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Formula 1 racing reached its most exciting and dangerous time in the ’60s and ’70s, and for a time the sport’s biggest stars were James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). The two men approached racing from completely different perspectives, with one in it for the fun and celebrity while the other appreciated its meticulous nature and the allure of being the actual best.
Ron Howard hasn’t made a compelling film in well over a decade, and the last one that fully entertained was 1996′s Ransom. So yes, I’m more than a little surprised that his period piece about a sport that means nothing to me is a film that enthralls from the first scene and never lets up its grip. The acting and details are strong throughout, with Brühl in particular delivering the dramatic goods, but the racing drama is equally exciting. It’s a damn fine film, and it shows that Howard isn’t out of the picture just yet.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, deleted scenes]
Pitch: Apparently there were boys who grew up in postwar Liverpool that didn’t become a Beatle…
Terence Davies’s semiautobiographical yarn of a lonely Liverpool chap who takes refuge in the cinema doesn’t so much follow a narrative structure as it does a structure of feeling, unspooling its bittersweet nostalgic portrait of 1950s Liverpool through an encyclopedia of songs and images – all of which are strikingly beautiful.
A decidedly elliptical film that readily jumps back and forth in time and space while exhibiting greater interest in capturing moods than witnessing events to their completion, The Long Day Closes is the type of film that can mesmerize you with its patient control of tone if you let it. This is a stunning portrait of the past from the perspective of memory itself. If The Long Day Closes doesn’t prove to be the greatest Criterion rediscovery of the season, it’s at least the most cinematic.
[Blu-ray/DVD Extras: Director-approved transfer, audio commentary by director and cinematographer, television footage on the film’s making, crew interviews, an illustrated booklet with essay]
The story fictionalized in Ron Howard’s Rush is included as part of this doc which looks at the sport of Formula 1 racing and the talents involved over the course of a couple decades. Filled with actual footage and details, it should appeal to those who already find the sport of interest.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
I’m not sure what the hell is going on here. Dario Argento has gone even longer without a good movie than Ron Howard, but this movie is ridiculous in its absence of anything resembling talent or quality. Is it meant to be a comedy? I don’t think so, but watching it as one is literally the only way to make it though with a modicum of enjoyment. Skip it and watch Phenomena instead.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Behind the scenes, music video, trailer, 2D/3D versions]
Scream Factory delivers a double feature of ’50s monster fun, and while neither are alone worth buying the combo may be irresistible to fans of cheese, stop-motion dinosaurs, and mad scientist shenanigans.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]
The legendary tale of Bonnie Parker (Holliday Grainger) and Clyde Barrow (Emile Hirsch) comes to life like it’s never been seen before… as a mini-series. It can’t match the visceral power of the Warren Beatty/Faye Dunaway feature, but there is some strong work here cast-wise thanks to veterans like Holly Hunter and William Hurt. It remains an engaging story, but the stretched format doesn’t do it any favors.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]
Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) already saved the world from the invention he himself invented, but now a new threat has loomed in the form of foodimals. Threat is a strong word, but regardless, he has to stop the yummy-looking creatures all the same. I admittedly never saw the first film, but I have to imagine it was better than this one. The creativity on display aside, the humor and characters all feel flat throughout.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes, music video, deleted scenes, mini-movies]
Scott (Frank Grillo) and his new wife Taylor (Jaimie Alexander) are honeymooning in Morocco, but infidelity, murder, and plain old bad luck are about to ruin their good time. It’s always a joy when a direct to DVD flick surprises by actually being better than average, and this one does just that. The script features more than a few interesting turns and a fun mix of characters, and the vehicular action sequences in the desert are well choreographed and executed.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, trailer]
A young girl watches as her abusive parents are killed by an unseen force, but when she finds a new home elsewhere the angry power follows. This Irish chiller mixes its paranormal nightmare with a dash of social commentary, and the effect is to create a more frightening world then a simple creature feature would have done. The film is frequently too dark, as in the lack of light, but it remains a solid little slice of horror.
[DVD extras: Trailer]
Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) dreams of exposing the world’s secrets as a way of holding governments and institutions accountable, and his quest comes to fruition with the creation of the now infamous site, WikiLeaks. The film thinks it’s far more of a thriller than it actually is leaving viewers with far more flash than substance. Worth watching for Daniel Brühl though.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, trailer]
Irving (Johnny Knoxville) is old and more than a little obnoxious, and his journey to unload his grandson feels even older and more obnoxious. The slight narrative placed over the typical Jackass hijinks adds nothing to the proceedings, so basically of you like watching “real people” react to stupidity then this is for you. There are some laughs including a segment set in a black, male strip club, but far too much of it outlives its welcome almost immediately.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Theatrical/unrated cuts, deleted scenes, behind the scenes]
Four childhood friends (Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline) get back together decades later for a bachelor party in Las Vegas, but the weekend is interrupted by long-held grudges and wiseguy shenanigans. Who knew old people could be so funny? Not this film, as it throws out every age joke in existence in its first half hour before throwing many of them up again. Skip it and watch Go instead.
[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]
James (Liev Schreiber) cheats on his wife, Nina (Jeanne Tripplehorn), but she gets him back by calling him and conversing with an accent. What? There’s actually some smarts to be found in the pair’s interactions, and Amsterdam is an attractive city, but it doesn’t quite feel weighty enough to justify a feature. Part of the problem is the score that consistently seems like it’s playing for an entirely different movie.
[DVD extras: Trailer]
A tornado hitting Boston is strange enough, but when the big, whirling funnel begins firing giant explosive rocks at people and buildings Joe Randall knows he’s trapped in a syfy scenario. Luckily he has an experimental tornado busting device. Look, you know exactly what you’re getting here, and that’s a movie for people who thought Sharknado was a bit too creative and exciting.
[DVD extras: None]
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and review material was unavailable:
Downton Abbey: Season 4
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
I Used to Be Darker
Metallica: Through the Never