Features and Columns · Movies

23 New Movies (and Shows) to Watch at Home This Week

By  · Published on March 31st, 2015

Welcome back to This Week In Discs!

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

Without a Clue

Dr. John Watson (Ben Kingsley) is the world’s greatest living detective despite telling the world a man named Sherlock Holmes is the actual genius. Tasked with putting a face to his fictional creation he hires an actor named Reginald Kincaid (Michael Caine) to play the legend, but when a master criminal sets a major plot in motion that threatens the British Empire Watson and Holmes are forced to work together ‐ this time for real. The biggest challenge isn’t Moriarty though, it’s Kincaid’s idiocy.

This is easily one of the two best Sherlock Holmes films ever ‐ the other being Murder By Decree of course ‐ thanks to an extremely funny script and two fantastic lead performances. Caine turns bumbling into a hilarious art form, and Kingsley’s exasperated straight man manages to be equally entertaining. Even better the story and mystery playing out are as smart as Kincaid is dumb.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Day of Anger

The unfortunately nicknamed Scott Mary is something of a loser in his small, dusty town. He’s the local waste collector, used to being harassed and mistreated by everyone as he hauls away their shit, but when a legendary gunslinger named Frank Talby (Lee Van Cleef) arrives in town Scott signs on as the man’s apprentice of sorts. He’s a quick learner and soon has the gumption required to stand up to the townspeople who made his life hell, but the price Talby is asking for that lesson may be too steep.

“The weapon that’s going to kill me hasn’t been invented yet,” says Van Cleef’s rough and tumble cowboy, and that pretty much sums up the film’s tough tone. It’s gritty and bloody in all the right places, and the story is well removed from the typical western which helps keep things interesting. Arrow Video’s North American rollout hits an early high point with an Italian western that’s been out of proper view for too long ‐ it looks and sounds fantastic with rich colors and a memorable score.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Italian version and the shorter international cut, interviews, deleted scenes]

The Imitation Game

Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) is picked up by police in ’50s London after a suspicious burglary of his home, and rather than give a simple explanation Turing shares the story of what he accomplished during the war. It’s a tale of racing against time to save millions of lives by breaking the Nazi’s unbreakable code, but it’s also a tale of a man forced to obfuscate his own secrets from his government and the people around him.

Turing’s story comes to the screen in a film that frequently feels like a typical biopic, but Cumberbatch’s performance elevates the movie into a compelling and dramatic experience. There’s drama and minor suspense in the tale, but the overriding feeling is one of sadness. This is especially true in the film’s third act as everything comes to a head and Turing’s accomplishments and fate are revealed.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette, deleted scenes, Q&A]


The Earth is in bad shape, and mankind is on the fast track to follow okra and obesity into extinction. A devastating blight has swept the planet, killing off plants and crops and making way for epic dust storms that leave the small communities that remain in constant struggle for food, good health and cleanliness. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a farmer growing the only viable crop left, but his heart is in the skies above. Now someone, or something, wants him to reach for the skies once again, and they’re communicating through his daughter Murph’s (Mackenzie Foy as a child, Jessica Chastain as an adult) bedroom bookshelf. He’s soon forced to choose between the draw of his family and that of the unknown, and with the fate of humanity at stake he’s compelled to choose the latter. Along with a few other astronauts he sets out for a wormhole that promises to hold the key to the continued existence of our species.

This is in many ways as ambitious and messy a film as the sci-fi adventure it’s portraying, and its themes, visuals and pockets of bald emotion are guaranteed to appeal to fans of director Christopher Nolan‘s (who also co-wrote with his brother Jonathan Nolan) previous films. It walks his usual line between science and heart, hope and cynicism ‐ that’s not a knock ‐ and delivers an experience well worth a watch, but it’s also a disappointing series of diminishing returns. As the ideas and images grow in scale to epic proportions across its nearly three hour running time their actual effect becomes less and less satisfying. Still, it’s big and beautiful and occasionally mesmerizing to the eyes.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Veep: The Complete Third Season

Vice President Selena Meyer (Julia Luis-Dreyfus) has just discovered that her boss, the President of the United States, will not be running for a second term. It should be a smooth and straightforward move for her to throw her hat into the ring and run for the highest office in the land, but as history has shown us, nothing is smooth and straightforward for Selena Meyer.

The third season of HBO’s most consistently hilarious sitcom continues the trend of wicked put-downs, brutal insults and truly embarrassing situations for the various characters. That supporting cast ‐ Anna Chlumsky, Tony Hale, Matt Walsh, Gary Cole, Reid Scott and others ‐ continues to excel with some of the best comic deliveries in the business too, and while it’s unclear how far this particular storyline can take the crew I’ll happily follow them anywhere.

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


Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) has reached the lowest point of her life ‐ she’s thrown away her marriage on addiction and infidelity and her mother has lost her battle with cancer. Determined to make a fresh start of things she sets out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with no real experience or expectations about hat she’s about to endure.

