New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week
Jul 10, 2012 / 10:00 am
New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday July 10.
Over a decade has passed and the gang return to East Great Falls, Michigan, for the weekend. They will discover how their lives have developed as they gather for their high school reunion. How has life treated Jim, Michelle, Oz, Kevin, Finch, Vicky, Stifler, and Stifler's mom? In the summer of 1999, it was four boys on a quest to lose their virginity. Now Kara, a cute high school senior, is looking for the perfect guy to lose her virginity to. This is the fourth film in the widely popular American Pie series.
American Reunion feels like it was made by fans of the series and its characters, and like most fan-driven writing, the movie relies a lot on knowledge of the previous films (especially the first one) and offers very little in terms of creative or inventive new material. I suppose there will be enough gross-out jokes to keep fans of the original series satisfied, but I felt like I've seen all of this before. The comedy really seemed forced, clichéd and recycled. I wish I had a better time with this bunch, but I was left pretty underwhelmed by all of their stupid antics.
Here's hoping that this is the last slice of Pie that is served to us.
Based on a true story, Being Flynn follows Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) who is shocked to have his eccentric and long-absent father, Jonathan (Robert De Niro) reach out to him unexpectedly. Still feeling the loss of his mother (played in flashbacks by Julianne Moore) in the midst of starting a new relationship with Denise (Olivia Thirlby), the last person Nick wants to see is his father. But you can't outrun fate and slowly Nick comes to realize he has been given the chance to make a real future not only for himself, but for his struggling father too.
Being Flynn is a mediocre film at best. Sure the performances by Paul Dano and Robert De Niro are quite good, in fact I might go as far as to say that this is one of De Niro's best in many years, but I just never really connected with any of the material. I found it to be a somber, somewhat depressing tale with characters that I couldn't relate to and quite frankly didn't care all that much for. The frequently used melancholy score let me know that I was watching something very melodramatic. I get it, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.
I was disappointed with Being Flynn.
Margaret centers on a 17-year-old New York City high-school student who feels certain that she inadvertently played a role in a traffic accident that has claimed a woman's life. In her attempts to set things right she meets with opposition at every step. Torn apart with frustration, she begins emotionally brutalizing her family, her friends, her teachers, and most of all, herself. She has been confronted quite unexpectedly with a basic truth: that her youthful ideals are on a collision course against the realities and compromises of the adult world.
If you are going to seek out any film this week then Margaret should be the one. Even though it has a somewhat overlong 2 1/2 hour running time, it's a compelling drama just wrought with emotional turmoil and passion. Written and directed by Kenneth Lonegran (who made the excellent You Can Count On Me back in 2000), Margaret was originally filmed in 2005 but due to many legal snafus it wasn't released until last year in limited fashion.
Featuring a superb pre True Blood performance by Anna Paquin as Lisa, the girl whose emotional journey we are following, Margaret also has an all-star cast of supporting players that includes Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Matthew Broderick, J. Smith-Cameron, Jean Reno, Kieran Culkin and Allison Janney. I'm glad that this film was finally released because I found it to be a really moving and affecting drama with a lot of depth and substance.
Fans of character driven films should definitely check this out.
Also out this week is the new, really fun documentary from Morgan Spurlock, Comic-Con: Episode IV - A Fan's Hope, the Inuit suspense thriller, On the Ice, and the new comedy with Jason Ritter, A Bag of Hammers.
Blast From the Past
Continuing on from last week, here are my top ten films of 1986.
10. The Mosquito Coast - Fresh off the heels of his Oscar nominated performance in Witness, Harrison Ford teams up once again with Australian director Peter Weir in this fascinating drama about an inventor who uproots his entire family to move to the jungles of Central America. Ford is great playing against type as a brilliant man descending into madness. Also starring River Phoenix and Helen Mirren, The Mosquito Coast is a really interesting and powerful film.
9. Manhunter - Five years before The Silence of the Lambs came out, this was the film that introduced us to Hannibal Lecter. It's based on the novel Red Dragon and stars William Petersen (CSI), Brian Cox, Dennis Farina, Joan Allen and Tom Noonen as the creepy "Tooth Fairy" killer. This was a stylish and gripping suspense thriller directed by Michael Mann.
8. F/X - Bryan Brown plays a special effects expert hired by the Department of Justice to fake a murder of a gangster that is about to enter the Witness Protection Program. Also starring the great Brian Dennehy, F/X is a superbly crafted action-thriller with so many twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end. This one is a lot of fun.
7. Stand By Me - Based on the short story The Body by Stephen King, Stand By Me is a wonderful, heartfelt drama about four boys who embark on a journey to find a dead body. This is one of the best coming-of-age films ever done and director Rob Reiner draws great performances from the young cast that included River Phoenix, Will Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell and Kiefer Sutherland. I loved the sentimental and nostalgic feel of this film. A special movie.
6. Hannah and Her Sisters - One of my favourite films by writer/director Woody Allen, it garnered 7 Academy Awards nominations and won two for its stars Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest. This smart, witty film is really funny and touching at the same time and it features a huge ensemble cast that is just wonderful in it. This is great stuff from the genius mind of Woody Allen. So well done.
5. Ferris Bueller's Day Off - This is undoubtedly one of the most quintessential comedy films from the eighties. This role of a high school senior playing hookey from school for the day practically defined Matthew Broderick's career. It's a hilariously entertaining film that demands repeated viewings. John Hughes once again scored with this funny tale of mischief and misadventure. Bueller?....Bueller?
4. Blue Velvet - This crazy, strange, dreamlike film noir comes from the brilliantly twisted imagination of David Lynch (who created one of my all-time favourite TV shows, Twin Peaks). This has become a cult classic that is definitely not for everyone's tastes. It's a disturbing, lurid tale full of stylish symbolism and it features an insanely creepy performance by Dennis Hopper as a truly lecherous individual. If you enjoy warped, atmospheric thrillers then give David Lynch's Blue Velvet a try. Not for the weak of heart though.
3. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - I don't really consider myself a Trekkie, but I am unapologetically in love with the original series. This fourth film in the franchise was one of the best in that is was a funny and rousing adventure at the same time. This is the one where the crew travels back in time to present day earth to search for humpback whales and the "fish out of water" element is what makes it quite entertaining. I loved this when I saw it in theatres back then. It's a ton of fun.
2. The Mission - This beautiful, sweeping epic about the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in 18th century South America is an excellent film. It stars Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons and Liam Neeson and features a haunting, majestic score by renowned Italian composer Ennio Morricone, that makes the film just soar. Incredible performances and a powerfully resonant story make The Mission one of the absolute best drama films of the eighties.
1. Aliens - Finally, a sequel that actually matches - and in the opinions of some, exceeds - the original. Personally, I still prefer the tone of Alien better, but Aliens is still an awesome, slam bang, roller coaster ride of an action film. Having just directed the amazing Terminator film, James Cameron steps up his game even more by making this balls-to-the-wall science fiction action masterpiece. This is a pulse pounding thrill ride full of suspense and great special effects. I can't imagine anyone who is a fan of sci-fi not liking this film. Seriously, if you're out there, let me know so I can smack you upside the head. Aliens rules!
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