CHICAGO – So you’re a young woman who decides to fall asleep in your car parked just off the highway. You’re awoken by the rapping fist of a chiseled cop who leers at you with the sexual appetite of a drooling wolf. Sounds like a meet cute straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” But in Marcio Garcia’s head-slapping dud, “Open Road,” it’s supposed to be heartwarming.
CHICAGO – There’s a large part of me that wants to wholeheartedly recommend and embrace “Cloud Atlas” for two reasons. One, it’s based on arguably the best book of the millennium so far, David Mitchell’s stunning masterpiece. And if more people see the movie, more are likely to read a book that everyone should experience.
CHICAGO – “Frankie Go Boom” is a comedy about deplorable people who commit heartless acts and expect us to laugh at them. It casts the hugely lovable Chris O’Dowd as the most loathsome schlub ever to materialize on the big screen since Josh Gad’s wretched comic relief in “Love and Other Drugs.” And it puts Ron Perlman in drag but fails to give him a single laugh-worthy line. What a misfire.
CHICAGO – Besedka Johnson was 85 years old when she was discovered at a YMCA. After devoting her life to astrology, the genial woman was suddenly brought to the attention of indie filmmakers intrigued by her vintage movie star features. At 86, she delivered a tour-de-force film debut in Sean Baker’s marvelous drama, “Starlet.” And at 87, she passed away.
CHICAGO – Mother’s Day is gone (hope you were nice to mom) and so the studios begin the push for Blu-ray titles perfect for Father’s Day gifts. The coming weeks will see reissues of Clint Eastwood classics, “The Mad Max Trilogy,” and much more, but it started last week with Fox/MGM’s reissue of the super-alpha-male “The Great Escape,” timed to its 50th anniversary. It’s been half-a-century since this mas macho classic became a box office smash and Oscar nominee. It’s held up pretty well even if the Blu-ray release isn’t a great one. Dad will likely just love the movie anyway.
CHICAGO – I’ve always adored movies that get people talking, whether they agree with me or not. Movies should provoke discussion and no film this year has provoked more than Shane Carruth’s divisive “Upstream Color,” already available in a simple Blu-ray/DVD combo pack with no special features. Don’t worry. The movie is special enough.
CHICAGO – They often say that a movie is written three times - on paper, on film, and in the editing bay. Look no further for this truth than the deleted scenes from “Silver Linings Playbook,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD. While some of the scenes are fun and allow Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro more chances to shine, I would argue that all 26 minutes of them were correctly cut. If they hadn’t been, the movie’s not an Oscar winner.
CHICAGO – Evoking the civil rights melodramas of the ’60s, such as Guy Green’s wrenching “A Patch of Blue,” with a dash of Robert Benton’s 1979 masterpiece, “Kramer vs. Kramer,” Travis Fine’s “Any Day Now” shamelessly aims to tug at the heartstrings. And tug at them he does with considerable success, thanks in large part to the riveting, career-best performance delivered by Alan Cumming. It’s the sort of work that could’ve easily been honored with an Oscar nod, had Fox Searchlight or Harvey Weinstein picked it up.
CHICAGO – Scream Factory, the horror branch of Shout Factory, continues to impress with their releases of arguably lesser-known horror films, including some ’70s and ’80s classics like the upcoming “The Burning,” “The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” “Lifeforce,” and “The Howling.” All four of those will be covered here. All four of those are better than “The Vampire Lovers,” a fun addition for Hammer Films fans but a movie that’s still not really all that good.
CHICAGO – Few films from the first half of the ’90s have held up as well as Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park,” recently released in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack that includes the 3D version of the film. How HUGE is “Jurassic Park”? Adjusted for inflation, it’s made $728 million domestically, 16th all-time and sandwiched between two “Star Wars” movies (“Jedi” and “Phantom”). Everyone talks about Indy. The dinos have actually made more.