Masquerade

header discs all is lost

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. All Is Lost Robert Redford stars as a man sailing solo who encounters trouble out at sea. He awakens to the impact of his sailboat colliding with a derelict shipping container and quickly sets about trying to fix the damage before catastrophe occurs. His experience grows increasingly precarious, and soon he’s fighting against nature and circumstance for his very life. Writer/director J.C. Chandor‘s follow-up to the excellent Wall Street drama Margin Call is even more engaging, but it accomplishes the feat through an opposite degree of dialogue. While that film was filled with fast-talk and lots of it, Redford’s character is the only one onscreen here leaving him no one to talk to but himself. (Sure, that didn’t stop Sandra Bullock from being a lonely chatterbox in Gravity, but this is a smarter movie.) The drama and suspense build naturally here as we work alongside the sailor in his efforts, and the script treats viewers as intelligent enough to follow along without needing every detail spelled out. This is a beautiful film about strength, resiliency, and the will to survive. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]

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discs house of cards1

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. House of Cards: The Complete First Season Congressman Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is as ambitious as they come, but his drive to succeed includes more than simply doing the best job for the American people that he can. Instead he uses every opportunity to manipulate those around him towards outcomes favorable to his career. His wife (Robin Wright) shares a similar trait in her dealings. Together and separately the pair use their influence to shape their world, and while many other people are swept into their narrative only one will meet a tragic fate. Netflix officially entered the TV production game with this 13 episode redo of the classic UK series, and the result is a solidly entertaining, wonderfully acted look at our political animals at work. It has far less bite than its UK predecessor, and least in its first season, but the drama remains engaging. Creators David Fincher and Beau Willimon kept the original’s framework (albeit transplanted in time and space to modern day Washington D.C.), but they wisely chose not to mirror the characters instead leaving viewers with new creations and plenty of surprises. It’s a less salacious but smarter Boss for those of you familiar with Kelsey Grammer’s Starz series, and while Spacey and Wright rule the roost it boasts a spectacular supporting cast in Kate Mara, Michael Kelly, Corey Stoll and others. [DVD […]

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The Best Foreign Films of 2012

The title of this list is slightly misleading in that not all of the films were released this year. The sad fact is that the vast majority of foreign language films never reach our shores, and the ones that do often appear a year or two (or more) later. So while all of the films below played in the US in 2012 (in some capacity) they may have premiered elsewhere in 2011 or earlier. Three of the titles below are also featured in my list of the 12 Best Movies of 2012. And because I know you’re curious, no, Holy Motors didn’t make the cut. (It is included in the Honorable Mentions list at the bottom of the page though!) I know every other critic loved the merde out of it, but I found it to be an occasionally engaging series of sketches highlighted by a love for cinema. Now read on for what I think are twelve better films (in alphabetical order).

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Foreign Objects - Large

Dave is a comedy about an everyday guy (Kevin Kline) whose resemblance to the US president finds him tasked with playing the role of the leader of the free world while the real man recovers from an illness. He’s meant to be nothing more than a placeholder, but his discovery of class distinctions both tragic and comical instead leads him to use the position and power to do good deeds for the country and for the real president’s estranged wife. It’s a wonderful film (and Ivan Reitman’s last great one too) that itself, like many other movies, owes a debt of sorts to Mark Twain’s classic The Prince and the Pauper. Twain’s literary influence extends well beyond North America’s borders to include direct adaptations like the 1968 Bollywood film Raja Aur Runk and thematic ones like this year’s South Korean box-office hit, Masquerade. It’s 1616, and King Gwanghae (Lee Byung-hun) is facing internal threats during his 8th year of reign. Fearing for his life he orders his men to find him a double to be his public face. They find one in Ha-seon (also Lee Byung-hun), a comical performer, and it’s just in time too as Gwanghae quickly falls ill under suspicious circumstances. Ha-seon discovers the life of a king is a ridiculous one filled with executions, official decrees and royal bum-wipers, and he decides that maybe he can do more with his new role than simply act it out…

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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