This week, Sam Mendes vividly brings World War I to life with “1917,” one of 2019’s biggest movies. It easily highlights the slate hitting shelves today. Read on for more, including a special opportunity to see some very recent releases in the comfort of your own home.
PICK OF THE WEEK
The most widely embraced war film in years, Sam Mendes took audiences to the hell of the first World War in “1917.” Working again with the great Roger Deakins, he found a unique way to put you right in the thick of battle. Rightfully, Deakins took home his second Academy Award for his stunning cinematography. Clayton fell head over heels in love with the film as soon as he saw it, tweeting the following immediately after the screening:
‘1917’ is the best war film since SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. The cinematography of the year. The cinematography of the decade. Thomas Newman’s orchestral masterpiece. Sam Mendes gift to cinema…and his family. Every ounce is powerful.
“1917” is, at least on a technical level, a masterpiece. Even at home, you can marvel at its craftsmanship. In any week, it would be a top option. This week, it’s far and away the best thing hitting shelves!
Special Features: Audio Commentary an Featurettes
Total Box Office: $159,227,419
Major Awards: Won Best Cinematography (for Deakins) at the Academy Awards
Last week, I used this spot to cite “Contagion,” so this week we’ll again mention a pandemic-related movie (pulled from our recent Top Ten list). It’s “Children of Men,” Alfonso Cuaron‘s beloved look at a society falling apart due to a lack of childbirth. Haunting in its realistic depiction of a world slowly collapsing, almost everyone was a fan. The late, great, Roger Ebert was chief among them:
Cuaron fulfills the promise of futuristic fiction; characters do not wear strange costumes or visit the moon, and the cities are not plastic hallucinations, but look just like today, except tired and shabby.
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the sole recommended title in “1917.”
“Come to Daddy”
Elijah Wood gives a wonderfully offbeat performance in this otherwise offbeat thriller. Wood is committed throughout, though the story itself never quite fulfills its full potential. Our review here at the site had this to say:
Despite major story potential brimming in all dark corners, this killer of a thriller neglects its psychological ramifications when the going gets gory.
A genre effort worth considering today!
Box Office: $96,713
This remake of a remake failed to ignite any new interest in the horror franchise. Was it exhaustion with the brand? Was it the poor quality of the movie? Whatever the case, it came and went with barely any fuss. Variety felt that was the right approach:
A reboot of a remake of a movie that wasn’t too scary to begin with, the latest version of ‘The Grudge’ conjures nothing but the dregs of J-horror.
Seems like an easy one to skip.
Box Office: $21,221,803
Special Criterion Collection Section
“The Cranes Are Flying”
The first of two options coming to Criterion today is 1957 effort from the Soviet Union. Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov, “The Cranes Are Flying” has been hailed as an important effort from that region, and specifically from that time period. The Collection has this to say about it:
Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, The Cranes Are Flying is a superbly crafted drama with impassioned performances and viscerally emotional, gravity-defying cinematography by Kalatozov’s regular collaborator Sergei Urusevsky.
Definitely something to consider this week!
“Leave Her to Heaven”
The second choice joining the Collection this week is a 1945 melodrama starring Gene Tierney. It’s “Leave Her to Heaven,” which deftly mixes noir elements with some vivid cinematography. Criterion describes the picture to you like so:
A singular Hollywood masterpiece that draws freely from the women’s picture and film noir alike, Leave Her to Heaven boasts elegant direction by melodrama specialist John M. Stahl, blazing Technicolor cinematography by Leon Shamroy, and a chilling performance by Tierney, whose Ellen is a femme fatale unlike any other—a woman whose love is as pure as it is poisonous.
Perhaps give this one a shot as well?
Also Of Note
Today marks a very unique day in the home video world. A handful of recently released titles are being made available to watch outside of movie theaters. Obviously, this is in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has all but eliminated theater going for the time being. Being put up for rental is the phenomenal Ben Affleck drama “The Way Back,” as well as 2020 films like “Birds of Prey,” “Bloodshot,” “Dolittle,” “The Gentlemen,” and “I Still Believe” (on Friday). Affleck’s is easily the best of the bunch, but consider these additional options this week!
“Doctor Who: Sylvester McCoy The Complete Season Three”