This week, a somewhat large amount of releases are hitting Blu-Ray and DVD, with a good handful of them being rather solid films too, including at least one that some folks consider to be a modern classic in the making. This is a very easy to like slate today, so that’s something pretty nice to report to you all. My top pick was a choice between a handful of flicks that I was fond of earlier this year, so it was a tough choice on the whole. Ultimately, my PICK OF THE WEEK is probably the one everyone else is looking forward to, and that’s kind of rare.. You’ll see which film I went with in a few minutes, but for now…it’s Vintage time once again folks!
In honor of this week’s release of both Before We Go as well as A Walk in the Woods (my review of the former can be found here), I wanted to cite a film that’s very similar to these. It’s one of the Before movies, with the most recent Before Midnight being my pick. Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater are very much on point in this sequel, which I reviewed back at the Sundance Film Festival a few years ago (found here). I said: “It’s hard for lightning to strike twice, let alone three times, but somehow the team of Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater have done just that with Before Midnight. Almost two decades since they first charmed audiences in Before Sunrise (1995) and nearly a full decade since they returned with the equally impressive sequel Before Sunset (2004), the trio are back and as good as ever. Co-writer/director Richard Linklater is again content to sit back and let co-writers/stars Delpy and Hawke inhabit these characters. We’ve grown to love and care about them, something the team uses to their advantage in some really interesting ways this time around. As much as it’s a direct sequel, the most compatible film to this one might actually be the recent Judd Apatow flick This is 40. A movie about what happens when youthful love is replaced by something more complex; Before Midnight is a home run for all involved.” It’s a classic, and while few things can compare, the similar releases this week make for a perfect opportunity to revisit this massive success story…
The handful of other quality titles I’m going to discuss here today aren’t quite in the same league as my top pick, but that’s nothing at all to be ashamed about. Behold:
One of the final films from the dearly departed legend Robin Williams also happens to be one of his best dramatic performances. In my review (here), I wrote: “As much as we all know that Robin Williams is an all time great comedian, I’ve always been more affected by his dramatic work. He’s been nominated (and awarded) by the Academy for some of these turns, but I still think in some ways he’s always been underrated for his drama. As such, it’s no surprise that I think he’s fantastic in Boulevard, but I sincerely hope that I’m not alone. His performance in Dito Montiel‘s new movie is one of his final theatrical roles, yes, but it also might be one of his best, which is saying something. Rarely has he played as low key a person as he plays here, giving light and warmth to the character in a way that only he can.” All of that remains true, so if you’re a fan of Williams, you owe it to yourself to check it out. As a bonus, here you can find my interview with director Dito Montiel on working with the man.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $126,150 (and counting)
Major Awards: None yet, but a Spirit Award nomination for Williams is possible
Another Ethan Hawke appearance in the column this week, as his drama about drone pilots is out. I saw this one at Tribeca and enjoyed it, writing in my review (found right here) the following: “Filmmaker Andrew Niccol has made a living documenting man’s complicated moral relationship with machines/technology. From his screenplay for The Truman Show to directorial outings like Gattaca and Lord of War, for example, Niccol likes to weave morality into things in an often subtly affecting way. He’s up to that again here at the Tribeca Film Festival with his latest film Good Kill, a drama that takes us into the headspace of a drone pilot. To be sure, the issue of drone warfare is a timely one and could easily be used to play politics, but Niccol isn’t interested in that. Instead, he re-teams with Ethan Hawke to make this more of a character study/morality play, to solid effect, I might add. Hawke is very solid here, while Nicole’s writing and direction are on a slightly smaller scale than usual. That doesn’t limit his effectiveness, but it does suggest perhaps something new for him. While not perfect and a bit undercooked in terms of potential tension, Good Kill is still a movie of the moment and one well worth making time for.” Definitely give this one a shot (no pun intended) and see what you think.
Special Features: Behind the Scenes
Total Box Office: $316,472
Major Awards: None yet
Other Films Being Released
Here now is just a simple little list of what else is hitting shelves on this particular day, sans my recommendation. Behold:
I wasn’t overly impressed with this one, but it was a heist movie that isn’t completely without merit. In my review (which you can see right here), I wrote: “Sometimes you come across a movie that you don’t really care for but you realize might very well be the start of a filmmaker’s strong career. That’s what happened for me with 7 Minutes, a bland crime/heist drama that could wind up being a solid calling card for writer/director Jay Martin. This look at a bank robbery gone wrong hits a lot of cliched notes while also displaying a bit of a style that could serve the filmmaker well. Martin clearly is fond of films like Bottle Rocket, Heat, Reservoir Dogs, and other such tales of that ilk, though he’s not nearly working on that level here. What 7 Minutes mainly has going for it is the promise of Martin’s filmmaking abilities improving over time. Right now, he’s overly fond of flashbacks, dragging out fairly obvious plot developments, and displaying style over substance. The latter will come with the right project in the future, but the former is what will probably get him to that place. I didn’t especially dislike this movie, but it just doesn’t offer you a whole lot.” You can do worse this week, but you can certainly do a lot better as well…
Box Office: N/A
This drama has a great cast and an intriguing premise, but just doesn’t fully work. In my decidedly mixed review (read it here), I said the following: “It’s not every single day that a film has the stamp of approval from both James Cameron as well as Alfonso Cuaron, but Broken Horses comes to bat with both of these individuals having vouched for it. Even with that high praise, the movie does still manage to stand on its own two feet for the most part. Sadly though, those feet aren’t quite as sturdy as you’d like them to be. There’s some strong performances on display from a group that includes the likes of Vincent D’Onofrio, Anton Yelchin, and particularly Chris Marquette. Co-writer/director Vidhu Vinod Chopra is certainly ambitious, but unfortunately too little of what he depicts is something we haven’t seen done before, and sometimes better as well. There’s moving moments and some strong cinematography, but the classical storytelling and slow pacing bog down what could otherwise have been a solid if unspectacular melodrama/crime drama. It’s more successful as a character study of brothers than it is at attempting to be a thriller in the second half, so it’s a matter of diminishing returns at a certain point.” I do think it’s worth seeing, but it’s just shy of getting a recommendation from me today.
