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20 New Movies to Watch at Home This Week

By  · Published on August 25th, 2015

Welcome back to This Week In Discs!

If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon.

Two Days, One Night (Criterion)

Sandra (Marion Cotillard) is trying to return to work after taking time off to deal with depression, but she discovers that her coworkers have been faced with a conundrum in her absence. They were made to vote between bringing her back on staff or getting their annual bonuses. She convinces the boss to hold a second vote on Monday morning and proceeds to spend the weekend visiting each of the employees, one at a time, in an attempt to convince them to forgo a bonus in favor of her staying employed.

If there’s a more suspenseful film this year I have yet to see it. Like they did with The Kid With a Bike the Dardennes Brothers manage to create immense tension and suspense from intimate character drama, and Cotillard commands your attention and empathy nearly every moment she’s onscreen ‐ and she’s in every scene. The experience is like watching a wounded runner attempt a 1000m hurdles, and each leap holds the promise of success or devastation.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, documentary, featurette, video essay]


A filmmaker received an anonymous email in 2013 suggesting proof of a secret government program used to spy on Americans was currently up and running. Laura Poitras began an encrypted correspondence with the source eventually leading to the revelation as to the man’s identity, motivation and mountain of evidence supporting his claim about the travesty of justice occurring beneath our noses. Together with New York Times’ journalist Glenn Greenwald the story came clearer, and this Oscar-winning documentary captures it all.

There was a huge outcry over the evidence Edward Snowden revealed, but as is too frequently the case the American public hasn’t kept up that pressure on the administration. These NSA programs are illegal, but Snowden’s been labeled a traitor ‐ it’s inexplicable and sad, but regardless where you land on the spectrum of greater evils this doc is an important and suspenseful marker in American history.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, interview, Q&A]

The Sender

A young man attempts to kill himself by drowning, but when he’s brought to the mental hospital and dubbed John Doe #83 (Zeljko Ivanek) the nightmare that drove him to attempt suicide begins affecting those around him. Dr. Gail Farmer (Kathryn Harold) takes a special interest in his case and works to find the cause of his problems and abilities, but she realizes too late that no good deed goes unpunished.

Nightmares and hallucinations are the name of the game here, and it makes for an unusual horror film with a “villain” who earns our empathy instead of our fear. There’s more than a slight supernatural bent here, but rather than leave the good doctor flapping in the breeze as the only one who believes it all the man’s abilities become fodder for scientific study. It results in an interesting premise unfolding in a locale already overflowing with madness, and as the mystery unfolds the tension grows with it.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Skin Trade

Tony (Tony Jaa) is fighting bad guys as a detective in Thailand with a focus on the abductions occurring in his own backyard. Women are kidnapped off the streets or in some cases sold into slavery by their parents, and with the help of his girlfriend he works to arrest (or occasionally kill) the men responsible. Nick (Dolph Lundgren) meanwhile is a New Jersey cop working the other end of the pain train as the abducted women arrive in America as sex slaves. His latest case has him crossing paths with Viktor Dragovic (Ron Perlman) who strikes back at the cop by killing his wife and teenage daughter. Distraught and oblivious to the two bullets in his back, Nick heads overseas to track the man down and exact his revenge.

Jaa is still lightning-fast and insanely flexible, and while his preference is still for blistering attacks with his knees and elbows he displays no shortage of spins, kicks and punches in his arsenal. There’s probably a minimal amount of wire work here, but the vast majority of his fights are just Jaa being Jaa, and it’s exciting to see him back in action. Lundgren doesn’t fare as well on the action front ‐ running isn’t really his strong suit either ‐ but he remains a fun performer to watch. The film is reportedly his dream project with a cause close to his heart, so he deserves credit for pulling it all together into a kick-ass action picture that never neglects to take its subject seriously.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, making of, commentary, interview, deleted scenes]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season

Many of the survivors of last season’s prison fight and journey towards Terminus have found themselves locked in a train car waiting to be killed, skinned and eaten for dinner. Their rescue comes from an unlikely source, but it’s not long before their on the run once again. A possible cure exists, but they need to reach Washington, D.C. to see if it’s real.

People like to knock this show, and there is merit to the idea that unlike great television it’s ultimately not really heading anywhere ‐ it’s instead episodic with the survivors growing and shrinking through constant face-offs with the undead and the living. But so what? The action is exciting, the gore is explicit and the emotional beats continue to be tremendously affecting. Characters die left and right, and while they’re frequently uneventful they occasionally pull our heartstrings with real weight and emotion. Plus, again, tremendously gory effects.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentaries, deleted scenes]

A Wolf At the Door

Sylvia arrives at school to pick up her daughter but it is told by the teacher that not only has the girl already been taken by their neighbor Sheila, but that Sylvia herself called earlier granting permission. This leaves Sylvia a bit perplexed and panicked as not only did she not call the school, but she also has no neighbor named Sheila. The police arrive, and with a missing child at risk they immediately begin a hard press on everyone involved. The detective grills the teacher, Sylvia, her husband Bernardo, and others, and it’s Bernardo who puts forth a name as a possible suspect. Rosa is a young woman he’s been having an affair with, and he has reason to believe she may be involved.

