Every month, we are offered a wide variety of DVD and Blu-Ray releases that we are sure to either look out for or avoid. However, some of us don’t really know what some of the movies are about or if we should even pay them any attention. In the month of February, we were offered twenty-one movies on DVD and Blu-Ray, and those movies were (in alphabetical order):
- A Late Quartet
- Alex Cross
- Celeste and Jesse Forever
- Chasing Mavericks
- Fun Size
- Girls Against Boys
- Here Comes the Boom
- Man with the Iron Fists, The
- Master, The
- Perks of Being a Wallflower, The
- Seeds of Destruction
- Sessions, The
- Silent Hill: Revelation
- Silver Linings Playbook
- So Undercover
So in this wide range of movies, what were the top five movie releases that we should definitely check out? This list offers a good idea of movies to look out for the next time you are at a DVD rack.
5. ‘Celeste and Jesse Forever’
Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Simple and Real
What would you say would happen when a number of comedians join together to film a movie? Clearly, you may automatically assume it would be to film something comical. However, it is often the other way around, these comedic film and television stars repeatedly star in more dramatic roles. The same can be said for “Celeste & Jesse Forever”, a movie about best friends getting a divorce.
Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) have known each other for several years and consider themselves to be the best of friends. They dated and were married for six years. As life throws its twists and turns, these two found themselves at the edge of divorce, which is where our story begins. While they are in fact separated and are planning to sign the papers for good, they remain the best of friends. This friendship is very strange to their best friends, but they see it as normal. When they begin seeing other people, which is when reality strikes. Jesse ends up finding out he will soon have a baby with another girl, which sends Celeste into a frenzy.
There is a very real aspect to this film when it comes to relationships in general after the two have broken up. Often times, two exes can remain friends if they typically continue to both stay single. Once the other begins dating, you automatically are sent into that mindset of wanting what you cannot have. You ask yourself what have you done? Did I make the right choice? These questions plague your mind until you feel as if you are going to break. Somehow this movie conveyed that pretty well. Not only that, but there was also the aspect of wanting each other at the wrong intervals, as destiny seems to hate you. This can go back and forth for years. The movie really did maintain a level of realism even though it felt predictable.
It felt predictable because most of the time you can see this as an independent romantic comedy. Rashida Jones can be seen in “Parks and Recreation” and Andy Samberg used to be a regular on “Saturday Night Live” for a while. There were other actors, of course, that have been seen in comedy, but as mentioned above, this was more dramatic than anything else. These actors were able to bring that level of awkward humor and playful humor along with them for the movie, but when it dived into what mattered, they surprisingly got the job done. In the gist of things, these actors were actually pretty great at playing these dramatic roles.
It really doesn’t come as a surprise for comedic actors to be able to play roles like these. If you think about it, comedic actors have to maintain a good level of chemistry all of the time with other actors, or their television show won’t do so well in ratings. Jones and Samberg were perfect to play a couple because they have a lot in common, and they are both great at maintaining chemistry with the other actors.
Even though it does feel like the typical romantic comedy, the realism may throw you off. In real life, there isn’t always a happy ending, or life doesn’t always go the way you want. If you watch the film, you may realize just how much you won’t be able to predict the ending; anything can happen.
All in all, the movie looks professional, had smart writing (although a bit cliché), was funny in the right parts, dramatic in the right parts, and you feel that these characters were real. It isn’t the best movie when it comes to comedy or romance, but it is a nice movie, and it might be helpful to those in similar situations as the two in the movie. Check out “Celeste & Jesse Forever” when it comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Feb. 5!
4. ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’
Dave’s 3-Word Review
Relatable and Sincere
In the most basic definition of a coming-of-age story or film, it is the transition of a young person from childhood to adulthood. Of course, there can be different forms of this category of film because not everything is ever going to be exactly the same as the last, but for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, it matches that basic definition pretty closely all on its own. For those of you that aren’t fans of coming-of-age like me, fear not, for this movie somehow did a lot of it right.
