This week has an interesting variety of films, some new releases, blu-ray, and a triple-header from the Criterion Collection. Although my usual faith in them dwindles when they release something like Life During Wartime. I loved Solondz’s dark work in Happiness, but he has since gone in several less appealing directions. This latest effort is potentially his dryest film yet. What started out as a poignant, social satire, eventually turned political to the point it can only ever be relevant to the one situation it was made around. It doesn’t break into the deeper themes that could make such a story universal.
The new releases are particularly pathetic at this point. Other than Duncan Jones’ second effort Source Code, which I don’t love, we get Thirst and Dylan Dog. I like to believe that I am someone who keeps up with the movie world But titles like that carry basically no meaning to me. Once again I will be sticking to my netflix account.
Top 5 Releases:
5. Source Code (2011)
I was absolutely blown away by David Bowie’s son’s directoral debut, Moon. In fact, it was my favorite science fiction film of 2009, ahead of Avatar, District 9, and Star Trek. The follow-up feature, as entertaining and occasionally thoughtful as it is, failed to impress me mostly because it treads on some of the same ground as Moon. I’ll give it a second shot though. –Review Coming Soon!
4. Leon Morin, Priest (1962) – Criterion Collection
Jean-Pierre Melville is kind of the underrated star of the French New Wave. While everyone has heard of Godard, Truffaut, and Renais, Melville remains underappreciated. And his Le Cercle Rogue is one of the great films to come from the movement. In fact it is vastly superior to this film. But Leon Morin, Priest is still a distinctive work that is kind of the anti-Bergman. The film exists soully to praise Catholicism and demonstrate that people really can devote themselves wholly to Christ. It is one of the great studies of theology in film.
3. Animal House (1978) – Blu-Ray
I don’t think I really need to say anything about this one. John Belushi gives one of the great comedic performances of all time. Seriously, watching this again erased all memory of Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover and Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids. The film is a legend that has inspired countless toga parties; I’ve even been to one! And now, you can view it in hi-def.
2. The Blues Brothers (1978) – Blu-Ray
I guess 1978 was a pretty solid year for comedy. To me, John Landis’s Blues Brothers is one of the msot audacious musical efforts ever. At over two and a half hours, it is a long and bizarre comedy whose primary musical source is less than traditional to put it subtly. I intend to revisit this one shortly, so more on this later. -Review Coming Soon!
1. High and Low (1963) – Criterion Collection
I have yet to see this lesser-known Akira Kurosawa film, but he is certainly one of the most reliable directors of all-time. Also it is a thriller, a genre I suspect he could shine in. It tells the story of a business executive about to make a considerable move when his son is kidnapped. I’d imagine it has some expressionist or noir influence given the year. Also, I suspect it is phenomonal as that puts the film close to his prime. Granted, he never ran dry: Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams (1990) is still one of my favorite Kurosawa films.
Xavier Dolan’s 2010 French-Canadian film, Heartbeats finally made its way to the shelves this week. It is about a unique love triangle and was a pretty notable hit at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. I’m curious about this one. At any rate it looks much better than the generically medieval Ironclad.
Literally the only other real film being released this week is the 1973 thriller Torso, on blu-ray. It is a perfectly mediocre and disposable film in my humble opinion. Perhaps it means the studios are getting to the bottom of their repertoires for the blu-ray transition.
Stargate: Atlantis and Jersey shore are the two biggest television related releases, and frankly, I hate both of them. I always though Stargate looked kind of cool until I tried watching it. It tries to incorporate Twilight Zone style narratives into a sci-fi/fantasy climactic story arc. The end result is near-disastrous if you ask me. But the show has a huge loyal fanbase that I know will flock to this blu-ray edition. But, like I said before, I will be sticking to my Netflix account once again this week (even despite the prices).