Wilfred is a series that has only gotten stronger as it has continued. I was happy to enjoy the first season on a weekly basis, merely for the surreal type of comedy it was presenting (a man and a man in a dog suit have adventures), but did not see much more in it, until the first season reached its end. The second season was much more confident in what was being presented and benefited greatly because of it. Now, with the third season about to begin airing on FX, the complete second season has arrived on Blu-ray, with a few bonuses to keep you further entertained. Continue on to learn more about this Blu-ray package.
A horror anthology is one of the easiest types of films to see as hit or miss. Not only can some of the segments either be good, bad, or just okay, but the film itself can drag depending on how many short films we are watching and whether or not the connective tissue between each film (if there is any) is effective. V/H/S suffered from this issue. Some of the segments were better than others; one segment was straight up terrible, in my eyes; and I really disliked the wraparound material to keep it connected in some fashion. What is great about V/H/S 2 is how it manages to correct most of these issues. It is a leaner and meaner experience. I had less issue with the wraparounds, I enjoyed all the segments, the film does not drag, and the creativity is even more prevalent throughout. There may still be curiosity regarding why digital camera footage has been put onto V/H/S tapes, but the film is an effective horror experience overall.
I remember checking out One Hour Photo in theaters back in 2002 and being genuinely creeped out. Robin Williams was fantastically creepy as a man who takes things too far, as his obsession with a very photogenic family turns deadly. Williams and the film in general received their share of praise, but director Mark Romanek has not been given nearly enough to do since, despite his impressive work in music videos. Regardless, One Hour Photo has now made its Blu-ray debut and the film holds up very well, even if we really do not go to a store to develop photos very often, any more. The disc is packed with all new special features too, so continue on to find out all that is included on this Blu-ray disc.
We’ll always have Superman: The Movie. While Superman has arguably been the most recognizable superhero since his creation in 1938 and has remained a national icon, the 1978 film from Richard Donner seems to be the only time cinema had truly done its best to do him justice, let alone be the film that created the template (still in use) for a majority of superhero movies. Superman II is a great example as well, though that film is practically the second half of the first, given that it was part of one big story and shot back-to-back with the first film. For whatever reason, other attempts at a Superman film just cannot seem to do anything else that is interesting with the character, regardless of spectacle, the cast involved, or whoever may be directing or producing. Man of Steel is the best Superman film since the first two Christopher Reeve films, but it still ends up waving off some of the more interesting ideas in favor of letting us see super fights on an enormous scale and settling for bursts of emotional content, amidst an unfocused story. As a person who already does not find Superman to be any more fascinating than the story written around him, the potential for this newest iteration to explore the character is downplayed, despite the film still playing out as a visually stimulating experience in the realm of big summer blockbusters.
The apocalypse has been quite a popular topic for film in recent years. It has also been handled in various forms; from disaster drama (2012, Knowing), to the various zombie films (the upcoming World War Z), to romantic dramas (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a film I will continue to go to bat for). Even the provocative, avant-garde filmmaker Lars von Trier took a stab at the end of the world with Melancholia. So with the end of the world as such a popular subject for film, why not see it as a broad studio comedy? This Is The End is a wild joke-fest about the world coming to an end, as well as something akin to The Avengers of comedies, given that it stars many comedic actors all playing versions of themselves in a weird sorta-pseudo-sequel to every Judd Apatow-produced comedy, even though he had nothing to do with this film. Regardless, This Is The End is a hilarious, no-holds bar, star-filled extravaganza that manages to bury some interesting themes within its very bawdy self.
Writer/director Joss Whedon is in a pretty good place right now. He is coming off making one of the biggest films ever (The Avengers), which had the bonus pleasure of being pretty universally well-liked, and has essentially elevated from being loved by geek audiences all over to being a filmmaker who has the ability to do whatever he wants. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but Whedon has made, of all things, a new adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, simply because he needed a palette cleanser of sorts. Here’s a film that was made by Whedon, while on vacation from making The Avengers, using his own home in Santa Monica and a cast consisting of many friends/actors he has worked with before. As a result, the title ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ works as a double meaning for the film overall, as it is entertaining, but slight. Some may want to make more of a big deal out of it, but I would say even Whedon is just happy with having done something like this, with little thought of it as a big game changer as far as his oeuvre of films is concerned.
On June 5th, 2013, I was happy to attend a double feature of films by Sofia Coppola at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. Of her films, the features played were Lost In Translation and The Virgin Suicides. In between features, Coppola showed up to participate in a Q&A, where she was open to answering all sorts of questions regarding her films, her directorial style, and approach to different features. I was able to record this conversation and am pleased to be able to present it in its entirety in this post. Continue on to listen to the entire Q&A and learn more about this fun event.
