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Cinema Scoop  

New out on DVD/Blu-ray this week

New out on DVD/Blu-ray for Tuesday August 27.

     Mud

Mud is a dramatic adventure about two boys, Ellis and his friend Neckbone, who find a man named Mud (Matthew McConaughey) hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Mud describes fantastic scenarios - he killed a man in Texas and vengeful bounty hunters are coming to get him. He says he is planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), who is waiting for him in town. Skeptical but intrigued, Ellis and Neckbone agree to help him. It isn't long until Mud's visions come true and their small town is besieged by a beautiful girl with a line of bounty hunters in tow.

Simply put, Mud is one of my absolute favourite films of the year thus far. It's a tremendously compelling drama full of tension, suspense and wonderfully drawn characters. There are virtually no flaws in this expertly crafted film by writer/director Jeff Nichols. I thoroughly enjoyed his previous two films, Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, which were both excellent character driven dramas that featured a superb performance from Michael Shannon, who also happens to have a small supporting role in Mud. Also featured in supporting roles are Sam Shepard, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon and Joe Don Baker.

Matthew McConaughey delivers one of his best performances to date in this film. It's great to see him finally stray away from all of those horrible, formulaic romantic comedies that he was doing for several years. Lately he's strung together a pretty decent run of films such as The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie and the super twisted Killer Joe, and he's been very solid in all of them. As good as he is in this film though, the real star of the show ends up being young Tye Sheridan who plays Ellis. This is a star making turn for the 15-year-old actor, whose only other role to date was in Terrence Malick's Tree of Life. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the years to come if this film is any indication of his talents.

Overall, I highly recommend you seek out this wonderfully thoughtful and riveting drama. It's a beautifully shot, deliberately paced work of cinematic perfection. I truly hope that Mud gets remembered come Oscar voting time because it deserves a ton of accolades. So good!

     The Great Gatsby

An adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Long Island set novel, where Midwesterner Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is lured into the lavish world of his neighbour, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). Soon enough, however, Carraway will see through the cracks of Gatsby's nouveau riche existence, where obsession, madness, and tragedy await.

Based on one of the most famous novels in the history of American Literature, F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 masterpiece The Great Gatsby, Australian auteur Baz Luhrmann's (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!) latest exercise in visual bombast is certainly a feast for the senses. At times it is bold and dazzling, but more often than not, it is a bloated film steeped in artificiality and lacking any semblance of a soul. It's a lavishly theatrical celebration of materialism and excess in the Roaring Twenties filled to the brim with gorgeous costumes and set pieces, but sadly the characters housed within are severely underwritten and appear shallow and hollow.

This story involving love, betrayal, heartbreak and tragedy is essentially a simple soap-opera-like tale set amidst the glitz and glamour of the jazz-age, featuring grandiose moments of visual flourish by an artistic director clearly more concerned with showing off his ability to create an opulent spectacle on the screen rather than a story that one can truly sink their teeth into and connect with. Also, at 143 minutes, the film is overly long and overblown.

Luhrmann clearly has no interest in maintaining any sort of historical accuracy where this time period is concerned as he punctuates the soundtrack with modern music, including plenty of hip-hop courtesy of the film's producer, Jay Z. Some may enjoy this sort of thing, but me... not so much.

The performances are fine throughout the film by a talented cast, which also includes Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, Jason Clarke, and Elizabeth Debicki, but overall I didn't find anything about The Great Gatsby to be an engaging and enthralling story. It just didn't do all that much for me.

     Pain & Gain

Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a regular bodybuilder who works at the Sun Gym along with his friend Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie). Sick of living the poor life, Lugo concocts a plan to kidnap Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), a regular at the gym and a rich, spoiled businessman, and extort money from him by means of torture. With the help of recently released criminal Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson), the "Sun Gym Gang" successfully gets Kershaw to sign over all his finances. But when Kershaw survives an attempted murder by the gang, he hires private investigator Ed Du Bois (Ed Harris) to catch the criminals after the Miami Police Department fails to do so. This film is based on actual events.

I'm not a fan of director Michael Bay at all. He continually makes overblown, bombastic movies without a trace of heart or soul in them such as Transformers, Bad Boys and Armageddon. With his latest effort, Pain & Gain, Bay has once again gone for style over substance and created a film where he seems more concerned with camera tricks and the visual aspect of it rather than focusing on character development and story. It's all sizzle and no steak. He offers us no originality whatsoever and doesn't bother to concern himself with telling a compelling story. I found quite a bit of this film to be loud, obnoxious and far from overly entertaining.

I didn't have any issues with the performances per se, but I sure as heck disliked all of the principal characters. They were all really shallow idiots with absolutely no depth to them and nothing about them was relatable. The film just left me with somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth. The uneven tone was off-putting and it seemed unnecessarily exploitive. 

In my opinion, Pain & Gain was a huge misfire.

     Still Mine

Based on a true story, Still Mine stars James Cromwell as Craig Morrison, a farmer in rural St. Martins, New Brunswick who battles government bureaucracy and red tape for the right to build a new house for his ailing wife Irene (Geneviève Bujold) when their existing home no longer suits her health needs.

This wonderful little gem of a film is a touching portrait of enduring love and perseverance. It's a beautifully acted and tender drama that will likely appeal to more mature audience members out there. James Cromwell gives an Oscar worthy performance as a determined man who will do whatever it takes to give his wife the life he thinks she deserves, even if it means breaking the law and ruffling feathers. 

I really enjoyed this nice, heartfelt character driven film. Everything about it was done superbly. Seek this one out for sure. I highly recommend Still Mine.

     Kon Tiki

This Norwegian film tells the story of legendary explorer Thor Heyerdal's epic 4300 miles crossing of the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947, in an effort to prove it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

Kon Tiki was one of the five Oscar nominated films for Best Foreign Language Film at this past year's ceremony and I can see why - it's an excellent film. It's a gorgeously shot, visually arresting tale of man-against-nature and it's also a thrilling and suspense laden adventure story. 

If you are a fan of international cinema and you enjoy historical stories about famous explorers then Kon Tiki is a must see. 

Also out this week is the thriller The Colony starring Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton, the slow moving spy thriller Shadow Dancer with Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough, the kids movie, Super Buddies, the 5th season of Sons of Anarchy, the 1st season of Elementary, and the 3rd season of the awesome show The Walking Dead.

New out on DVD/Blu-ray is brought to you by Leo's Videos, 2680 Pandosy St. (250) 861-8437



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About the Author

Just to give you a little background on my qualifications, I've been a film buff my whole life and I enjoy all different genres.

I especially have a passion for classic cinema.

I spent most of the past 17 years working for Rogers Video, so not only have I seen an immense amount of movies, but I've recommended many films to people over the years.



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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