This week, we once again have a smaller amount of releases that are hitting Blu-Ray and DVD (probably since folks are, for the most part, still catching up on Oscar nominees), though this week also happens to be another one that’s lower on quality than others have been. That’s in addition to quantity being low, which is never a great thing. Today isn’t one of the weakest slates of titles to come to store shelves in the past few months, but it’s hardly the best either. My top pick was basically once again a default choice this week, as it’s the only one in the group that I can overtly vouch for, though it’s a popular pick on its own. For me, my PICK OF THE WEEK is somewhat of a tough sit, but still something with definite appeal. You’ll see what I mean by that in a few moments, but for now, it’s Vintage time again folks!
In honor of this week’s release of Jane Got a Gun (which is finally coming out but isn’t screening for critics), I wanted to cite a prior film from Gavin O’Connor that I often mention. Yes, once again it’s Warrior, which I like to come back to again and again to remind you all how great it is. From my review (found here) at the time: “‘Warrior’ is being marketed as a testosterone fueled fight film, one that places action above all else. I’m happy to report that the movie is a far cry from that, and a far better piece of cinema for it. The film is about a lot of things. It’s about the damage a father can do to his sons, it’s about the difficulty inherent in sewing together a fractured family, it’s about the lengths one will go for the ones that matter the most, and it’s about, in a very real way, the American spirit. Co-writer/director Gavin O’Connor has made what is more a companion piece to his underrated “Miracle on Ice” Disney film ‘Miracle’ than it is to last year’s different but somewhat similar ‘The Fighter’. I think this may actually be the better movie, though like that other fight flick, it features a bevy of Oscar worthy performances. It’s an inspirational and rousing movie…one of the best of the year so far and definitely a player in the Oscar race.” I was high on it then and I’m still high on it now. Give it a look if you’ve somehow missed it…
Other Films Being Released
With just one thing to honor today, here now is just a simple list of what else is hitting shelves on this particular day, sans my recommendation. Behold:
I only recently got around to seeing this cooking drama, and while I didn’t dislike it, I can easily understand why it struggled to find an audience. Bradley Cooper is solid and this is excellent food porn, the the kitchen dynamics don’t fully mesh with the story of addiction this also is telling. It’s worth seeing, I suppose but don’t be in any hurry to do so. I can’t recommend it, but it does have a certain appeal, provided that you keep your standards in check.
Box Office: $13,625,291 (and counting)
Yes, this is Spike Lee’s best movie in a few years, but at the same time…how much praise is that actually indicating? From my review (here) of the film: “Filmmaker Spike Lee is always at his most interesting when he’s dealing with anger in some way. That doesn’t necessarily always mean that it’s going to amount to a good movie, as for every Do the Right Thing there’s a Red Hook Summer, but Chi-Raq sort of walks the line between those two. It’s one of the better films Lee has done in a few years, but it’s also ultimately too messy to work. Perhaps if he has taken a bit more time to hone it all and not rushed it to theaters this year for awards consideration (even though it’s mainly debuting on Amazon as the first big project of theirs, following in the footsteps of Netflix and Beasts of No Nation), since there’s definitely things to like here. Lee’s passion shines through as much as ever, while the admittedly odd premise for such a serious topic works better than you’d think. It’s just the overall messiness and slower moments that hold me back from actively recommending this, along with the hit or miss nature of the way the dialogue is delivered. I do think that if you love Lee’s work, you’re going to enjoy this a bit more, while if you dislike his flicks, you’re more than likely not going to dig this at all. I’m somewhere in the middle, which is possibly what leaves me so mixed on Chi-Raq. It offers up something different here in the thick of awards season, that’s for sure, but it’s just not quite on par with the other contenders. Chi-Raq is interesting, but it winds up being a mixed bag.” You can do worse this week, but you can do better as well…
Box Office: $2,647,377 (and counting)
Despite being a huge fan of the books as a kid, I still have yet to see this flick. I plan to watch it this week, but I can’t say I heard anything to make me think that it won’t be just an average kids themed adventure movie. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised, but I’m not going to expect much, plain and simple.
Box Office: $79,877,449 (and counting)
In My Father’s House
This documentary slipped below the radar and didn’t get Oscar shortlisted, so that more or less killed its chances of breaking through. I have a copy but have yet to watch it, and maybe that just proves the point. Perhaps some of you will take a chance on it and see what you think?
Box Office: N/A
Meet the Patels
I know some of my colleagues really like this documentary, and it did manage to make a few dollars at the box office. I plan to finally watch it soon, since I’ve had a copy sitting here for a week or two now, but sometimes life just gets in the way. It’s probably very good, but I just can’t vouch personally for it right now…
Box Office: $1,700,681
Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season Two
Da Vinci’s Demons: The Complete Third Season
Doctor Who: Series Nine, Part Two
Downton Abbey: Season 6
The Facts of Life: The Complete Eighth Season
UnREAL: Season One
PICK OF THE WEEK
This is not for the impatient audience member. To actually enjoy this deliberately placed foreign film, you really need to strap in and pay attention. My review (which you can find here) says as much: “Much like with Son of Saul (which I consider to be the superior work, even if I’m not quite on board with calling it a masterpiece), The Assassin is impeccably made, with some of the best direction of the year so far, but the clinical nature of the work keeps me at arm’s length. Here, it’s as much due to the incredibly relaxed pacing as anything else, as this is a martial arts movie more or less told in monologues, with sporadic violence thrown in for good measure. I’m not a huge wushu fan, but even I would have been grateful for slightly more action. That’s not what director Hou Hsiao-Hsien and his writers have on their minds though, so it’s not exactly a big complaint. I admired the cinematography, appreciated the direction, and was glad to have seen it, though I can’t say that it’s the brilliant work some have said. It’s a distinctive NYFF title that rewards your patience, so there’s that. The Assassin isn’t for everyone, but then again, it’s not meant to be.” If you’re willing to invest the time, there’s a reward for you here. Just keep that in mind…
Special Features: Featurettes
Total Box Office: $632,542
Major Award: Won Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival
–What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!