From my theatrical review (read it here): “After a four year hiatus, Daniel Craig returns as Ian Fleming’s iconic British superspy James Bond 007 in Skyfall. Directed by Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) and with a script partially written by John Logan (Gladiator, Hugo), the movie celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the films while also confidently launching it into the future. The pair pay homage to the cinematic and cultural significance of the series while also utilizing modern themes allowing the picture to take on immediate emotional significance no other Bond can claim, raising the game in a way further 007 adventures will have trouble duplicating.”
The Kid with a Bike – Criterion Collection
From my theatrical review (read it here): “You get the feeling that Luc and Jean-Pierre are starting to flex their directorial muscles and broaden their horizons. The brothers use snippets of music in the picture for what I believe is the first time, and they also allow a bit of lightness and hope to enter into the proceedings in a way that feels organic and necessary but doesn’t dilute the darker edges of the scenario they’re presenting. The Kid with a Bike certainly won’t be for everyone, and it certainly left me with lingering questions I’m irritated weren’t even partially answered. But overall this movie is an emotionally exhilarating ride I’m still mulling, watching it an experience I certain to not soon forget.”
From my theatrical review (read it here): “Mark O’Brien’s story is the sole focus here which is just as it should be, what happens between him and Cheryl the only thing that ultimately matters. This inspiring gem is a model of storytelling efficiency acted to superlative perfection by Hawkes and Hunt, and as testaments to the enduring power of the human spirit are concerned The Sessions is one example that simply cannot be missed.”
From my theatrical review (read it here): “I’m not going to lie, watching Bully isn’t easy. The movie throws images on the screen that make the viewer decidedly uncomfortable, showcasing children in peril (whether they care to realize or understand it or not) and parents who have lost their young ones to suicide with forceful directness. It doesn’t pull punches or try to paint a more palatable picture, director Lee Hirsch (Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony) delivering his saga of kid-on-kid brutality with a didactic verisimilitude that’s decidedly chilling.” For more on this release, check out my recently posted Blu-ray Review.
The Man with the Iron Fists
Cannot say, even as a fan of silly B-grade martial arts cinema, I never felt even slightly inclined to journey out and see rapper RZA’s directorial debut The Man with the Iron Fists. Not screened for critics, even with appearances by Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu and Rick Yune there wasn’t a ton here that caught my eye, so going out to theatre, even for a matinee, and pay good money to see it didn’t seem like a particularly good idea. Now that it’s on Blu-ray I’ll put that assessment to the test, the movie currently at the top of my Netflix queue.
Silent Hill: Revelation
Another one that didn’t screen for critics, this long-in-coming sequel was one I meant to go out and see, but the onslaught of end of year releases made that pretty much impossible. Still, I sort of admired (if didn’t entirely like) 2006’s Silent Hill, and while none of the filmmakers returned the fact the majority of the first film’s surviving actors did come back for seconds I am admittedly intrigued. Reviews from those who did dare to go out and see it weren’t kind, that is true, but all the same this is one sequel I’m still curious about and intend to get a look at as soon as I’m able.
Mimesis – Night of the Living Dead
There is a pretty solid, maybe even great, idea at the center of Mimesis (even if Scream did cover much of this territory almost two decades ago), and I admit there were moments inside this twisted little shocker where I was somewhat impressed with tiny bits of what writer/director Douglas Schulze had managed to come up with. Overall, however, this is a poorly acted, ineptly paced exercise in gory tedium, building to a forgone conclusion that’s telegraphed far too clearly within the opening 20 or so minutes. In other words, a wasted opportunity and nothing more, and I’ve little else to say other than that.
Dangerous Liaisons (2012)
A new take on the classic Pierre Choderlos de Laclos novel, this one from Chinese filmmaker Hur Jin-ho and starring Cecilia Cheung and Ziyi Zhang. Nowhere near as glossily silly and guiltily enjoyable as Cruel Intentions, without the heft or emotional weight of Stephen Frears’ Dangerous Liaisons or Milos Forman’s Valmont, the movie is nonetheless relatively appealing if only because the leads are suitably glamorous and the direction is nicely subtle and refined. Worthwhile for fans of Chinese cinema and lovers of the story itself, newcomers certainly won’t be bored but just as likely won’t be bowled over by any of it, either.
