This week, we have another pair of my favorite films of 2014 so far as the undisputed highlight of what is hitting store shelves. Once again though, these two come without anything else really to share that rarified air. Yes, today’s Blu-Ray/DVD offerings are going to be pretty top heavy. I’m not complaining, as per the usual, considering how fond I am of the two movies that I’m going to be talking a bunch about, but still…I clearly prefer quantity and quality whenever that combination is possible. Both movies could easily have been my top pick today, so it came down to really nothing more complicated than looking at which is higher on my current Top Ten for 2014 (so far) list. For my PICK OF THE WEEK, I was initially torn between a couple of indie dramedies with top notch soundtracks, one with more of a critical following than the other. It was a tough choice, but you’ll see which one I chose shortly. At this current moment, however I want to move on to my Vintage section!
In honor of Halloween this week, I wanted to actually double down on a recent Horror Movie pick on the site. I’ll be contributing my own piece in a day or two, but a few days ago Joseph wrote about one of my initial picks…Saw. Yes, I find the entire franchise to be a really guilty pleasure, but the first one is a legitimately good fight flick. It’s well made, unsettling, and does something new. I also think that Saw VI is one of the very best scary movie sequels ever made (it’s a satire about the health care industry in the time before the Affordable Care Act), so that’s my original contribution today, beyond piggybacking on the initial installment of this franchise. I’m sure horror will be on many minds this week, so this is a strong option for those who don’t have a weak stomach…
The other title I’m going to discuss here is nearly as good as my top choice, so it’s more than worthy enough of discussion. As such, that’s what I’ll be doing right about now:
For a short time, this musical dramedy was in contention for my number one slot for the year. Obviously, things have changed since the early spring, but that takes nothing away from how good this film from John Carney is. In my rave review (found here), I had this to say:
“Carney hasn’t quite blown me away like he did with Once, but this is an excellent flick, featuring strong turns from Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. Both are getting to play against type and let loose in a way, which shows in their charming and eye opening performances. I don’t have many complaints about this movie, besides maybe the fact that it’s not still called Can a Song Save Your Life?, but if that’s my main quibble, that means this is a top notch film. Begin Again is one of my favorites of the year so far.”
With an Oscar campaign being launched for a Best Original Song nomination at the very least, you owe it to yourself to check this one out if you haven’t already. I’ve popped it in for a second viewing since being sent a copy a few weeks ago, so don’t miss out on a chance for a first…
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $16,170,632
Major Awards: None yet, but Golden Globe attention at the very least should be coming its way
Other Films Being Released
Here now is just a pretty generic/simple list of just what else is hitting shelves on this particular day, sans my own personal recommendation. Behold:
I’ve heard nothing but terrible things about this raunchy comedy, but I like Nat Wolff a lot so I might be giving this one a shot in the coming days. I’m sure I’ll probably regret that decision, but a leap of faith can be in order from time to time. Perhaps you’ll see fit to join me? Apologies in advance if I wind up leading you astray…
Box Office: N/A
Bound by Flesh
Up until now, I didn’t even know that this documentary existed. It has some interesting names contributing to it, including Nancy Allen and Lea Thompson, so there’s that, but I really have no idea what to say about this one. If you want to give it a chance, by all means. I just can’t comment on its quality.
Box Office: N/A
Child of God
James Franco is a unique artist, there’s no doubt about that. This directorial outing of his was a misfire to me, but it represents another bit of evidence that the man has a great film in him. My review from back at last year’s New York Film Festival (found right here) said this:
“Multi-hypenate James Franco is slowly becoming somewhat of a prolific filmmaker, but he’s yet to do anything behind the camera to really catch the eye of the critical community. His adaptation of Child of God, a Cormac McCarthy novel, is his closest attempt yet and one of the most divisive early entries at the New York Film Festival. Crude and very uneven but with signs of growing maturity from Franco, the movie also features a great performance from Scott Haze. Those of you who can’t handle feces, semen, and depictions of necrophilia will throw up your hands quickly, but those among you who can stomach all that will see a very interesting film. Franco’s not there yet as a director, but he’s getting close.”
