This week, a bigger than average amount of 2015 releases are hitting Blu-Ray and DVD, with more than one of them representing a pretty solid option for your viewing pleasure. This is a fairly strong slate and works as a case of both quality and quantity being represented today. My top pick was basically a choice between two well liked indie movies, but it didn’t take me too long to decide on which one I preferred. For me, my PICK OF THE WEEK is one of the most amusing films to come out this year, beating out slightly one of the best character studies of the year. You’ll see which I went with in a few moments, but for now…it’s Vintage time once again folks!
In honor of this week’s release of Krampus (which I see tomorrow night, assuming an event I’m attending lets out in time), I wanted to cite another horror comedy type hybrid. It’s actually You’re Next, which isn’t a comedy but isn’t strictly a fright flick either. From my rave review (found here) at the time: “Usually, when I become enamored with a horror movie, it’s due to the originality of the premise or the unique way in which it’s executed. By and large, I’m not head over heels otherwise. That being said, despite an occasional lack of originality, You’re Next is a ridiculously fun fright flick that I was able to embrace from the opening sequence right on through to the end credits. Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter Adam Barrett have taken the home invasion premise and shaped it to their liking, the result of which should please just about anyone who digs this sort of thing. By combining some especially effective kills with a genuine sense of tension and the welcome introduction of a unique family dynamic, Wingard and Barrett have crafted something beyond a cult classic in the making. This should be a genre favorite for a while. They also have an incredible leading lady in Sharni Vinson. She absolutely owns the screen and essays one of the most interesting horror heroines in some time. Though not for the squeamish, You’re Next offers something for everyone who digs horror.” If you’ve never seen this one, correct that omission ASAP…
The other titles I’m going to discuss here today aren’t necessarily in the same league as my top pick, but they’re nothing to dismiss in any way either. Behold:
A really fun little horror comedy, this especially worked for me considering my sometimes side gig as a substitute teacher, considering it’s about a sub who has to fight off grade school zombies during some school one day. It’s very silly stuff, no doubt, but everyone has fun with the premise and it winds up being very good time. Especially at home in the comfort of your living or bed room, it’ll go down easy. Trust me, you’ll have fun with this one if you’re in the mood for something of this sort.
Special Features: Alternate/Deleted/Extended Scenes, and more
Total Box Office: $60,058
Major Awards: None yet, and don’t hold your breath
I was late to the party on this foreign thriller, but I can vouch for it being as effective as everone else has said. A lot of folks seem obsessed with the twist, but while I concede that it is the most intriguing part of a solid flick, it’s not the only part worth praising. It’s deeply unsettling and extremely well made, that’s for sure. I don’t know if it’ll score a Foreign Language Feature nomination, but it does deserve to be in the running, like it already is. I’ll have an interview with the filmmakers up later on this week as well, so stay tuned for that pretty soon…
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $1,178,196 (and counting)
Major Awards: None yet, but some Foreign Language citations could be in the cards
For a while now, I’ve loved the filmmaking duo of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. This represents their latest top notch character study, one that I praised heavily in my review (here), which began as such: “The filmmaking team of Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck really don’t get the acclaim that they deserve. Between Half Nelson, Sugar, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Boden and Fleck have been consistently making underrated character studies. Well, they can add another one to their resumes with Mississippi Grind, a distinctly classical American movie about compulsive gamblers, particularly feeling like it’s a product of the 1970’s. They set up a pair of interesting characters in Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds, get the plot in motion…and then just observe. This is what Boden and Fleck do best, so it’s no surprise that they really make this film work. Obviously, the duo of Mendelsohn and Reynolds, both of whom are excellent, help make this a success, but the whole group combine to allow the work to really sing. Though not quite as astounding as Half Nelson, this fits in nicely with their other two features, which is a definite compliment in my book. Mendelohn can never have enough leading roles and Reynolds deserves more consistently strong material like this, so the mere fact that they both get this allows Mississippi Grind to be a clear cut success.” Definitely give this one a look…you’ll be glad that you did.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $130,541
Major Awards: Nominated for Best Male Lead (Ben Mendelsohn) at the Independent Spirit Awards
Other Films Being Released
Here now is just a simple list of what else is hitting shelves on this particular day, sans my recommendation. Behold:
90 Minutes in Heaven
Another in a seemingly never ending line of faith based dramas, I obviously skipped this one. Frankly, I’ve been burned far too many times before, so I think I’m just going to stay away from flicks of this nature going forward. It’s just not with the aggravation, simply put.
