This week, there’s a nice crop of titles coming to Blu-Ray and DVD. There’s almost something for everyone, making for a pretty solid slate. Yes, one might even call it a bit of a cinematic smorgasbord, all told. Today’s group features comedy, romance, science fiction, and thrills, which never hurts. My top pick mixes sci-fi with romance, while it’s far from the only film of note on store shelves. Yes, my PICK OF THE WEEK is a nice little independent genre mashup with shades of Romeo & Juliet. You’ll see which one I’m talking about in short order, that’s fur sure. First though, a Vintage pick!
In honor of this week’s release of Sully (which I see Wednesday), I’m taking an obvious route. Yes, I’m choosing a prior Clint Eastwood outing, and it’s probably my favorite of his. It’s Million Dollar Baby, a nearly perfect film. I’m all in on what Roger Ebert said in his review:
Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby is a masterpiece, pure and simple, deep and true.
It works as a boxing movie, it works as a character study, and it works as a morality tale. One of the rare times I’ve wholeheartedly agreed with a Best Picture win, I love this flick. Eastwood’s latest has done well at Telluride, so revisit this one before that one opens on Friday!
The other titles I’m going to discuss here are, in one case just slightly weaker than my top pick, and in the other a step down. Both however, are worthy of your time. Behold:
I saw this dramedy at the Tribeca Film Festival and mostly dug it. Rose Byrne, Susan Sarandon, and J.K. Simmons especially shine. From my review filed during the fest:
An enjoyable dramedy that also puts forward the rare romantic subplot featuring actors not in their 20’s or 30’s, The Meddler has something a bit unique to offer the marketplace. One of the more crowd pleasing efforts I’ve seen at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, it works best as a vehicle for Susan Sarandon, but that’s hardly its only charm. The movie works both as look at how different members of a family deal with grief as well as loneliness, while also trafficking in low-key comedy and even a little bit of romance.
It’s not going to blow you away with visuals on Blu-Ray, but the performances are on point. It’s a film your mom will like, that much you can take to the bank.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $4,267,218
Major Awards: None yet
Though unable to deliver on the promise of the cast/crew/trailer, I dig enjoy much of what the thriller had to offer. My mildly positive review began as such:
Here is a film that’s both aching to be the next Network as well as yearning to be mainstream populist entertainment. Money Monster falls well short of the former goal, but in terms of the latter, it’s certainly more successful. Jodie Foster‘s latest directorial outing is, in many ways, the perfect movie for the Occupy Wall Street movement. The intent is pure, the message is catchy, but the details are sketchy and at times border on the absurd. No question about it, I agree with the viewpoint being espoused by Money Monster, but it’s only sporadically effective in elevating a solid thriller into something meaningful. In that regard, this is a good film in search of a way to become an even better one. It’s entertaining, but not especially informative, which is something it ideally would have liked to have been.
This might have been at one point a potential awards vehicle, but no more. Instead, it’s just a simple Hollywood star vehicle. Still, it works. Pick it up and see for yourself!
Special Features: Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $41,012,075
Major Awards: None yet
Special Criterion Collection Section
Night Train to Munich
This Carol Reed outing gets the Criterion Blu-Ray treatment today. Variety once upon a time had this to say:
Yarn is not only told without a single letdown, but it actually continues to pile up suspense to a nerve-clutching pitch.
I haven’t seen it, but it sounds like one to pick up and enjoy, especially if you enjoy Reed’s films!
Other Films Being Released
Here now is a simple list of what else is hitting shelves on this day, sans my recommendation. Behold:
A Bigger Splash
I’m one of the few not to be in love with this erotic drama. I liked the performances, but found it a fairly hollow experience. In fact, I totally agree with the take in The Hollywood Reporter, which says:
The film feels empty and intellectualized at the core, where it should feel powerfully emotional.
In addition to the acting, it’s very well shot, so if you pick up the Blu-Ray, it’ll be a visual treat. It’s just not a treat that I’m recommending.
Box Office: $2,024,099
I’d be lying if I said I knew anything about this action comedy. According to The New York Times, I didn’t miss much, as they said:
There are laughs in this bilingual yarn, but the story grows convoluted, and Enrique Begne, the director, relies far too much on the stock cop-movie scene …
This seems like an easy option to skip over, so that’s what we’ll be doing now.
