New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week
Aug 14, 2012 / 2:00 pm
New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday August 14.
The Flowers of War
In 1937, Nanking stands at the forefront of a war between China and Japan. As the invading Japanese Imperial Army overruns China's capital city, desperate civilians seek refuge behind the nominally protective walls of a western cathedral. Here, John Miller (Christian Bale), an American trapped amidst the chaos of battle and the ensuing occupation takes shelter, joined by a group of innocent schoolgirls and thirteen courtesans, equally determined to escape the horrors taking place outside the church walls. Struggling to survive the violence and persecution wrought by the Japanese army, it is an act of heroism which eventually leads the seemingly disparate group to fight back, risking their lives for the sake of everyone.
Directed by the brilliant Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower), this powerful film is a gripping depiction of a horrific event in world history. Rather than deal with the entire war as a whole, Yimou focuses on a select group of individuals in order to make the film a more human tale of survival and sacrifice. Christian Bale gives an outstanding performance that is wrought with emotion. Yimou proves once again that he has a tremendous eye for creating visual splendor, however he does tone it down somewhat due to the harsh nature of the subject matter.
The Flowers of War is an excellent film that I highly recommend people seek out.
The Raid: Redemption
As a rookie member of an elite special-forces team, Rama (Iko Uwais) is instructed to hang back during a covert mission involving the extraction of a brutal crime lord from a rundown fifteen-story apartment block. But when a spotter blows their cover, boss Tama (Ray Sahetaphy) offers lifelong sanctuary to every killer, gangster, and thief in the building in exchange for their heads. Now Rama must stand in for the team's fallen leader (Joe Taslim) and use every iota of his fighting strength - winding through every floor and every room to complete the mission and escape with his life.
This Indonesian film is hands down one of the most bad ass action films I've seen in a long time. The shear amount of carnage and bloodshed on display is mind-boggling and the fight choreography is absolutely superb. Even though the whole film is set in an apartment building it's an adrenaline fuelled, high octane action filled ride from start to finish.
For martial arts fans or just action movie fans in general this is going to be one of the best you see in awhile. I just pray that some idiot studio exec in Hollywood doesn't try to remake this in the U.S. because there is no chance they will be able to come close to this incredible film.
Small town teenager Luli (Chloë Grace Moretz) escapes to Las Vegas, leaving behind her alcoholic and abusive parents. Armed with her smarts, a pistol and pocket money, she hitchhikes her way west. Along the way, Luli crosses paths with Eddie (Eddie Redmayne), an unstable rebel with questionable motives and Glenda (Blake Lively), a cocaine-snorting drifter on the run. Adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by Andrea Portes, this seedy story pulls you into a provocative world of drugs, seduction and murder.
This small movie received a lot of criticism and controversy upon its release for having 13-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz play a mature-beyond-her-years sexed-up character. In actuality, her performance is more reminiscent of a young Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver and not really all that controversial. She's pretty solid in the film and is clearly going to turn out to be a fine actress when she grows up.
The film Hick, however, is nothing to write home about. It doesn't seem to have much point to it and I never really felt engaged or connected to the characters or the story for that matter. It's not quite as bad as the 0% rating it gets on Rotten Tomatoes but it isn't a particularly good film either. Hick is forgettable.
Also out this week is the German post-apocalyptic thriller Hell (it means bright in German), yet another shark thriller called The Reef, a direct to you-tube made film called Girl Walks Into a Bar and the 6th season of the popular hit show Dexter.
Blast From the Past
Continuing on from last week, here are my top ten films of 1991.
10. Backdraft - This action thriller about firefighters in Chicago on the trail of a serial arsonist is an exciting and well made film from director Ron Howard. It has a great cast also that includes Kurt Russell, Robert De Niro, Donald Sutherland, Scott Glenn, Rebecca De Mornay, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Billy Baldwin.
9. The Doors - Even though director Oliver Stone plays loose with the facts and historical accuracy I still thought that Val Kilmer gave an incredible performance as the troubled rocker, Jim Morrison. I love The Doors music so I was even more into this film then most might be. I really dig The Doors.
8. The Fisher King - Terry Gilliam's odd but touching film about a talk radio host who tries to find personal redemption by helping a homeless man whose life he inadvertently shattered. Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams are superb in this film that is both funny and filled with heartbreak and tragedy. One of Gilliam's best.
7. Barton Fink - Another oddball creation by the brilliant Coen brothers, this dark comedy starring John Turturro as a writer in the early 40's and John Goodman as a psychotic salesman is one of the stranger films in the Coen's filmography. I personally loved the style and look of the film but some people might be scratching their heads at the enigmatic ending and lack of closure. The performances are first rate though and it's definitely a film that will stir discussion and debate about what the film is really all about thematically.
6. Thelma & Louise - Director Ridley Scott broke away from making sci-fi films to make this highly entertaining action comedy about two women on the lamb. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis are great in this female buddy road movie that also features Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen and an early appearance by mega star Brad Pitt. It has one of the most memorable final shots ever done in a film.
5. JFK - Even though it has an incredibly long running time of 205 minutes, I was nevertheless riveted by this tale of the most important assassination of the 20th century. This is Oliver Stone's ultimate conspiracy theory film and whether you believe everything he's selling or not it's hard not to at least question the story the U.S. government fed their citizens back in 1963. I personally never believed that Oswald shot JFK - in fact I think you're kind of crazy if you do given all the facts that have come out and how obviously corrupt the CIA, FBI and Military have always been. Kevin Costner gives a tremendous performance here and he is surrounded by an enormous supporting cast too many to mention. This is one of Stone's best in my opinion.
4. The Commitments - A funny Irish film about a group of Dubliners who form a band to play 60's American soul music. This is a wonderful, exuberant film filled with lots of energy and exceptional music. Directed by Alan Parker - who's no stranger to musical themed films, having made Pink Floyd - The Wall, Fame and Evita - The Commitments is highly entertaining even if it is a tad too foul mouthed.
3. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - Coming off the heels of the worst Trek film made, The Final Frontier, this ended up being one of my 3 favourites along with Wrath of Khan and Voyage Home. I always enjoyed the original cast of Star Trek and this exciting chapter has a very jocular tone while also being a fun whodunit mystery. Chistopher Plummer plays a great villain in this one as well. A must see for any Star Trek fans out there.
2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day - This is hands down the best film in the Terminator franchise. Featuring spectacular action sequences and groundbreaking visual effects, James Cameron really ratcheted things up several notches. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to his iconic role but this time he's with the good guys. This truly is one of the landmark action pictures, not only of the 90's, but of all time. Amazing stuff!
1. The Silence of the Lambs - I can still remember walking out of the theatre after having seen this film and being utterly creeped out and disturbed by Anthony Hopkins mesmerizing performance as the psychotic Hannibal Lecter. I mean, yikes! This psychological thriller starring Jodie Foster as an FBI agent trying to track down a serial killer is one of the best of its kind. It's riveting and suspenseful and features performances that are absolutely superb. It's not surprising that it swept all of the major awards categories at the Oscars that year, becoming the first ever horror film to win Best Picture. Even though Anthony Hopkins was already a very well established actor, it was this role that he will forever be remembered for and the one that truly made him a household name. This is such an awesome movie.
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