This week, two very different sorts of American films hit Blu-ray and DVD, making for an unusual pairing. One looks at notorious whistleblower Edward Snowden, while the other looks at modern alternative youth. They come together today, along with some other titles to form an eclectic slate. There’s some solid quality in addition to quantity, which is always nice. The top pick wasn’t too hard to decide on, though there are three worthy choices to consider picking up. For the PICK OF THE WEEK, one of the more highly regarded independent features of 2016 got the call. You’ll see which one shortly, but first…a Vintage pick is coming your way!
In honor of this week’s release of “Live by Night” (technically this past Sunday), let us go with Ben Affleck‘s last directorial outing. It’s “Argo,” which notably won Affleck the Academy Award for Best Picture. Whether you prefer “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town,” or “Argo,” it’s hard to deny that Affleck is one of the more compelling American actor/directors out there. Here’s a bit from our review at the time:
A tribute to the magic of the movies and its literal lifesaving power, ‘Argo’ may just be Affleck’s masterpiece.
Any of Affleck’s films would work here, so prep for his new one accordingly!
“In a Valley of Violence”
This offbeat Western is the latest from emerging genre master filmmaker Ti West. There’s a terrific canine performance here, along with a reliably good turn from Ethan Hawke as well. Entertainment Weekly had this to say in their review of the flick:
Announces itself as an unabashed B-movie from its pre-credits scene … and never worries itself about being anything deeper than that.
Be forewarned that animal lovers may have a tense moment here. It’s certainly worth watching, but just keep that in mind.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $53,647
Major Awards: None
The best thing Oliver Stone has made in some time, this conspiracy biopic is right in his wheelhouse. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is terrific in the title role of American whistleblower Edward Snowden. Stone can do this in his sleep, but he’s more inspired than usual here. This bit from our review at the time of release says as much:
This is an entertaining and important biopic that works regardless of political views, which is something that hasn’t been said about a Stone flick in a while.
Though not an Oscar player, this is still gripping and deserving of your time. Check it out!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $21,587,519
Major Awards: None yet
Other Films Being Released
Here now is just a simple list of what else is hitting shelves today, before we get to the top pick:
“Coming Through the Rye”
This road trip story is a definite curiosity, due to its subject matter centering on J.D. Salinger. The Wrap had this review to contribute:
Despite its missteps, this is a sweet and inviting road trip, taking place in the colorful fall and accompanied by an indie soundtrack that lulls.
It could be one to go in blind on, so make of that what you will.
Box Office: $18,137
“Dog Eat Dog”
Another B-movie with Nicolas Cage in a starring role, this one has Willem Dafoe along for the ride as well. Furthermore, it has Paul Schrader in the director’s chair. A review in indieWIRE makes an intriguing case for it:
A giant middle finger to anyone who’s ever forced Paul Schrader to compromise.
Fans of this sort of thing should take note.
Box Office: $80 (You read that right)
Notable for being on the shortlist for Best Makeup & Hairstyling, this Kate Winslet vehicle got a frosty reception. Rolling Stone had this to say:
Kate Winslet can do anything … except save this movie from quirky overkill.
Completists will check this out, but nobody else need apply here.
Box Office: $2,022,115
“A Man Called Ove”
Another title given notice due to a shortlist, this dramedy could wind up an Oscar nominee. Variety was a fan, writing:
It’s a heartwarming tale about a stubborn, short-tempered man with steadfast beliefs, strict routines and the feeling that everyone around him is an idiot – and no reticence about telling them so.
Give it a shot.
Box Office: $3,303,150
“When the Bough Breaks”
This erotic thriller has some of the worst reviews of the year. The Hollywood Reporter contributed to that with this take:
A lazily written and generically directed ‘Fatal Attraction’ knockoff.
Box Office: $29,747,603
“Close to the Enemy: Season 1”
“Ray Donovan: Season Four”
“Versailles: Season One”
PICK OF THE WEEK
Filmmaker Andrea Arnold knocked this character study out of the park. Equal parts look at the American dream and critique of the youth of America, it consistently compels. An endurance test and a bit unconventional, it’s not easy watching. Furthermore, it offers no easy outs. Still, it’s often riveting. Here’s a bit from the New York Daily News review:
This shimmering, raw, hip-hop hymnal of a film by Andrea Arnold is an American tale…
The precursor season has been pretty kind to “American Honey,” so that’s just one more reason to check it out. Plus, there’s beautiful use of a Bruce Springsteen tune. Give it a shot!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $663,246
Major Award: Nominated for six Independent Spirit awards