Oz the Great and Powerful

We understand that no matter how much you love them, going out to the movies isn’t always the best choice. Sometimes there’s a huge storm that ravages the middle of the country and you’re just glad to have power enough to watch a DVD, let alone go outside to your local cineplex. Sometimes its just easier to not put on pants. Trust me, I know this better than most. Which is why we offer a weekly alternative. Through the magic of our Video On Demand Power Ranker, a custom-built supercomputer, we present a list of the best films you can see without even leaving the couch. This week, there’s sci-fi, magic, wonder and WikiLeaks.


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 […]



Editors note: this discussion features spoilers for the movie Snitch. Read at your own discretion.  When you sit down to watch a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson action vehicle like Snitch, you generally expect the film’s crosshairs to be sighted on fictional bad guys, not the real world United States government. But as it turns out, Snitch’s action-film ready “How far would you go to save your son?” conceit is less a narrative gimmick than it is a point of departure to dramatize a social issue. The film isn’t ultimately propelled by the urge to flip semi-trailers but by the desire to criticize the problematic mandatory minimum sentencing laws the government wields to fight the war on drugs. Snitch’s social conscience is the offspring of the activist mandates of Participant Media and the same-named episode of PBS’s Frontline. The investigative report shed condemning light on how some of the United States anti-drug tactics – mandatory minimum sentencing and conspiracy charges – breed an environment where big fish get lighter sentences by informing on smaller (or non) fish. Snitching may be the documentary’s hook, but its core criticism is how in the government’s singular mission to win against drugs, it will unjustly, indiscriminately and indifferently ruin people’s lives to achieve its goals. As one interviewee put it: “It’s no longer about protecting people who are innocent. Now it’s part of the casualties of the drug war.”


Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 3.38.25 PM

Snitch is “inspired by true events.” Which is to say, it centers around a real-life choice mandated by the justice system for prisoners arrested on drug charges: become an informant, or face lengthy jail time. This preface gives the wrong impression though since the characters in this film don’t exactly have real-life counterparts. If they did, well… then they would probably have to be as jacked as Dwayne Johnson. Snitch, directed and co-scripted by former stuntman Ric Roman Waugh, may have cheated somewhat with this veil of supposed truth, but he does succeed in making a consistently entertaining film that certainly delivers with its action sequences and many winning performances from its very strong cast. Unfortunately it also falls short plot-wise, somewhat detracting from its overall action film bravado, and has some pacing issues too thanks to staggered action sequences.


Star Trek Super Bowl Spot

For many of us, the Super Bowl isn’t about the game so much as the party and the food and the commercials, especially the movie previews. As usual, this year gave us a mix of ads for films opening fairly soon and blockbusters arriving this summer. And as usual, some studios spent their dollars wisely while others didn’t, so there was also a mix of good and bad that will lead the buzz on these titles for at least the next couple days. After the jump we’ve listed all the movies advertised during Super Bowl  XLVII and categorized each as one of the winner or one of the losers of this annual Hollywood marketing game. 


Snitch Movie

What would you do if your son was facing a ten-year mandatory minimum drug sentence for a crime he swears he didn’t do? You’d probably make a lot of road trips to the prison with cigarette carton gift baskets over the next decade, but if you’re Dwayne Johnson, you kick everyone’s ass and help Susan Sarandon take down a kingpin. The thing to look for in Snitch will be the stunts. The trailer gives a glimpse of 18-wheeler and fist-fighting action, but director Ric Roman Waugh started out doing stunts for flicks like Lethal Weapon 2, Total Recall (1990) and probably close to a hundred others, so it’ll be exciting to see what he pulls out of the ammunition box. Plus, as hard as it is to believe a former wrestler did this, Johnson has emerged as a truly charismatic, aggressive lead who’s shown some real range. He’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch, especially because he’s believable as a badass, so even in what looks like a straightforward action movie with a slightly unbelievable (yet based on true events!) story, he just might make it shine.


Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables

Merry Christmas, everyone! Now let’s cut off all our hair and sell it so our children can eat! Wait, is that not how you celebrate the holidays with your family? Too bad, it’s how we’re celebrating this year. With the news that Universal has pushed back their Les Miserables to open on Christmas Day, the rest of Hollywood (completely relatively speaking) has joined in and mixed up their release date schedules like so much calendar Cobb salad. Just when will we see Aaron Eckhart as a new wave monster and where is that The Rock-as-concerned-dad drug film we all need and what the hell is Battle of the Year? After the break, let’s dream some dreams with the new release dates for Les Mis, Snitch, No Good Deed, Battle of the Year, and I, Frankenstein.


Barry Pepper

Barry Pepper makes everything better. You might say he’s the salt of character acting. Now he’s going to be adding his particular spice to two more projects. According to Variety, Pepper is joining the cast for Snitch – the drama starring Dwayne Johnson as a man who goes undercover to help out a son facing drug charges – and Broken City – the Allen Hughes project where Mark Wahlberg plays a private investigator trailing the philandering wife played by Catherine Zeta-Jones of a politician played by Russell Crowe. In Broken City, Pepper’s character will be running for mayor against Crowe’s, and he’ll no doubt pull from his Emmy-winning performance as Bobby Kennedy to sharpen his role. There’s not much to say beyond all of this because Pepper is amazing. If he and William Fichtner co-starred in something together, I’d watch it 18 times. So, yes, this news is reason to celebrate.


Susan Sarandon

Bogart and Bacall, Tracy and Hepburn; some Hollywood pairings work so well that they’re iconic, linking the actors in people’s minds so intrinsically that they become just as recognizable as a duo as they are as individuals. It’s looking like a new pair of names could get added to that list; Sarandon and The Rock. That’s because Susan Sarandon is in negotiations to join the already-cast Dwayne Johnson in a new drama called Snitch. Ric Roman Waugh is re-writing a script by Justin Haythe and also directing the film, which is based off a Frontline documentary about a father who agrees to go undercover and take down a high-ranking drug lord in order to get his teenage son’s rather ridiculous 30-year drug sentence cut down to something less soul-crushing. If all goes well, Sarandon will be playing the role of an ambitious attorney who thinks a high profile drug bust could really help out her career. I imagine the stoic Johnson, risking it all for his son, and the sleazy Sarandon, looking to exploit people to boost up her career, will make for some pretty good banter. Hopefully at some point they’re forced to share a hotel bed together and they hang a sheet between them to act as an impenetrable grope-stopping wall. That’s always a classic. [Heat Vision]

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published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.28.2015
published: 01.27.2015

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