New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week
Aug 21, 2012 / 10:00 am
New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday August 21.
The Hunger Games (already released on Sat. Aug.18)
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which "Tributes" must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she's ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
Based on the hugely popular novel by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is an exciting, briskly paced thrill ride that features a wonderful lead performance by Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. Directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), the film's cast also includes Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz and Donald Sutherland.
If there is anyone left out there that hasn't already seen this juggernaut of a film then now is your chance to rent or purchase it. It's well worth it.
In Sacha Baron Cohen's latest comic misadventure he plays a North African dictator who risks his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed.
Directed by Larry Charles - who also made Borat and Brüno - The Dictator is a somewhat scattershot film that contains many funny moments and some really silly ones that fall flat. There was never a scene in it that made me laugh as hard as the naked fight scene in Borat, but I found myself chuckling throughout and I was entertained enough to recommend this to anyone who does not get offended easily.
If you have delicate sensibilities then steer clear but if you enjoy a good, clever political satire then you should have some fun with The Dictator.
Set in contemporary Iran, A Separation is a compelling drama about the dissolution of a marriage. Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh. Simin sues for divorce when Nader refuses to leave behind his Alzheimer-suffering father. Her request having failed, Simin returns to her parents' home, but Termeh decides to stay with Nader. When Nader hires a young woman to assist with his father in his wife's absence, he hopes that his life will return to a normal state. However, when he discovers that the new maid has been lying to him, he realizes that there is more on the line than just his marriage.
Wow! This movie is jaw-droppingly amazing. It is unquestionably one of the best films of the year and totally deserving of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar that it won earlier this year. It literally drops you into these people's lives and culture and it's riveting, dramatic and ripe with tension and suspense. This is a film that is morally complex, but also filled with a tremendous amount of humanity and depth. I can't possibly recommend this film enough to anyone that appreciates great cinema and storytelling.
I absolutely loved A Separation.
Based on a true story, this little gem of a film stars Jack Black as an assistant funeral director in the small town of Carthage, Texas, who is a beloved member of the community, singing in the church choir, teaching Sunday school and always willing to lend a helping hand. When he befriends an affluent widow (Shirley MacLaine), who is the town pariah, no one thinks anything is afoot with this odd relationship, even after months have gone by and no one has heard from her. Directed by Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunset, Before Sunrise, School of Rock), Bernie is a quirky and amusing tale that is shot in a mock documentary style and features one of Jack Black's best performances of his career. It's not over-the-top at all, in fact the film is very charming and engaging. It also stars Matthew McConaughey as the local District Attorney. I really enjoyed Bernie and I think that people should seek out this smart and funny film.
Also out this week is the adorable new Disney Nature film, Chimpanzee, the drama Virginia, starring Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Roberts, the action film Freelancers with Robert De Niro and 50 Cent, the Irish horror film, Lovely Molly and the documentary, Payback.
Blast From the Past
Picking up where I left off last week, here is my top ten films of 1992.
10. A Few Good Men - A taut and compelling courtroom drama directed by Rob Reiner and written by Aaron Sorkin. It stars Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore and features a huge supporting cast too many to mention. I always enjoy a good courtroom thriller and this is one of the better ones from the 90's.
9. Like Water For Chocolate - This wonderful Mexican film is a magical tale of love and romance all centered around the making of sumptuous food. It's a beautiful and whimsical tale that is visually stunning and will be sure to make you hungry at the sight of all the delicious food. Yummy yummy!
8. Scent of a Woman - A nice movie about the friendship that develops between a young man and the blind retired Army officer that he is assisting. Al Pacino won the Oscar for Best Actor but I thought he was a tad too over-the-top with his performance constantly yelling "Hoo-ah!" Nevertheless, it's a superb and touching drama that is well worth seeing.
7. Bob Roberts - Written, directed by and starring Tim Robbins, Bob Roberts is a hilarious mocumentary about a politician who is running for the U.S. Senate. It's like the "This is Spinal Tap" of political satire. Robbins is brilliant in this and the film features an enormous bevy of well known stars that appear throughout it. Bob Roberts is smart, witty and funny and it provides some bang on social commentary as well. Good stuff!
6. A River Runs Through It - This beautifully shot and lyrical film by Robert Redford tells the story of two brothers who take opposite paths in life during the depression era but are bonded by their mutual love of fly fishing. Brad Pitt, Craig Sheffer and Tom Skerritt give wonderful performances in this low key but heartfelt drama that is punctuated by some gorgeous cinematography. A really nice picture that the whole family can enjoy.
5. One False Move - This little known independent film starring Billy Bob Thornton and Bill Paxton is an exceptional detective thriller about drug dealers and murderers on the lamb. It's a fine example of modern day film-noir in that it is suspenseful and searingly violent all while being built around strong character development. This is one of those gems that people need to seek out.
4. Unforgiven - This Oscar winning film is one of Clint Eastwood's Western masterpieces. He's great as the aging outlaw who gets roped into taking on one last job. It's gritty and violent and features a superb cast that includes Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman and Richard Harris. If you are a Western fan then this is a must see.
3. Glengarry Glen Ross - Get a load of the cast in this one - Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin and Kevin Spacey. They all get to spout incredibly foul mouthed but brilliant dialogue written by David Mamet. It's a simple story depicting two days in the lives of four real estate salesmen who are under enormous pressure to close a deal so as not to lose their jobs. The acting is amazing, especially Jack Lemmon, who I never thought I would hear utter the kind of dialogue he does in this film. This is top notch material here folks.
2. The Player - This satirical comedy by Robert Altman (MASH, Nashville, Gosford Park) is one of the best "inside looks" at what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood. Tim Robbins is great as a studio exec. who murders an aspiring screenwriter he believed was sending him death threats. This is a scathingly cynical and funny film that hits all its marks dead on. It features a sprawling cast as well, many of whom appear as themselves. This is just a wonderful film that I absolutely adore.
1. Reservoir Dogs - This was an easy choice for #1 on my list. It's arguably the greatest independent film ever made and announced the arrival of a directorial voice that is wholly original and brilliant - Quentin Tarantino. Before his masterpiece Pulp Fiction there was this bloody and brutally violent crime film about the events before and after a botched diamond heist. It has crackingly sharp dialogue and really cool characters that all have code names like Mr.Orange, Mr. White and Mr. Pink (now you know where my e-mail address comes from email@example.com). Reservoir Dogs is an exhilarating rush of adrenaline that wears its many influences on its sleeve. It may be too much for some to stomach, especially the ear cutting scene, but its combination of great actors spewing incredible dialogue and intense moments, not to mention the amazing soundtrack of 60's and 70's music, make this one of the best cult films out there and easily one of the best of the 90's. What a film!
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