New in Home Entertainment – January 26, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

January 26, 2016

Rated PG for scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
One of the biggest surprises for me this fall was that this kiddy horror film took in a modest box office haul instead of completely tanking. In fact, I incorrectly wrote this one off before even seeing it. Jack Black here plays Goosebumps author RL Stine, who has manages to accidentally unleash many of the monsters from his various books and must now take them out of the real life and turn them back into ink. It’s very much like a clever modern-day Jumanji and while it’s rather silly and meant more for kids than adults, it manages to entertain in spite of its content. It’s a fun movie that will most likely kick off a string of awful sequels, so enjoy it while you can. B-

The Assassin
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In Mandarin with English Subtitles
This Import from Taiwan tells the story of a beautiful young assassin who is sent to take out the man she was once betrothed to. There is no doubt that this Cannes favorite is lush and lovely to look at and the directing by Hsiao-hsien Hou is top notch. Unfortunately I found the film difficult to digest and not easy to sit through. The story is hard to follow and not nearly as good as the rest of the production. While I really wanted to enjoy the picture, I couldn’t manage to do so. C+

Downton Abbey: Season 6 – The Final Season
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
It’s always nice when a show knows when to pull the plug and in this case, the team at Downton Abbey gives their world a nice enough send off while it is still incredibly popular. For this final season, the year is 1925 and of course secrets threaten the Crawley family. Yes the drama is a little bit to the extreme for all of the characters, but bravo to a show that remains watchable to its end. B+

New in Home Entertainment – January 19, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

January 19, 2016

Straight Outta Compton
Rated R for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence, and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Biopics can be very hit and miss but this critically acclaimed story about the rap group NWA found a way to not only tell one of the pivotal stories of rap music, but managed to do so in a way that has the power to change the perspectives of its audience. I remember the first time I heard the song “*%^& the Police” when it was first released, and honestly I was truly offended and wondered how this kind of anti-American rhetoric could even be allowed. But then came video cameras on cell phones, recording the very acts that have been perpetrated on many black communities throughout the country and honestly, I look at the same song as an honest and powerful protest against an unjust system that at times treats minorities as sub-human. This film brings much to light that needs to be seen and in the end gives you an understanding why this band is worthy of such a well-told biographical offering. A-

The Intern
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 60%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Anne Hathaway here plays a young woman whose internet company decides to hire local retirees in an attempt to connect with the older community. In the process, retired widower Robert DeNiro ends up with the coveted job of being Hathaway’s right-hand man. What looks on the outside like a predictable and over-sentimental attempt at sweet comedy proves to be much more thought-provoking and enjoyable than I thought possible going in. That being said, the ending makes the strong female CEO look weak as she deals with her relationship with her husband. At least her relationship with De Niro is endearing and authentic throughout. B-

Rated PG-13 for intense peril and disturbing images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D
This underrated adventure tells the true story of a group of mountain climbers who try to conquer the tallest peak in the world under the worst conditions they could imagine and unspeakable tragedy. Beautifully filmed, the movie helps you understand what it is like to take on such an adventure while at the same time removing any desire to do so in real life. It’s a challenging film that goes against convention as most of it relies on man vs nature rather than forced internal struggles to bring about tension within the script. B+
The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Rated R for strong sexual content including dialogue, graphic nudity, drug use, language and drinking – all involving teens
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Taking place in the early 1970’s in San Francisco, this coming of age tale follows a young girl who explores her sexuality by sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend while documenting her various exploits on her tape recorder. The frank sexuality will be very upsetting for some audiences, but personally I found it to be a very interesting story full of brave performances by some pretty terrific actors. B
Inside Llewyn Davis: The Criterion Collection
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
The folks at Criterion picked the perfect time to re-release this 2013 Cohen Brothers musical about a young folk singer who tries to make it while struggling with personal relationships and a quest for a missing cat. I say perfect timing since it stars Star Wars Episode 7’s Oscar Isaac as the lead and Adam Driver as a fellow musician who offers him a couch to sleep on during his journey. Yes it’s an artsy, eclectic picture but between the amazing music and Isaac’s tremendous display of vulnerability, the film will seem magical to the right viewer. A

New in Home Entertainment – January 12, 2016


New in Home Entertainment

January 12, 2016

Irrational Man
Rated R for some language and sexual content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 42%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Woody Allen’s latest stars Joaquin Phoenix as a burnt out writer who becomes a professor at a small college only to get a new lease on life when he toys with the idea of killing a local judge to help out a random stranger. The film starts out as a potentially sweet rom com, but turns too dark once the professor takes his eyes off of a desiring love interest (Emma Stone) and onto murder in the first degree. There are some pretty entertaining moments on occasion, but much of the plot seems too forced and the overall result is blah. C

The Look of Silence
Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving disturbing graphic descriptions of atrocities and inhumanity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Indonesian with English Subtitles
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
From The Act of Killing director Joshua Oppenheimer comes this sobering foreign documentary that follows a young man who interviews several men who were responsible for brutally killing his brother (and many more civilians) during the genocide that took place decades ago in Indonesia. The perpetrators were not only left unpunished for their atrocities but they were considered heroes by many and to this day hold positions of power within the country. The film shows a sick side of humanity while at the same time examining extreme bravery as the man confronts his very neighbors who describe with a smile on their face the violent ways they killed indiscriminately. Being a subject that not many Americans know about, it brings to the forefront a desperate cry for respect for our fellow man and an empathy for those who have undergone such horrible tragedies without any way of ever exacting justice. The knowledge is only slightly helpful given the level of helplessness seen by the movie’s characters. A-

New in Home Entertainment – January 5, 2015

polar bear

New in Home Entertainment

January 5, 2016

Infinitely Polar Bear
Rated R for language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Mark Ruffalo plays a man suffering from bipolar disorder who attempts to rebuild his family as he gets the opportunity to take care of his two young daughters while their mother, played by Zoe Saldana, goes to business school. With almost any other actor this would be considered movie-of-the-week material at best, but with Ruffalo as the lead, the movie is upgraded to so much more. His performance goes beyond quirky. You actually feel like you know the character and while annoying, you can even stand to be around him by the end. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have watched the film had Mark not been nominated for a Golden Globe for the role, but I’m glad I did as the movie is entertaining and a great showcase for a true talent. B

Rated PG-13 for thematic material and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In 1961, Yale professor Stanley Milgram (Peter Sarsgaard) conducted a controversial experiment that showed how obedient ordinary people could be, even when they think they could be harming a fellow subject in the experiment. This movie explores that case and its long-term ramifications. When the film is showing us Milgram’s life and his contributions the film is fascinating. When the fourth wall is completely disassembled and it gets too artsy, the film loses focus. In spite of its occasional distractions, the film is entertaining, informative and at the same time very frightening when you think of how it explains modern-day headlines. B-

The Visit
Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic material including terror, violence and some nudity, and for brief language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Writer/Director M. Night Shyamalan was in great need of a hit after his run of failures including The Last Airbender, The Happening and After Earth. Instead of keeping at the big-budget thriller game, he went with the low-budget, found footage approach with this film about a young girl who records she and her brother’s trip to visit the grandparents they have never met. While there, they discover that grandma and grandpa carry a dark and disturbing secret. While not the scariest film of the year, the story ends up being effective and refreshingly funny due to a twisted sense of humor and some great acting from the mostly unknown cast. And since the film cost relatively nothing to make, it ended up being Shyamalan’s first hit in over a decade. B