This is is a harrowing, slow-burn of a thriller that tackles the dramatic suspense in an unconventional way. Instead of proceeding like a traditional procedural, the film quickly settles on one witness and lets the story unfold through her recounting of events. It becomes less a story of what happened to the little girl and more a tale of why it had to happen at all. It may not be enough of a thriller for viewers looking for big twists or big action, but those who like visiting the heart’s darker recesses and barely getting out with our own intact will find an unrelenting journey here.

[DVD extras: None]


Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) was once a hotshot in the Air Force, but his latest job brings him back to Hawaii and the military base where he once shined professionally to help finesse certain aspects of a new deal with tech giant Carson Welch (Bill Murray). In addition to reuniting with old military friends and acquaintances Brian also returns to face Tracy (Rachel McAdams), the woman he left behind, who’s now married to the strong and silent Woody (John Krasinski). He also gets a military handler in the form of Capt. Allison Ng (Emma Stone), a young, energetic go-getter in touch with Hawaii’s more mystical elements, and while it’s against both regulations and common sense she falls for his sexy exterior/damaged interior mash-up secure in the knowledge that she will be the one to fix him. The most glaring issue (of many) here is that Aloha breaks the first rule of romantic comedies in that it’s neither romantic nor all that comedic. One or two laughs aside the attempts at humor feel both forced and flat. Writer/director Cameron Crowe starts with the same blueprint that powered Jerry Maguire ‐ a troubled and lost man, the idealistic and forgiving woman who believes in him when no one else will, a tender moment between the broken man and the woman’s child ‐ and then adds in another couple’s romantic foibles, magical realism involving spirits and wind gusts and an utterly out of place race against time featuring space action and Chinese hackers. The disparate elements are held loosely together by contrivance and disinterest, neither of which it turns out are all that great as adhesives.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, making of, featurettes, gag reel, deleted scenes, ]


Jude (David Dastmalchian) and Bobbie (Kim Shaw) are living a life on the fringes of society. They live out of their car, steal and scam to make enough money to eat and buy drugs and believe that they deserve a future that will some day be theirs. The addiction and the life they’ve chosen think otherwise. The two leads do strongly compelling work here as they slide further down the rabbit hole, and the film stays engaging even as they behave like increasingly desperate losers. The sadness surrounding them ‐ drowning them ‐ is self-made but painful all the same.

[DVD extras: Featurette, deleted scenes]

The Babysitter

Jennifer (Alicia Silverstone) is a babysitter who goes about her night unaware of the starring role she’s playing in the imaginations of those around her. The father of the kids she’s watching spends his night fantasizing about coming home while she’s bathing or screwing, her boyfriend is pressured by another guy into expecting sex from her, and even the young boy in her charge leafs through the pages of a nudie magazine while picturing her in his mind. This is presented as a piece of teen exploitation, but there’s a far more serious agenda at work here. It’s a harsh commentary on the American male’s ego and the way women are viewed as objects and achievements in the guise of cheap thrills, and while it doesn’t quite come together flawlessly it earns a watch for having something to say.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Big Game

A young teenage boy on the verge of manhood heads into the vast forest to prove himself, but when a plane explodes in the sky above him he quickly finds himself tested in ways he didn’t expect. The aircraft was Air Force One, and the American president (Samuel L. Jackson) is being targeted by killers. The two must make their way out of the woods if they want to survive, but they’re out-gunned and out-manned. Excessive CG mars a lot of the film’s action set-pieces, but it remains a fun little family adventure all the same. There’s a nice message about finding your strength and such, and Jackson is having a hell of a time as sidekick to a 13 year-old.

[Blu-rayDVD extras: Theatrical/unrated cuts]

Criminal Minds: The Tenth Season

The FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit is responsible for handling cases involving the sickest and most twisted killers and wackos roaming the streets, and ten seasons in they just keep on coming. This is a procedural through and through, similar to shows like NCIS and CSI in its team dynamic, but it stands somewhat apart through its commitment to some truly despicable villains.

