Little House on the Prairie


Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Rudderless Sam (Billy Crudup) is an advertising executive whose life comes to a halt when his son dies unexpectedly. Unable to face what happened he leaves his world behind and retreats to a blue collar job on a tranquil lake, but when his son’s belongings make their way to him he discovers several recordings of the teen’s own music. Slowly, Sam begins to find a connection with his dead son by playing the music at a local bar, but the lyrics attract the attention of another lost young man (Anton Yelchin) and soon Sam finds himself a popular part of the local music scene. William H. Macy’s feature directorial debut is a fantastically affecting look at grief, redemption and the willingness to admit when you don’t have all the answers. Crudup is wonderful as a man whose detached restraint slowly crumbles, and the songs they perform are beautifully crafted and supremely catchy. Yelchin is okay and an out of place Caddyshack-like scene late in the film distracts briefly, but the film rarely drops the ball when it comes to maintaining a heartfelt and honest look at recovering from tragedy. [DVD extras: Featurette, music video, deleted scenes]


little house on the prairie cast

Sometimes TV series adaptations stir up something furious in us, a sudden supercharged desire to destroy the unholy abomination before it taints something we love (ahem, The Equalizer). Other times, they don’t seem like such a bad idea, as is the case with Little House on the Prairie. In our current climate, where people (me) are going around tagging TV adaptations as “unholy abominations” that should probably be purged from society, we could all use a palette cleanser. And there’s none better than Little House, a series as plain, tall and uniformly wholesome as TV could ever be. Or maybe not, because as The Hollywood Reporter has announced, the Little House movie has picked up Sean Durkin as its director. The same Sean Durkin whose only feature credit is Martha Marcy May Marlene, which is also about a quaint little family living out in the wilderness — only Durkin’s version has a few more instances of rape and psychological torture. For those screamingly obvious reasons, he’s an odd pick for Little House, but the last director Sony had lined up for the project was just as bizarre: David Gordon Green, whose indie dramas and freaky comedies with Danny McBride have just as little to do with gentle pioneer families and the soft rustle of the country wind through your prairie bonnet.


Raro Video

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Death Occurred Last Night A young woman has gone missing, and while that’s distressing enough for her father it’s made worse by the fact that she’s mentally challenged and has the awareness of a child. Her concerned father pressures the police to step up their search, but as he and the detectives narrow in on the truth it becomes clear that they may be too late. This dark, violent Italian thriller was a bit rough upon its release, and the years since haven’t made it any softer. Part procedural, part suspense, the film doesn’t shy away from the sex or violence and is most definitely not for the PC crowd. If the scene where good old dad helps his gorgeous adult daughter put on her bra doesn’t stop some people the idea of a handicapped woman being put to use as prostitute just might, but Duccio Tessari‘s film moves beyond its exploitation tease to become a solid adult thriller unafraid to head in some truly dark directions. Raro Video’s new Blu-ray isn’t loaded with extras, but the film looks and sounds fantastic. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Booklet, interview, trailer]


Criterion releases THE GREAT BEAUTY

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. The Great Beauty (Criterion) Paolo Sorrentino’s almost plotless portrait of the glamorous nightlife of contemporary Rome may seem on the surface to be an obvious choice for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. After all, it quite deliberately follows the footsteps of La Dolce Vita as an ode not only to Rome’s vast history, but its history of cinematic glitz. Yet there’s a great deal going on below The Great Beauty’s exquisitely realized surface. Rather than a simple 21st century upgrade of Fellini’s Rome, The Great Beauty is an existential travelogue, a decadent and detailed portrayal of a place uncertain about how to realize its future as a definitive global city in the culture so content to rest its champagne-soaked laurels on its extensive reputation. We see Rome through the eyes of Toni Servillo’s Jep Gambardella, whose failure to produce a second novel after a monumental first success sets the stage for his engrossing tour of Rome’s beguiling but hollow surfaces. While it made nary an appearance on op-ed trendpieces on the topic, Sorrentino’s film belongs directly alongside 2013’s many portrayals of excess for an era of economic uncertainty. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more beautifully shot and edited exegesis on the sweet life. – Landon Palmer [Blu-ray/DVD extras:  Interviews with the director, lead actor, and screenwriter; deleted scenes; trailer; an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by Philip Lapote]



In news that’s so bizarrely in line with two of my greatest cultural interests that it’s frankly eerie, Deadline Hollywood reports that Sony Pictures is currently in negotiations to launch a new Little House On The Prairie feature film that would be helmed by David Gordon Green. The outlet reports that the deal is not done yet, but that it’s currently being working towards. Which is awesome, because Little House On The Prairie is awesome and Laura Ingalls Wilder is so, so awesome that she ranks as both my first female heroine of literature and my favorite female heroine of literature. If you’re not familiar with the Ingalls family –well, first of all, what’s wrong with you? Second of all, they are wonderful. Wilder penned eight books about her life growing up in the 19th century American West, a series that was published between the years of 1932 and 1943. Wilder’s life was rich and fascinating, particularly because she and her family moved so extensively around the burgeoning states, first in Wisconsin and on to Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, and Missouri, and their trials and tribulations and successes serve as a wonderful microcosm of life during that time period. If there was something to be experienced in the 19th century, the Ingallses experienced it. The Little House books are truly enduring literature.



Zack and Miri could be worse. It could be as bad as Little House on the Prairie, that torrid, sex-filled, drug-induced romp through the open west?

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published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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