Did you buy some of those big Blu-ray titles that got released last week? I hope those can hold you over for a bit, because this week slows down considerably.
‘A Most Violent Year‘ – Primarily notable for the amount of cleavage that Jessica Chastain (an actress who doesn’t usually flaunt such things) shows off in the trailers, this 1980s-set Mob drama from director J.C. Chandor (‘All Is Lost’) tanked at the box office back in January, after a limited release at the very end of December also failed to nab it any Oscar nominations. Oscar Isaac stars as a legitimate businessman who gets dragged into shady affairs with organized crime, mainly due to his wife (Chastain). Most reviews were supportive, if a little unenthusiastic about the film.
‘The Voices‘ – Ryan Reynolds plays a mentally ill psycho killer who believes his pets are talking to him and driving him to murder. Oh, I should mention that the movie is a quirky comedy from Marjane Satrapi, the creator of ‘Persepolis‘. The concept is intriguing, but most reports say that the film fails to find a workable tone.
‘The Immigrant‘ – Back around 2008 and 2009, Joaquin Phoenix’s notorious personal meltdown completely overshadowed the drama ‘Two Lovers’ that he swore at the time would be his last ever acting performance. Now he’s back and trying to rehabilitate his image, and apparently director James Gray has forgiven him. In this period piece set during the early 1920s, Marion Cotillard plays a vulnerable Polish immigrant who falls into the hands of an exploitative pimp (Phoenix). Strong performances from both stars are said to carry a somewhat melodramatic script.
‘Home Sweet Hell‘ – In our house, my wife has a saying that she lives by: “Katherine Heigl ruins everything.” My wife is rarely steered wrong by heeding this mantra. You would be advised to do the same.
Sci-fi fans nostalgic for a time before CGI strangled the life out of the genre might want to go ‘Silent Running‘ with Douglas Trumbull’s ecological parable about a hippie space gardener and his robot pals, take a ‘Journey to the Far Side of the Sun‘ with ‘Thunderbirds’ creators Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, or fight off ‘Invaders from Mars‘ in Tobe Hooper’s cheese-filled 1986 remake of a 1950s B-movie.
Warner Bros. goes rocking back to the 1990s with ‘Singles‘, ‘Empire Records‘ and ‘Detroit Rock City‘.
Hard though it may be to recall today, Burt Reynolds was once one of the biggest movie stars in the world, thanks to pictures like the action comedy ‘Hooper‘. He tried to parlay that success into a directing career as well, as evidenced by ‘Sharky’s Machine‘.
Richard Gere’s Hollywood remake of ‘Breathless‘ was widely panned in 1983 for having very little in common with the original Jean-Luc Godard classic it takes its name and general concept from, but has some points of interest if judged on its own merits. Quentin Tarantino calls it one of his favorite movies.
The tropical heist caper ‘After the Sunset‘ is perhaps Brett Ratner’s most tolerable movie. That may sound like damning with faint praise, but when it comes to Ratner’s output, “tolerable” is a huge step up from the norm. Putting Salma Hayek in a bikini helped.
He may have been the coolest badass in international cinema at the time, but Chow Yun-Fat struggled to make a transition to Hollywood in the late 1990s. Studios didn’t know what to do with him, and kept slotting him into B-grade action schlock like ‘The Replacement Killers’ and ‘The Corruptor‘. I recall hoping that ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ director James Foley might be able to make something decent out of the latter, and being quite disappointed when I left the theater. Other than a general sense that it wasn’t very good, I’ll be damned if I can recall a single thing about the movie. That’s how unmemorable it was.
The only significant TV offering this week is the WGN network’s ‘Manhattan‘, a soapy period drama centered around the race to develop the first atomic bomb. I’ve never seen it, and have heard very mixed things about it.
I will put ‘Silent Running’ and maybe ‘Journey to the Far Side of the Sun’ on my wish list for the future. ‘A Most Violent Year’ might be worth a rental, but I have a feeling it’ll show up on cable soon enough. I like ‘Singles’ but not enough to own it.
Beyond that, nothing calls to me this week. How about you?