It’s March, so that means it’s the season for all the big Winter films to hit home video. This week brings us some pictures that were hoped to be a bit bigger than they were – like The Adventures of Tintin and Young Adult - and some of the big prestige pictures of the year – like The Descendants and My Week with Marilyn. As for reissues, the American Pie films are hitting Blu-ray in anticipation of the fourth film in that series, and Martin Scorsese‘s most controversial film is getting the 1080p treatment. Check it out…
- The Adventures of Tintin: Steven Spielberg‘s first animated film (or motion captured, some artists are sensitive about the distinction) is also his shortest film since Duel, and his most energetic since Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (which is high praise from me). Perhaps because the main character is more of an international phenomenon, the stateside release felt a little soft, so hopefully more people will check it out at home, because it’s a lot of fun. Tintin (Jamie Bell) is a young journalist who finds himself in the midst of a mystery that involves miniature boats, and sunken treasure. It’s everything the Young Indiana Jones Adventures should have been.
- The Descendants: One of the most perfect Oscar nominees, for better and worse, The Descendants is a film that works or doesn’t based on how organic you think the film is. I know people who loved it – thought it was the best film of the year – but to me the movie betrays itself by the warm fuzzies it offers, even when dealing with grief. The story of a man who tries to unite his family after his wife suffers an accident, the film does offer a strong leading performance by George Clooney and much of the supporting cast. It also won Jim Rash an Oscar, which is great.
- Happy Feet Two: A too-late follow up to a surprise hit, HF2 doesn’t have much of a plot to speak of, though it does feature great voice work from Brad Pitt and Matt Damon. Maybe not good enough to warrant checking the film out, but they’re definitely the highlight.
- The Killing: The Complete First Season: This is one of those shows where people were buzzing about the pilot and turning on the show shortly thereafter. I never saw an episode, perhaps I’ll make an effort now that it’s on home video. Probably not.
- Melancholia: One of those films that ended up on a lot more year end lists than may have been seen, Lars Von Trier‘s latest offers a career redefining performance by Kirsten Dunst. I didn’t fall for the film, but Von Trier is one of our great artists, and this is a must see, if only for the opening credit sequence that shows the end of the world.
- My Week with Marilyn: This is another Bullsh**y Oscar picture, but one that benefits from a great cast, and Michelle Williams at the top of her game. My reaction while watching the film is that it was written for people who have aspergers, as every underlying emotional text of the film is explained through the dialogue. Eddie Redmayne stars as the assistant who gets to spend private time with Williams’s Marilyn Monroe. Lucky boy.
- The Three Musketeers: Did you know Paul W.S. Anderson is still making pictures? Here’s proof.
- Young Adult: The re-teaming of Juno‘s Oscar winning scribe Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman fell through the cracks this holiday season, perhaps because it was a pitch black comedy, perhaps because Reitman and Cody were at that point in their career where backlash was inevitable. There are a number of good things in the film (which I don’t think works in total), and most notably Charlize Theron‘s performance as Mavis Gary – the young adult writer who goes back home to try to reunite with her old boyfriend (Patrick Wilson), even though he just had a baby. It’s definitely worth checking out at the very least.
- American Pie, American Pie 2, and American Wedding: Synergy! Though the third film is the bottom of the barrel, the first two films are charming sex comedy films that balance awkwardness, nudity and comedy fairly well. I may revisit these films when they hit because I’m curious if they have any staying power. Like the wave of 90′s teen comedies that bowed to John Hughes, it’s hard to say if these movies exist enough on their own to make them worthwhile, or if they’re just redresses of classic 80′s teen sex comedies. It’s hard to say if the first film is better than Revenge of the Nerds.
- The Last Temptation of Christ: At the time, the film set off a wave of indignation, and the film wasn’t shown in a number of theater chains. Now it’s in the Criterion Collection. Martin Scorsese adapts Nikos Kazantzakis’s controversial novel into one of the great films about faith.
- Wizards: 35th Anniversary Edition: Ralph Bashki is one of the most interesting footnotes of cinema. The artist bopped along in Hollywood as one of the few animation filmmakers who made R-rated movies – which were usually exploitative. His Wizards is one of his best films, and blends science fiction and fantasy in ways that are appealing, but also a little “Van Art”-y. For those who wish to dip a toe, this is a good place to start.
What are you buying this week?