This Thanksgiving, if you’re bored with the traditional turkey dinner, perhaps consider mutton on your menu? Mmm, lamb chops… so yummy…
‘Shaun the Sheep Movie‘ – Although not as well known on this side of the pond as ‘Wallace and Gromit’, Aardman Animations’ woolier mascot is nearly as beloved in his native England. I’m told that his feature film excursion is delightful whether you’ve seen the TV version or not.
‘American Ultra‘ – I realize that Jesse Eisenberg isn’t a huge star or box office draw, but I feel like he should be at a point in his career where he’s moved beyond stoner comedies. Here, he reunites with his ‘Adventureland’ costar Kristen Stewart for the tale of a hapless loser convenience store clerk who discovers that he’s actually a brainwashed government assassin after secret code words unlock his mind and his skills. So, yeah, it’s Jason Bourne meets ‘Clerks’. If that appeals to you, well, you’re in the minority. The movie scored mostly negative reviews and was a box office dud.
‘Ricki and the Flash‘ – Meryl Streep, still determined to convince audiences that she can sing even after ‘Mamma Mia!’ and ‘Into the Woods’ proved otherwise, plays a failed wannabe rocker who reunites with her estranged daughter (Streep’s actual daughter Mamie Gummer). The film also represents the unlikely pairing of director Jonathan Demme with screenwriter Diablo Cody.
‘No Escape‘ – Remember that small window in time when Owen Wilson tried to be a straight-up, non-ironic action star with ‘Behind Enemy Lines’? I’m not sure that this exactly represents a return to that, but here he stars in a serious-minded action thriller about an American contractor trying to get his family the hell out of Indonesia while the country collapses from a political coup. Audiences didn’t seem too interested in seeing Wilson in something that’s not a comedy, and frankly, neither am I.
‘A Christmas Horror Story‘ – I guess there’s only room for one Krampus movie on cinema screens this season after all. The one starring Adam Scott and Toni Collette is still scheduled for a theatrical release on December 4th. This one, an anthology of horror shorts connected by William Shatner as a radio DJ, is going straight to video. That’s not necessarily a knock against its quality, though. I mean, it does have the Shat in it, after all.
The Criterion Collection delivers a couple of truly essential titles this week: Akira Kurosawa’s stunning, emotionally devastating ‘Ikiru‘ and D.A. Pennebaker’s groundbreaking Bob Dylan concert documentary ‘Don’t Look Back‘.
A label called Zeitgeist Films offers an intriguing box set called ‘The Quay Brothers: Collected Short Films‘, featuring 15 works by the legendary experimental animators.
I feel like right now is probably poor timing to release a movie with Charlie Sheen on the cover art. Nonetheless, among the latest batch of licensed titles from Olive Films is John Sayles’ period baseball drama ‘Eight Men Out‘.
In the mood for something scary? Scream Factory has high-def editions of the 1971 ‘Blood and Lace‘ as well as the 1981 ‘Ghost Story‘. Meanwhile, Arrow Video has the 1987 slasher ‘Blood Rage‘ and the 1966 Italian true-crime thriller ‘Wake Up and Kill‘.
Kino delivers the latest restoration from the 3-D Film Archive: the cheeseball 1961 horror flick ‘The Mask‘ (no Jim Carrey involved).
In case you don’t already own them, BBC has bundled together a gift set of all the ‘Doctor Who‘ Christmas specials starring David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.
I will certainly get myself to Barnes & Noble before the end of this month’s Criterion sale to get a copy of ‘Ikiru’. This recent podcast discussion of the film also has me very interested in ‘Don’t Look Back’. ‘Shaun the Sheep’ looks like a good rental. Finally, that Quay Brothers set will go on my wish list.
Will you drop any coin for new Blu-rays this week?