Logan Lerman, formally seen as Percy Jackson, plays Charlie, our main character in this tale about life. He is a bit of a loner. He has no friends, doesn’t have any real drive to make an impression in school, and continually counts down the days he has left until he graduates from school. He is very intelligent, but his past traumas and low self-confidence hinder him from growing the way he should. That’s when he befriends Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his step sister Sam (Emma Watson). All three of these teens have different personalities, but Charlie is fascinated and wildly attracted to Sam, who helps him learn more about the joys in life and the importance of taste in music.
The movie is a coming-of-age film in every sense of the word. There really is no goal other than trying to see if this kid can finally be happy with life or if he is doomed to be in that debilitating state of sadness. That’s the thing about these kinds of films, it’s not the characters that have a goal, it is the people behind the camera. They are the ones trying to convey a message, and for the most part, movies like this are iffy to critics like me. However, I truly believe they did this one right. The reason why I think it did so well is because of the characters.
The characters were very well written. From the start of the movie, audience members everywhere will find it incredibly easy to connect with his character. Too many of us have felt alone and isolated from the world, seemingly watching it as it zooms past us, never thinking we’d ever catch up, doomed to remain in the same state for eternity. They were able to capture that in Charlie’s character so well. As for the friendship with Sam and Patrick, that was also written intelligently. Too many times do we have friendships forming in movies that are simply a reflection of the personality of the main character. This movie showed us that people can have their own personalities that seem to be polar opposites, and it proved that friendships can exist anywhere with anyone. It seemed more real in that regards.
Don’t forget that a good majority of the shots in the movie were expertly filmed. It looked fantastic most of the time, with some scenes that stuck out among the rest. Whoever was in charge of cinematography knew precisely how to capture the idea of the movie into the look of the film. It works in almost every sense. The acting was phenomenal from every actor, specifically from Logan Lerman, who has acted miles around his performance as Percy Jackson just three years ago. Ezra Miller did a great job playing a genuine gay male, and the message that the movie spread about his life and what he personally goes through is beautiful and true to life. It is always nice when a movie throws in a side story that may not be perfectly needed for the overall plot, but adds to it nicely when it is there.
It is hard to even say very many bad things about the movie, but if you try, you may end up saying that maybe the movie felt slow, maybe others won’t connect with it as much as you did, maybe they will find a lot of clichés in the film that you didn’t catch. Maybe it just won’t mean anything to others, but in the end…professionally speaking, this film was done very well, and it at least deserves to be rented.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Feb. 12!
3. ‘The Sessions’
Dave’s 3-Word Review:
For Mature Audiences
The Superbowl may be over with this year, but we still have the Academy Awards to look forward to. Sure, they may be two very distinct and different things, but essentially, we do the same thing for both. We pick a team, and root for them throughout. Among the extensive grab bag of Oscar nominees is “The Sessions”. Is this nomination enough to win an award on the twenty-fourth? It depends on who you are.
John Hawkes plays Mark O’Brien in this true story about a man practically paralyzed and imprisoned in a machine that helps him breathe called the iron lung. He was told long ago that he was supposed to die at a much younger age, but at the age of thirty-eight, the reality of his life ending seems to be more true than not and his reflection of life is starting to be diminishing his self-confidence. As a virgin, and as a practically helpless individual, he wants to at least experience losing his virginity, and he asks Father Brendan (William H. Macy) if it would be a sin to hire a sex surrogate in order to do so. The priest seems reluctant, but thinks God would give him a free pass after hearing his story. So Mark hires Cheryl (Helen Hunt), a middle-aged sex surrogate that helps him achieve one of his last goals on his bucket list.
