The big title for new films this week is the Friday launch of The Amazing Spider-Man, which was the least successful of the three big comic book movies of the summer – though that still means the film made piles of cash. Classics-wise, Universal is unleashing their big box set noting their hundred years making movies, on top of some classics and a film about kicking butt and chewing bubble gum. Check it out…

New:

  • The Amazing Spider-Man: There are people who used this film as a chance to suggest that the Sam Raimi filmed versions of Spider-Man weren’t that good. Which makes me want to say “Pish Posh.” That’s nonsense. The new version, starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, and directed by Marc Webb, is a tonal mishmash, and doesn’t get to the primal appeal of the character. But there are people who think it’s better than what Mr. Raimi did, so it must have a fanbase. To be nice, Stone and Garfield had the best (and possibly only) chemistry of the summer.
  • Arthur Christmas: Though it came out last year, it’s now the holiday season again, and this little Aardman animation film is very charming and nice, even if you aren’t the biggest Christmas fan. It’s packed with cleverness.
  • Entourage: The Compete Series: For the person who wants to watch every episode of Entourage, HBO has the perfect stocking stuffer.
  • Your Sister’s Sister: From director Lynn Shelton, whose Humpday is one of the best films of the last ten years, brings together Mark “I’m in every movie ever” Duplass with Emily Blunt and Rosemary DeWitt in this portrait of a love triangle. I missed it in its brief theatrical run, but all word on the project is that it’s good even if it doesn’t have a third act.

Classics:

  • Beaches, The Muppet Christmas Carol: 20th Anniversary Edition, Sweet Home Alabama: 10th Anniversary Edition: The latest catalog releases from Disney highlight women and the holidays. I have never seen Beaches. I hope to keep it that way.
  • The Bonfire of the Vanities, The Client, Guys and Dolls: Warner Brothers also is doing some catalog dumping, and there’s no thematic tissue here. As a Brian De Palma fan I will eventually buy Bonfire of the Vanities, even though I know it’s terrible. Guys and Dolls is a fun mid 50’s musical, but with the cast they have there’s not that much dancing, and Marlon Brando is no great crooner, and the film is entirely too long, but it’s still entertaining.
  • Patton, Von Ryan’s Express, White Men Can’t Jump: Two war movies, and an early 90’s hit. Patton has been re-restored, as people didn’t like initial release of the film on Blu-ray, with the complaint being that it looked like it had too much Digital Noise Reduction done, which can make people look like action figures. White Men Can’t Jump is likely a period piece, but smarter than it looks.
  • Rashomon: The film that put Akira Kurosawa on the international map, Rashomon is known for it’s ingenious structure, which shows an event from multiple perspectives. This was ripped off more recently in films like Courage Under Fire and Jackie Brown.
  • Sunset Boulevard: Billy Wilder’s poison pen letter to the industry he worked in is an all time black comedy classic. Gloria Swanson stars as silent movie star Norma Desmond, who ensnares a screenwriter (William Holden) to help her stage her comeback. If you’re a film lover, this is one of the top 100 Hollywood films that must be seen.
  • They Live: If you didn’t know what year this was made, you might think that some angry young filmmaker thought the Republican party was full of beans and wanted to suggest that the cultural divide in the country was the result of super-rich people being aliens. Of course, the film was made in 1988, and stars wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, but the sentiments of the movie have only calcified.
  • Universal 100th Anniversary Collection: Over the course of the last year, Universal has been putting out some of the biggest films, along with some of their great Oscar winners and classics. Now all those films are gathered together for one big box set. For those hoping for more than just what’s already been made available, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List is also included in the box, though it will be released next year for the film’s 20th anniversary.

What are you picking up this week?