Box Office: $3,127,773
This horror outing from Greg McLean didn’t fare well with critics. I find him to be an underrated filmmaker, personally. That being said, this was a fairly middling outing. Variety had this to say:
McLean must have believed he was making John Cassavetes’ “Poltergeist,” but this odd fusion of psychodrama and supernatural hokum gets away from him.
I liked it slightly better, but just not quite enough to recommend.
Box Office: $10,753,574
At one point, this was thought to be an awards player. Then, it was seen. Rolling Stone cuts to the core of it all with their take on the flick:
This is something that rhymes with ‘blatant Shmoscarbait,’ pure and simple, and it will get worse before it gets better.
I’m sure it would have gone over better without the Oscar buzz. Then again, who knows for sure?
Box Office: $1,361,045
Love & Friendship
Sadly, I’ve yet to see this one, despite some really nice word of mouth. It’s a real blind spot for me so far, and I’ll correct it soon. Reviews were glowing, including this Rolling Stone one:
The language, a lyrical blend of Jane Austen and Whit Stillman, bewitches even as it stings. A sublime Kate Beckinsale digs into the role of her career. Pure pleasure.
I hope to see it in the coming days, so consider this an incomplete grade. I have a hunch I’ll dig it, especially on Blu-Ray.
Box Office: $13,990,172 (and counting)
Now You See Me 2
Was this sequel actually necessary? Most of the reviews seemed to argue in the negative. Among them was this ReelViews one, which states the obvious:
Based solely on merit, Now You See Me 2 is a sequel that should never have been made.
That seems to sum it up.
Box Office: $65,075,540
The Ones Below
I didn’t know this dramatic thriller existed, frankly. The overall word seems to have been positive though. The Los Angeles Times seemed to really dig it, writing:
Capably delivering on its ominous title, “The Ones Below” is a masterfully calibrated psychological thriller that deviously plays off of anxieties surrounding contemporary notions of domesticity and identity.
Consider this one to catch up on.
Box Office: $12,488
Tale of Tales
This was a really mixed bag to me. Many of my colleagues disagreed with me, but some didn’t. One such critic was Glenn Kenny at RogerEbert.com, who wrote:
The structuring feels arbitrary; the film switches narratives willy-nilly, without resolving a particular note or even aiming to surprise, jar, switch gears.
It’s nothing to rush out and see, but if you pick up the Blu-Ray, it will look great. That much I can vouch for.
Box Office: $102,186
Very few people saw this movie, and almost no pundits liked it. This take from RogerEbert.com is one such example:
A movie that’s as empty and unlikable as the characters themselves.
Nothing to see here, I guess.
Box Office: N/A
All the Way *Joey’s Pick*
Charlie’s Angels: The Complete Series
Coach: Seasons 1 & 2
CSI: Cyber – The Final Season
The Flash: The Complete Second Season
Friday Night Lights: The First Season
Friday the 13th The Series: The Complete Series
Limitless: The Complete Series
Necessary Roughness: The Complete Series
Rectify: Season 3
South Park: The Complete Nineteenth Season
Supernatural: The Complete Eleventh Season
Tales from The Darkside: The Complete Series
PICK OF THE WEEK
When I saw this one back at Tribeca, I quite liked it. Now, I tend to enjoy the work of Drake Doremus, so there’s that. This is worth the watch, as my festival review stated:
Visual language has always been a staple of filmmaker Drake Doremus‘ work, but never has it been quite so apparent as in Equals, playing now at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. At the same time, while this is his most striking movie in terms of its look, it might also be his weakest on a story level. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good film, but the look of it, along with the strong acting, is what sets it apart. Personally, I preferred Like Crazy by far and even the underrated Breathe In to this one, but that’s a case of a great flick and a pretty good one being simply superior to a merely good one.
It will look great in Blu-Ray, believe that. Give it a shot and see what you think!
Special Features: Audio Commentary and more
Total Box Office: $33,258
Major Award: None yet, and it’s probably not wise to expect any