Box Office: N/A
The Curse of Downers Grove
I really like Bret Easton Ellis, both as an author and now as a novelist, but I have to say that his screenwriting seems to be cursed. All of his efforts to date have run into problems, resulting in compromised visions, so I can’t tell how good he is as a script writer. This teen slasher flick though, is decidedly mediocre, regardless of what he contributed originally before things changed. It’s not terrible, but it’s just not very good either.
Box Office: N/A
The D Train
If you’re not prepared for the direction this bromance goes in, you might be shocked by it. In my review at the time (found here), I wrote: “You wouldn’t expect it from a seemingly simple enough indie comedy/dramedy, but The D Train is almost impossible to discuss without delving into spoiler territory. Apparently, almost every article/review of the movie talks about a late first act moment, so I’m going to be mentioning it as well. I’ll label it just in case, but it’s necessary to accurately talk about Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul‘s film. The D Train isn’t anything particularly special, but it manages to somewhat stand out in the crowd not just for the reason to be revealed below, but also because of the strong performances from Jack Black and James Marsden. They anchor this comedy, though they’re ultimately unable to put it over the top. Mogul and Paul have a potentially juicy concept, but the execution here is just too scattershot. They’re trafficking in uncomfortable humor, which can be a fertile ground, but there just aren’t quite enough highs to overcome the lows that show up. The D Train isn’t bad at all, and honestly I came close to recommending it, but the hints of something special shine through (like the intent to make this a commentary on the bromance) and instead of elevating the rest of the movie, they just remind you that this is a slight disappointment.” If you’re looking for something different, this is an option, but just not one I’m overtly recommending.
Box Office: $669,688
The Face of an Angel
I’ve yet to see this ripped from the headlines drama, but I have to say I’m curious about it. Nothing much has been said about it, and the few reviews I did catch mostly shrugged it off, but I’m still going to give it a chance at some point this week. If you’re of that same mindset, and I’m sure some of you are, take a look as well.
Box Office: N/A
This drama was one I regretted missing at a past Tribeca Film Festival, and I never got a look at it during its regular release, so I’ll have to catch up to it now. I’ve heard pretty good things too, so if you want to go in blind on something, I suppose you could do a lot worse than this one.
Box Office: N/A
Another little flick I just never was able to get around to seeing, so I’m not sure exactly what to say here. I suppose I’ll just simply state that some of my colleagues really liked it, so if you want something on the lighter side, this could turn out to be a solid enough option.
Box Office: $191,512
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
This documentary about the famous singer managed to score a Best Original Song nomination from the Academy, and potentially was the runner up for the win at the Oscars. I’ve only heard the tune right now, but am excited to see the whole doc, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that regard. Join me, why don’t you?
Box Office: $365,422
I know very little about this one, aside from it being a pseudo horror movie with Michael Shannon. To some degree, that might be enough for some folks, but I can’t vouch for it in person right now. If any of you are Shannon fans, this is right here for the taking if you’d like. Report in if you do wind up seeing it, of course…
Box Office: N/A
I’ll See You in My Dreams
The very first awards screener going out to voters is now out for everyone to check out and see. Blythe Danner has some Oscar buzz, so that’s something, though I’m first getting to see it today. My expectations are somewhat high, but I’ll try to keep them in check. I know some of you have been looking forward to it, so this is an opportunity to play catch-up with me. Go for it if you so desire. We might be hearing more from this one in the months to come, so it’s probably essential homework for the impending awards/precursor season.
Box Office: $7,425,963 (and counting)
Castle: The Complete Seventh Season
Hawaii Five-O (2010): The Fifth Season
The League: The Complete Season Six
Nashville: The Complete Third Season
Scorpion: Season One
Star Wars Rebels: Complete Season One
Teen Wolf: Season 3, Part 1
Vampire Diaries: The Complete Sixth Season
PICK OF THE WEEK
Mad Max: Fury Road
I know that on a past episode of the Power Hour I was a bit of a wet blanket about this film, but let me be clear…this is a very good movie. My only big issue with it is that there isn’t that much “there” there, if that makes sense. Filmmaker George Miller is basically a mad genius, making Tom Hardy as his new Max essentially a supporting character to Charlize Theron’s new character Furiosa, all in the service of an epic, nearly movie long car chase. That’s the thing though, as impressively made as this is, it’s still just a very long car chase. They go from Point A to Point B, then back to Point A…movie over. Again, don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun flick, just not the second coming as some have suggested. It’s the best film out this week and basically a must have on Blu-Ray, but I just wish there was a bit less hyperbole on display when discussing it…
Special Features: Deleted Scenes, Various Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $153,011,860 (and counting)
Major Award: None yet, but some technical category Oscar citations are definitely possible
–What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!