The biggest release on home video this week is a film that also lost a suffocating amount of money. The ill-conceived and frankly, terrible idea that is Battleship leads the way on home video this week. The breakout box office hit for comedian Kevin Hart, Think Like A Man drops on home video this week, as does the latest stop-motion animated production from the creators of the Wallace & Gromitseries, The Pirates! Band of Misfits. I am most thrilled to see the beautiful and moving Monsieur Lazhar arriving on home video this week. Nominated this past year for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, this small Canadian production is a wonderful treasure. Details on these films and more are below in this week’s edition of Spins and Streams!
More than just another column about new home video releases, we will link to reviews, summarize the film, drop in some factual tidbits, and (naturally) offer you a chance to purchase the film (and support the site in the process!).
Consider it your weekly trip through the video store, both virtual and physical, scouring the shelves and combing the racks to find something you can enjoy at home, no matter what your personal preferences…
Beginning with a stunning tragedy and developing into something kind-hearted and insightful, Canada’s entry and Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, Monsieur Lazhar is a wonderful and consuming drama about an Iranian immigrant who accepts a suddenly vacant teaching job in an elementary school.
“I find it rather fascinating that Monsieur Lazhar was merely a one-character play when originally conceived, because Philippe Falardeau has adapted that blueprint into a rich and thought-provoking dramatic piece about the good in people to try and make a change no matter their circumstances. Beautifully told and efficiently paced, Monsieur Lazhar never panders, never plays to the lowest common denominator. Falardeau’s screenplay effectively stays out of the political and emotional entanglements of its characters by simply letting lives play out for us to observe, consider, and ponder.” Canadian/Drama, PG-13, 94 mins, Dir: Philippe Falardeau
See what else arrives in stores and via streaming services…after the cut!
Coasting off of his success with his work on the television series “Friday Night Lights”, Taylor Kitsch was poised to have a breakout 2012. Instead, he has been the point man on two of the year’s biggest bombs from a critical and commercial standpoint. If you are a John Carter apologist, and I did not hate it in all honesty, Battleship is insufferably bad. Kitsch, however, is not the sole reason why the film is a debacle and nothing more than a bottomless pit that wealthy people decided to chuck an unfathomable amount of money into. $250 million to be exact.
“Battleship just looks and feels so senseless and I have rarely been so disinterested in a movie playing out before me. Taylor Kitsch follows up a boring John Carter with an even more turgid affair and Kitsch is rapidly proving that he may be a 6-pack of abs and nothing else in terms of his film career. Alexander Skarsgard seems completely miscast as Alex’s brother and in a scene early on where he lambasts his brother, people were laughing at the talented Skarsgard. Rihanna’s much talked about feature film debut is adequate, but she and much of the rest of the cast are given nothing of any substance to say. Screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber (RED) either gave up or had their screenplay severely dumbed-down as Rihanna spends nearly her entire screen time uttering phrases not dialogue, and throughout Battleship, once the aliens arrive, rational conversations fly completely out the window. No one utters coordinates or announces “Hit” or “Miss”, but in all honesty, an actual cinematic version of the board game would be much more preferable to endure.
I am a “glass half-full” moviegoer, meaning that I cling to a hope and belief that any film will be decent, entertaining, and palatable. Battleship drained my will as soon as Alex attempted to win the heart of Samantha by way of stolen chicken burrito. That I still had 120-125 minutes of movie to withstand is torture and punishment no one needs to endure. My headache leaving the theater reminded me that the sound was overly loud and incomprehensible, the story idiotic, flat, and appealing only to the lowest common denominator. Worse of all, Battleship plays everything completely serious with nary a nod or a wink to its board game origins.
Perhaps the references are there and I simply missed them. Battleship sunk. I surrender.” Science Fiction, PG-13, 131 mins, Dir: Peter Berg
This ensemble romantic comedy piggybacks on an impressive box office run, and arrives as the more conventional date night selection this week. Critics were split on the film, but audiences responded well to this adaptation from Steve Harvey’s book on four men whose wives and/or girlfriends read Harvey’s book and start rearranging and redefining their respective relationships. I have a copy coming this week, so I will weigh in more after I check it out. Romantic Comedy/Drama, PG-13, 123 mins, Dir: Tim Story
Aardman Animation’s latest stop motion claymation epic, The Pirates! Band Of Misfits is, on an entertainment level, a lesser entry in the extraordinary cache of films and shorts the studio has made. With that said however, the film is still technically impressive and engaging enough to provide humor and a near-constant smile throughout.
“The film is a marvel to watch. Expertly made from a technical standpoint, as Aardman films always are, director Peter Lord is something of an unparalleled innovator with this type of work. The voice work is also top notch with all the major characters engaging and exciting to listen to. Hugh Grant is necessarily bombastic as the enigmatic Pirate Captain and although her character is a bit too much to handle from a thematic standpoint, Imelda Staunton nonetheless attacks the Queen with some attention-grabbing vitriol. Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Martin Freeman, and a few other recognizable voices from Brendan Gleeson, Ashley Jensen, and even Al Roker, make the film entertaining from beginning to end.
The Pirates! The Band Of Misfits likely won’t be remembered or watched nearly as much as the Wallace and Gromit films or Chicken Run, or even Flushed Away perhaps. But when you do put eyes in front of it, you will have a perfectly good time with it. Just don’t be surprised if your good time amounts to little more than a shoulder shrug and an “Alright…what are we doing next?” response from you and/or your children.” Family/Adventure/Comedy/Animation, PG, 88 mins, Dir: Peter Lord and Jeff Hewitt
As Zac Efron continues to try and leave his High School Musical days behind, he tries again to be a romantic leading man in a heavy drama, this time adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel. The Lucky One did not light anyone’s lamp it seems, with disappointing box office return and an even louder rejection from critics. Have not seen it, probably will at some point, and if I do…you’ll hear from me. I assume lots of mawkish heart-string tugging in play here, considering the source material and all. Drama, PG-13, 101 mins, Dir: Scott Hicks
One of the best-reviewed films of the year, this Norwegian suspense/thriller amassed a vocal legion of fans and a decent little box office run in advance of the possibility of being seen by more and more folks on home video. Mercenaries, collectors, high-priced art, and guns and violence all collide in this unique and intriguing mystery. I am looking for it before the already in production American remake arrives in 2013. Norwegian/Suspense/Thriller,R, 101 mins, Dir: Morten Tyldum
Director Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol) always brings interesting, if not scattered projects to the screen and The Moth Diaries has a mix of CW-style youth actors, supernatural mystery, boarding school settings, mean girls, and strange and unexplainable things transpiring that could lead to death, destruction, and who knows what else. Come to think of it…is this not already the premise of a dozen or so series already on The CW Fall 2012/2013 schedule? Apparently not. This one is RATED R! Horror, R, 82 mins, Dir: Mary Harron.
Arriving with a whimper, Darling Companion tells the story of a woman who is torn between the man she is falling in love with and the dog she saved along the side of the road. Shockingly, audiences stayed away from this Diane Keaton/Kevin Kline romantic dramedy, as did Sony Pictures Classics. They purchased the film, shelved it, and then sped it through theaters quickly, just to appease all involved it would seem. As I am with anything, put it in front of me and stop me from moving for 30 seconds and I will watch it, but the likelihood of me seeking this out is slim to none. Comedy/Drama, PG-13, 103 mins, Dir: Lawrence Kasdan.
ADDITIONAL CATALOG AND NOTEWORTHY BLU-RAY/DVD RELEASES