Sorry, What to Watch took a turkey day break as last week was really light on new product worth mentioning. This week? Pretty much the same but we don’t want you to miss us too badly. Here’s five recent Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming releases that may have caught your attention on new release shelves lately, ranked in the order we’d add them to our holiday wish list.
CHICAGO – One of the most incorrect assumptions in literature iconography is the focus on Jane Austen as a purely romantic writer – skipping the depth of character, humor and cynicism in her work, for the sake of mooning over “Mr. Darcy.” The new film “Austenland” continues this trend.
CHICAGO – The 2013 Emmy nominations were announced this morning, leading to the natural hand-wringing and chest-beating over who missed the cut. Before we get to the most egregious snubs of the year, a few places where the Academy unexpectedly, happily got it right:
CHICAGO – For a good portion of its running time, Scott Stewart’s sci-fi spookfest “Dark Skies” flirts with the possibility of becoming an effective thriller. There are a handful of sequences fraught with palpable tension, yet it becomes apparent around the halfway mark that the filmmakers don’t have an original idea in their heads. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done better in countless other pictures.
CHICAGO – FX has carved an impressive critical and commercial niche with hits like “Sons of Anarchy,” “The Americans,” “American Horror Story,” and “Louie” and they’re trying to add another success to their arsenal with tonight’s premiere of the highly-anticipated “The Americans,” starring Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, and Noah Emmerich.
CHICAGO – With stars that have found critical success before on television in shows like “The Sopranos” (Michael Imperioli), “Arrested Development” (Will Arnett), and “Felicity” (Keri Russell) there was reason to be excited around a year ago when it came to “Detroit 1-8-7” and “Running Wilde,” two shows with little in common other than the fact that their first seasons will be their only seasons and they were both recently released on DVD courtesy of Lionsgate.
CHICAGO – As special effects technology continues to become more advanced, filmmakers have found increasingly convincing ways of allowing actors to give dual performances in the same movie, and often in the same frame. This can be achieved in a variety of ways, from the exquisite trick photography in “Moon” to the seamless digital creation of the Winklevi in “The Social Network.”
CHICAGO – I love Will Arnett, Keri Russell, David Cross, and Mitchell Hurwitz. And yet, I don’t love “Running Wilde.” If you need any proof that quality television takes something more intangible than just getting talented people together, look no further than this sporadically-entertaining FOX sitcom, a show with more-than-enough talent to get over the common growing pains of the first few episodes of a sitcom if the ratings are strong enough to give it time to do so but is undeniably disappointing at the start.
CHICAGO – A very subdued and scientific Harrison Ford recently spoke with HollywoodChicago.com and two other Chicago film critics on the subject of his new true-story film “Extraordinary Measures”. Ford stars in the film and served as its executive producer since inception.
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
CHICAGO – Adam Shankman’s “Bedtime Stories” is far from perfect but it also was undeservedly lambasted by critics. Is this great family fare? Heck no, but I’d still take this variation of Sandler’s persona over his cartoonish characters in most of his silly comedies and the movie has an easy-going likability that’s hard to deny. The Blu-Ray leaves a lot to be desired but the movie itself is probably better than you think.
DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0
CHICAGO – Even though I once had a weekly comic book addiction, I was never a big Wonder Woman fan. Maybe it was a trapping of my gender, but I always tended toward books with male heroes like Superman, Batman, and The X-Men. Having said that, I can still respect what the team behind DC Universe’s latest film have accomplished with “Wonder Woman,” another installment in an increasingly intriguing series of straight-to-DVD movies.