The Blu-Ray/DVD Round Up Trtibute To Our Soldiers Edition
Thumbs Up OR Down
American Sniper (***) Warner./2014/R/2 Hours 12 Minutes/Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1 This the blockbuster hit Directed by Oscar Winner Clint Eastwood starring Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper as real life soldier, Christopher Kyle and his experiences in his tours in Iraq which gradually change his persona and starts to affect his personal life with his wife (SIenna Miller). The film is well crafted and directed by Eastwood with his usual flair in letting his actors work at a leisurely pace and both Cooper and Miller are definitely the best thing about the film. The tone of the film however is very uneven, but despite it, the film took off as both an Oscar contender and a blockbuster hit here. Is it Eastwood's best, no. No way. Still on the basis of how good the film is, it is worth watching. Thumb up.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (No stars) Paramount/2015/R-Rated Theatrical Cut, 1 Hour 33 Minutes/Unrated Version, 1 Hour 39 Minutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio Easily a candidate for the worst movie of the year here and unfortunately it's a sequel to a wonderful, raunchy and entertaining comedy from 2010 Starring John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson and Rob Corddry. This pitiful sequel has Duke, Robinson and Corddry return sans Cusack who appears in a immediately brief cameo as the trio travel into the future this time around to stop an assassin who has it in for Corddry and they are joined by Adam's son played by the annoying Adam Scott (in this film) who is getting married to the beautiful Gillian Jacobs of Community. And without giving too much away, you get plenty of raunchy jokes (and really bad ones), cheap gags and a script that should've gone back in time for a rewrite. Chevy Chase who is billed here is barely in it and except for a funny Christian Slater cameo, this movie just awful. Thumbs way way way down!
Cymebline (****) Lionsgate/R/1 Hour 38 Minutes/1:85.1 Aspect Ratio This is a very entertaining and well acted modernization of William Shakespeare's play that is a cross between Sons of Anarchy with a touch of Game of Thrones. Oscar Winner Ed Harris stars as the king of a biker gang married to treacherous wife (Mila Jovovich, Resident Evil) and battling a gang of dirty cops while there are other forces at work that will change the course of the king's reign. The film which was directed by Michael Almeryida who also modernized the sensational Hamlet fifteen years ago featuring an all-star cast, here also features a solid cast including Harris, Ethan Hawke, Bill Pullman, Delroy LIndo, John Leguizamo, Penn Badgley and even Dakota Johnson of Fifty Shades of Grey is also good here. Very stylish and gritty also very entertaining. Thumbs up.
Cutbank (**) Lionsgate/2015/R/1 Hour 33 Minutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio Disappointing and listless heist thriller sporting a solid cast including Liam Hemsworth, Teresa Palmer, Oscar Winner John Malkovich and Oscar Winner Billy Bob Thornton which features Hemsworth wanting out of a dead end town with his girlfriend and heading to the greener pastures of the big city who plots his own quick get rich scheme that leads to intrigue and murder as Malkovich the local Sheriff starts to investigate the goings on. The film is really dreary looking and despite the solid actors, the film is nothing but a routine exercise and also feels like a rejected episode of the hit series, Fargo. It simply doesn't work and with good reason. No energy here. Thumbs down.
Blindsided (***) Lionsgate/2014/R/1 Hour 25 Minutes/1:85.1 Aspect Ratio Little seen thriller that stars the lovely Michelle Monaghan (Due Date) as a former wartime photographer who is blinded during a raid by a suicide bomber in Iraq. She comes home to find her boyfriend murdered by the ruthless Michael Keaton (before his Oscar nomination for the brilliant Birdman) and his associate, who are looking for a stash of over 20 million dollars in uncut diamonds that her boyfriend stole. The film is a tight and claustrophobic thriller taking place in a beautiful lavish penthouse in NYC under the able direction of Joseph Rubin, who specialized in this genre with the 1991 hit thriller, Sleeping With The Enemy starring Oscar winner Julia Roberts. Not a perfect film, but a very decent thriller for its' type.
American Buffalo (****) Twilight Time/1996/R/1 Hour 27 Minutes/1:85.1 Aspect Ratio Not one of the best David Mamet stage play adaptations that originally starred Oscar Winner Al Pacino, but a very strong one. The films stars Oscar Winner Dustin Hoffman, NYPD Blue's Dennis Franz and Sean Nelson of the terrific thriller, Fresh as three losers who plot a robbery involving a rare Buffalo head nickle from a coin collector in Rhode Island. The film isn't very cinematic, but that's not the point. The point is the film is simply these three characters and their expressions and acting ability that really shines. The nickle in question is simply the films' MacGuffin and part of a bigger story in a world that Mamet fills with his brilliant tirades and energy driven dialog.
