He’s a boss and a baby. He’s a Boss Baby. The Boss Baby pitch meeting could not have been much simpler than that, but I guess that wouldn’t give credit to the original children’s picture book by Marla Frazee. Of course, that book is only 36 pages (and I’m sure The Bossier Baby isn’t much longer), where this DreamWorks computer-animated movie needs to fill at least 90 minutes. That was apparently a struggle and it shows. While the novelty of the premise is one thing, sitting through this entire feature didn’t exactly have me wishing for a promotion to sit even higher among the other boss babies of the world.
This past winter gave us the latest film from Martin Scorsese. Silence garnered strong reviews and made a number of top ten lists, but was not able to find much of an audience in theaters or score any major awards, beyond an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography. That’s not necessarily unexpected, but I do expect time to be quite kind to what Scorsese managed to accomplish here. It’s a film I certainly haven’t stopped thinking about and now that it’s on Blu-ray, I’ll be curious to see what the audience perception of this lengthy drama becomes.
A couple weeks before seeing man tackle Life, I was able to witness the man versus nature in Kong: Skull Island. Both films feel similar in terms of their approach and inspiration. The situations presented are not unfamiliar and the filmmakers seem happier taking advantage of the means afforded to them in playing out their wildest cinematic genre movie fantasies, rather than dwell on deep character building. As a result, while I was a bigger fan of Kong, Life also functions as a condensed thriller influenced by a variety of other movies and video games. That’s the name of the game with these younger filmmakers and this sci-fi horror show is another example of seeing how branching out from familiar territory can pay off.
Unsurprisingly, Power Rangers is the best film yet, as far as seeing the cinematic treatment applied to the popular kid’s action TV series. More surprising is how well this film manages to work in spite of itself. There are some terrible choices made in regards to the direction and delivery of plot. However, as a coming-of-age film that happens to end with a giant kaiju battle in broad daylight, there is something to be said for Lionsgate’s efforts to compete with the bigger studios in terms of large scale action movies.
A remarkable collaboration between Academy Award®-winning director/animator Michael Dudok de Wit (2000, Best Animated Short Film, Father and Daughter) and the legendary animation house Studio Ghibli (2003 Academy Award®-winner, Best Animated Feature Spirited Away; My Neighbor Totoro), THE RED TURTLE arrives on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital on May 2 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. A stunning, wordless examination of one man’s solitary search for survival and companionship, THE RED TURTLE was an Academy Award®-nominee for Best Animated Feature Film, won both the Annie Award for Best Independent Animated Film and the Un Certain Regard Prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and has a “Certified Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. THE RED TURTLE was also an official selection at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.
Say whatever you want about the reasoning, but director Danny Boyle has finally determined it was time to make his sequel to Trainspotting. While Shallow Grave was the debut for Boyle, Ewan McGregor and writer John Hodge, Trainspotting was their breakout hit from back in 1996. Now, over 20 years later, while not a direct adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Porno, the sequel novel to his Trainspotting, we have what amounts to a mostly enjoyable check-in with the same characters. While T2 Trainspotting may not be willing enough to stick to capturing a sense of the moment like the first film, it does work best when it allows for perspective to settle in on this older crew of former junkies and criminals.
It can be mean, alienating and condescending to tell something they don’t “get” a movie. Terrence Malick, a filmmaker who has gone from reclusive and rarely making films to prolific, yet still reclusive as a person, seems to be making a conscious effort to challenge the notion of understanding cinema. His recent output has maintained a level of focus in terms of key characters, but still plays as challenging works of art that feel practically like what dreams could look like on a more grounded level. Song To Song falls right in line with Knight of Cups and To The Wonder, let alone a part of the fallout that came from his magnum opus, The Tree of Life. The results are once again oblique and bound to divide audiences, but that hasn’t stopped Malick from standing as one of the most original voices currently working.
This June, Criterion will bring three of the most beloved classics of French cinema to Blu-ray for the first time with a newly restored edition of Marcel Pagnol‘s Marseille Trilogy, a sweeping saga set in the author’s native Provence that tracks the lives and loves of its characters over the course of a generation. A legend is born in The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, the silent serial-killer thriller that Alfred Hitchcock considered his true debut, which is accompanied in our release by Downhill, another variation on the “wrong man” theme that the Master of Suspense returned to throughout his legendary body of work. Nicholas Ray kicked off his own renowned career with They Live By Night, a lyrical film noir that would be imitated by decades of lovers-on-the-run thrillers to come, now on Blu-ray for the first time. Dustin Hoffman stands his ground in Sam Peckinpah‘s notorious shocker Straw Dogs, presented in a new 4K transfer with extensive features that explore the film’s production and controversies. And not to be missed: Kenji Mizoguchi‘s Ugetsu, an indisputable classic of world cinema and perhaps the finest achievement of the master whom Jean-Luc Godard called “quite simply one of the greatest of filmmakers.”
