Well, we’re back in full swing for another week of releases and there are plenty from which to choose. The popular choice (and a popular holiday gift) will be Christopher Nolan’s latest Batman film, but there is a variety of other lesser known titles as well.
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012): There is so little left to be said about the latest Batman film. People love it and it has already made a ton of money. Christopher Nolan has become one of the most popular and talent directors in Hollywood, and this film serves as a great way to exit this series. Christian Bale stars, in his last turn as Batman, along with another impressive supporting cast that includes Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. (Am I correct in saying that there are now more Batman films than any other comic book hero?)
- Beasts Of The Southern Wild (2012):This is a fantasy drama film from first time director Benh Zeitlin. In a small Louisiana Community, six-year-old Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) embarks on a journey of self discovery as she deals with her angry and abusive father (Dwight Henry), as well as the melting of the ice caps that are threatening to flood her home. This film has already earned considerable praise, especially for the acting performance of its young star. Beasts Of The Southern Wild has won major awards, including prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival. Look for it to continue being a nominee in the upcoming award season, as it is already considered a possible Best Picture nominee at the Academy Awards.
- Brazil (1985): Crazy, off the wall and flat-out stunning, this futuristic fantasy film from director Terry Gilliam is both bizarre and breathtaking at the same time. Jonathan Pryce heads a brilliant cast in an imaginative glimpse of the future, that oddly has some startling similarities to the world in which we live. Robert DeNiro adds to the film with one of the funniest performances of his career, and the final staircase scene is one of the best tributes to Battleship Potemkin ever. If you haven’t seen this movie, it is strange but well worth your time. It has been available for years, and even was one of the early releases in the Criterion Collection, but this is a restored HD transfer and contains not only Terry Gilliam’s 142 minute cut of the film, but also the studio’s original 94 minute “happier” version.
- Hope Springs (2012): I feel as if I see at least one movie every year about an aging couple looking for the lost spark in their relationship. Then how could this film still look so hysterical and entertaining? Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are our married couple, and Steve Carrell is the therapist that will help them find what they have been missing. Directed by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada, Marley And Me), this film has earned positive reviews, and the performances from all three actors are phenomenal. It could be the perfect romantic comedy for a cold winter evening.
- Francis Ford Coppola: 5 Film Collection: Christmas time means that there have to be a whole slew of box collections that will make great gift ideas. This one could be worth buying for someone because of the reasonable price, but make sure this person is a Coppola fan because it is an interesting group of films. 1. Apocalypse Now (1979): This is the original unchanged version of the film. 2. Apocalypse Now Redux (2001): This is Coppola’s extended director’s cut that includes 50 more minutes of scenes and thrills. 3. The Conversation (1974): This is a Best Picture nominee and an all around great film. Starring Gene Hackman, this is one of the few underrated films in Coppola’s long illustrious career, and a film that makes any collection that much better. 4. One From The Heart (1982): This is a romantic film about a couple both looking for more in their partner during one fateful night in Las Vegas. 5. Tetro (2009): Coppola’s film noir takes place in Argentina, and revolves around the lives and differences of two estranged brothers.
- Butter (2011): Directed by newcomer Jim Field Smith, Butter tells the comedic story of a young girl in an Iowa town who discovers her talent for carving butter. (No I’m not joking.) Unfortunately for her, she has quite a bit of competition from the other seasoned veterans in the town’s annual tournament. With a cast that includes Jennifer Garner, Olivia Wilde, Alicia Silverston, Ashley Greene, Ty Burrell and Hugh Jackman, you would think that there would be enough laughs to go around, but so far I haven’t heard many positive reviews. Still I think I might need to give it a try.
- The Blue Angel (1930): The Blue Angel is the story of a German schoolteacher and his obsession with a highly sexual cabaret performer. Directed by Josef von Sternberg, it stars the great Emil Janning, as well as the breakout performance of Marlene Dietrich. It is a wonderful story filmed beautifully. It has been available through Kino Lorber for years, but this is the first time it has been released on blu-ray. A full review is available here.
- Purple Noon (1960): This French film from director Rene Clement is more commonly remembered by the name of the book on which it’s based, as well as the American remake in 1997: The Talented Mr. Ripley. Tom Ripley is a con man who knows there are no limits to how far he can go, and there is nothing he won’t do to achieve success. This is a great addition to the Criterion Collection that includes the typical restoration improvements that one would expect, as well as some insightful bonus features.
- The Odd Life Of Timothy Green (2012): This is a Disney fantasy film that stars Jennifer Gardner, Joel Edgerton and C.J. Adams. A young couple discover that they are unable to have children. For therapeutic reasons, they write down on small cards all the qualities they had hoped their child would posses and they bury the cards in a box in the yard. After a magical storm, they awaken to a boy who claims to be their child. The only problem is that he has leaves growing on his legs. The boy is exactly what they were looking for, but he of course can’t last in their world. From director Peter Hedges (Pieces Of April, Dan In Real Life), this film earned mixed reviews. It is supposed to be uplifting or inspiring to the viewers, but it just comes off as… well, odd.
- Catch Me If You Can (2002): Making it’s first appearance on blu-ray, this underrated Steven Speilberg film is highly entertaining and boasts strong performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Christopher Walken (who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance). It’s based on the true story of Frank Abagnale, who successfully became one of the biggest con men in the county before his 20th birthday. The FBI chased him for years before eventually turning to him for help. I don’t know why it took so long to get this on blu-ray, but at last it is here.
- Finding Nemo (2003): This one surprised me a little. For the first time on blu-ray, this Disney Pixar classic is finally becoming more beautiful than ever before. If it isn’t enough to release it on blu-ray, it is also available on blu-ray 3D. I have always considered Finding Nemo to be one of the most beautiful Pixar movies to watch, and I am glad it is finally getting the full treatment that it obviously deserves.
Now that is what I call a great selection. Be sure to check back next week for more releases. Happy Watching!Back to Home for More Reviews