Apparently I have been watching and enjoying a lot of coming-of-age films in recent months (Mud, The Way Way Back), let alone in the past year (Moonrise Kingdom), but I have been quite entertained by each one. The Kings of Summer joins the ranks as one of these entertaining types of stories, though I would say I am the least warm on it for minor reasons that will surely differ for other viewers. The film features young and adult actors working well together, exhibiting great chemistry, and making the most out of their comedic and dramatic moments. It is also a very stylish feature, calling a lot of attention to itself as a film that is very much directed. I can only wish I got more out of it, but as it stands, The Kings of Summer is another solid picture in limited release, worth checking out as another alternative summer movie option.
The Purge is a good example of an interesting premise being overtaken by idiotic characters. Here’s a thriller that has a killer setup: all crime is legal for 12 hours a year. Even if the film is limited in scope and budget, there are a lot of places one could take this idea and find ways to hit upon social commentary in a violent but exciting sort of way. Unfortunately, The Purge never really delivers on being anything more than a basic home invasion thriller that is not very thrilling. It wastes away its potential originality by having every character behave in remarkably dumb fashion and squanders the chance to play up its 1%-ers-on-a-rampage angle in a way that is anything more than just an excuse for violence. I can enjoy a good thriller, but The Purge misses out on capitalizing on a concept of capitalists committing crime.
One would have thought that following the box office success of Wedding Crashers, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson would have teamed up again sooner in an effort to ride on top of that momentum. Especially given that instead of doing a redundant sequel to a film, they have instead come up with a new premise that has some relevance to society today, even if setting the base at Google feels kind of dated, let alone an excuse to promote Google as the greatest thing their ever was. The Internship is a new comedy from Vaughn and Wilson, but only time will tell (or at least the box office totals this upcoming weekend) whether or not audiences are still looking forward to seeing this duo play around in films together. Of course, whether or not the film is a solid comedy will also factor in and I can at least say that I had a good time overall, despite various issues. Maybe jumping into the premise of this movie about new beginnings will reveal more.
In the midst of all of the summer blockbusters going around, I was happy to be just as thrilled by a film that involves nothing but lengthy conversations and arguments. I am not going to be that person who tries to say that summer blockbusters are nothing compared to exquisite art house films, as I have been happy to enjoy many of the action spectacles so far this summer, but I cannot deny that Before Midnight is a wonderful film that relies on a very minimalist approach to engage the viewer for 109 minutes. Being the natural follow-up to the previous entries in this series (Before Sunrise and Before Sunset) from writer/director Richard Linklater, who co-wrote the film with stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Before Midnight completes a series of films that could easily go down as one of the better film trilogies of all time, assuming we never a see a Before The Crystal Skull. It is a film that plays out very naturally, does not necessarily rely on knowledge of the previous entries, and provides a perspective on life and relationships that feels very appropriate, regardless of how closely associated one his with this depiction of reality.
I have been fairly vocal about two films I have been looking forward to this year from filmmakers who have been written off by almost everyone. The first was Pain & Gain, which I found to be interesting, but director Michael Bay’s style was still a component that hurt the film overall. Now I have seen the second film I was surprised to find myself looking forward to, After Earth, the latest feature from director M. Night Shyamalan. I wish I could have found myself enjoying the film more, but there is a real lack of energy in this fairly somber coming-of-age/survival story about a father and son stranded on a foreign land (which happens to be Earth). The problem is pretty simple, for a movie that talks about fear being a choice, After Earth is afraid of doing anything truly radical, settling instead for minimalist concept that disregards being anything more than functional.
Now You See Me is the kind of movie that is both a lot of fast-paced fun throughout and still annoying due to how clever it thinks it is. I can see a large audience enjoying this movie quite a bit, as everything is moving so quickly that there is rarely a chance to stop and consider what it took to achieve certain spectacles, if one were to apply logic. However, the annoying thing is that the movie acknowledges that it knows it doesn’t make too much sense if one were to look closely and encourages its audience to essentially look the other way, much like one does at a magic show. The pretty magician’s assistant is on one side, while the trick being performed is happening elsewhere, and as long as the viewer stares at the assistant, they should ideally have a fun time watching a story about a team of tricksters illusionists pulling off a series of heists.
