Monday, June 13, 2016

This week's DVD releases

With this week's releases, it means all of the films I had listed as the 25 best films of 2015 are now available for home viewing. Here is that list:
1. Carol
2. Inside Out
3. 45 Years
4. Spotlight
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
6. Anomalisa
7. Brooklyn
8. Room
9. It Follows
10. Steve Jobs
11. Creed
12. Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens
13. Bridge of Spies
14. Sicario
15. The Big Short
16. The Martian
17. Love & Mercy
18. Ex Machina
19. While We’re Young
20. Paddington
21. The Gift
22. The Revenant
23. Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation
24. Trainwreck
25. Spy
This list only includes films I saw for the first time in a theater.

***** A classic. Should be a part of any serious film lover’s permanent library.
**** Excellent with only a few minor flaws.
*** Worthy of renting or streaming.
** Below average, but mght have limited appeal to some tastes.
* Should be avoided at all costs.
No stars All copies should be confiscated and destroyed for humanity’s sake.

Click on title to see the film’s trailer.

45 Years ****½ Directed by Andrew Haigh. Geoff (Tom Courtenay) and Kate Mercer’s (Charlotte Rampling) plans for a 45th anniversary party are upset by the unexpected news that a body found in the Swiss Alps has been identified as Geoff’s long-ago love Katya, who perished in an accident 50 years earlier. The execution of this story is almost uniformly perfect. Haigh’s script and direction are a clinic in careful and measured storytelling, favoring a delicate and devastating slow burn of a narrative over big dramatic moments and outbursts. Brilliant performances from Courtenay and especially Rampling make the proceedings all the more genuine, as they bring to piercing life the relationship of two people who maybe don’t know as much about each other as they once believed. Beautifully observed, gently amusing and often performed with emphasis on the small things in life rather than any major dramatic incident, its focus on retrospective jealousy is an unusual and intriguing one and offers an absorbing story that comes up with some gently profound truths.

10 Cloverfield Lane ***½ Directed by Dan Trachtenberg. After being knocked out in an auto accident, a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) awakens in a cellar with a stranger (John Goodman), who tells her that he’s saved her from a chemical attack that has devastated the outside world. A well-crafted affair by debuting director Trachtenberg that mixes elements of an intimate stage play with the white-knuckled tension of a cracking good Twilight Zone episode.

Hello My Name Is Doris *** Directed by Michael Showalter. Inspired by insights gained through a self-help seminar, 60-year-old Doris Miller (Sally Field) brazenly steps forward to pursue the affections of a much younger co-worker. Field, carrying the movie on her shoulders and handing it to us for our approval, makes us root for wistful Doris. Single-handedly, she makes the movie work. I didn’t always believe Doris’ behavior, but I knew I wanted to see her smile again.

Eddie the Eagle **½ Directed by Dexter Fletcher. Forever endearing himself to the British public, Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards (Taron Egerton) becomes the first Englishman to compete in the Winter Olympics ski jump, relying on valor to make up for his lack of experience and bad eyesight. As cinema, it’s an avalanche of feel-good clich├ęs, but as an audience-pleasing machine, it relentlessly pursues its goal and will probably win over viewers who surrender to it.

The Young MessiahDirected by Cyrus Nowrasteh. Tells the story of Jesus (Adam Greaves-Neal) from age 7 as he and his family depart Egypt to return home to Nazareth. The direction lacks urgency or art and the performances are, for the most part, emotionally flat.

Get a JobDirected by Dylan Kidd. Armed with fresh college degrees, a group of friends wades into the job market but are dismayed by the opportunities offered, ranging from lowly service jobs to bizarre tasks that only a desperate person would consider. A brutally cynical, largely unfunny film fueled by muddled social commentary.

London Has Fallen * Directed by Babak Najafi. In London for the Prime Minister’s funeral, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) discovers a plot to assassinate all the attending world leaders. This is terrorism porn, an alarmist, jingoistic piece of CGI-soaked garbage that implores its audience to fear nothing after sensationalizing the slaughter of innocents and the destruction of a major city.

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