After some lackluster weeks in the DVD department today sees a pretty solid selection of titles. Even better for viewers is the fact that some of this week’s best releases are movies you probably missed in theaters… if they even hit theaters. Our pick of the week for example never had a theatrical run in the States, but it’s an absolutely brilliant film from actor/director Peter Mullan. The two other titles with Buy recommendations saw a limited release and deserve better than the small number of viewers they received.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
Peter Mullan directs this drama about growing up in the rough and tumble world of 1970s Glasgow Scotland. We first meet young John McGill around the age of thirteen, and while he’s the head of his class in smarts every other aspect of his life seems stacked against him. His father is an abusive drunk, his older brother is an infamous thug, and the choice between being bullied by a gang or joining one is really no choice at all. Mullan, who wrote and co-stars as well, has crafted a fantastic film highlighting one boy’s early life, and while these kinds of movies can often feel too bleak and oppressive he manages to accentuate the drama with heart, humor, and honest suspense. And the final shot is wild.
Pitch: Murder, sex, and salt-water aquariums…
Why Buy? A mild-mannered pet shop owner leads an uneventful life with his detached 2nd wife and rebellious teen daughter, but when they’re forcibly befriended by a successful competitor they find themselves drawn into a world of corruption, murder, and perversion. This is the latest film from Sion Sono (Suicide Club) and while it shares many themes with his other films it has the distinction of being the first of his to be based on a true story. The film is a slow-burn, unless you compare it to the director’s other films, but builds to a gloriously over the top and bloody finale. Check out Cole Abaius’s full review here.
Pitch: It’s the best thing on The Disney Channel that won’t eventually embarrass itself with leaked nudie pics…
Why Buy? Phineas and Ferb are two talented and imaginative brothers who wile away the days inventing wild machines and playing with their pet platypus, Perry. The three of them travel across dimensions along with the not-so-evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz and discover an alternate reality that soon starts to threaten their own. Did I mention the show if freaking hilarious as is the movie? The platypus is a secret agent! But seriously, the humor is incredibly fast moving and well written even for adults, and it remains the funniest show on The Dingo Channel.
Pitch: “Whatever the fuck it takes…”
Why Buy? Mike (Paul Giamatti) is a small town lawyer who sidelines as a high school wrestling coach, and he’s a really nice guy. Unfortunately he’s also being pressed into a corner by his finances, his family, and a single instance of poor judgement which soon begins to snowball. The film’s trailer really fails to capture how sincere, beautiful, and funny this movie is. Writer/director Tom McCarthy has crafted a film that eases its way into your heart and funny bone and manages to deliver a performance from Giamatti that endears instead of grates.
Pitch: Jennifer Lawrence looks damn good. She reminds me of the chubby actress who played Mystique in X-Men First Class…
Why Rent? A toy company CEO (Mel Gibson) spirals into depression to the point where his business is failing and his wife (Jodie Foster) has kicked him out of the house, but when he finds a beaver puppet in the trash the furry toy takes over his life for the better. Mostly. This is a fairly dark tale, and while there are a few moments of humor throughout it’s pretty downbeat for the most part. It’s the acting that makes it compulsively watchable though with both Gibson and Foster doing some stellar work. Anton Yelchin and Jennifer Lawrence are also quite good as the son and the girl he falls for.
Pitch: Jason Statham plays against type as a cop who plays by his own rules…
Why Rent? A madman (Aiden Gillen) starts targeting London cops, but he forgot to check the duty roster beforehand. Had he done so he would have known that Jason Statham was on duty. Fool. It’s based on the novel by Ken Bruen, and while it’s a fairly generic cop thriller in most ways it co-stars the always wonderful Paddy Considine which helps lift it above the usual riff raff. Gillen is ideal for the smarmy killer role as he wears a constant smirk on his face at all times and is unable to deliver a single line without sounding like an asshole.
Pitch: Ever wonder what Robin has been up to since Nipplegate? Wonder no more…
Why Rent? The world is full of bad guys, but now that Jack Bauer is retired it should make you sleep better at night knowing that if terrorists try something in Los Angeles Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J will be there to stop them. I’d be lying if I said this NCIS spin-off was must see TV, but the episodes are well produced and usually engaging enough to warrant a watch. O’Donnell makes for an interesting action hero and it’s good to see him acting again (he stopped right?), and J is acting like J. Which means the show has personality too.
Pitch: Because Boobs and Babes Collection wasn’t classy enough…
Why Rent? Shout! Factory’s latest release in their Roger Corman series is a two disc, four film set featuring Deathstalker I (with Barbi Benton) and II (with Monique Gabrielle), Barbarian Queen, and The Warrior and the Sorceress (with David Carradine). Are these good movies? Not by any foreseeable margin, but that doesn’t mean they’re not entertaining. They vary in quality, but overall they offer a fun assortment of babes, beasts, and battles.
Pitch: Knock knock. Who’s there? Ray Winstone…
Why Rent? A South African farmer (Ray Winstone) who lost everything in the Boer War heads to New Zealand looking to start a new life, but when he’s recruited in the hunt for a Maori man (Temuera Morrison) accused of killing a soldier he sets off on an unexpected adventure. Beautiful scenery complements the action and drama, but the real focus is the relationship that forms between the two men. Fantastic ending too.
Pitch: “A couple of German tourists disappeared last night. I expect we’ll lose a couple more…”
Why Rent? The found footage craze hits Norway as a trio of college students trek through the Norwegian forests on the trail of a poacher, but when they catch up to him they discover he’s after creatures far bigger and more dangerous than bears. The cast and dialogue are likeable enough, but sloppy editing conflicts with the film’s factual single camera premise. Yet video edits and cuts occur without a drop in the dialogue or sound and chase scenes that should be one continuous shot cut repeatedly to different views. Still, the trolls are pretty damn awesome and make the film worth a watch.
Pitch: And you thought having a Jehovah’s Witness knock on your door was an irritation…
Why Avoid? A family in emotional disarray is visited by a Southern gentleman caller looking for shelter. They’ve been hiding more than a few secrets, but their visitor has a few of his own. The concept here of a stranger hiding murderous intentions behind a mild mannered veneer has potential, especially when combined with a pool of victims who aren’t exactly innocent themselves, but it’s presented with such a bland, flat style and pace that even as murders are happening we can’t help but be bored. Skip it and watch House of the Devil instead.
Pitch: How do you know which of the fallen angels is Satan? He’s the one with black nail polish of course…
Why Avoid? Angels who came to Earth thousand of years ago are at the center of this tale that follows three separate but related storyline. Related by overall narrative, an incredibly poor lighting design, and the fact that they consist mostly of non-stop, convoluted dialogue. One sees C Thomas Howell as an ex-priest called upon to help a possessed man. The second features Corbin Bernsen as an angel who brings a young man back to his dark office for a battle of wits and souls. And the final features a houseful of dumbasses who get picked off one by one by a chick with no eyebrows. Skip it and watch Christopher Walken’s The Prophecy instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
Pom Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Road To Nowhere
Secret Sunshine (Criterion)
Sympathy for Delicious
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?