I was very happy to have recently seen the critically-acclaimed film Mud (Review HERE), the latest film from director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter), which stars Matthew McConaughey in another one of his great in from the past two years (seriously, he’s been on fire). This is a coming-of-age story about two boys finding a mysterious man named Mud out on a deserted island in the Mississippi. It is a well-acted, well-told story, easily fitting as a nice slice of Americana. The film is headed to Blu-ray, among other formats, on August 6th and it is certainly worth checking out. Read on to learn more about this upcoming Blu-ray release.
I would not have thought that a remake of The Evil Dead would have been one of my most anticipated films of the year, but Evil Dead had me very excited and I was very happy to really enjoy it in theaters (twice, review HERE) this past April. The film had a bold marketing campaign (“The most terrifying film you will ever experience”) and while it may not have been quite that horrific, it was awfully gorey and entertaining in a way that surely made producers Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert (Godfathers of the series) proud. On July 16th, everyone will have a chance to see the film on Blu-ray, complete with exclusive special features and what I assume is wonderful, practically achieved gore in gorgeous 1080p. Read on to learn more about this upcoming Blu-ray release.
The East is a low-budget thriller about espionage and eco-terrorism. It comes from writer/director Zal Batmanglij and co-writer/star Brit Marling, who previously collaborated together on 2012’s The Sound of My Voice. With that film, along with 2011’s Another Earth, I have been quite impressed with Marling’s work in features thus far, and The East continues that trend. Marling is quite good in this film, which has her playing a character living a dual life in order to infiltrate an anarchist collective. The rest of the film features some solid performances, interesting ideas, and a nice handle of its overall presentation as a sort of counterculture spy thriller. My only issue is how the film did not quite rise above anything like it. I can certainly appreciate a young director working with the goodwill he already has to make another original feature, but the film did not fully involve me in the same way the leader of The East was able to obtain full commitment from his crew.
Trance hit theaters in limited release this past April and won me over (review HERE). As a big fan of Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) and his constant decisions to make every one of his films wildly different than his last in terms of plot, despite having a very distinct style, I enjoyed seeming him take a stab at making a neo-noir with the concept of hypnosis being a major factor. The movie had some issues, but I overall dug it thanks to Boyle’s direction, the film’s soundtrack (always a positive in Boyle films), and the core cast that includes James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, and Vincent Cassel. On July 23, everyone will have a chance to check out Trance, as that is the date the film’s Blu-ray hits shelves everywhere. Read on to learn more about this upcoming release.
This is the year that the Fast & Furious franchise came to play. While 2011’s wonderfully entertaining (and superior) Fast Five had the safety of an April release date to ensure its spot as a box office smash, Fast & Furiou6 (which is my preferred title for the film) arrives in theaters on Memorial Day weekend and is a true spectacle film that has large scale action sequences, frantic car chases, over-the-top characters, and a true need to fire on all cylinders in order to stand up with the other huge films of the summer. I have made it no secret that I have a soft spot for this franchise and have been eagerly anticipating the next film in the series, but Fast & Furiou6 really delivers in many of the best ways. It may not have the same urgency in its plot that the previous film did and if you couldn’t get on board with that film, this one is definitely more of the same, but the effort put in to go really big, while still utilizing what I consider to be strengths of the franchise, is absolutely there. Vehicular warfare may be on display in full force, but the series has not lost sight of what a fun summer movie should be.
The Hangover franchise is one of the best examples of diminishing returns. The first film in the series was a big success and generally well liked. Part II presented the same story in a different location, but had enough goodwill to make it a success anyway. Time has not been kind to Part II, as there are few that really want to stand up for it. Regardless, we now have Part III and it is awful. Some may want to commend the film for not rehashing the same plot again, which would be all well and good if this new take on the structure of the plot had something good or intriguing to offer. That really is not the case here. The Hangover Part III is a comedy that forgot to have good jokes. Do these actors and filmmakers with good comedic sensibilities know how to elicit a smile from their audience every so often? Of course, but it feels more than apparent that no matter how big this film wants to make itself seem, there is no real punch to it. It just sits there and the worst kind of movie for me is a comedy that isn’t funny.
Given how 2013’s Memorial Day weekend is packed with action and comedy for adults with both Fast & Furiou6 and The Hangover Part III hitting screens everywhere, it is only right to have some counter-programming for kids and family audiences. I only wish that the film Epic lived up to its title. As it stands, Epic is perfectly acceptable as a fairly unchallenging film, with some wonderful animation, rousing action sequences, and humor, I just wish it had more to offer. The film feels like a friendly, but action-heavy take on The Borrowers crossed with FernGully: The Last Rainforest. It flirts with a few interesting ideas, but overall, Epic is merely an average and fairly traditional animated feature.