This week, one very controversial Oscar film from 2014 hits Blu-Ray and DVD, along with a few other things, though only that’s really worth your time. Yep, it’s that kind of a day again. My top pick was between a surprisingly big Academy Award player/winner from last year and one of the smaller titles that I saw at last year’s New York Film Festival. In the end, my PICK OF THE WEEK is the bigger flick of the two, but I’ll explain myself before this column is done with. You’ll see what I mean by that in just a bit, but for now…it’s time for my Vintage pick folks!
In honor of this week’s release of Tomorrowland (which I really liked quite a bit, despite the mixed reviews so far), I wanted to cite a film starring Britt Robertson. It’s The First Time, an under-seen gem. In my rave review from a few years ago (seen right here), I wrote: “This teenage romance is a true dramedy, never too light and never too heavy, with characters that manage to feel like true teens while still embracing the eccentricities that only movie characters can have. Many of the monologues and conversations that our main characters have are the types of big speeches that most films reserve for their climax, but (Jon) Kasdan packs the flick with them, and it’s a testament to his talents that this never bothers you. It was something he did to a lesser extent in his underrated début feature ‘In the Land of Women’, and here he ups his game a great deal. With lovable lead performances by Dylan O’Brien and Britt Robertson, Kasdan has crafted a flick that I absolutely fell in love with.” This is a true gem, one that I wish more people would see. Robertson’s star is rising with this new blockbuster, but she’s at her best here…
Besides my top pick, there’s this one other title worth mentioning. Without further delay, here it is:
The Blue Room
At NYFF last year, I went into this one blind and wound up liking what I saw. My festival review (here) said the following: “Actor/director/writer Mathieu Amalric goes in a very interesting new direction here with The Blue Room, a French crime procedural that has plenty going in its favor. To be fair, it’s not in the same league as David Fincher‘s Gone Girl here at the New York Film Festival, but that takes nothing away from the more simple thriller pleasures to be found in this one. Amalric gives a unique performance in a movie that both conforms to your expectations as well as subverts them in very specific ways.” It’s not going to change the world, but it’s a solid little title. Give it a shot and see what you think!
Special Features: N/A
Total Box Office: $254,666
Major Award: None
Other Films Being Released
Here’s a simple list of just what else is hitting shelves on this particular day, sans my recommendation. Behold:
Before I Disappear
This drama wasn’t really on my radar, so I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. I don’t even know what the buzz was, so it’s really a blind choice if any of you decide to pop it in. If you do, definitely let me know if I’m missing out or not…
Box Office: $8,251
Another in a long line of modernized Shakespeare adaptations, I’ve got this one on my desk to get around to in the next few days. The word on it was pretty weak, but the cast is solid and I’m curious enough to check it out regardless. If you feel the same way, feel free to join in and see what you think of it.
Box Office: N/A
No, this isn’t a spinoff of Richard Linklater’s Academy Award winning passion project, but a well regarded French drama that’s its own unique film. I’m hoping to watch it soon, but most of the people in the industry who I know have seen it have liked it, so there’s that.
Box Office: $60,765 (and counting)
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
What a disappoint this comedy sequel was. As I wrote in my review (found right here), very little went right. I said: “Not every comedy needs to spawn a franchise. As much as the potential was there to turn Hot Tub Time Machine into a successful series of films, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 shows just how bland it can be to simply recycle the jokes of the first one. This movie is repetitive, generic, and sadly not nearly as funny as the initial installment. Original star John Cusack isn’t around this time (and is certainly missed), meaning we spend about 90 minutes just with the far more annoying grouping of Rob Corddry, Clark Duke, and Craig Robinson, with Adam Scott filling in for Cusack…in more ways than one too, but I’ll get around to that later. It’s weird just how much is missing this time around, as original director Steve Pink and original co-write/the one who came up with the story Josh Heald both return. They seem to make all the wrong choices this time around, to the point where it’s almost odd to witness. I don’t know that a different creative team would have saved Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (so don’t take this as a suggestion to studio heads to go ahead and make a third one) or if Cusack being a part of it would have mattered much, but it’s clear that this combination just did not work one bit. I’m a fan of the first movie, but this one is almost a complete misfire.” Alas, they can’t all be winners.
Box Office: $12,314,651
At one point last year, this Russian drama seemed poised to potentially walk away with the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Feature. Obviously that didn’t come to pass, but it did win the Golden Globe in that category and was nominated at the Academy Awards. Now, it’s available to own and offers you the chance to really dive into this moody title. There are bigger fans of it on the site, but you should make up your own mind, one way or the other…
Box Office: $1,092,800
I know nothing about this suspense flick besides the fact that it features Fran Kranz. That’s an ace up its sleeve, but I still was barely aware of its existence before today. If you’re interested…check it out. I can’t help you in terms of its quality, for better or worse.
Box Office: $5,241 (and counting)
Believe it or not, I have a soft spot in my heart for Matt Leblanc. As such, I was hoping for this to not be a cringe worthy romantic comedy. Sadly, it mostly is, though with the occasional redeeming moment. I’ve seen worse this year, but boy have I seen a lot better as well.
Box Office: N/A
Despite a few colleagues telling me that this was such a weird movie that I needed to see it, I wound up not catching this one in theaters. It’s apparently very bizarre, so that might have an appeal for some of you. If that’s the case, pick it up and report back in with what you find.
Box Office: $12,429,583
I was bummed not to have seen this one at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, so now that it’s coming to home video after a brief theatrical run, I’m going to make it my business to sit down and scope out this B movie. It might not be very good (I don’t know), but it should be fun…
Box Office: $14,947
Amish Mafia: Season 3
Beauty and the Beast (2012): The Second Season
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Series
Call the Midwife: Season 4
CPO Sharkey: The Complete First Season
Doctor Who: The Cybermen
Duck Dynasty: Season 7
Glee: The Complete Series
The Larry Sanders Show: The Complete Series
Married… With Children: Seasons 9 & 10
NewsRadio: The Complete Series
Orange Is the New Black: Season Two
PICK OF THE WEEK
When it comes to this film, I think you really have to separate it from all of the buzz/chatter/hype/think pieces, both positive and negative. Clint Eastwood’s war movie has some things working in its favor (like Bradley Cooper), while others holding it back (that fake baby, among other things). In fact, I’m going to cite my own social media post after seeing the flick. I said: “American Sniper isn’t an easy film to categorize. On the one hand, it features a terrific performance by Bradley Cooper and is Clint Eastwood’s best film in about a decade. At the same time though, it’s troublingly jingoistic and uses a hammer when a scalpel is more appropriate at almost every turn. Far from a bad film, but easily the weakest of the Best Picture lineup.” I stand by those words, but even still, it’s worth giving another shot to, free of hyperbole on both ends.
Special Features: Making of, and more…
Total Box Office: $349,640,908 (and counting)
Major Award: Nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, winning Best Sound Editing along the way
–What will you be watching this week? Discuss in the comments!