This week, we kick off 2018 with a star fueled slate of titles coming to Blu-Ray and DVD. The grouping today is pretty solid, so the year is starting off right. Whether you’re a Tom Cruise fan or an Emma Stone booster, there’s something for you. Time to dive in!
PICK OF THE WEEK
“Battle of the Sexes”
In a slightly alternate universe, this is a Best Picture frontrunner. Especially considering its election overtones, there was a reason to see this as a big player. The aforementioned Stone plays Hillary Clinton…I mean Billie Jean King, while Steve Carell chews the scenery as Donald Trump/Bobby Riggs. It’s a rather strong biopic, one that was unfairly ignored. Clayton was a fan, writing the following in his review:
It’s a timely examination of the struggles for women that existed over 40 years ago, and are very much still present today.
Disappointing performance at the box office and on the precursor circuit aside, this is still a very good movie. If you missed it the first time around, give “Battle of the Sexes” a shot now!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $12,638,526
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Carell) and Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy (Stone) at the Golden Globes
Tom Cruise and Doug Liman make a good team. While this unusual biopic doesn’t reach the heights of “Edge of Tomorrow,” this is still something a bit old fashioned for Cruise. He gets to use his high wattage smile to great effect, charming his way through much of the picture. Here’s our solidly positive review from a few months back:
The Tom Cruise of old is back in “American Made,” a slickly produced biopic that deftly mixes comedy, crime, and drama, all while coasting on star power.
If you wish Cruise would move back towards drama, this is a slight step in the right direction. “American Made” gives hope that in 2018 and beyond the star could challenge himself again.
Special Features: Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $51,342,000
Major Awards: None yet
The other indie dramedy of 2017 to star Ben Stiller, this one just as literary feeling an affair. While Noah Baumbach used him as part of an excellent ensemble, Mike White places Stiller front and center. The result can easily be looked at as White People Problems: The Movie, but removing that from the equation leaves a well-acted film with something to say. Rolling Stone was fond of it, judging by their review:
As dad obsessed with his son’s college applications, Ben Stiller is at his best in Mike White’s high-anxiety satire. Stiller and White: they make you laugh till it hurts.
“Brad’s Status” is nowhere near as good as “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected),” but it does offer some food for thought. If you like Stiller, you’ll appreciate what he does here.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $2,133,158
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Screenplay at the Gotham Awards
An uncomfortable watch, what pulls you through this play adaptation is Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn. The subject matter, involving pedophilia, is repulsive, but as an acting showcase, it’s incredibly compelling. Not for those easily offended though, obviously. The Hollywood Reporter had this to say:
The film has a different though no less riveting intensity, thanks to Rooney Mara’s emotionally naked performance in the title role, and unflinching support from Ben Mendelsohn.
The performances make “Una” worthwhile. Mara and Mendelsohn have rarely been better. If you can stomach what this is about, give it a look.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $22,815
Major Awards: None yet
In honor of this week’s release of “Blame,” the pick today is another movie loosely adapting classic literature. It’s “O,” which is a modern take on “Othello,” while “Blame” takes its cues from “The Crucible.” The latter outing has very powerful moments and deftly updates Shakespeare’s play. Roger Ebert was a fan, writing the following:
A good film for most of the way, and then a powerful film at the end.
“Blame” is one of 2018’s best films, so be excited for it. In the meantime, “O” is certainly worth revisiting.
Other Films Being Released
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the recommended quartet of “American Made,” “Battle of the Sexes,” “Brad’s Status,” and “Una”:
Andy Serkis makes his directorial debut with this underwhelming biopic. Despite solid work by Claire Foye and Andrew Garfield, the emotions just never shine through. Serkis has a future behind the camera, but as a tearjerker, this came up short. This review from Vulture agreed:
It’s a plenty good story to tell, but even by the time the respirator takes its last gasp, I was ultimately unmoved.
A definite disappointment.
Box Office: $490,131
The late Harry Dean Stanton gave one of the performances of his career in this movie by John Carroll Lynch. Early on in the precursor season, Lynch was considered a bit of a dark horse Best Actor candidate. That didn’t happen, but a few places cited him. Variety pays tribute to him in their review, writing:
Everything Harry Dean Stanton has done in his career, and his life, has brought him to his moment of triumph in “Lucky,” an unassumingly wonderful little film about nothing in particular and everything that’s important.
This one might be worth picking up as a tribute to Stanton.
Box Office: $955,925 (and counting)
“A Question of Faith”
This faith-based feature (shocking, right?) is another poorly reviewed drama that can’t make religion into compelling filmmaking. That kind of goes without saying with this sort of thing, doesn’t it? The AV Club disliked it intensely, explaining why here in their review:
A surprisingly unrelenting lecture on the dangers of texting while driving (a phrase said way more times than the name of Jesus), with a secondary emphasis on why it’s good to be an organ donor.
Box Office: $2,587,072
“Rebel in the Rye”
Unfortunately, the best part of this J.D. Salinger biopic is the supporting turn by Kevin Spacey. When the creator of Holden Caulfield is the least interesting character in your movie, something is wrong. It’s watchable but rarely compelling. Variety concurred in their review:
Diverting, mildly informative and – to borrow Caulfield’s adjective of choice – somewhat phony, heavy as it is on tortured-writer clichés and contrived art-imitates-life parallels.
Unless you’re a massive Salinger devotee, this isn’t particularly necessary.
Box Office: $378,294
Special Criterion Collection Section
“The Breakfast Club”
The only release to get the Criterion treatment today is a straight up classic by John Hughes. Here in 2018, it still holds up as a vital look at being a teenager. What more needs to be said about this one? We all know and love it. The Collection sells it a bit further below, stating:
With this exuberant, disarmingly candid film, writer-director John Hughes established himself as the bard of American youth, vividly and empathetically capturing how teenagers hang out, act up, and goof off.
This is a must own for Hughes fans!
“Jessica Jones: The Complete First Season”
“Ten Days in the Valley”