With Disney currently raking in enough piles of money to put Scrooge McDuck’s Money Bin to shame, it seemed like only a matter of time before audiences would get a live-action re-imagining of one of their modern classics. Beauty and the Beast is special for many and it represents a high water mark for the Disney Renaissance. Given how well the live-action remakes of The Jungle Book and Cinderella turned out, one could justify the existence of this latest film quite easily. However, the reverence for this relatively recent (1991) classic seems to have been part of its own undoing. While confidently made and enjoyable enough, this beast seems to have little going on underneath the surface.
To see Denzel Washington star, produce and direct an adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Fences is to literally watch the superstar paint himself into a corner. I mean that in a good way, as this is a story that was originally set entirely in the backyard of a house in Pittsburgh. This means Washington had to come up with a way to creatively express this story on a cinematic level. That can prove to be difficult and I am one to call out play-to-film adaptations for their staginess, but the strength of acting can be a powerful thing and Fences certainly knows how to harness that power. Following much acclaim, multiple Oscar nominations (and a deserved win for Viola Davis), Fences now comes home to Blu-ray.
Deep in the jungles of blockbuster cinema is a beast, or hero if you will, but he doesn’t wear a cape or much of anything. No, this hero simply stands 100 feet tall to fight off other monsters and delivers the kind of joy you want in a rip-roaring adventure that doesn’t forget to have fun. Kong: Skull Island features the return of King Kong, 1933’s 8th Wonder of the World and a classic movie icon who has stood the test of time. This latest adventure finds Kong on his home turf, with a mix of wild new beasts, an ensemble team of talented actors in thankless roles, and plenty of visual effects to provide incredibly action thrills. I dug this movie a lot.
Finding the right focus and exploring a character in interesting ways is what I enjoy when it comes to biopics. Jackie has the right idea. This is not a film about the life of Jackie Kennedy. It also doesn’t place her in a supporting role, so we can follow someone else around and observe her from afar. What this film does is much more effective. Jackie holds focus on the time surrounding the worst day of her life and what her state of mind was. The result is a dreamy, yet engaging feature. Nominated for three Academy Awards, the film has now arrived on Blu-ray for all to see up close.
With the upcoming release of Paramount’s live-action Ghost in the Shell film, starring Scarlett Johansson, it’s not too much of a surprise to see another release of the original anime on Blu-ray. You can find my previous review of the 25th Anniversary Edition from 2014 here, but just know this latest release is all about the packaging. This new edition of the film is another release coming out of the Mondo X SteelBook Series. There are no new features to speak of (nor were there any to begin with), but collectors or steelbook enthusiasts will likely be happy with the new packaging.
I found myself facing an interesting conundrum with Before I Fall, a film depicting the most extreme version of a conundrum. Given the use of a time loop as the film’s hook, would it be possible for me to see around this familiar concept to find something deeper? As the film circled around the same day over and over, it turns out it had more ideas to develop, the more the film reset itself. The results allow for a film that could surely work well for a younger audience less familiar with this gimmick, as well as those who appreciate the mood and eventual character revelations more than overall construction and clear logic.
Step into a future dystopia when the post-apocalyptic zombie thriller, The Girl with All the Gifts, arrives on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital HD), DVD and Digital HD April 25 from Lionsgate. The film is currently available On Demand. Six-time Academy Award® nominee* Glenn Close stars alongside Gemma Arterton and Paddy Considine in this story of society’s breakdown after the outbreak of an unprecedented plague. Hailed as “an effective, scary, and emotional zombie movie” by ComingSoon.net, it was shown during Midnight Madness at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. Based on the critically acclaimed, Edgar Award-winning short story, “Iphigenia in Aulis“ by M.R. Carey, continue on to learn more about this release.
Rules Don’t Apply came and went this past awards season, but there is now a Blu-ray here for this latest Howard Hughes biopic. Produced, written and directed by Warren Beatty, nearly twenty years after his last directorial effort, Bulworth, the film serves as a semi-fictional biopic, a screwball comedy and a drama all rolled into one. Coming from an idea Beatty started developing 40 years ago, the film is a clear passion project and despite all the various issues involving tone and narrative construction, I dug it. Beatty and his four editors have assembled a messy film out of what is likely a ton of footage, but it was never uninteresting, features some terrific performances and even buries some interesting themes amidst all the Hughes-focused chaos.
With Logan serving as a final X-Men film for the Wolverine we all know and enjoy, Hugh Jackman has to be feeling pretty good about going out on top. After having played the role for 17 years, the prospect of not getting into insane shape every couple of years allows Jackman some peace. Not that he has much to complain about to begin with, but it fits with the cinematic persona he’s portrayed, as this character also reaches a conclusion plenty fit for him. I’m getting ahead of myself, but just know that Logan is a fine accomplishment in many respects, as the Wolverine’s story comes to an exciting, violent and poignant close.