Box Office: $4,842,699
One of the biggest documentaries of the year is this look at the lady music star Amy Winehouse, and it’s also one that I need to catch up on. I know plenty of people love this one, and I’ll be seeing it in a matter of days. If you can’t wait, consider this another strong option, even if I can’t vouch for it just yet…
Box Office: $8,397,920 (and counting)
I’ve heard decent things about Freida Pinto in this one, but that’s about it. It’s another one that I can’t really say too much about, one way or the other. You’ll have to make due on your own with this title, for better or worse.
Box Office: $155,271
Grace of Monaco
Remember when this was going to be an awards contender? Yeah, that actually happened folks. Instead, after a fairly disastrous bow at the Cannes Film Festival, Harvey Weinstein (who had battled up until then with the movie’s director) and The Weinstein Company dumped it on Lifetime. Essentially now a TV movie, it’s actually qualified for some awards in that manner. Still, it’s a mess and among the worst flicks of 2015 so far. Don’t bother seeing this one, unless you have a morbid curiosity about just what went wrong here. That’s honestly why I ended up seeing it, and you don’t need to make that mistake as well.
Box Office: N/A
Huevos: Little Rooster’s Egg-Cellent Adventure
I had no clue about this animated tale, except that it was initially a Spanish language film, I believe. That said, it made a few bucks at the box office but wasn’t a crossover hit. I can’t say much more than that, so if this interests you, perhaps just take a leap of faith?
Box Office: $9,080,818
This documentary has done okay for itself at the box office, I must say. Narrated by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch, the doc looks at the ancient city in a way that seems to have gone over pretty well. If you’re interested, take a look.
Box Office: $8,020,721
An action thriller with a bit of a gender swap to its name, this is a decent enough film, though not quite one that I can go ahead and recommend. Still, if you’re looking for the sort of popcorn entertainment you’d likely find on cable late at night, this can be a more than acceptable option for you…
Box Office: N/A
Roger Waters The Wall
A unique musical experience, this is more or less only for fans of Roger Waters, and to a lesser extent Pink Floyd. I enjoy the music, but can’t say too much else about this. If you dig the tunes, perhaps you’ll dig this?
Box Office: N/A
Some Kind of Beautiful
I dig romantic comedies. I dig Pierce Brosnan. And yet, somehow I didn’t get to see this one. I haven’t heard great things, but I’m willing to give it a shot. For those of you who like this former 007 and enjoy rom-coms, this could be worth considering as a shot in the dark…
Box Office: N/A
Black Sails: Seasons 1 & 2
Fear the Walking Dead: The Complete First Season
Mystery Science Theater 3000 XXXIV
Outlander: Season 1
Zoo: Season One
PICK OF THE WEEK
After how great Frances Ha was, it was going to be hard for lightning to strike twice for the pairing of Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig. Yet, they made perhaps an even funnier film, as I pointed out (here) in my review: “At this point, I’ll pretty much watch anything that Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig decide to do together, considering how good Frances Ha was and now how good Mistress America is (I’m even a fan of Greenberg, which was the first time they worked together, just not with a script collaboration to boot). Baumbach, Gerwig, as well as up and comer Lola Kirke combine to make this a really fun little flick. Amusing, short, and well acted by Gerwig and especially Kirke, it’s a small cinematic treat that really knows how to make you smile. If perhaps not quite as deep as Frances Ha, I’d argue that Mistress America is possibly the better work because it’s funnier and less of an unpleasant experience. Baumbach really seems invigorated when he’s working on this small scale, almost in secret until the product is finished. It has the feel of a younger filmmaker, which is always interesting. I’m sure this will completely fall flat for some, but for me, it was an absolute delight.” Seek this one out and prepare to be highly amused.
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $2,465,373
Major Award: None yet
–What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!