Jean-Marc Vallee follows up his award-winning Dallas Buyers Club with another biographical tale of a very troubled soul. The film moves back and forth between Strayed’s earlier life and her adventure on the trail, and it makes for an inconsistent journey for viewers. The film’s at its strongest during the hike as Strayed interacts with nature, strangers and her own struggles, but the flashbacks are far less successful (and far more melodramatic). Witherspoon is strong throughout and gives a performance filled with vitality and playfulness, and that energy carries the film from beginning to end.

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

Alice’s Restaurant

Arlo Guthrie (playing himself) is trying to avoid the draft by enrolling in college and staying out of trouble, but things don’t quite go according to plan. His attempts to blend in are spoiled by jerks and cops compelled to give the hippie grief. As much a protest against the Vietnam war as a tonally flexible comedy, Arthur Penn’s film is an interesting (albeit inconsistent) look at a very specific time. Fans of Guthrie’s music and hippies at heart will enjoy.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold

Allan Quatermain (Richard Chamberlain) and his bride-to-be (Sharon Stone) are due to return home to America before being sidelined by news that Allan’s brother has made an epic discovery in the jungle. Now if only Henry Silva’s hair wasn’t standing between them and the treasure. This even campier sequel to the already ridiculous King Solomon’s Mines is an acquired taste for fans of low-rent Indiana Jones rip offs, but anyone expecting good action and legit laughs will probably be disappointed.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Beat Generation

A serial rapist is stalking suburban housewives in late ’50s America, and only a misogynistic cop can stop him. Richard Matheson co-wrote this Bohemian detective thriller, and he filled it with touches both dark and goofy. Jazz music weaves through the events ‐ Louis Armstrong even cameos ‐ and the woman-hating cop travels an interesting character arc on his way to a face to face meeting with the (other) bad guy.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Behind Enemy Lines

Two American soldiers on a mission to prevent terrorist bastards from acquiring powerful weapons succeed, but it comes at the cost of one one of them being captured. Years later Mike returns to the jungle on a rescue mission. This isn’t even the second best movie called Behind Enemy Lines.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Dirty Dozen: Deadly Mission / Fatal Mission

Major Wright (Telly Savalas) leads a rag-team group of thugs and criminals on two missions of vital importance. These two made-for-TV movies are loose sequels to the popular big screen hit, but they lack anything resembling that film’s power. Instead they feel every inch of their TV origins. Both films are filled with recognizable faces including Ernest Borgnine, Bo Svensen, Jeff Conaway, Erik Estrada, Heather Thomas and multiple Van Pattens, so that may be a draw for some of you too.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

The Facts of Life

You take the good you take the bad you mix it up and there you have Bob Hope and Lucille Ball as a married couple on vacation ‐ one issue though, they’re not married to each other. We flash back to the months prior to see how the two acquaintances came to risk their marriages to see if the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence. Hope and Ball are comedy legends, but the roles here have them splitting their time between laughs and more serious issues. The funny bits work better.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]


A young woman in financial straits takes on a housecleaning job to make ends meet, but each day that passes brings a weird combination of madness and terror ever closer. This low budget chiller has an intriguing idea at its core ‐ is this a slow descent into insanity or horror ‐ but the execution is a bit of a stylistically frustrating experience. The lead character is passive, information is passed along in voiceovers and onscreen text and we feel constantly removed from anyone or anything of value.

[DVD extras: None]

How to Beat the High Cost of Living

The ’70s are over and the ’80s have just begun, and with the new decade comes a reminder that the economy is still in the tank. Three friends (Jane Curtin, Susan St. James, Jessica Lange) with troubles in their relationships and bank accounts set on a plan to rob large amount of cash right under the nose of a police guard, but criminal intentions don’t make for criminal minds. All three leads do great work here in a film that feels like a slighter 9 to 5 ‐ it even includes Dabney Coleman! It’s not as laugh out loud funny as that much bigger hit, but it’s a fun slice of suburban mom antics.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

Morgan Freeman narrates a short look at the lemurs of Madagascar with a focus on the efforts being made to keep them from going extinct. The island is the only place in the world where the creatures live naturally, but as the human population grows in size and continues to burn and cut the forests the animals are running out of options. The photography here is as stunning as you’d expect from an IMAX production, but too much of the 40 minute running time is devoted to people ‐ it’s a good cause and all that, but their mugs are the last thing we want to see in such a short nature film. They take time away from the bouncy, funny, oddball creatures of the title.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Night Game

A serial killer is stalking the young women of Houston, and Det. Mike Seaver (Roy Scheider) is on the case. Is he the inspiration behind Kirk Cameron’s Growing Pains character? We’ll never know, but for now we’ll just have to accept that he’s a rock star of a detective. This is a solid enough thriller, but one of the biggest draws for film fans is a supporting cast that includes a wonderfully terrible threesome of asshole character actors ‐ Paul Gleason, Lane Smith and Richard Bradford.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]


