Typically one of the smallest release dates of the year, there are a few new titles out this week, just in case you’re looking for something to watch over the holiday weekend that doesn’t involve elves, Santa Claus, or snowmen. Here’s the breakdown:
It’s never too late for one of my favorite movies of the year to come along, and Pride has managed to squeak into my top 10 with just a week left in the year. This is easily the best homosexuals-supporting-miners-on-strike-in-1980s-England movie ever. Granted, it’s also the only homosexuals-supporting-miners-on-strike-in-1980s-England movie ever, but that doesn’t take away from what a great film it is. Based on a true story, Pride is by turns funny, touching, indignant, warm, and political. With movie stalwarts like Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, and Paddy Considine representing the miner side of things, it’s the newcomers that play the homosexuals who shine equally as bright. Lead actor Ben Schnetzer will blow you away; if this guy doesn’t become a huge star, I don’t know who will. Pride is one of those movies that will surprise you and charm you; do yourself a favor and track it down.
SyFy’s angels-and-humans TV series makes its home video debut this week. Ostensibly a semi-sequel to the Paul Bettany movie Legion, this is an interesting show. It effectively portrays angels as the bad guys as they try to finish off humanity in a post aneglyptic future. It’s got pretty good production values for a SyFy show, and its not afraid to muddy the waters when it comes to who’s a good guy and who’s a bad guy. With lots of action, the show can be a tad bit over serious at times, but I have to admit, for a first season it’s pretty damn cool. A different spin on a well-worn genre, Dominion is worth a look.
This SyFy time travel cop show is a pretty good series, but it’s not a slam dunk. Continuum follows a cop who accidentally gets thrown back in time with a group of criminals and has to work in the present day to bring them to justice. I like Rachel Nichols in the lead, but the rest of the cast is a bit bland. And, aside from the time travel element, the show is basically just another cop series, which is something I’ve had my fill of. But the show has ambition, with the future fugitives back in time trying to start a war against the upper echelons of society and politics, and not just running around robbing banks (although they do that, too.) The show takes a while to get going, but it is enjoyable enough. I just wish it grabbed me a bit more.
Also available on Blu-ray and DVD this week:
- Even though Reese Witherspoon’s face is plastered across the cover of The Good Lie, she’s actually not the focal point of the film. This moving drama is about a trio of Sudanese refugees trying to adjust to life in the US. Witherspoon plays the caseworker who advocates for them, but she doesn’t even show up until about a third of the way into the movie. Much as I;m not a fan of hers, her performance her is really quite good.
- Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon star in The Trip to Italy, the sequel to the underappreciated The Trip. Playing semi fictionalized versions of themselves, this largely-improvised film sees the pair travel through — where else? — Italy. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one as well.
- A totally by-the-numbers but not unenjoyable Asian action film, 7 Assassins offers up some pretty cool action sequences. The story is old hat by now, but you’re probably not watching the film for the story, are you?
- A found footage film about ghost hunters, After Dark Originals: Sanatorium hits a couple of different genres I’m not a fan of. I’m sure there are some people out there who might find this film enjoyable, but I’m not going to be one of them.
- 1000 Times Good Night is a tough drama starring Juliette Binoche as a war photographer who is injured in a terrorist attack and forced to recover at home. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays her husband, who has to deal with her wanting to go back to the front lines and what that will mean for their family. It’s a moving, well-acted film, but it’s not exactly popcorn fare.
- A kids’ show focusing on math, Peg & Cat: Pirates Ahoy and Other Really Big Problems has become quite popular with kids of late. This DVD offers up some good value; you get eight episodes and almost two hours worth of shows. Pretty cool!
- Nothing screams Christmas viewing like a movie about organ smuggling. Traffickers is an Asian thriller about that very thing, and while it’s a well-made film it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Still, striking cover art and a subject matter that isn’t overdone in movies might make this welcome viewing for some viewers.
- Wings: Skyforce Heroes is a sequel to Wings, which is the most knock-off-y knock-off of an animated movie ever. The first Wings hit right after Disney’s Planes came out, and this one hits now that Planes: Fire and Rescue has hit home video. How they got Josh Duhamel, Hillary Duff, Tom Skerritt, and Rob Schneider to provide voices for this is beyond me.
- If you’re like me and know very little about ISIS, Frontline: The Rise of the ISIS is a must watch. This 60-minute special basically tells you everything about the formation of ISIS, it’s impact on the world, and how it became so powerful so quickly. I feel very up to date now, and it’s all because of this show. This should be required viewing in any high school.
- Did you know that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev visited Washington DC in 1959, at the height of the cold war? I didn’t either, but American Experience: Cold War Roadshow recounts that experience with the participation of President Eisenhower’s granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower and Nikita Khrushchev’s son, Sergei Khrushchev. Interesting stuff.
- Looking into events like Malaysia Air Flight 370 (and not Bermuda Triangle-type stuff), Nova: Why Planes Vanish looks at how a jumbo jetliner can completely disappear in the day and age of cel phones and modern technology. Sobering and a bit scary.