There is no escaping it; this movie is graphic, in more ways than one. Not only is it graphic in its nudity, but it is also graphic in the dialogue. This film will never be shown on television unless the station playing it was a paid channel like HBO or Showtime. However, it is in very good taste. Everything that is graphic about the movie can be seen as beautiful if the viewer watching it is mature and can take a movie like this seriously. Many people may argue that the same story can be told without the nudity or the extent of the dialogue, but its blunt nature is really what makes the movie solid. It is very real and honest about itself, and you can tell there is an extreme amount of confidence in not only the actors’ faces, but also the filmmakers who worked on the film. This is a professional film, and should only be seen as such.
This is a story of human connection and interaction. Sexuality has a huge role to play in the movie, sure, but sexuality isn’t something we should cower away from. It is a natural part of the human psyche, and a natural desire to want, especially if one is about to die in the unforeseen future. Too many movies either ignore sexuality or they use it distastefully, “The Sessions” really brings out the reality of how sexuality should be in its most sincere light. Will it offend people, yes it probably will, but it shouldn’t.
It is also a true story, which heightens the level of realism that the film already conveyed. Sometimes true stories don’t have the best plots, or have character-driven stories, but this one had a clear goal from Mark, and that was to gain self-confidence and lose his virginity before he dies, and the connections he makes along the way are just too pure to ignore.
John Hawkes was phenomenal in the movie when it came to acting. You really feel as if he truly was in this position and that this was about him rather than this Mark fellow he is portraying. William H. Macy was also very good, even though his character did little in the movie, he played an important role. Helen Hunt was also incredibly professional with her role, and she was able to play a very human and caring person for this film. The acting was great across the board here. Not only was the acting great, but the writing was also unbelievable, some of the dialogue spoken in the movie feel real, not rehearsed, and for a lot of viewers, the movie may touch them.
Overall, this really is a beautiful film that captures a subject that isn’t always spoken about in movies for fear of criticism or offending others. This film remained true to itself, and didn’t care what others thought about it, which I truly believe helped them receive a nomination for Helen Hunt’s performance. You just need to watch the film with an open mind and mature mindset, and you will enjoy “The Sessions” when it comes to Blu-Ray and DVD on Feb. 12!
Dave’s 3-Word Review
Best Bond Ever
In 2006, Daniel Craig dawned the tuxedo fit for James Bond for the first time in “Casino Royale“. Around the time of the Writer’s Guild Strike, “Quantum of Solace” was released in 2008, and that generated a much lower score than its predecessor. The underlining reasons for the decline in rating was because of the Writer’s Guild Strike, there could only be one draft of the screenplay before they started filming. Regardless, a lot of Bond fans were displeased and worried about the franchise. This year, Daniel Craig reprises his role in “Skyfall“. The question is if it could be brought out of the muck it was left in, let’s find out.
As with all of the other James Bond films, “Skyfall” started out with a tense, heart-pounding action sequence. From a amazingly-choreographed motorcycle chase on rooftops, to a fist fight on top of a speeding train, the action would not let up. Working with Eve (Naomie Harris), the first Bond girl of the film, James Bond (Craig) was after a list of NATO agents, a list that was imperative to obtain. Among all the ruckus, Bond could not retrieve the data, and was shot off of the train, presumed dead. In reality, he was on an island, enjoying death and boozing it up. When the life of M (Judi Dench) is threatened by a terrorist hacker named Silva (Javier Bardem), Bond must find him and put an end to the madness. However, that may prove more difficult than previously imagined, as after getting shot, Bond was off of his a-game for once in Bond history. He couldn’t shoot straight, nor manage to do more than five or six pull-ups. Even though he failed his re-entry physical exam, M gave him another shot, trusting the man she knows to be the best agent in the field, which goes far beyond a simple physical exam.
