We’re in that awkward time of year between the Oscar nominations and the actual ceremony. This week’s Blu-ray releases feature several movies that courted Oscar’s attention. One of them had more success at that than the others.
‘Bridge of Spies‘ – Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks reunite (their fourth time working together) for a Cold War thriller in the John le Carré mold. For a Spielberg production, this one was made on a fairly modest scale and budget, and arrived in the fall with very little buzz. Nonetheless, the movie was well reviewed, turned a respectable profit, and eventually scored six Oscar nominations including Best Picture. It doesn’t stand a chance of winning, unfortunately. I think the voters were just grateful to see a movie made for adults and wanted to recognize that.
‘Our Brand Is Crisis‘ – Loosely based on a 2005 documentary of the same title, erratic director David Gordon Green adapted the story into a broad satire about American political consultants applying their tricks and tactics to a controversial Bolivian election. More to the point, the film was also a vehicle for Sandra Bullock to gun for another gold statue. Panned by most critics and a box office flop, those efforts failed.
‘Suffragette‘ – Carey Mulligan plays dress-up in a terribly earnest period piece lecture about a most serious historical social issue, namely the women’s voting movement of the early 20th Century. Most reviews described the film as handsomely mounted but stodgy and formulaic. If Mulligan hoped for a shot at another Oscar nomination (and surely she did), I’m sure she’ll have better luck in the future.
‘Truth‘ – No doubt cast to remind viewers that he once upon a time starred in the superlative journalism drama ‘All the President’s Men’, a heavily made-up Robert Redford plays Dan Rather in a docudrama about the former CBS news anchor’s fall from grace. That stunt-casting aside, the movie is said to be a bit self-important and full of itself.
‘Freeheld‘ – Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are lesbians fighting for their domestic partnership benefits when one becomes terminally ill. This is the sort of movie that was made specifically to play at film festivals and be forgotten immediately afterwards.
‘Rock the Kasbah‘ – Barry Levinson continues his long string of misfires and drags Bill Murray down with him, in what was intended to be a freewheeling improv-heavy comedy about a sleazeball American music producer who winds up in Afghanistan managing the career of a young Muslim girl. Murray must have had a really good time making the movie, because he got out and promoted the hell out of it, which is something he very rarely does. Despite that, the picture was excoriated by critics and rejected by audiences.
‘The Last Witch Hunter‘ – Vin Diesel hunts witches. He’s the last one who does. It says so right there in the title. If that sounds like something you’d want to watch… well, you’re in the minority. This thing bombed hard.
‘Man Up‘ – Lake Bell and Simon Pegg do the rom-com thing as a couple whose relationship was founded on a pretty big lie that will inevitably come around to tear them apart. The lame, generic title aside, the movie was generally well received by those who saw it, mostly buoyed by the strong chemistry of its stars.
‘Martyrs‘ – Did the world really need a watered-down American remake of the grisly French torture-porn shocker? I don’t think it did.
‘Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo‘ – The long-delayed third entry in the so-called “Rebuild” of the anime classic ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ finally makes its way to American shores, three years after its Japanese release. I’m a big fan of the original show but have put off watching the movie remakes for some reason. I suppose I’ve been waiting for them to all be completed (one more is planned) so I can watch them in a marathon. The fan consensus appears to be that this one is a big step down from the first two, unfortunately.
If you missed your chance to buy the Diamond Edition of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs‘ before it went back into Disney’s vault, the studio is re-releasing the film now in a Signature Edition. The new disc appears to add a few new supplements and a Digital Copy.
In what I suppose is meant to be a tie-in with the theatrical release of Marlon Wayans’ ‘Fifty Shades of Black’, Kino has dug up elder brother Keenan’s 1988 blaxploitation spoof ‘I’m Gonna Git You Sucka‘. I remember this as being a pretty funny movie, but I haven’t seen it since the VHS days. Considering how direly unfunny most Wayans brothers movies are, perhaps my memories of this are faulty.
Available as a Walmart exclusive since November, Ben Stiller’s male-model comedy ‘Zoolander‘ expands to general retail in time to promote the new sequel.
I guess the sky finally fell. The final season of TNT’s underwhelming alien invasion drama ‘Falling Skies‘ is available either on its own or as part of a Complete Series box set.
Also hitting stores this week are PBS’ Civil War drama ‘Mercy Street‘ and the first two seasons of the ‘From Dusk Till Dawn‘ spinoff series.
Cards on the table, I’ll probably buy the new ‘Evangelion’ movie to put on my shelf next to the first two, where they’ll sit unwatched until the fourth film comes out in about three to four years.
In the meantime, ‘Bridge of Spies’ seems like strong rental material to me.
How does this week look to you?