New in Home Entertainment – November 22, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

November 22, 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings
Rated PG for thematic elements, scary images, action and peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
This stunning stop-motion animated film from Focus follows the tale of young boy who must hide from and eventually battle his aunts and grandfather with only his magical musical instrument, a monkey and a giant warrior beetle to protect him. The tale is mesmerizingly creative from start to finish and is an overall artistic masterpiece. In a year filled with award-worthy animated films, I will predict that Kubo is the only film that might be able to compete with Moana for the Oscar. A

War Dogs
Rated R for language throughout, drug use and some sexual references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 60%
From Todd Phillips, director of all three Hangover films, comes this “based-on-a-true-story” film about two young and ambitious punks (Jonah Hill and Miles Teller) who become arms dealers when the discover how easy it is to get rich off the U.S. government. The movie has its funny moments for sure, but while it is sold as a comedy, it is mainly a drama meant to shed light on our corrupt system and the abuses capable within it. While I found much of the subject intriguing, I was certainly not entertained as I found myself annoyed at both the prospects of the film being both possibly true and sensationalized. C+

Chicken People
Not Rated
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
In a country with diverse passions and interests, its always fun and refreshing to come across a documentary exploring weird subjects such as this documentary where folks come together to compete to see who has raised the most perfect chicken. I learned more about poultry and poultry competitions than I ever thought I would or ever wanted to. In the cynical and contentious place our country is in right now, its good to see our quirkiness come through in such a majestic and entertaining manner. A-

The Squid and the Whale: Criterion Edition
Rated R for strong sexual content, graphic dialogue and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
Getting the Criterion treatment this week is Noah Baumbach’s 2005 indie favorite about an eccentric Brooklyn family that is left in disrepair after an ugly separation. The performances from Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney and Anna Paquin are terrific but most memorable is the star-making awkwardness of Jesse Eisenberg whose horribly misguided decisions bring mostly empathy rather than disgust. It’s a thoughtfully strange little film with a ton of extras, as is usual with Criterion’s releases. B+

New in Home Entertainment – November 15, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

November 15, 2016

Finding Dory
Rated PG for mild thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Taking place directly after the events of 2013’s Finding Nemo, Finding Dory follows the blue tang with limited short term memory as she goes on a long journey to find her family, which she has only now started remembering. There’s no doubt that this Pixar mega hit gets a lot right. It is stunningly beautiful to look at, has some interesting new characters and is pretty engaging. My problems lie in the story, which feels too much like Finding Nemo, and the overall writing which isn’t merely creative as we’d expect from these artists. Compared to many other studios’ animated pictures, it is very good. But within the Pixar or Disney universe, it lacks the magic we are used to seeing on screen. I fully expect Moana and Zootopia to trounce Dory in the awards races this year. B-

Sausage Party
Rated R for strong crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
This raunch-fest from the minds of Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg (Superbad) follows a grocery store full of talking food as they long for the day they are purchased and brought home, until they discover the horrors that await them there. The story here is creative and fun and full of laughs, if your sense of humor allows this kind of overtly offensive material. For me, I found it to be mostly funny, although as it dives into a preachy and almost arrogant attack on religion, it does lose much of its comedic power. B-

Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season
Rated TV-MA
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
For much of its life on HBO, Game of Thrones has remained one of the most popular shows in television history, in spite of, or maybe because of, its constant habit of killing off main characters, both hero and villain alike. In Season 6, there were constant surprises, but there were also more crowd-pleasing moments than in any of the previous seasons. But just because you have more to cheer for doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. The dram is riveting and they are setting up their last two seasons to be legendary. A

Dreams: The Criterion Collection
Rated PG
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 55%
While writer/director Akira Kurosawa is best known for his samurai films like The Seven Samurai and Rashoman, he also created many more quiet and introspective films such as 1990’s Dreams. Here Kurosawa shows his audience eight vividly colored vignettes based on his own visions. While I wouldn’t suggest this film to most of you out there, if you are a fan of Kurosawa, there is much to be excited about. This Criterion edition not only features a new 4K digital transfer, but also has a ton of new interviews and the 2011 documentary ‘Kurosawa’s Way’ featuring interviews with directors such as Alejandro Inarritu and Martin Scorsese (who also stars in one of the Dreams sequences as artist Vincent Van Gogh). B


New in Home Entertainment – November 8, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

November 8, 2016

Captain Fantastic
Rated R for language and brief graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Viggo Mortensen and his six children live off the grid in Oregon, where he educates and trains them to be truly independent adults without the use of modern conveniences. Upon news that their mother has died, the family decides to re-enter society and attend her funeral in New Mexico. As smart as it is engaging, the film stays on course for two hours to deliver one heck of a great family road trip movie. Mortensen is the perfect actor for a project such as this and he is sure to receive some attention come award season. Overall, I ended up loving almost every happy and sad minute of this family’s transformative journey. A-

Star Trek Beyond
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
In this latest Star Trek adventure, the crew goes on a rescue mission only to discover a trap set by a new alien villain set on destroying the Federation. So the plot is just like almost every other Star Trek movie and television show. Fortunately the writing and directing are strong enough to make the journey an enjoyable one. With J.J. Abrams switching sides to Star Wars, Fast and the Furious director Justin Lin takes the helm and the action is almost as strong as the eye-popping visuals. B

Rated R for language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Daniel Radcliffe stretches his acting muscle here in this drama about a young FBI agent who shaves his head and goes undercover to infiltrate the white supremacist movement. The film is as timely as it gets considering the attention these groups have received during the current election, and the threat of domestic terrorism here far overshadows that of the Muslim extremists we tend to spend most of our time worrying about. Radcliffe turns in a convincing performance, although his introduction into the world of skinheads and nationalists seems a bit too simplified. B

Rated R for violence and some disturbing images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%
Based on a true story, Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan are two Czech spies who sneak into their homeland at the beginning of WWII in order to assassinate the man believed by many to be Hitler’s third in command, Reinhard Heydrich. It’s a dark and obviously perilous journey of two friends on a suicide mission, but despite its bleak undertones, the film is well-enough produced that it doesn’t become too depressing of an experience. When all is said and done, you feel more educated than downtrodden. B-