Daniel Craig’s 007 series is becoming increasingly famous for creating absolutely brand new concepts for James Bond, while still maintaining the respect to the classic Bond by throwing shout-outs to memorable James Bond lines, cars, and women. “Skyfall” is a perfect example of what makes James Bond classic while being modern at the same time. After the horrid reviews of “Quantum of Solace“, “Skyfall” has redeemed the series ten-fold and more. When it comes to the writing, this was hands down one of the best written James Bond films in existence, if not the best. There was so many things attributed to the storyline that went so smoothly, and so amazing that it would take a long while to list them all. Visually the film hit a new level, and it will be difficult for any Bond film to beat the visuals in this. Every single scene in this film was filled with visually stunning, captivating, and beautiful scenes. Even the theme song performed by Adele could be first on the list of best written Bond songs.
When it comes to acting, Daniel Craig put on another stellar performance, and allowed the audience to become familiar with a lesser-known Bond persona, and utilized his abilities in making Bond look vulnerable, and capable of dying. That is relatively new, and was presented in a whole new way. Javier Bardem did an absolutely incredible job portraying Silva. In fact, this villain was one of the most memorable and maniacal villains James Bond has ever faced. He was calm, calculated, funny in parts, and he was not afraid to step into MI6′s radar. Javier Bardem is not unknown to be an incredible actor, and he once again proved himself. There was once again two Bond girls in this film, like the others, but this time around the focus was more towards storytelling. They wanted to make sure that this time around their story was exceptional, and it was.
“Skyfall” will having you begging for more, and you may even throw in more money to watch it more in theater. Check out “Skyfall” on Blu-Ray and DVD on Feb. 12!
Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Not too long ago, the Golden Globe awards were aired on TV, awarding plenty of deserving films and television shows alike. While we have to await the results of the Oscars next month, we know that “Argo” won two Golden Globes, one of which was for best motion picture in the drama category. Fortunately for the rest of us, when something wins an award like this, we typically get to see more of the film in our local theaters, and as it happens, “Argo” returned to theaters nationwide. So the main question on everyone’s mind is, did this film deserve the award it was given? In short, yes.
“Argo” tells the incredible true story of a group of brave men and women, one in particular, who risks death in a rescue mission of the century. It takes place during the Iranian Hostage Crisis that made major news in the late 1970’s, early 1980’s holding American citizens hostage at the American embassy for over an entire year. Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, the man with the plan. In order to save six Americans that have managed to get into hiding, he suggests putting together a fake movie, fake screenplay, fake identities for everyone, and an elaborate backstory that will ultimately get them out of their situation.
The story goes like this, Tony Mendez plans to go to Iran as a producer for a movie. He and a group of six other members of the crew to a movie called “Argo” are scouting locations for this film. Once they put together their notes, they simply board a plane and leave Iran. However, things get quite cloudy and suspenseful as the film progresses.
How many films based on a true story do you know of that depend on the fact that it is a true story? Does the movie work on its own, or does it need that extra element to give it a boost? For the most part, movies based on true stories really do need that extra element, and it is unfortunate. However, “Argo” didn’t ever need to tell the audience that it was based off of a true story. It helps heighten the level of suspense and awe, but just the idea alone is original and very interesting. The way it is compiled together will grind your teeth at the level of unforgiving suspense, because in real life it was a risk. They were gambling with their lives, and you can feel that when you watch this movie. Somehow you have no idea what is going to happen in the movie regardless of how much you know about the true story. It really is riveting.
Ben Affleck has been critiqued rather negatively through his life attacking his abilities in acting, but it has become steadily more obvious that his talents in directing are superb. He knows how to pick a project when he sits at the director’s chair. His acting in the film was also fantastic, as were all of the performances. It would be a crime not to note how well Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Victor Garber played their part, but at the same time it isn’t so much of a surprise given their extensive history of film.
Also note that the casting supervisor knew exactly what they were doing, as did the person responsible for the camera work. When the film eventually gives the audience comparative shots of the movie and real people and events, you can tell then, if you couldn’t already, that it was spot on. Everything about this film from beginning to end was done incredibly well. There may be parts here and there during the middle of the film that feel slower, failing to get to the point, but those are very slim to none at all.
“Argo”came to Blu-Ray and DVD on Feb. 19!