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There are mostly new releases this week, and it’s the television seasons that are the must buys. The Criterion Collection is releasing the first title they’re going to intentionally double dip, while one of the most underrated releases of 2013 hits the digital format.

New:

  • All is Lost: Robert Redford stars by himself in this tale of a sailor whose ship is wounded in the middle of nowhere, and he must try to survive against the elements. It’s a strong film — nearly a silent one — that puts the viewer in the place of a main character trying to survive against all odds. It’s kind of great, though a little simple minded.
  • The Americans: The Complete First Season, Killing Kennedy, Sherlock: Season Three: Of the new TV releases I’m most excited about Sherlock, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, even if I found the season as a whole a little underwhelming.
  • The Armstrong Lie: Lance Armstrong became a transcendent sports figure, whose life story of a man who overcame cancer to ride a bike faster than anyone led to many people wearing yellow bands on their wrists. Unfortunately, he didn’t achieve that without some help.
  • Austenland: This story about a woman (played by Keri Russell) who goes to a version of a renaissance faire was meant to be one of the indie films of 2013, but it received mostly bad reviews. Wonder why.
  • The Best Man Holiday: This late-in-the-game sequel proved to be a box office powerhouse domestically, and we thought it was one of the best films of the year. The gang returns, somewhat older, but not necessarily wiser.
  • Blue is the Warmest Color: This Palme d’Or winning film didn’t make as much of an impression stateside as was hoped, perhaps because the long lesbian sex scenes (which earned the film an NC-17 rating) kept away the target audience, both those who might relate and those who would rather watch it at home.
  • The Counselor: Ridley Scott’s latest film noir was written by Cormac McCarthy, and though it starred Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem and Cameron Diaz, audiences stayed away like the film had the plague. I loved it, and it’s totally worth checking out if you love McCarthy and monologues.
  • Diana: You might fault the makers for plotting an obvious Oscar bait film, but Naomi Watts as Princess Di is great casting, and it’s no more offensive than Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. That said… this film.
  • Ender’s Game: The latest would-be Potter/Twilight film absolutely struck out at the box office. Some of this may have had to do with Orson Scott Card, but more than anything else, they couldn’t cut a trailer to get people excited.

Classics:

  • Chicago: Diamond Edition: Chicago is a terrible adaptation of a musical. If you like this, watch some Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies and see what the genre could be at its best. I recommend Swing Time, The Band Wagon, Top Hat, It’s Always Fair Weather, Singin’ in the Rain, etc.
  • The Jungle Book: Diamond Edition: Another Disney classic hits Blu-ray, though not in conjunction with the supposed two different live action adaptations in the works.

 What are you picking up this week?