CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.
HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Reviews
CHICAGO – Dwayne Johnson slams and jams in the bland “Hercules,” the “Space Jam” he never made when known as a brow-raised wrestler under his birth name “The Rock.” This ferociously generic take on the mythological hero focuses on Hercules with a group of mercenaries (played by Rufus Sewell among others) as they train a group of gee-shucks farmers to become warriors, while they project legends of immortality onto Johnson’s secretly mortal hero.
CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature.
CHICAGO – With J.J. Abrams not involved with the creation of a third “Star Trek” movie, a compendium of his work within the franchise only seems fitting. Loaded with special features but only a few new ones, this disc set is a strong choice for those who don’t already have both entertaining blockbusters in their collection.
CHICAGO – The Internet is for real in “Transcendence”, a B-movie with grade-A production quality, loaded with terabyte-size open-ended questions, so long as one can accept it lastly with a scientific mindset. It is a film that perceives technology to be more expansive than a box of wires and computer chips, and actualizes the expanse of the internet as limitless to the realm of spiritual.
Looming over “Bad Words” is the potential it could have had, as is, were it released ten years ago. With its focus of R-rated behavior poking at the projected innocence of children, along with the couple of chromosomes that keep Bateman’s Trilby from being a Vince Vaughn character, this movie is certainly a product of the comedies that have sculpted out the manchild story in the past decade.
The theatrical poster for “Winter’s Tale,” after promising that “It’s not a true story, it’s a love story,” made a large demand from its viewers at the bottom: “This Valentine’s Day, Believe In Miracles.” While there is indeed a difference between filmmaking and marketing, it is hard to not imagine writer/director Akiva Goldsman whispering “believe in miracles” into the ear of every executive who helped “Winter’s Tale” come to life, immediately after throwing glitter on them.
Peter Weir’s “Picnic at Hanging Rock” is a mesmerizing film. Most who go into it know that it tells a tragic (possibly true) story with no resolution. And so it becomes a slow burn, in which the atmosphere and dread of unseen danger hangs thick in every frame.
Who of our modern filmmakers will justify lavish, career-spanning box sets in the next generation (presuming there is such a thing and we’re not 100% digital)? We’ve seen Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, and Alfred Hitchcock sets in recent years but who will get the same treatment in ten or twenty years?
CHICAGO—The word “melodrama” has become a lazy one for too many critics who use it as a way to dismiss films that deal with extreme emotions. For a film to be melodramatic, it must be flawed. Any fan of Douglas Sirk will tell you that this is a fallacy. Melodrama can be a heartbreaking, genuine form of artistic expression, arguably never more so than in Sirk’s most beloved film, “All That Heaven Allows,” recently released on Criterion Blu-ray.
CHICAGO – “Game of Thrones” is over and you’ve already binged “Orange is the New Black,” what are you supposed to do now? There are a few interesting new programs this season – FX’s “Tyrant” & “The Strain,” HBO’s “The Leftovers,” CBS’s “Extant,” and a few more – but it’s also a great time to catch up what you may have missed with new Blu-ray and DVD releases. There are five TV-to-Blu-ray releases this month that might warrant a look.