Hombre (*****) Twilight Time/1967/Unrated/1 Hour 51 Minutes/2:40.1 Aspect Ratio Senstational and brilliant Western featuring Oscar Winner Paul Newman in one of his greatest performances as a man raised by Indians who is dispised amongst a group of high class travellers on a stagecoach when they are attacked by a group of outlaws. With no one else to turn to, Newman proves to be their only hopes of survival against the vicious gang. The film is one of the best Western's out there and with great reason and it is definitely on the strength of Newman's performance that really carries this film. A great release definitely worth getting from this label.
A Man For All Seasons (****) Twilight Time/1966/G/2 Hours/1:66.1 Aspect Ratio Wonderful adaptation by Oscar Winner Robert Bolt in a lushly directed film by the great Fred Zinneman starring Paul Scofield and the late Robert Shaw in a battle of personal wills in the late 16th Century England as both play Sir Thomas More and King Henry VIII respectively as More wants to lead a more normal life with this King refusing to accept his stance on walking away from his loyalty to his king. The film is beautifully shot and well acted by all involved including Orson Welles of all people and the lovely Sussanah York.
Mississippi Burning (***) Twlight Time/1988/R/2 Hours 7 Minutes/1:85.1 Aspect Ratio Very solid and engaging thriller starring Oscar Winner Gene Hackman and Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe as a pair of FBI Agents at odds with each other who head south after the three brutal murders of three young Civil Rights activists in the deep wilds of Mississippi. As they investigate the crime, Hackman and Dafoe are met with clear resistance by everyone in the town the crime occurred in including the town mayor, the local sheriff and many of the towns folks who aren't very receptive of either of them solving the crime. The film is very moody, atmospheric and intense at times thanks to the direction of Alan Parker, who prior to this film had directed the very controversial, Angel Heart, applies the same techniques here to a much better film. Hackman and Dafoe are very good here and lent solid support by future Oscar Winner Frances McDormand.
Carla's Song (**) Twilight Time/1996/NR/1 Hour 51 Minutes/1:66.1 Aspect Ratio Well meaning, but slow moving drama about a Glasgow bus driver (Robert Carlyle of The Full Monty) who meets and falls in love with a refugee from war torn Nicraragua and decides to travel with her back to her country in search of her ex-lover. This isn't Director Ken Loach's best film despite its' good intentions and the performance by Carlyle who is very good here. It just doesn't work for me as a serious drama.
Odds and Ends
Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles (***) Cohen Media Group/NR/1 Hour 34 Minutes Interesting documentary by Director Chuck Workman that centers around the life and career of the great Orson Welles from his greatest successes to his ultimate failures as well as being a very important figure in the independent film market later on. Highly recommended for fans of the late actor/director.
Ballet 422 Magnolia/2014/PG/1 Hour 15 Minutes Nice, introspective documentary on the makings and the behind the scenes of the New York City Ballet that take us from auditions to grueling and intense rehearsal process and to the opening. Not up there with ones like Hoop Dreams, Looking For Richard or Jadorowsky's Dune, but definitely a worthwhile film.
The L Word The Complete Series Paramount/2004-2008/24 Discs/3509 Minutes The critically acclaimed drama that aired on Showtime starring Oscar nominee Pam Greer and Jennifer Beals makes a welcomed return to DVD in this newly repackaged set which is well worth the price if you don't have it already.
Bonanza Season 8 Two Pack Collection Is a specially packaged 9 disc set from Paramount for a value price featuring the complete 8th and final season of the hit series starring Michael Landon, Lorne Greene and Bill Clark.
The Drownsman Anchor Bay-Starz!/2015/R/1 Hour 26 Minutes Awful and dreary thriller that revolves around a young woman who nearly drowns in an accident and her friends try to help her get over her trauma with a séance which leads to some really bad things.
Pick of the Week
Commando: The Director's Cut (****) Fox/1985/R/Theatrical Cut 1 Hour 30 MInutes/Unrated Director's Cut 1 Hour 31 Minutes/1:85.1 Aspect Ratio Sensational and exhilarating really implusably enjoyable action-thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as retired Col. John Matrix who is forced by an evil former dictator (the over the top Dan Hedaya and wonderfully so) to kill the current President of the fictional country of Valverde while they keep Matrix' daughter Jenny (Charmed's Alyssa Milano) hostage under the vengeful and watchful eye of Matrix's old friend Bennett (the excellent Vernon Wells). Matrix changes their plans altogether has he sneakily hatches his own plans to go and rescue his daughter with the help of a helpless stewardess (Rae Dawn Chong). The film is filled with plenty of comic touches, one liners and great action under the excellent direction of Mark L. Lester.
Best Buy has just released this special disc featuring the U.S. Blu-Ray premiere of the Director's Cut of the film which is more violent than the theatrical cut and it is very brief, but effective. A great bargin set well worth getting and for one of Arnold's greatest action achievements.
That'll do it for this week. Stay tuned for the next set of reviews. Till then, you watch em, I'll review them!