The Rite

This Week in Blu-ray

After a few weeks of hellish uncertainty, This Week in Blu-ray is back to being on time. That is, if you count being available at some point on Tuesday as being “on time.” Which I do, for the record. Moving on, the most important thing to remember is that we’re back with some advice in one of the most diverse weeks of Blu-ray releasing so far in 2011. We’ve got a new one from Criterion, a few classics, action films for people who wish they were Jason Statham, horror films, an animated superhero epic, and a movie starring Kat Dennings. There’s something for everyone this week. Pale Flower (Criterion) I must differ to Roger Ebert for a moment, as he says it far better than I ever could: Pale Flower is “one of the most haunting noirs I’ve seen, and something more; in 1964 it was an important work in an emerging Japanese New Wave of independent filmmakers, an exercise in existential cool. It involves a plot, but it is all about attitude.” What Masahiro Shinoda created in 1964 is an enduring and indelible excursion into Japan’s underworld. It’s also a relentlessly cool film for its time. Criterion, to their credit, has gone to great lengths to preserve it and restore it for HD Blu-ray. They’ve included an uncompressed monaural audio track, brand new video interviews with the director and a new (and allegedly improved) English translation. As this is my first experience with Pale Flower, I can’t say how […]

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Drinking Games

In general, Hollywood tends to be primarily secular… that is, until it makes a movie about exorcisms. Then it suddenly finds God. With this week’s release of The Rite, it’s time to break out the communion wine and drink to another movie about a priest fighting against demons. But in this flick, we have Hannibal Lecter on our side. So let’s raise a chalice of Chianti or the spirits of your choice and get our Rite on.

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This Week in DVD

One of the best things about writing for a movie website like Film School Rejects is access to the “hookers and blow” combo deals at film festivals. That probably counts as two best things, but the takeaway to remember here is that there are the occasional perks to the gig. The actual best thing though (aside from meeting some great and fun fellow movie lovers) is exposure to films I may never have seen otherwise. One such example is this week’s Pick, an American indie that I only caught via screener when it hit theaters… in the UK. Other releases this week include a re-release of Dario Argento’s fantastic Deep Red, a vengeful Djimon Hounsou in Elephant White, the gorgeous Minka Kelly in The Roommate, Jason Statham stretching as an assassin for hire in The Mechanic, Anthony Hopkins drinking Chianti with Satan in The Rite, and more. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Brotherhood A group of hopeful fraternity pledges find themselves in a real pickle when the initiation process results in several serious crimes and one pledge bleeding to death on the couch. This is a fantastic thriller that rarely takes a minute to breathe once the action and suspense starts. It’s also filled with strong performances including what deserved to be a star-making turn by Trevor Morgan. From my my full review… “[This] is a rare and unexpected success in that it takes a relatively well worn plot, jettisons […]

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The Reject Report

Good for Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet, and all the other oddly named people involved in The Roommate. Not only did it come out #1 on this Super Bowl weekend, not only was it able to beat out the James Cameron-backed Sanctum, but it was the only film this weekend to even get into double digits. I’m not sure if that says a lot for The Roommate, the current slate of movies available for the masses, or the power of the Super Bowl draw away from the movie theaters. You can’t really put much of the blame for the weekend’s weak numbers. The past three years have had films open in the $20 or $30-million area. In 2009, Taken opened on Super Bowl weekend with $24.7 million, and that can’t even be considered counter-programming to the big game. Not like last year or 2007 when Dear John and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour opened to a $30.4 and $31.1 million, respectively. So the Super Bowl was a draw away from the movies.

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The Reject Report

A year ago last week, James Cameron’s groundbreaking Avatar beat out Titanic to be the highest domestic grossing film of all time. Cameron just happened to be the director on the monstrously successful Titanic, too. You all know this. What you might not have known is that Cameron is back, and this time, he’s going spelunking. Sanctum is sure to be Cameron’s next grand excursion into box office glory and could very well beat even Avatar’s record breaking numbers. What’s that? Cameron didn’t direct Sanctum? He just produced it? But the trailers…oh, never mind. Tank.

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The Reject Report

That wacky Anthony Hopkins sure knows how to turn ‘em in. With his broad hijinx and penchant for silly string gimmicks. The devil might have had something to do with it, too, as The Rite opened to number one this weekend. It’s opening wasn’t as big as you might expect, but it did a decent job. With a reported budget of $37 million, it should be fine with its mid-teen debut. That is unless you’re going by Kevin Smith math, in which case, the film is a serious dud. That’s a digression for another time, though. The Rite will do just fine, and Hopkins is sure to make many more stinkers films before his days in films have come to a close. His Hannibal days have long since passed, and you aren’t likely to see many more $100-million films from him beyond any franchise work.

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During the first third of The Rite it feels like you might be watching something good. Don’t trust it. That’s just the demon inside lulling you into a false sense of security. The film starts off moody and slow. It seems to be very meticulously building its world and building its suspense. We are introduced to a young mortician named Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue). Kovak isn’t a guy with lofty hopes and dreams, but he wants something more than painting the fingernails of the dead. So he enrolls in seminary school, with the understanding that right before he’s sworn in as a holy commando he can quit the whole thing and get a free education out of the deal.

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The Reject Report

Just slightly different than the rites of spring. There’s less sun, less green on the trees, and a whole lot more Tony Hopkins flipping out at the sight of holy water. It’s okay, though. He’s not alone. Jason Statham is doing his best Charles Bronson impression for the counter-programming. Okay. He’s not doing a Bronson impression at all, but he is starring in the remake of The Mechanic. He’s also brought along Ben Foster, which may only add to the strangeness of it all. Did I say “may”, because I meant “absolutely.” It’s what’s in store for the wide releases this weekend, so let’s get to that analysis.

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We realize that you’re probably sitting at home right now, chewing your own nails off and wondering what movies are coming out this month. Maybe you’re even wondering why no one on the entire internet has said anything about them. Strange, we know. Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of December combing through Wikileaks, calling Cleo, and building balsa wood trailers to make sure that you, dear reader, are in the know about what’s coming out in January. You watch movies, so this guide’s for you.

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In a film that will eventually become The Rite Stuff when Friedberg and Seltzer spoof the exorcism subgenre poorly, Anthony Hopkins plays the elder Priest giving advice to the younger, doubt-filled one. This is nothing new, but the trailer has the nice sheen of interesting cinematography that makes it seem like the film might be worth that second look. In the effort of full disclosure, Sir Hopkins has cleansed my everlasting soul of a demon before. Don’t let that keep you from enjoying the trailer for The Rite:

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Warner Bros. wants he iconic actor to face the true-life events of a priest in exorcism school. Yes, they exist.

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There’s strange, and then there’s really strange. And then there’s sort of strange, which is in itself a completely different genre. I don’t know into which category this piece of news falls, but I know that it’s a little off the beaten path. Two new projects are in place that center around the world of exorcism. We ask: is this a new trend, or just coincidence?

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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