This week, another pair of Academy Award nominated films lead the charge of new Blu-ray titles. One is a “Frozen” sequel, while the other may well be a start to a franchise in “Knives Out.” Read on for more.
PICK OF THE WEEK
Rian Johnson pulled off a movie that almost no one else is making these days with “Knives Out,” a whodunit with a razor sharp bit of social commentary. From the whip smart script to the wonderful ensemble cast, all the way to the glorious final shot, this is a gem. At the Toronto International Film Festival, we agreed in a big way:
“Knives Out” is a welcome breath of fresh air…Original, and armed with a message about greed and entitlement, the film is sure to cause some discussion
“Knives Out” is a gift from Johnson, especially with his creation of Daniel Craig‘s Benoit Blanc. Further adventures with Craig’s character will be more than welcome. For now, this is a must own!
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $162,959,187 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Original Screenplay (for Johnson) at the Academy Awards
A sequel to “Frozen” was obvious once the first one made a mint at the box office. Disney took their time and found a very different story to tell. For some, it was a welcome step up in maturity. For others, it was a bit of a letdown. Variety had this to say:
In a world where old-timers accuse the youth of being oversensitive snowflakes, “Frozen II” shows what it means to have one’s heart in the right place.
“Frozen II” can’t match the joy of the original, but it does carve out its own, somewhat darker, path. As a family friendly option this week, it’s a strong fit for kids and adults alike.
Special Features: Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $476,192,353 (and counting)
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards
In honor of this week’s release of “The Whistlers,” the pick today is another undercover cop movie. It’s “The Departed,” the Oscar-winning remake from Martin Scorsese. The late Roger Ebert, long a fan of Scorsese’s, found some interesting themes within his take on “Infernal Affairs,” as you can see below:
What makes this a Scorsese film, and not merely a retread, is the director’s use of actors, locations and energy, and its buried theme. I am fond of saying that a movie is not about what it’s about; it’s about how it’s about it.
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the pair of recommended titles in “Frozen II” and “Knives Out.”
“Color Out of Space”
Nicolas Cage in a well received movie? On the surface, putting him in an adaptation of a H.P. Lovecraft story would be a recipe for disaster. Instead, it turned out bizarre, unique, and surprisingly effective. This genre effort managed to really catch on with critics. The Hollywood Reporter chimed in like so:
A satisfying shot at bringing a classic of the sci-fi/horror genre to modern audiences.
Box Office: $677,283 (and counting)
One of the odder titles at the 2019 New York Film Festival, this character study is noteworthy for its central performance by Tom Mercier. He’s out there, but captivating to watch, in a Joaquin Phoenix type of way., Our NYFF review had this to say:
“Synonyms” tells a simple story in a very unusual fashion. Mercier is so good in this challenging role that you’re willing to forgive the occasional step in the wrong direction.
An option for adventurous viewers this week.
Box Office: $204,756
Special Criterion Collection Section
“Paris Is Burning”
The first option coming to Criterion today is this classic 1990 documentary. A special restoration, this doc looks at a very specific New York City community in order to tell some universal truths. The Collection pitches it to you like so:
Where does voguing come from, and what, exactly, is throwing shade? This landmark documentary provides a vibrant snapshot of the 1980s through the eyes of New York City’s African American and Latinx Harlem drag-ball scene. Made over seven years, Paris Is Burning offers an intimate portrait of rival fashion “houses,” from fierce contests for trophies to house mothers offering sustenance in a world rampant with homophobia, transphobia, racism, AIDS, and poverty.
Documentary fans should certainly pick this one up!
“Three Fantastic Journeys by Karel Zeman”
The other title joining the Collection this week is a trio of films from director Karel Zeman. Consisting of 1955’s “Journey to the Beginning of Time,” 1958’s “Invention for Destruction,” and 1962’s “The Fabulous Baron Munchausen,” this is a great starter part to introduce cinephiles to Zeman. Criterion fetes Zeman like so:
A one-of-a-kind silver-screen illusionist, Czech filmmaker Karel Zeman devoted his career to transporting viewers to realms beyond their wildest imagining. The deft, breathtaking combinations of live action and animation techniques that he pioneered in the postwar years earned him comparisons to legends such as Georges Méliès, and an array of followers that includes Jan Švankmajer, Terry Gilliam, and Wes Anderson.
Intrigued? Give it a shot!
“800 Words: Season 3, Part 1”
“Years & Years”