Gallain (Nicolas Cage) and his protege Jacob (Hayden Christensen) have been doing the Lord’s work for years as Catholic warriors during the Crusades, but their most recent assault has left an indelible, blood-soaked image in their heads. Fed up with the slaughter the two men leave the war behind and go their separate ways (and wind up in relatively the same part of China), but Jacob is drawn back into his violent lifestyle when he comes across locals in need of a champion. For all that fails to make Outcast memorable, the film remains a harmless and fast-paced diversion. Weak dramatic moments are numerous, but they’re wisely kept brief and interspersed with action beats. It’s destined to be forgotten, but if nothing else it stands out in Cage’s filmography in ways his steady string of limited release modern action-thrillers fail to do ‐ seriously, can you recall the difference between Seeking Justice, Trespass, Stolen and Rage without looking them up first?

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interview, featurette]

The Rewrite

Keith Michaels (Hugh Grant) won an Oscar for his first screenplay, a critically acclaimed and immensely popular film called Paradise Misplaced, but years later he finds himself divorced and in a rut of endless pitch meetings and a lack of offers. His agent suggests a sabbatical away from Hollywood to the only place currently willing to pay for his services ‐ a university on the East Coast wants him to teach a screenwriting class ‐ and he reluctantly says yes. Writer/director Marc Lawrence continues his ongoing collaboration with Grant and delivers a comedy that fits somewhere behind Two Weeks Notice and well ahead of Did You Hear About the Morgans? (Sorry Music and Lyrics, I never got around to seeing you.) The framework is visible from the very first minutes as Keith crosses paths with a fawning student with daddy issues, a more age-appropriate student/love interest (Marisa Tomei) and a stuffy fellow teacher (Allison Janney). We know where each of these storylines will lead, but at least we’re on this predictable ride with an immensely talented cast (also including JK Simmons and Chris Elliott).

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

Silicon Valley: The Complete First Season

A group of friends and acquaintances living in the same Silicon Valley house join forces to bring one of their projects to fruition as two tech companies race towards the same goal. It’s not all fun and games in the early days of a tech startup, but it is apparently ridiculous. HBO’s sitcom is frequently funny thanks to sharp writing and a cast of fantastically witty performers (Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, TJ Miller, Christopher Evan Welch, Zach Woods, etc), but early episodes do have a frustrating element to them as too much of the humor comes from Meet the Parents-type situations.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry

Harry (George Sanders) is a bachelor still living with his two sisters, but when he enters into his first real romance he finds the downside to family meddling. His sister Lettie (Geraldine Fitzgerald) has no intention of letting him go ‐ especially into the arms of another woman ‐ and she quickly goes about trying to break up the happy couple. This mix of romance and devious behaviors is a deliciously dark look at family, and it takes some dark turns along the way, but then the final minute hits and ruins it all. Seriously, the final sixty seconds kill it. And to make matters worse the final frame is a plea asking audience members not to ruin the ending for anyone else.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Stranger at My Door

A bank robber with horse trouble is forced to lay low in the home of a minister an his family, but as the days pass he finds himself drawn to the man of god’s wife and growing fond of his little boy. As the law closes in the morally bankrupt villain must choose if his safety is more important than theirs. There’s a simplicity to this tight little western, but good performances and a short running time go a long way towards making this a harmless and enjoyable picture.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

What Did You Do in the War Daddy?

An American military unit is assigned to occupy a small Italian village, but while they expect the locals to put up a fight they’re instead met with open arms. All the villagers ask is that they’re allowed to move forward with their celebratory festival, but things are complicated by interactions, misdirections and an approaching enemy. Blake Edwards directs this mildly comedic romp from a script by William Peter Blatty (?), and the result is a fun little comedy with a comedically game cast including James Coburn, Harry Morgan, Carroll O’Connor and more.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Wild Card

Nick Wild (Jason Statham) is scraping by in Las Vegas with a dream of escaping to Spain for a few years of bliss, but his attempts to win big always end up with him broke again. His financial woes are the least of his concerns though when a favor for a friend finds him crossing paths with a violent and well-connected ruffian. Simon West’s adaptation of William Goldman’s novel Heat is an odd film for Statham in some ways ‐ most notably in its near lack of action. There are three fights, and they’re all excellent, but the majority of the movie is Wild’s dilemma and interactions with a series of characters. Some are friends, old and new, and others are not, but the end result is a character drama punctuated with a small handful of fantastic brawls.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurette]

Also out this week, but I haven’t seen the movie/TV show and/or review material was unavailable:

3 Nights in the Desert
Cries and Whispers (Criterion)
David & Lisa
Harlock: Space Pirate
Hoop Dreams (Criterion)
The Quiet Gun
The Shanghai Story
What Would Jesus Do? The Journey Continues

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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.