Want a good movie to watch at home?
Here are the ten best movies that have been recently released on DVD and Blu-ray and my quick, spolier-free advice:
- True Grit – Rent-it – This western starring Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges is one of the Coen Brothers (A Serious Man, Burn After Reading, O Brother Where Art Thou?) best films. And newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who plays a stubborn young woman trying to track down her father’s murderer, steals every scene she is in, despite the talent next to her onscreen.
- The King’s Speech – Rent-it – This art house drama stars Guy Pearce and Colin Firth as King Edward VIII and King George VI of England ruling over a country on the brink of war. Oh, and his wife Queen Elizabeth is Helena Bonham Carter and his eccentric speech therapist is played by Geoffrey Rush.
- Of Gods and Men – Rent-it – New This Week – This international drama about French Christian monks living in harmony with their Muslim brothers in North Africa is not only the best foreign film so far this year, it is probably the best film of the first half of 2011.
- 13 Assassins – Buy-it – New This Week – Cult director Takeshi Miike (Audition) creates an epicly bloody samurai action film set in feudal Japan that is an impossibly unattainable, perfectly over-the-top, period masterpiece.
- The Adjustment Bureau – Buy-it – Is Matt Damon married? Because if so, he might be having an affair with Emily Blunt. These two stars light the screen on fire and their burning chemistry is reason enough to see this film about politics, life and love and whether or not we control our own destiny.
- Blue Valentine – Rent-it – This film effectively challenges time by showing us what love and marriage simultaneously look like in the present, future and past. Don’t be surprised if Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams are actually dating as their onscreen chemistry burns brilliantly in this tender rom-drom.
- Biutiful – Rent-it – A funny looking Oscar winner Javier Bardem (who? I know – he’s the bad guy from No Country for Old Men) ironically makes this script about a father’s love for his children even more beautiful than the title suggests.
- Wake Wood – Rent-it – New This Week – This horror thriller about a child’s gruesome death and her grieving parents is one of those rare straight-to-DVD films that is actually worth renting. It’s dark, clever, and chilling but low expectations make it even more impressive.
- Cedar Rapids – Rent-it – Finally, an R-rated comedy that isn’t overly raunchy! Cedar Rapids stars a perfectly conventional comedic cast performing a pleasantly clever script.
- Inside Job – Rent-it – Matt Damon narrates this documentary about the 2008 financial crisis, which cost $20 trillion and millions of people their jobs and homes – and though we were all a part of this depressing time, this inside look is a must see on the greatest recession since the Great Depression.
Ten other new releases on DVD/Blu-ray that didn’t make the top ten:
- Highwater – Buy-it – If you liked Step Into Liquid or Riding Giants you will love this new docu-film starring Kelly Slater, otherwise, you can skip-it and go rent one of those previously mentioned surf films – you won’t be disappointed by the IMAXish style and incredible waves.
- Summer in Genoa – Wait-for-it – It seems like every time Colin Firth takes a role it could be an Oscar-nominated performance, and this riveting story about a man trying to keep his family together after a tragedy is no different.
- Hobo With a Shotgun – Wait-for-it – New This Week – This homage to over-the-top gory b-movies is about a man looking for a new start in a new town and it would have been the perfect movie for a hot summer night at the drive-in, but at this point, if you’re looking for a funny gross out film just wait for it to show up on demand.
- Unknown – Wait-for-it – Unknown is a Taken look-alike from head-to-toe, so much so you might think you are watching Liam Neeson reprise his role in some sort of sequel, but don’t be confused by this Frantic-esque story and the Harrison Fordy-marketing ploy, this whodunit is completely unoriginal and a complete impostor.
- Just Go with It – Skip-it – I had high hopes for a rom-com with some of my favorite guilty-pleasure actors and actresses (Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, and Nicole Kidman) and two newbies that peeked my interest (Brooklyn Decker and Bailee Madison – that’s right Bailee Madison, not Billy Madison) but this film about a guy pretending to be married to get a smoking hot girl – a girl that’s even out of Andy Roddick’s league – is terrible! I urge you to not “just go with it.”
- The Switch – Skip-it – Aniston and Bateman are perfectly funny together, and 6-year old Thomas Robinson steals every scene he is in, but the script is too rom-com formulaic to even suggesting renting since you know what’s going to happen before it even begins.
- Sucker Punch – Skip-it – This was supposed to be the “next big thing” from filmmaker Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen), and just like those films this epic fantasy adventure is visually arresting, however, Sucker Punch follows an un-appealing story about an un-appealing girl (though not to the eyes) who ecapes her dark reality by creating her own “dream” world.”
- The Rite – Skip-it – Though Anthony Hopkins does his best Hannibal Lecter impression, this rite of passage should be your last if you get any redeeming value from this unscary, uninteresting, and underwhelming film that fails to explain a single cause for any effect.
- Sanctum – Skip-it – It is hard to imagine that a James Cameron film about water and adventure could be bad (The Abyss, Titanic and coming soon – Avatar 2 aka Avatar Underwater) but Sanctum, despite being beautifully shot in 3-D, drowns under lifeless performances and sappy dialogue.
- The Green Hornet – Skip-it – For some reason I was just never excited about this film. Maybe it’s because I can’t wait for that other green film (The Green Lantern) to come out? Or maybe it’s because I’ve just had enough of Seth Rogen? But this action & adventure, science fiction & fantasy, comedy is just barely entertaining at best – so I guess it was rightfully so.
…and the five worst films recently released on DVD/Blu-ray:
- The Eagle – Skip-it – Picture Braveheart meets Gladiator, except instead of an inspired Mel Gibson you get a spiritless Channing Tatum, and instead of the epic Ridley Scott you get Kevin Macdonald’s flat direction.
- Beastly – Skip-it – An extremely misguided retelling of the classic “Beauty and the Beast” story starring the young “actress” from High School Musical, Vanessa Hudgens.
- Season of the Witch – Skip-it – I am starting to feel like a broken record, but please, Nic Cage, please, stop making movies! How did you win an Oscar? Seriously? Season of the Witch is boring and ugly, so much so it can’t even pass as one of those terrible movies you just have to see so you can laugh at how bad it is.
- Red Riding Hood – Skip-it – Amanda Seyfried actually is brilliant and beautiful in Red, however, her supporting cast is as dull as brown basket of bread, and the script is even worse – leaving me to wonder: When commercials for movies say a film is “Exciting” and “Beautiful” and “Superb” can advertisers just grab words out of context (i.e. Red Riding Hood is not at all exciting, and though Seyfried is beautiful, the film is superbly bad.)? “
- The Roommate – Skip-it – As a 20-something guy it pains me to say you shouldn’t go see Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly as horny college freshmen but The Roomate might already have brought home the Worst Film of 2011 award.
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