Captain Phillips - Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Catherine Keener, Michael Chernus, Corey Johnson. Full cast + crew
One of the best things about Paul Greengrass' latest movie is that it's called Captain Phillips, but you understand and sympathize with both the good and bad guy who are each just doing what they consider to be their job. They are both thrust into an unenviable situation and want it over with as quickly and safely as possible. It's only when other people get involved that things go poorly.
Captain Phillips is just good, old-fashioned filmmaking. The acting is stellar across the board (how anyone who votes in the Academy Awards saw the last 30 minutes of this movie and didn't give Tom Hanks a Best Actor nomination is beyond me to comprehend), it's remarkably intense, and it's an even-handed look at the cause and effect of conducting first world business in third world territories where severe economic inequality drives people to do things they should never have to in the first place.
Special Features: A commentary track with Paul Greengrass; an hour-long look at the real story that inspired the film, how it was shot on a ship, and how the lifeboat scene was constructed.
In a World... - Sony Pictures - Blu-ray and DVD
Director: Lake Bell
Cast: Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Fred Melamed, Rob Corddry,Michaela Watkins. Full cast + crew
The year 2013 had a trio of fantastic romantic comedies that didn't get quite the attention they deserved. Sure, Don Jon did alright thanks to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Scarlett Johansson on the poster, and Enough Said ended up getting a small chunk of critical love at the end of the year, but there's one more movie that should have been a larger part of that conversation: Lake Bell's In a World...
Bell not only wrote and directed this smart, funny film about a woman who wants to be taken seriously as a voice-over artist, but she stars in it, too, and that all makes for one of the best directorial debuts of last year. This is a wonderful film, and if it escaped your radar last year, definitely go out of your way to check it out now that it's on home video.
Special Features: Commentary with Lake Bell; a handful of deleted scenes and a gag reel.
Other Notable New Releases
Bad Milo! is about a totally normal guy dealing with the same things the rest of us do (crappy job, keeping his wife happy and so on), but he has one extra problem none of us do: When he gets too stressed out, a small beast named Milo that lives inside his colon crawls out of his ass and kills people. Aaaaand, now you instantly know whether or not you want to see this movie. If you're somehow still on the fence, though, know that Ken Marino is once again a total pro at playing the weirdest things with deadpan sincerity, and that the film's practical effects (Milo is an actual puppet!) and tone make this feel like something that slipped out of the early '90s.
Sticking with indie-comedy territory, Magnolia is also releasing Best Man Down this week. There's no genre twist to this one, though. It's simply an endearing story about what happens when a seemingly happy guy (Tyler Labine) dies, and when his recently married friends (Justin Long and Jess Weixler) go to make his funeral arrangements only to discover there were aspects of his life he was hiding from them.
There are a lot of people who have been talking about Blue Jasmine purely because it's likely to win Cate Blanchett a Best Actress award at this year's Oscar. And she certainly deserves it, but people have already said plenty about her performance. I wasn't a huge fan of the film as a whole, but the supporting cast is also quite stellar, particularly Sally Hawkins and Andrew Dice Clay. It's worth seeing for the actors alone.
As someone who didn't actually care too much for the first Machete movie, I find myself in strange and apparently lonely company in actually having had fun with Machete Kills. I wish the effects weren't so obnoxiously low budget (it's done in a winking, "Look, you know we didn't spend too much money on this stuff" way), but the story here is way more entertaining than the first film's, and the cast is a hoot on top of it all. Definitely not for everyone, but it's fun under the right circumstances and expectations.
And lastly we have the Blu-ray debut of Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, which is an absolute must-see and must-own for true horror fans. It's slickly produced, highly informative and very entertaining, making for the best documentary I've ever seen about a horror franchise. And perhaps the craziest thing about it is that it's four hours long (we're talking about a film series that spanned decades, after all), but the whole thing just breezes by. Seriously horror fans, check this movie out ASAP.
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