The Family

discs toad road

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Toad Road James (James Davidson) is a slacker, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for meaning he sits around all day doing nothing. Instead, he sits around all day smoking, popping, and snorting anything he and his friends can get their hands on, but that starts to change when he meets the new girl, Sara (Sara Anne Jones). She’s new to the drug scene, he introduces her, and she gets hooked just as he wants out. He agrees to one last trip with her. Shrooms in hand, the two head out to the legendary Toad Road to investigate rumors of the seven gates of hell. It goes according to plan until he wakes up to discover she’s disappeared. Writer/director Jason Banker’s debut feature is low budget, raw, messy, unsure of itself, and yet oddly mesmerizing. The “horror” element introduced via the title feels almost like an afterthought added to make the film more marketable, but the core of the film works as a frequently intense and often painful look at the obvious and not so obvious struggles that come with drug addiction. The doomed love story adds to the film’s tragic allure, but the real life fate of Miss Jones sadly cements it. [DVD extras: Commentary with writer/director Jason Banker and friends, deleted scenes, featurettes, booklet]

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goodfellastable

This week’s list of movies to watch is not inspired by a single new release, because there isn’t anything big enough out this weekend to warrant such a focus. Instead, I’ve got a year-end feature for you inspired by the entirety of 2013 in film. I can’t sum up every title released this year with only ten recommendations, but the movies I’ve selected are, I believe, the best representatives of the more notable titles and trends seen in the past dozen months. Most of the selections are familiar. Chances are you’ve seen more than a few. But obviously this edition has to involve more popular fare because they have to be influential movies to have informed so much of this year’s crop, even if unintentionally. Just take it as a call to watch them again, along with whatever you haven’t seen before, as a special sort of year in review of the most important movies of 2013 released before 2013.

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Robert De Niro in The Family

Luc Besson has been missing in action when it comes to action films for over a decade now. Of course he has written and produced a number of aesthetically pleasing shoot’m ups over the past few years — Taken, Transporter, and Lockout – but his behind-the-camera work has involved three animated/live-action hybrids, a bio pic, and two fantasy-type films. And precisely zero of them ever caught fire with us stateside. With his new film, The Family, it looked like Besson was returning to his playful criminal roots. Unfortunately though, the finished product isn’t that film as it lacks the pace, laughs, and coolness the defined his earlier work. This isn’t attempting to be Leon as it instead takes aim towards broad comedy, but even those outlandish laughs fall apart because we just don’t give a damn about the titular family.

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contest the family

We can only imagine what Robert De Niro is saying to the man on the ground in the above image, but why do that when we can have you imagine it for us? In addition to simply having fun putting words into De Niro’s mouth you’ll also be entered into a contest for the chance to win a Blu-ray bundle featuring Gangs of New York, The Godfather Collection, Goodfellas, Heat, and Scarface. All you have to do to win is hit the comments section below and offer up your best caption by Sunday (9/15). From there, we’ll choose a random winner (or the one that makes us laugh the loudest) to receive this murder and “f*ck”-filled Blu-ray prize pack. It’s that simple. Winners must live in the U.S. No P.O. Boxes. OK? And who do we have to thank for this bounty? Luc Besson and Relativity Media of course! Can you believe The Family is his first feature to get a wide release in the U.S. since 1999’s The Messenger? He’s made six other movies since then, but while films about angels, gnomes, a female Indiana Jones, and Burma’s troubles never got the chance to reach an audience here it seems all Besson had to do was make an action-comedy about a mob family enduring witness relocation in rural France. Add De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones, and you have yourself a winner! Hopefully. The Family hits theaters this Friday. Check out the trailer and official synopsis below.

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robertdenirothefamily

It’s not a huge stretch to say that Robert De Niro‘s been off his game in recent years. When you start off making films like Taxi Driver and end up doing films like The Big Wedding, expect a few derisive remarks. But Luc Besson may have found a way to channel that modern-day De Niro apathy into something entertaining in The Family. It may not be Taxi Driver, but that’s probably asking too much as it is.

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Rush

With the mega popcorn movie season over we’re starting to see summer recap articles flooding in, and so far, most have painted summer 2013 as underwhelming or downright horrible. Maybe some of those writers just didn’t see White House Down. But, in general, this past season was packed with a variety of good-to-terrific options, from the likes of Frances Ha, Only God Forgives, and The Way, Way Back to The Great Gatsby, Fast & Furious 6, and This is the End. There were a lot of gratifying offerings. There were letdowns, too, but what summer doesn’t have a few disappointments? The same will go for this fall movie season, which, as of right now, is looking excellent. Here are 10 movies that should make going back to school, work, or whatever else you got going on a little more tolerable:

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Robert De Niro in The Family

If we’re honest, it’s been a while since Luc Besson has directed any sort of high profile film. Sure, he’s written and produced 5 out of every 10 interesting action films in the last ten years, including the Transporter, Taken and District B13 franchises. But what has he actually directed? The third movie in the Arthur and the Invisibles franchise? I didn’t know there was a second one. The Lady starring Michelle Yeoh. He won an International Human Rights Award from the Cinema for Peace Awards for that one. It’s not exactly The Professional: Part Deux. All of this makes his latest film, The Family, much more interesting. He’s written and directed a mob action movie starring Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer. Hell. Yes. The only odd part: it’s being billed as a comedy.

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