We have another week without any huge hits, if that’s the sort of thing you focus on when shopping for Blu-rays. Fortunately, a few interesting titles find their way onto store shelves.
‘Paddington‘ – This should have been a disaster along the lines of the live-action ‘Rocky & Bullwinkle’ or ‘Yogi Bear’ movies, but somehow the CGI Paddington Bear managed to win over both critics and audiences with a delicate mix of charm and whimsy. I’ve heard this described as what might happen if Wes Anderson made a children’s film – which of course forgets that Anderson actually did make a children’s film with ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’. Regardless, as much as I wanted to write this off after the initial trailers, it might prove worth a watch.
‘Inherent Vice‘ – Paul Thomas Anderson doesn’t make new movies very often, so when he does, it’s typically greeted as a major event among his cult of devotees (as opposed to general audiences, who haven’t paid any attention to him since ‘Boogie Nights’). Here, he adapts a famously unadaptable novel by Thomas Pynchon into a rambling stoner noir with more than a passing resemblance to ‘The Big Lebowski’. As many of my friends loved this movie as hated it. I feel compelled to judge for myself.
‘The Wedding Ringer‘ – Do you get it? It sounds like “The Wedding Singer,” except that now it’s “Ringer.” Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… Ahem. I guess that Kevin Hart is a movie star now, for better or for worse. In his first of two generic comedies this year, Hart plays a dude who hires himself out as a Best Man for friendless losers who don’t have anyone to throw them bachelors’ parties before their weddings. The premise of the movie presumes that such a person would be capable of finding a woman to marry on his own, yet not capable of having any friends otherwise. Is that really a broad enough customer base to devote a business to?
‘The Boy Next Door‘ – I feel cheated that none of my high school teachers looked like J.Lo. Only in Hollywood, right? In this 1990s-style erotic thriller, the ‘American Idol’ judge and occasional pop star hops into bed with her hunky neighbor, only to learn the next day that he’s still under the legal age of consent and – worse – that he’s even a student in her class. Naturally, when she tries to break off the affair, the kid goes all ‘Fatal Attraction’ on her voluptuous booty. Unfortunately, not even the promise of Lopez doing nude scenes convinced anyone to take this project seriously.
‘The Gambler‘ – Mark Wahlberg learns when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em… Oh, wait, this is a remake of some other movie called ‘The Gambler’ that has nothing to do with Kenny Rogers? Well, that’s disappointing.
‘Accidental Love‘ – Back in 2008, in the nebulous time between his career meltdown (‘I Heart Huckabees’) and his later comeback (‘The Fighter’), director David O. Russell tried to mount a satirical comedy called ‘Nailed’ starring Jessica Biel as a waitress who accidentally gets shot in the head by a nail gun, then heads off to Washington to lobby for health care reform. The movie fell apart and Russell walked away, leaving it to sit uncompleted for seven years until the studio dug up the footage and cobbled something vaguely coherent out of it without his participation. By all accounts, the results of that effort (now credited to pseudonym “Stephen Greene”) are an ungainly mess. Let’s be honest; it probably wouldn’t have been very good even if Russell had been allowed to finish it the way he wanted.
‘Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies‘ – Ken Burns, documentarian chronicler of ‘The Civil War’, ‘Baseball’ and ‘Jazz’, takes on the world’s most insidious disease. Actor Edward Hermann from ‘The Gilmore Girls’, who died of aggressive brain cancer shortly afterwards, narrates what I assume are plenty of ponderous montages of old still photos, as is the Burns formula. Sounds like a pip, doesn’t it?
Robert Mitchum’s 1973 crime thriller ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle‘ gets upgraded to high definition via the Criterion Collection this week. The film is perennially ranked as one of the all-time greatest movies set in Boston. (As a Boston resident, this sort of thing is important because there are surprisingly few good movies set here.) Also from Criterion is legendary French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville’s feature debut, the war drama ‘La silence de la mer‘.
Tying in nicely in with our last Roundtable about actors-turned-directors, Olive Films digs up Robert Townsend’s show-biz satire ‘Hollywood Shuffle‘ and Jodie Foster’s dysfunctional family drama ‘Little Man Tate‘. On a separate theme is the arguably underrated 1990 remake of ‘Lord of the Flies‘. (Hey, I said arguably.)
Shout! Factory brings us director George Armitage’s darkly comic ‘Miami Blues‘, starring young Alec Baldwin as a sociopathic criminal who steals a badge and impersonates a cop.
Breaker One-Nine, this here’s the Rubber Duck. Ain’t nothin’ gonna get in our way. Kino’s gonna roll this truckin’ convoy ‘cross the U-S-A. ‘Convoy‘!
Aside from the anime titles, which I know nothing about, the only notable TV release this week is a complete collection of the silly Australian fantasy series ‘The Almighty Johnsons‘.
The disc I’m most interested to buy this week is Criterion’s ‘The Friends of Eddie Coyle’. Meanwhile, ‘Inherent Vice’ and ‘Paddington’ will go in my rental queue. Does anything this week get your juices flowing?