CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.
What to Watch: Nov. 10-16, 2013
CHICAGO – It’s kind of a light week at the Blu-ray and DVD store (do they still have those now that Blockbuster has closed?). As studios prep a lot of major releases for holiday season, a few titles have been released on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming services this week that we wanted to highlight, including a decent animated flick, a great foreign one, and a bunch of movies that may interest you but that you should probably avoid.
Photo credit: Cohen Media Group
The best new release of the week is this moving foreign film about a man shattered by the realization that his wife may not be who he’s always thought she was. The revelation brings to the surface the man’s own history and the piece becomes a moving meditation on the crisis in the Middle East and how the past and hidden conflicts are always there, waiting to cause turmoil.
From a theatrical review: “A melancholy, mournful piece about an unimaginable tragedy and a man faced with the realization that he may not know the truth about the woman he loved. It’s an accomplished drama anchored by an understated, captivating performance from an actor who fills nearly every frame of every scene. It is about an attack not just on innocent lives but a man’s very understanding of his family. It’s a strong alternative to blockbuster fare this weekend.
Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman) is an Israeli Palestinian surgeon, fully assimilated into Tel Aviv society. He has a loving wife, an exemplary career, and many Jewish friends. But his picture-perfect life is turned upside down when a suicide bombing in a restaurant leaves nineteen dead, and the Israeli police inform him that his wife Sihem, who also died in the explosion, was responsible. Convinced of her innocence, Amin abandons the relative security of his adopted homeland and searches for the truth about her life and death, uncovering a startling secret.
o Interview With Director Ziad Doueiri
o Photo Gallery
o Theatrical Trailer
Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, iTunes
Photo credit: Fox
It’s undeniably familiar and generic in the way it reminds viewers of films like “Cars” and “Happy Feet” (and a dozen or so others) but there’s a cute, clever charm to this piece that I wasn’t expecting. I think my standards have been significantly lowered by recent 3D animated disasters but “Turbo” features strong voice work, a good pace, and a rewarding story about never giving up on your dreams, even if they’re as ridiculous as Turbo’s.
From Patrick McDonald’s theatrical review: “There is nothing deep here, except maybe a slight satire regarding sports bureaucracy in bringing Turbo into the race. That took some serious story gymnastics. This is a lighter movie to take the family to, and can be enjoyed in both the two and three dimensional versions. It’s the 27th animated epic from DreamWorks Animation, and they are closing in on taking the cartoon reins from Disney, as their studio seems to best understand this new golden age.”
From the creators of Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda comes the biggest - and funniest - animated adventure of the year! Along with his streetwise snail crew and new human friends, Turbo, an underdog snail, takes on the biggest challenge ever to make their dreams come true.
o Champion’s Corner
o Smoove Move’s Music Maker
o Team Turbo: Tricked Out
o Meet Tito Deleted Scene
o The Race Storyboard Sequence
o Be An Artist!
o Shell Creator Game
o World Of DreamWorks Animation
o Digital Copy Included
Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes
Photo credit: Universal
This Wahlberg-Washington collaboration is available a little early On Demand and so we’ve included it a week early, even though the DVD and Blu-ray special features are also included below. As some studios have done lately, you can pay extra and rent this box office hit earlier than it’s available on disc. Should you? Only if you love the two stars, who, I’ll admit, are hard not love, even if the script is way below their talents. Washington and Wahlberg do their best here to elevate a piece of generic buddy comedy action that gets weighed down by a plot which is impossible to care about. They’re always clever and fun, even if the movie is ultimately disappointing in the way it fails to live up to their talents.
From Adam Fendelman’s theatrical review: “Mark Wahlberg and Denzel Washington are the two guns who make this film worthwhile. A saving grace is still a saving grace no matter how much you criticize and blow holes in it. Instead of knocking the film for relying too heavily on its two co-stars, realize instead that it’s leading with its strength and that strength works.”
Academy Award winner Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg lead an all-star cast in the explosive action hit 2 Guns. When an attempt to take down a drug cartel blows up in their faces, two undercover operatives are forced to go on the run together, though neither knows that the other is a federal agent. Suddenly, everyone on both sides of the law wants them dead, and their only hope is to trust each other. Filled with non-stop action and suspense, critics are raving “Washington and Wahlberg are at their very best.” - Pete Hammond, Movieline
o The Good, The Bad, and the Sexy
o Finding the Vibe
o Living Dangerously
o Deleted and Extended Scenes
o Undercover and Into Action
o Feature Commentary with Director Baltasar Kormakur and Producer Adam Siegel
Where to Watch Now: On Demand, Vudu, iTunes, Amazon Instant Streaming
Where to Watch After 10/19: Blu-ray, DVD
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