Those words ring true still today. I may not have any interest in seeing this one again, but I’m up for trying out what he has in mind next. I doubt this will be something many of you want to see, but it’s there if you want to.
Box Office: $39,324
This is a horror film I’m hoping to get to this week, as I heard from some that it was a worthy little title. Not everyone dug it, but the same went for Sinister and I sort of loved that one. With October 31st only a few days away, I’m sure this could be an interesting new option for those who missed it in theaters. If you decide to pick it up, know that I very well could be watching right along with you.
Box Office: $30,577,122
Speaking of James Franco, he costars in this thriller that all but bypassed theaters entirely. It’s far from a horrible flick, but it is pretty much something we’ve all seen before, so you can’t really get excited about it. It’s essentially a B movie, but if that has some appeal to you, it’s hardly an awful option. Make of that what you will…
Box Office: N/A
Life of Crime
Here’s another one I’m hoping to get to before the week is out. The few I know who saw this tongue in cheek crime movie said it was clever enough and had a great cast having a good time, so that’s something of an endorsement. I can’t personally vouch for it right now, but I think it could be a viable option for some of you.
Box Office: $265,452
This crime dramedy wants to be a youth oriented American Hustle in the worst way, but aside from a few short moments of pleasure, it’s mostly just a mediocre title that will come and go with no impact. There’s nothing overtly wrong with it (in fact, the young cast is pretty solid), but nothing much really jumps out at you either. It’s not something to avoid, but it wouldn’t be my first choice today either.
Box Office: N/A
Once upon a time the thought of a suspense film with John Cusack, Jason Patric, and Bruce Willis headlining the cast would have made this a must see. Now, it almost is the formula for something that basically skips a theatrical run altogether. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t judge it, but I haven’t heard any raves, I’ll say that.
Box Office: N/A
Accused: Series 1 & 2
The Big Valley: The Final Season
Breaking Bad: The Complete Series
Lovejoy: The Complete Season Three
The Middle: The Complete Fifth Season
WKRP in Cincinnati: The Complete Series
PICK OF THE WEEK
Wish I Was Here
It may be cool these days to rag on Zach Braff and mock him for going to Kickstarter to fund his sophomore feature, but I was always only concerned with the movie itself, and luckily I came away very moved by what I saw. In what might be the most positive review anyone wrote for the film (which you can find here), I said the following:
“As someone who absolutely loved Zach Braff‘s directorial debut Garden State when it came out a decade ago, I’ve been looking forward to another outing as a filmmaker by the actor since then with a mix of anticipation and dread. Anticipation because if Braff could write/direct something half as good to me as Garden State, then I’d be very satisfied. Dread because…what if he was a one hit wonder? Well, now that I’ve seen his sophomore feature Wish I Was Here, I can gladly say that he’s far from that. To be fair, some might shrug this film off in the same way they did with his last movie, but I’m not one of them. This is an often hilarious and sometimes even profound dramedy that strikes me as what most Sundance flicks want to be. Quirky, yes, but also heart warming and with an interesting look at faith, family, and what it means to be a man. Braff’s writing (co-written with his brother Adam Braff) and directing are top notch here, while his performance as a leading man is understated but very effective. He also gives Kate Hudson her best part since perhaps even Almost Famous and she’s excellent here. With very little not to like here, I’d like to thank those who helped fund this Kickstarter and gave Braff the ability to make this movie his way. From the performances to the must own soundtrack to the feeling you get when it ends, I could have watched this flick for another two hours, it was that enjoyable to me. Wish I Was Here is one of my ten favorite films of the year so far. I might wind up on the minority on this one, but frankly, I like the movie way too much to care…”
Now, with the flick basically having been forgotten about, I only want to emphasize my affection for it more. Please give it a chance this week. It deserves that, at the very least.
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, and more…
Total Box Office: $3,591,299
Major Award: None yet, and sadly don’t hold your breath
–What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!