Everyone have a great Thanksgiving? Take advantage of any of those outstanding Amazon Black Friday deals? Head out to the department stores and stand in any of those massive lines at midnight on Friday? Yeah, me, too, and my bank balance is certainly showing the after effects. Which makes it all the more annoying to note that there are a couple of great titles being released on Blu-ray today, because, seriously, who has any money left to actually purchase them?
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
It’s not secret how much I love this movie. I loved it when I first watched it back in the summer of 2010, I loved it just as much when I got an opportunity to see it again just before its limited theatrical release in September and I loved it when I watched it again a week ago when a review copy of the Blu-ray made its way into my hands. As I stated in my original theatrical review (read it here): “This movie is certifiably insane, that’s a given, but it’s also extremely witty, has far more intelligence than you might originally expect and has a grand time exploding clichés and playing with an audience’s expectations. Things never quite work out the way you think they are going to, and as soon as the blood and guts start to fly all bets are off as to who is going live, who is going to die and what, exactly, the eventual outcome is going to be.” In other words, watch this one right away; it’s one of the better films released in 2011.
Our Idiot Brother
I meant to review this when it played theatrically last summer, but for whatever reason I just never got around to doing so. Part of the reason was that I missed the press screening, and it was only because the word of mouth on this Paul Rudd comedy was so strong that I actually made my way to the theatre in order to pay to see it. But that didn’t happen until a couple of weeks after its release, and even though I thoroughly enjoyed this little ensemble gem at that point it didn’t particularly feel like I had much new to enter into the conversation. Be that as it may, this is a strong comedy, and while the end isn’t quite all it maybe could have been overall I found this to be an extremely inspiring winner director Jesse Peretz and his entire cast and crew have every right to be proud of. A Blu-ray review is forthcoming.
The Smurfs 3D
I have nothing new to say about The Smurfs. Here’s what I wrote about the film back in July (read my full review here): “I was not a fan of the cartoon series as a kid, and while I’ve seen my fair share of episodes I turned the channel when they were on far more often than did not. Peyo’s much cherished creations do little to nothing for me, and I can’t say spending 102-minutes with them in a live action-computer animated hybrid was all that high on my personal to-do list…The good news? The movie is hardly painful.” (Releases on Friday, Dec. 2, 2011)
Friends with Benefits
Here’s what I wrote about this R-rated relationship comedy earlier this summer (read my full review here): “I want to like Friends with Benefits a heck of a lot more than I actually do. The first half of the film is foul-mouthed, engaging and funny…The final third of the movie is a maudlin, irritating and, worst of all, slow-moving bore. It dips way to far into cheap sentimentality and then starts reveling in all of the standard romantic comedy clichés it has up to then brazenly been wagging its middle finger at.” (Releases on Friday, Dec. 2, 2011)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
From my theatrical review of this Werner Herzog directed documentary posted back in April (read it here): “In the end, Cave of Forgotten Dreams plays rather beautifully. I’m not sure it is as transcendent as Herzog hopes it would be, but it does fascinate on an emotional level…It is a solidly entertaining piece of documentary filmmaking, another signature winner from a director whose entire career is littered with them.”
Another Earth is beautiful. Having just received this one last Friday, having somehow both missed it when it played at last summer’s Seattle International Film Festival and when it screened theatrically, looking at co-writer and director Mike Cahill’s luminescent emotionally powerful science fiction drama over the weekend I was surprised at just how completely captivated it kept me. Co-writer and star Brit Marling is superb, while the final act rings with an authenticity that smacked me across the face and produced a flurry of honest tears I never saw coming. I’ll have a full review of the Blu-ray posted soon, but until then just know this is one small scale independent release I couldn’t urge potential viewers to take a look at more vociferously.
30 Minutes or Less
Nothing to see here; move along, move along.
The Art of Getting By
From my theatrical review posted back in July (read it here): “There are few films as frustrating as The Art of Getting By. A favorite at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the movie alternates between being winning and infuriating, portions soaring while others fall ridiculously flat. It revels in coming of age genre clichés while at the same time subverting them, first-time writer/director Gavin Wiesen showing equal part talent and equal part mediocrity in his handling of the picture and its themes.” For even more on the film, check out my Interview with actor Freddie Highmore.
I somehow missed this, and considering just how much I adored director Lone Scherfig’s previous effort An Education that sort of something of a surprise. But I have read David Nicholls book, and I already know how this one ends and how what only sort of worked on the printed page probably doesn’t work at all cinematically. Considering just how rancid the majority of the reviews were, something tells me my preconceptions are unlikely to be proven wrong. That said, I’m one who firmly believes a movie should be given the chance to speak for itself, and as a review copy of the Blu-ray sadly did not arrive I’ve already slated the title to the top of my Netflix queue.
Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas in a sublime (and wonderfully silly) cult horror classic from 1972 that makes up in laughs and cheaply awesome theatrics what it lacks in solid scares (or, for that matter, an even slightly coherent script). It’s all about murder, mayhem and the frozen remains of the Missing Link coming to life filled with carnivorous hate aboard the Trans-Siberian Express, and if that description alone doesn’t get genre fans excited than I’m not entirely sure what else I can say that might convince them to pick this one up for a look.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES
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· 5 Days of War (Read Mitchell's Blu-Ray Review)
· Chillerama (Read Sara's Blu-ray Review)
· Make the Yuletide Gay
· Now & Later
· Smallville: The Complete Tenth Season
Eclipse Series 30: Sabu! (Elephant Boy, The Drum, Jungle Book) (Criterion Collection)
The Criterion Collection presents three films starring Sabu, the most notable of course being the 1942 version of The Jungle Book directed by the great Zoltan Korda. But both Elephant Boy and especially The Drum are terrific, too, making this latest entry in Criterion’s Eclipse series an absolute must for cinephiles to add to their respective collections.
I wanted to like this Chaz Bono documentary, I truly did, but for whatever reason this film kind of annoyed me. While Chaz himself is humble, charming and incredibly personable (I’ve met him; he’s a peach), this documentary chronicling his coming out process and transition from female to male feels extremely self-serving and far too one sided. There’s some great stuff here, to be sure, but it just doesn’t enthrall, captivate or educate like it could have, and one can only wonder what might have been had the filmmakers shown a bit more restraint and not been so didactic in their presentation.
From my theatrical review posted back in August (read it here): “[Writer/director Miranda] July is a filmmaker of distinct imagination and whimsy, and while there is a great deal on her mind and a ton she wants to say her delivery of it all, in my opinion at least, still leaves a bit of something to be desired.”
Seven Days in Utopia
Ugh. This movie is dreadful. I was supposed to review it back in September, but walking out of the preview screening I was so thoroughly aghast by this religiously-themed golfing drama’s heavy-handedness I just didn’t have the energy or the enthusiasm to write a single word. Just know that the filmmakers waste a somewhat incredible all-star cast (including Robert Duvall, Melissa Leo and Lucas Black) and that the climax is a Triple Bogey of excess and cliché that had many in my audience audibly laughing at the screen. This movie is a mess; avoid at all costs.
The most astounding and uncompromising film of the year, Miguel Angel Viva’s Kidnapped is a masterpiece of tension and all-too-realistic violence. Jaime and Marta, along with their teenage daughter Isa, move into a gorgeous new home with the hopes of beginning a beautiful new phase of their life together. It s the dream of every hard-working family: a comfortable life in a place of their own. But the dream is shattered when a gang of masked men break in and take the entire family hostage, demanding Jaime hand over everything he has in the bank or watch his wife and daughter die. And so begins an unimaginable ordeal for Jaime and his family. Winner of Best Picture and Best Director honors at Fantastic Fest 2010, Kidnapped has been declared impeccably crafted, flawlessly performed (Todd Brown, TwitchFilm.com) and a new genre classic. (John Fallon, Arrow In The Head). (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
A college student inherits an 18th century machine with deadly supernatural powers. When the machine suddenly disappears and his friends start dying horrific deaths, the student must team up with his estranged brother to find the thief and stop the killings before he becomes the next victim. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Three young friends find adventure and purpose in their attempts to set a Guinness World Record. Set in a wintry mountain town, the unpopular trio pursues fame through a series of schemes and stunts that eventually imperil their own lives. Along the way, they conquer schoolyard bullies, unite their community and discover that while fame is fleeting, true friendship lasts forever. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Vincent Lannoo’s Vampires is the This Is Spinal Tap of vampire films, the true story of a clan of vampires trying to hold their family together and get along with the neighbors. Dad seems to be channeling Bela Lugosi. Mom’s a little bit off. Throw a rebellious son and a daughter pining for her lost mortality into the mix and it s a recipe for family discord. Add a bewildered documentary crew and things are bound to get a little chaotic. Winner of the Audience Award at the prestigious Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, Vampires is a hilarious re-imagining of the vampire mythos, a poke in the eye to both the glamour of Lestat and the glittery teen angst of Twilight. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
The Wave (2011)
Germany today. During project week, a popular and unorthodox high school teacher, in an attempt to stir up his lethargic students, devises an experiment that will explain what totalitarianism is and how it works. What begins with harmless notions about discipline and community builds into a real movement: The Wave. Within days, The Wave s uniformly attired students begin ostracizing and threatening others, and violence boils just below the surface. Sensing danger, the teacher decides to break off the experiment. But it may be too late The Wave has taken on a life of its own and is out of control. Based on a true story, The Wave chillingly shows just how easily the seeds of fascism can be sown. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
Zen is a poignant, in-depth, reverent and surprisingly moving portrait of Dogen, the great 13th century Japanese Buddhist master. He studied at Buddhist centers in China and established a monastic practice which emphasizes sitting meditation; he is regarded as the founder of the Soto school of Zen. Filmed on location in Japan, impressively well-researched and produced with great attention to authentic detail. (Description reprinted from Amazon.com)
OTHER NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
(Support this site! Click title to buy from Amazon!)
· 30 Rock: Season 5
· The Girls Next Door: The Complete Collection
· Smallville: The Complete Series
· Sons of Perdition