Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Lots of fantastic (and not so fantastic) titles hitting shelves today including one of the year’s best comedies, an Academy Award winner for Best Film, a near-hilariously bad Korean monster movie, Drafthouse Films’ newest release and more.
As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it.
Sound of Noise
Amadeus Warnebring is a detective with a not-so-secret disdain for music thanks to a family that displayed immense and near constant talent for the art, but when a group of musical terrorists begin threatening the city with impromptu performances he’s tasked with overcoming his issues to catch the culprits and prevent the musical apocalypse. You really shouldn’t need more than that synopsis to encourage you to seek this movie out, but I’ll add that this Swedish film is a rare original and filled with laughs and honestly enjoyable music. Check out my full review.
21 Jump Street
Pitch: The best TV cop show-to-movie reboot since Car 54, Where Are You?…
Why Buy? A couple of young(ish) looking police officers (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) are tasked with a new program that sends cops undercover into high schools to fight crime. Hilarity ensues. Seriously, this big screen reinvention of the classic 80’s series, from the co-directors of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs no less, should not have been this funny, but sweet jesus is it laugh out loud hilarious at times. Most surprising of all is the film actually manages some real heart in the relationship between Hill and Tatum. Check out Jack Giroux’s full review.
Pitch: Is this that Eddie Murphy film about a guy whose breath kills trees? No, that can’t be right, this won some awards…
Why Buy? A silent film star (Jean Dujardin) on top of the Hollywood food chain finds his luck changing with the twin catalysts of meeting a talented newcomer (Bérénice Bejo) and witnessing the advent of the “talkies.” Writer/director Michel Hazanavicius’ tribute to a time gone is itself a silent film complete with an epic score from Ludovic Bource, and it succeeds with humor, heart and a light sense of being. It isn’t Best Picture material by any stretch, but it’s equally undeserving of the backlash it received in light of its Oscar nomination and win. It’s casual and charming entertainment, and sometimes that’s all you need. Check out Allison Loring’s full review.
Pitch: Ball-smashingly good…
Why Buy? A Belgian beef farmer (Matthias Schoenaerts) involved in the illegal hormone game gets embroiled in far more serious crimes than he planned. This Academy Award nominee is ostensibly a mafioso film, but the organized crime aspects actually take a backseat to a fascinating character study of a man battling his past and his present while his future hangs in the balance. Schoenaerts gives an incredibly strong performance and manages to make you care about this brute of a man. There’s an unnecessary calf cesarean scene, but it’s just one minute out of two hours of solid filmmaking. Check out Luke Mullen’s full review.
Pitch: Much like its namesake, this film is 100 minutes long and in French…
Why Buy? An apartment building in Paris becomes is home to a grumpy and mousy concierge and a young girl frustrated with life. Together they discover an unlikely friendship and a reason to come out of their shells. This French drama/comedy is filled with real heart, wit and humor, and it tells a tale unafraid of mixing life’s lighter moments with its unavoidable darker side. Both lead actresses give strong and charismatic performances as does Togo Igawa in an important supporting role. Check out my full review.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Pitch: A murder mystery! That may or may not involve a murder or a mystery…
Why Rent? A caravan of police cars move slowly through the night with a prisoner trying to lead them to the remains of his murder victim, but the destination and the facts of the case are not so cut and dry. This Turkish import offers up some beautiful cinematography alongside its engaging character study, but it does so across a languorous 150 minutes. Nothing big really happens here, but enough small things do to keep the interest. Check out my full review.
Oranges & Sunshine
Pitch: Credit where credit is due, Mel Gibson’s production company made a film critical of the Catholics…
Why Rent? A British social worker (Emily Watson) discovers a shameful secret from her government’s past involving the deportation of hundreds of children to a Catholic work farm in Australia. Young mothers were told their kids had been adopted while in reality the children were living in harsh conditions and subject to the physical and sexual abuse of the Catholic Brothers in charge of the place. Hugo weaving co-stars, and while there’s nothing truly shocking here (aside from the simple fact that the government thought this was a good idea) the story is still powerfully told and well acted.
The Perfect Family
Pitch: When people complain about the lack of great roles for middle aged women, point them to the independent releases shelf…
Why Rent? A devoutly Catholic woman (Kathleen Turner) discovers she’s been nominated for her church’s Woman of the Year, but her excitement is tempered when she’s told a home visit is required before the final decision is made. Now she has to reign in her slacker son (Jason Ritter), her lesbian daughter (Emily Deschanel) and a husband who may just be growing tired of her superficial concerns. The moral here is a little obvious, but Turner and her co-stars sell it with sincerity and charm. It manages laughs without being disrespectful towards people of faith too, and that’s no small feat. Check out my full review.
Pitch: Not worth looking for…
Why Avoid? A teen (Ana Villafañe) from NYC is placed in witness protection after her family is killed and she’s tasked with testifying against the organized crime family responsible. This afterschool special (sorry, that’s cruel to actual afterschool specials) is essentially a less suspenseful and interesting redo of Hiding Out with a dash of Mean Girls, a teenage love triangle and some Latina sass. The hired killer on her trail is a farcical mix of movie-cool and complete imbecile, the action/suspense is lackluster and there’s just no reason to care about any of it. Skip it and watch Witness instead.
Pitch: I’ll save you some time. This is far from the fairest of them all…
Why Avoid? The classic story of Snow White is given an imbecilic re-imagining from director Tarsem and stars Julia “Lost a bet” Roberts, Lily “Eyebrows” Collins and Armie “Am I a star yet?” Hammer. The movie is meant to be a carefree comedic deconstruction of the tale, but aside from a couple dark zingers from Roberts the laughs are non-existent here. If you do decide to watch this misfire be sure to punish yourself completely by staying though the musical number during the end credits. Check out Robert Levin’s full review. Skip it and watch The Fall instead.
Pitch: Makes a strong case for solar energy…
Why Avoid? The crew of an offshore oil rig makes one last stab at the ocean floor before closing up shop, but instead of black gold they find a pissed off reptilian walrus. This Korean monster movie made waves (sorry) in its home country, but as an import it pales beside its far superior predecessor, Bong Joon-ho’s The Host. All of the genre’s tropes are firmly in place, but they’re executed so poorly and cheesily as to make the film entertaining only as a CGI-filled turkey. Sadly, that (and the very cute and spunky Ha Ji-won) isn’t enough to warrant a watch. Check out my full review. Skip it and watch Leviathan instead.
A Thousand Words
Pitch: The less said about this one the better…
Why Avoid? Eddie Murphy continues to prove he’s a late-blooming talentless hack as a man who cheats a guru and winds up cursed. Each word he speaks causes a leaf to fall from a magical tree, and when the tree is bare he’ll be unable to ever speak again. The story is more than a little similar to Jim Carrey’s superior Liar Liar with its lead learning a lesson through verbal hilarity, but unlike that comedy this is one is as lifeless as a detached twig. Murphy hams it up, but the laughs are absent. Skip it and watch Trading Places instead.
Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show, review material was unavailable, and I have no blind opinion:
The 39 Steps (Criterion)
Damages: The Complete Fourth Season
The Samurai Trilogy (Criterion)
Wrath of the Titans
Read More: This Week in DVD
What are you buying on DVD this week?