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New Blu-Ray/DVD Releases (12/22/15)

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PawnSacrificeBannerThis week, we once again have a really small amount of 2015 releases that are hitting Blu-Ray and DVD (probably since most folks have done their holiday shopping already), though this week also happens to be another one that’s low on quality, in addition to quantity. Today is one of the weaker slates of titles coming to store shelves, but it happens, especially since I wrote something pretty similar last month. Alas, it is what it is. My top pick was basically a default choice this week, as it’s the only one in the group that I can even come close to vouching for. For me, my PICK OF THE WEEK is somewhat of a disappointment, but still something with some appeal. You’ll see what I mean by that in a few moments, but for now, it’s Vintage time again folks!

Vintage Viewing

jennifer-lawrence-hustle-gifsIn honor of this week’s release of Joy (which I saw yesterday and didn’t love, though I liked it more than Clayton did), I wanted to cite the last film from David O. Russell. Yes, it’s American Hustle, which I remain quite fond of. From my review (found here) at the time: “Amplified expectations rarely ever end up being a good thing in the film world, especially in terms of Oscars. Except in terms of the attention paid to your movie, flying under the radar is the way to capture the hearts and often the votes of the Academy. That being said, for me at least American Hustle represents a heavily anticipated flick that mostly lives up to the hype. David O. Russell has slowly been cozying up to Academy members with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, but with American Hustle, this is easily his clearest attempt to win awards. It’s a terrifically entertaining caper comedy that calls to mind the films of the 1970’s, which rarely hurts. Though not a comedy, Argo made use of that last year on its way to victory. Now, I don’t see American Hustle winning this year anymore (though some still do), but I will say it’s an incredibly good time at the movies. Russell’s direction is as accomplished as ever (even if his script sometimes is a bit more hit and miss), while the A-list cast gets to have a lot of fun. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence steal their scenes (especially the latter, who’s insanely good), while Amy Adams and Christian Bale are excellent too. It’s a real ensemble piece, with everyone pulling their weight. Removed from the awards season, this is top notch entertainment. Propped up against other Oscar contenders, well…then it gets a bit more dicey, but don’t count it out.” Obviously, we all know what happened at the Oscars with it, but with Russell’s new one hitting this week, give this one another viewing…

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:

Dragon Blade

No matter who you are, a film with a cast that includes Adrien Brody, Jackie Chan, and John Cusack suggests something interesting. Alas, interesting was too much to hope for, as this period piece is a cut rate would be action epic. It’s thoroughly mediocre, and while it’s hardly unwatchable, it’s nothing to really go out of your way for…

Box Office: $74,068

Pan

At the last minute, I opted against seeing this one when it was screening, mainly so I could watch the Jets. It was probably for the best too, as the title is being used to describe the reviews that this film got. Unsurprisingly, no one was really interesting in an origin story/building of a Peter Pan universe. Blah.

Box Office: $34,964,818 (and counting)

Queen of Earth

6I sadly missed this one in theaters, which is a shame because I have a feeling that it would have been my top pick here, had I seen it. The movie is well liked and features what’s apparently a really good performance from Elisabeth Olsen, but since I’ve yet to see it, I can’t vouch for it personally. If nothing else, this probably works as a de facto second pick today, so perhaps that will suffice here?

Box Office: $86,626

War Room

Yet another faith based flick that I’ve avoided like the plague. I don’t bother with these, as mentioned in previous weeks, so if you’re into these things, you’ll have to either raise your standards or dive in blind. Hopefully you choose the former, but if it’s the latter…god bless.

Box Office: $67,790,117 (and counting)

TV Releases

Defiance: Season Three
Dominion: Season Two
The Nanny: Season Five

PICK OF THE WEEK

Pawn Sacrifice

pawn-sacrifice-DF_01541_R_rgb1.jpgEven though I wasn’t too wild about this one, it’s clearly the best option this week. Still, it should have been better as I wrote (here) in my review: “With the chess drama/biopic Pawn Sacrifice, it appears like filmmaker Ed Zwick is trying to find his inner Ron Howard. To be sure, this is a well made and competent movie all around, but only on occasion that does it rivet like it sets out to. Tobey Maguire is excellent and the set up is effective, but the end result just leaves something to be desired. Everything about this look at chess master Bobby Fischer appears on the surface to be a surefire Oscar hopeful. You have Zwick directing, a script co-written by Steven Knight, Maguire in the baity role, James Newton Howard doing the music and Bradford Young as director of photography, but it never quite comes together. This is one of those situations where it’s almost a toss up as to whether I’d ultimately go two and a half or three stars, but since it would be such a lukewarm endorsement in the end, after thinking on it for a while I opted to go with the lower score. That doesn’t mean this isn’t worth seeing, at least as a curiosity, but things are decent far too often instead of engrossing, hence the Howard comparison. It’s done in a way to try and appeal to everyone, but in doing so, it winds up limiting its appeal strictly due to a dip in quality. Zwick is usually a far more compelling filmmaker, and as such, I can’t actually recommend Pawn Sacrifice. It was a designed as an Academy award contender, but in the end, it’s mostly just a pretender.” Mainly due to the competition today, it’s your best bet. Make of that what you will…

Special Features: Featurette
Total Box Office: $2,436,633
Major Award: None yet, and don’t hold your breath

What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!

What do you think?

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Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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