OTHER NOTABLE BLU-RAY RELEASES
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· The Comeback
· Die Screaming, Marianne
· House of Whipcord
· In Like Flint – Twilight Time
· Nicholas and Alexandra – Twilight Time
· Nurse Jackie: Season Four
· Pony Solider – Twilight Time
· Weeds: The Final Season
NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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Best of Warner Bros – 20 Film Collection: Musicals
Massive. That’s the only word for it. This set includes 20 discs split into three chapters (1927 – 1951, 1951 – 1964, 1967 – 1988), offering up an incredible history of the movie musical and how one of Hollywood’s most iconic studios (currently celebrating its 90th anniversary) helped the genre blossom and flourish. Nine of the 20 films (The Broadway Melody, 42nd Street, The Great Ziegfeld, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Show Boat, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Viva Las Vegas, Victor/Victoria and the 1988 version of Hairspray) are currently unavailable on Blu-ray, making the current $70 price on Amazon more than bargain just for those titles alone.
Gossip Girl: The Complete Sixth and Final Season
The final ten episodes of this once explosively popular tween soap opera and I have to admit thanks to the condescended schedule these might be some of the absolute shows this program has ever offered, wrapping this saga of the Upper East Side’s elite up as beautifully as anything I could have hoped for. Only complaint? The reveal of who Gossip Girl actually is kind of bites, and while it works as far as this season is concerned in regards to the show as a whole this ‘answer’ to the program’s ‘biggest mystery’ doesn’t make a heck of a lot of sense. Still, solid stuff, and I seriously doubt die-hard fans will be even close to disappointed.
Robot & Frank
From my theatrical review (read it here): “Set in an undisclosed ‘near future,’ Robot & Frank is a curiously sweet little character study given its drive and energy thanks to an unvarnished and remarkably naked performance by Frank Langella that helps take the material to a plateau it never would have achieved otherwise. Cagey, confident and self-assured, the former Academy Award-nominee isn’t afraid to show Frank’s wounds, to showcase how his diminished mental health is both made more whole by his new relationship but also ends up suffering directly because of it. One moment a man in full, the very next a shell of a former self he’s not even sure ever existed in the first place, this is a sensational bit of acting that held me spellbound, a remainder of what a great actor can oftentimes do with even the slightest of material.”
28 Hotel Rooms
In this sexy, surprising romance, a man and a woman meet each other in a hotel while they are both traveling on business. Flirtation leads to a feverish night of sex that both find hard to forget. Although she s married, and he has a girlfriend, their intense attraction turns a seemingly casual one-night stand into a continual series of passionate hotel trysts, uniting them in a profound and unconventional relationship. Unfolding as a collage of moments some sexy, some innocent, some profound, some silly 28 Hotel Rooms is an intimate portrait of an affair in which two people wrestle with the intoxication of sex and the confusion of loving more than one person. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Girl Model explores how young girls are discovered in obscure corners of the globe and initiated into the high stakes modeling industry. This eye-opening film follows two protagonists: Ashley, a former model and now scout who scours the Siberian countryside looking for fresh faces; and one of her discoveries, Nadya, a 13-year-old plucked from her rustic home in Russia and dropped into the center of bustling Tokyo with promises of a profitable career. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Kill for Me
While trying to move on from an abusive ex-boyfriend, Amanda (Katie Cassidy, TV's Arrow) looks for a roommate to help pay the rent. Hailey (Tracy Spiridakos, TV's Revolution) just moved to college to get away from her own abusive past. Now roommates, both girls find comfort in their friendship and make a pact to help each other overcome their pasts... no matter what the cost. When Amanda's abusive ex-boyfriend catches up with her, a riveting roller coaster of suspense and twists is set in motion. In order to survive, the two girls face their harrowing past together, as their lives depend on it. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Dennis, a painfully shy 38-year-old bodybuilder, would really like to find true love. He has never had a girlfriend and lives alone with his mother in a suburb of Copenhagen. When his uncle marries a woman from Thailand, Dennis decides to try his own luck on a trip to Pattaya, as it seems that love is easier to find there. He knows that his mother would never accept another woman in his life, so he lies and tells her that he is going to Germany for a competition. Hectic Pattaya turns out to be a huge cultural shock for him. The intrusive Thai girls shatter Dennis' naive picture of what love should be like, and he is about to lose hope when he unexpectedly meets the woman of his dreams. There may be hope for him yet, if only he can confront his mother. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
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· Gossip Girl – The Complete Series
· Jedi Junkies
· Storage Wars – Volume 4
NOTABLE NEW BLU-RAY ANNOUNCEMENTS
· Playing for Keeps (March 5, 2013)
· This Must Be the Place (March 12, 2013)
· This is 40 (March 22, 2013)
· Killing Them Softly (March 26, 2013)
· Lincoln (March 26, 2013)
· Panic in the Streets (March 26, 2013)
· Hyde Park on Hudson (April 9, 2013)
· The Impossible (April 23, 2013)
· Fringe: The Complete Series (May 7, 2013)
· The Burning (May 21, 2013)
· The Town that Dreaded Sundown (May 21, 2013)