This week, a couple of Academy Award nominated foreign films highlight the new releases coming to Blu-Ray and DVD. It’s an overall middling slate today, though there’s a fair amount of variety to be found. You’ll see below, so why not get right down to it?
PICK OF THE WEEK
“In the Fade”
Diane Kruger came closer than many realize to a Best Actress nomination for her work in this drama. In fact, up until the final days of Phase One, some expected her to score a surprise nod. Reviews ended up being a bit more mixed than usual for an Oscar contender, but those who loved it, really loved it. Clayton was a big fan of this foreign flick, raving about it in this review from the 2017 Middleburg Film Festival:
It sneaks up on you as it maneuvers through three utterly heart rendering chapters, all dealing with loss, grief, and revenge.
“In the Fade” was one of the more divisive foreign films of 2017. If you’re a Kruger fan, this is one to seek out!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $321,011 (and counting)
Major Awards: Won Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language at the Golden Globe Awards
In honor of this week’s release of “Tully,” the pick today is going to be an obvious one. It’s, of course “Young Adult,” the previous collaboration between Diablo Cody, Jason Reitman, and Charlize Theron. This black comedy mined some dark material for laughs, and boy was it successful. Theron was incredible, while Cody and Reitman again display why they work so very well together. From our rave review at the time:
Jason Reitman declares without a doubt that he’s among the most talented filmmakers working today and Diablo Cody proves she’s far from a one trick pony with the delightfully awkward black comedy
What better time than now to make this week/weekend a Cody/Reitman/Theron double feature?
OTHER FILMS BEING RELEASED
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides “In the Fade”:
An action flick about the first days of the war in Afghanistan, this seems like odd subject matter. Chris Hemsworth taking on the Taliban has potential as a concept, but this was too singularly pitched at middle America to really find a robust audience. Time Out had this mixed take on the film:
If you want to feel good about a war with no end, this one’s for you.
Box Office: $45,500,164
This art-house horror outing barely got a release, which seems like a shame. There wasn’t many reviews out there for this one, but the ones available paint a decent enough portrait of the material. Plus, the concept is rather interesting. In fact, The Hollywood Reporter had a pretty positive review to submit, including this bit:
Caught delivers plenty of terrifying moments, thanks to the highly committed performances by the central quartet, the superb make-up effects and the perfectly calibrated air of mounting claustrophobic tension provided by the director.
If you’re looking for indie horror options, this could be one to consider.
Box Office: N/A
For a bit, it seemed like this surprise Best Foreign Feature nominee was actually going to pull the Oscar upset. The nomination ended up being its reward, though a ton of good reviews followed it along the awards season as well. Rolling Stone dug it quite a bit too, writing the following:
Director Ziad Doueiri’s Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar nominee from Lebanon is a crackling legal thriller that boils down centuries of Middle Eastern conflict into one reckless insult – and lets the sparks fly
This could pair well with “In the Fade” as a foreign film double feature.
Box Office: $1,001,305
“Mary and the Witch’s Flower”
One of the more underseen animated tales of late, this Studio Ponoc (a spinoff of Studio Ghibli) outing had a number of critical fans last year. It wasn’t enough to score it an Academy Award nomination, but that’s hardly the whole story. Indie animation often has tons to offer for those willing to seek it out, and this was the case here as well. The Village Voice feted it as such:
What Mary and the Witch’s Flower lacks in dimensionality, it makes up for in wonderment.
Animation fans may want to consider this option today.
Box Office: $2,418,404
A very recent 2018 release, reviews were very mixed on this adaptation of the classic children’s character. Some praised the look of the movie, but most had very little else to praise. In fact, many pundits claimed that the filmmakers fundamentally misunderstood the source material. Variety was among those to say just that, as they explain here:
Beatrix Potter fans will be torn between wanting to hug a photo-real Peter Rabbit and wanting to scream at what Hollywood has done with him.
Box Office: $114,560,612 (and counting)
“Please Stand By”
This little dramedy comes from Ben Lewin, who found success with “The Sessions” a few years ago. Dakota Fanning stars in this one, which really couldn’t find any sort of an audience upon release. Reviews here were also decidedly mixed, with Vulture contributing one of those to the heaping pile:
You can guess how most of its scenes will play before you even come to them, and it has a circumspect, sanitized quality, as if meant to be shown in group homes without causing undue upset.
Box Office: $9,868
A throwaway horror outing that somehow lucked into casting Helen Mirren, this is the epitome of a dumping ground release. The first few months of any year contain a bunch of these, so this is just one more example of high mediocrity getting a token theatrical bow, hoping for a quick buck. The New York Times took pity on Mirren in their pan of a review:
Ho-hum apparitions appear and disappear without a trace. Ms. Mirren and her representatives are probably hoping the movie will do likewise.
Sounds like one to forget about quickly.
Box Office: $25,091,816
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