This week, what may wind up being Damien Chazelle‘s masterpiece hits Blu-ray/DVD in “La La Land.” It’s easily the highest profile title being released today, so let us start from there and celebrate once more one of 2016’s crowning achievements!
PICK OF THE WEEK
“La La Land”
A film made to be celebrated and revisited time and time again, this was a near religious experience for many. Chazelle was able to craft a modern musical that also felt deeply reverent of what’s come before. In that way, it has a timeless element that serves it well. Throw in an Oscar-winning turn from Emma Stone and a nominated one by Ryan Gosling and there’s a ton to love here. It’s just magic. In addition, it is an Academy Award history-maker, tying the record for the most nominations by a single film. Here’s a bit from Mark’s rave review out of the Telluride Film Festival:
One of the many beautiful things about ‘La La Land’ is that while it is set in modern day, it provokes a nostalgia of the Gene Kelly/Vincente Minnelli song-and-dance era. It manages to feel timely and yet timeless, as any great love story does.
“La La Land” is, to many, a perfect film. Plus, it’s as wonderful to watch as it is to listen to. Even if it came up short with the biggest Oscar, it still is a modern masterpiece that will live on forever. Pick it up and sing along with Mia and Seb one more time!
Special Features: Audio Commentary, Featurettes, and more
Total Box Office: $151,047,530 (and counting)
Major Awards: Won Best Director (for Chazelle) and Best Actress (for Stone), along with four other Oscars at the Academy Awards
In honor of this week’s release of “The Circle,” today’s pick is a previous film from director James Ponsoldt. It’s “The Spectacular Now,” which might be his finest hour as a filmmaker. Every element of this coming-of-age tale fires on all cylinders, creating something truly memorable. In addition, it helped to really launch both Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley. Here’s a portion of our rave review from back when it hit theaters:
A moving dramedy that brilliantly reflects that period of adolescence when high school is ending … ‘The Spectacular Now’ is a spectacular film
In a lean week, aside from “La La Land,” this is a great idea for something to revisit. Give it another look!
Other Films Being Released
Here’s a look at what else is hitting shelves today, besides the recommended “La La Land”:
As someone who just recently visited Iceland, this romantically tinged science fiction tale holds a lot of interest to this humble writer. Additionally, the concept itself is compelling. What if you were on vacation and woke up to find you and your partner the only ones left in the country? Maybe the world? According to a RogerEbert.com review, this is a compelling film:
Only worthwhile storytellers could take an elevator pitch like this one (the last two people on Earth) and produce long-lasting curiosity about its inherent beauty and horror.
If you’re a fan of this sort of thing, or of up-and-coming star Maika Monroe, this seems like one to seek out!
Box Office: N/A
Grindhouse-type fare through and through, this movie developed a bit of a following earlier this year. The Los Angeles Times dug it, stating the following:
The enjoyably nasty satire ‘Catfight’ doesn’t pull its punches, literally or figuratively.
If you want something different, this seems like a compelling option.
Box Office: N/A
This film noir played at Tribeca last year and was somewhat of a disappointment. The Hollywood Reporter agreed in their review, writing:
Even with three of the big screen’s most dynamic up-and-comers at its center, there’s no flesh and blood beneath all the posturing.
The trio of Emory Cohen, Bel Powley and Tye Sheridan can’t save this one from mediocrity. Plus, noir at its core is far from boring, which this movie is. What a shame.
Box Office: $1,788
“The Girl with All the Gifts”
Folks who saw this hybrid zombie tale on the festival circuit last year were quite fond of it. Things like “La La Land” were getting most of the ink, but now the film can find an audience. Fans so far include Entertainment Weekly, which had this to say:
It’s a film for people who thought they never needed to sit through another zombie flick. It’s also quite likely the strangest entry that will ever appear on Glenn Close’s IMDB page.
A definite option for those not opting for “La La Land.”
Box Office: N/A
“Underworld: Blood Wars”
Another entry into this seemingly invincible franchise, this is the only wide release besides “La La Land” hitting shelves this week. Sadly, it’s apparently terrible, with Newsday condemning it thusly:
Possibly the nail in the coffin of this dreary vampire series.
Box Office: $30,353,973
Special Criterion Collection Section
The first movie getting the Criterion treatment today is one of Francis Ford Coppola‘s most interesting works. Here’s a bit on the site:
In this deeply personal tale of estrangement and reconciliation between two rebellious brothers, set in a dreamlike and timeless Tulsa, Francis Ford Coppola gives mythic dimensions to intimate, painful emotions.
Coppola is always a safe bet, so definitely look to pick this one up!
As for the other film joining the collection this week, it is this Japanese flick. I’ll let Criterion whet your appetite:
‘Tampopo’ is a lavishly inclusive paean to the sensual joys of nourishment, and one of the most mouthwatering examples of food on film ever made.
“The Affair: Season Three”
“Animal Kingdom: The Complete First Season”
“The Night Shift: Season One”
“The Night Shift: Season Two”
“Paradise: The Complete Series”