[DVD extras: Featurettes, commentaries, gag reel, deleted scenes]


Daniel Isaacson’s (Timothy Hutton) parents were executed by the U.S. government for treason in the ’50s, but after years of trying to ignore the shame of their actions he’s come to believe that they might have actually been innocent of the crime. Reinvigorated by what he believes to be the truth he sets out to confirm and clear their name. Sidney Lumet’s film (adapted from E.L. Doctorow’s novel) offers a fictionalized take on the real-life Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case and melds historical drama with some minor suspense. There are some strong performances here, and they hold the attention even as the tale feels occasionally dry.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Elementary: The Third Season

Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) can’t help but solve puzzles, and while that obsession gets in the way of his personal life it does wonders for him professionally. He consults for the NYPD on their most difficult cases, and with the aid of Dr. Watson (Lucy Liu) he usually manages to stay focused in the process. No one expected much from an “Americanized” Sherlock, especially in light of the very successful (and fantastic) UK reboot, but it surprised everyone by being just competent enough to keep an audience. It’s essentially similar to a show like Castle ‐ lightweight, harmless mysteries with a very thin layer of character drama.

[DVD extras: Featurettes, gag reel]

The Last American Virgin

Gary is a shy, horny, big-lipped teen looking for love in all the wrong places. Part of the problem is that he’s following his friends on their never-ending search for sex, but equally problematic is that he’s prone to following his heart too. That particular organ gets him into trouble when he falls for the new girl at school and proceeds to try and win her love through kindness. His efforts are rewarded with pain, sadness and epic amounts of loneliness. This early ’80s classic hits a lot of the notes familiar to teen sex comedies, but the humor is kept in check with a heavy dose of reality. It bears some similarity to certain character threads in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (which came out the same year), but its lack of recognizable faces and iconic red bikini scene left it lost in the crowd. Go in expecting pure laughs and sexy shenanigans and you’ll be disappointed, but if you’re up for a dirty dose of misbehavior and unrequited love it’s well worth a watch. It’s great that Olive Films has given the film a Blu-ray release, but fans (with region-free players) should import the Arrow UK Blu instead as it’s loaded with extra features.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Last Dragon

Leroy Green is a young man in search of “the glow” ‐ a mystical, magical illumination of the soul ‐ and his quest lands him in the path of a local tough guy Sho’nuff, a local hot girl (Vanity) and the realization that we’re stronger if we work together as a team! Martial arts and pop R&B antics ensue. This is something of a cult classic, and it’s easy to see why. It’s good fun highlighted by great music, plentiful fight scenes and campy over-acting ‐ it’s basically a poppier, dance-filled, far more energetic take on The Karate Kid. The cheese is plentiful, but it’s infectious. (That sounds nasty. I apologize.)

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Making of, commentary]

Metamorphosis / Beyond Darkness

A scientist exploring the wonders of genetics takes extreme measures and tests his experiment on himself with horrific results in Metamorphosis! A family moves into an old house filled with history, death and magic in Beyond Darkness! Scream Factory collects these two shot-in-Italy horror flicks, and while neither is all that memorable they have some fun, icky bits between them that might make them appealing to genre fans.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Runner

The Gulf Coast is devastated by the BP oil spill, and while lives and livelihoods are shattered one congressman steps up for the little people. Colin Price (Nicolas Cage) is that hero, but his rise comes crashing down just as quickly when his infidelity makes the news. Can a good man who’s done bad things still make a difference? We’ve seen this story before (minus the BP spill connection) but rarely has it felt this generic. The cast is good, but they’ve all been better in far more engaging films.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Singing Detective

Dan Dark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a midlist author of pulpy mystery novels who finds himself in the hospital fighting a painful, full-body case of psoriasis. His time there is spent bitching, moaning and hallucinating a world that meshes a mystery with dance numbers and flashbacks to his childhood. Keith Gordon has directed some darkly engaging films including The Chocolate War and A Midnight Clear, but there’s probably a reason this 2003 title was his final feature. It’s all over the place tonally, and while it’s never really about the mystery the lack of interest it has in solving the case adds to the aimlessness. Still, it’s a great cast that includes Mel Gibson, Katie Holmes, Robin Wright, Adrien Brody, Carla Gugino, Alfre Woodard and others.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Student Bodies

A killer is stalking the students of Lamab High, and he or she is doing some killing. There are plenty of suspects and even an on-screen body count to make it easy, but the closer we get to the truth the less important any of that is. This slasher comedy is incredibly heavy on the comedy ‐ frequently unsuccessful comedy ‐ but there’s plenty of goofy fun to be found here. It aims for Airplane-type laughs and hits far lower, but there’s value in ridiculous, inconsistent fun.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Welcome to New York

A French banker (Gerard Depardieu) used to living a life of immense wealth, power and privilege sees it all threatened when he innocently jerks off on a maid’s face against her will in New York City. Abel Ferrara’s latest is a loose take on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn incident in 2011, but while the story feels familiar the power comes from Depardieu’s epic performance. He’s a French monster capable of so much indifference towards others even as he’s eating them alive, and his corpulent form is as threatening as it is compelling.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Camilla Dickinson, Falling Star, The Good Wife: The Sixth Season, Iris, Lila & Eve, The Mindy Project: Season Three, Portlandia: Season Five, Sorrow, The Summer House, Throne of Blood (Criterion)

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.