goes the Christopher Nolan route in taking a previously campy product very seriously, resulting in a film that entertains not just as big budget entertainment, but also on other levels as well, including those who are reverent of the original Toho incarnation of the big fella. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Edwards has filled his flick to the brim with talent, including Bryan Cranston, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Ken Watanabe, to name a few. The main star is obviously a certain huge creature, and while the film wisely shields him for a lot of the running time (almost to the point of not giving us enough of our hero…yes, our hero, as you’ll see below), you’ll get what you’re looking for before the movie is over.

I’m eager to watch this one again and I can easily recommend it once more!

Special Features: Various Featurettes and Making Of specials…
Total Box Office: $200,676,069
Major Awards: None yet, but various technical categories could certainly be in the cards for it

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. In fact, there’s only three other titles this week…fancy that. Behold:

Burning Bush

I wasn’t able to catch this at last year’s New York Film Festival when it played, but the TV Movie/epic drama is now out and apparently is quite good. Perhaps one day I’ll see for myself, but with the festival about to swallow me whole, it just won’t be this week. Maybe for you…but not for me.

Box Office: N/A

casting_by_site_headerCasting By

On the flip side, I did see this back at NYFF 2012 and wrote (from a festival entry here) this:

An inside baseball type documentary about the underappreciated world of casting directors, focusing in specifically on one particular woman in general, the legendary Marion Dougherty. She revolutionized and brought respect to the job, working out of New York instead of Los Angeles and focusing on young and hungry stage performers instead of contract players. People like Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight owe their careers to her and filmmakers like Woody Allen owe her a debt for both helping him and also mentoring his longtime casting director Juliet Taylor. Director Tom Donahue also shows how her work influenced casting directors on the west coast like Lynn Stalmaster, who’s loved by the likes of Jeff Bridges and others. Donahue moves into a more current issue by showing how this job has again changed, this time for the worse due to how commercialized Hollywood has become, and by shining a light on the unsuccessful attempts to have casting directors recognized come Oscar time (he has Taylor Hackford provide the counterpoint that casting directors aren’t “directors”). It furthers a point made earlier in the film about the struggles that casting directors had in getting on-screen credit for their work, due to the umbrage taken by the Directors Guild of America over calling them “directors”. The DGA definitely comes off as the bad guys here, but not in a cartoonish way, so that’s good. The documentary isn’t as good as ‘Side By Side’, but it’s a similar type of film in that cinema junkies will get more out of it than casual moviegoers. ‘Casting By’ feels a little long and gets repetitive midway through the second act, but it’s still a very solid documentary and shines a light on a subject few know much about.

It’s not something to race out and get, but if you come across it, you could do worse…

Box Office: N/A

Think Like a Man Too

I missed this sequel during its theatrical run and honestly, since I haven’t seen the original, I can’t say I’m in any substantial hurry. I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually, but this one is probably best served for fans of the first one. Perhaps I’m underestimating it, so feel free to let me know if I am.

Box Office: $65,182,182

TV Releases

  • Arrow: The Complete Second Season
  • The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Seventh Season
  • Bones: The Complete Ninth Season
  • Castle: The Complete Sixth Season
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation – The Fourteenth Season
  • From Dusk Till Dawn: Season One
  • Grimm: Season Three
  • Hannibal: The Complete Second Season
  • Hawaii Five-O (2010): The Fourth Season
  • Sleepy Hollow: The Complete First Season
  • South Park: The Complete Seventeenth Season

PICK OF THE WEEK

The Fault in Our Stars

the-fault-in-our-stars-movie-wallpaper-3If you want to gain my admiration when it comes to tearjerkers, find a way to make me cry without overt manipulation. This teen romance managed to do that in spades. My rave review (found here) had this to add:

I’m not usually a fan of young adult or YA material (both the books and their subsequent adaptations). I’m not usually a fan of overtly sappy romances. I’m not usually a fan of things that teenage girls fawn and screech over. I say that to let you know that I wasn’t the ideal audience going into my screening of The Fault in Our Stars, so the fact that I walked out with tears in my eyes and a full heart lets you know just what a success this is. My eyes welled up on more than one occasion and a specific moment legitimately made me cry, tears running down my cheeks and everything. Tenderly directed by Josh Boone (who impressed me last year with the underrated Stuck in Love), expertly adapted by supremely talented scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (who’ve been snubbed for Oscar nominations twice already with their prior works 500 Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now), and brilliantly acted by Shailene Woodley, this is a very special movie, full of emotion but also plenty of humor and joy as well. Along with a star making turn from Ansel Elgort, this could very well become the definitive cinematic love story for a generation.

I’ve already revisited it once and cried just as hard, so I imagine many of you will too. Don’t fight it, give in, and pick this one up ASAP.

Special Features: Deleted Scenes and more, with an Extended Cut available on the “Little Infinities” edition…
Total Box Office: $124,793,131 (and counting)
Major Award: None yet, but stay tuned to see if it can contend in Best Actress or Best Adapted Screenplay

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