It’s another light release slate in the post-Father’s Day week. There are a few great titles out, though, so here’s a look at what’s on tap:
The Fisher King – The Criterion Collection offers up a new Collector’s Edition of Terry Gilliam’s intense exploration of mental illness. Robin Williams turns in a tour de force performance as a homeless man on a quest for the holy grail, while Bridges also shines as a cynical disc jockey going through a dark period in his life. While I like the film, I’m not a huge fan of Terry Gilliam’s overall, and this movie — like most of his — borders right on the line between brilliant and baffling. Still, the performances make the film worth watching and the new Blu-ray includes a ton of extra features, making this a worthwhile purchase.
Dog Soldiers – One of the most overlooked horror gems of the past decade, Dog Soldiers was the initial film by director Neil Marshall, who went on to direct another horror classic in The Descent, and has now gone on to become a regular director on Game of Thrones. The story of a cadre of elite soldiers who go up against a family of werewolves in a remote house in the Scottish Highlands. Low-budget though it may be, the film is a fantastic exercise in what you can do with a little money and a ton of talent. The film is intense, exciting, and visceral, and it’s been one of my favorites for years. Plus, with Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, and Liam Cunnigham in the cast, you know you’re in for a good time. I highly recommend this one!
Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle – Even though this film has gone direct to video, families will enjoy this latest tale of everyone’s favorite curious monkey. While Will Ferrell isn’t around this time as The Man in the Yellow Hat, there is no shortage of all-star talent in the voice cast. Angela Bassett, John Goodman, and Frank Welker all lend their pipes to this fun installment in the Curious George franchise. This time around, George ends up back in Africa while The Man in the Yellow Hat searches for him, and all the mischief and fun you’d expect follows. A great one for the kids!
The Forger – John Travolta stars as an art forger who takes on one last job in order to get out of prison to spend time with his dying son. Travlta turns in a great performance that’s weighed down by struggling with a Boston Accent, while young Tye Sheridan (who was also excellent in Mud) shines as the son in question. The films itself ends up being just okay; there are some nice dramatic moments, and Christopher Plummer adds some spark as Travolta’s dad, but the pace is slow at times. I liked the ending, but the film as a whole never quite gets where it wants to. Worth a rental, maybe, for a quiet night at home.
Also available on Blu-ray and DVD this week:
- Comedy Central has some hit shows that I don’t understand the popularity of, and Workaholics is one of the key offenders. Man, if this is what passes for comedy on that channel nowadays, I weep for the future of the network. The show wants to be Office Space crossed with The Hangover, but it’s basically just a trio of stoner idiots working a crappy job and trying to find ways to drink, smoke, and get laid more. Hooray. After one episode, I wanted to break my television. After two, I was pretty sure I’d lost enough brain cells to slip into a coma. I know there are people out there who will think this show is hilarious, but I am definitely not one of them. Workahloics: Season Five is out on DVD and Blu-ray this week.
- Piers Brosnan returns as yet another man with a gun in Survivor, but this time around he plays a bad guy. The central character of the film is Milla Jovovich, who plays a foreign service officer framed for crimes she didn’t commit that has to go on the run. I’ve always liked chase movies, and this one falls right into the middle of them all. I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse, but the all-star cast (which also includes Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett and Robert Forster) adds to the fun.
- If There Be Thorns is the follow up to last year’s hit Lifetime movie, Petals on the Wind, making this the third film in the Flowers in the Attic series. As someone who’s never read any of the V.C. Andrews books these movies are based on, I’ve actually enjoyed them quite a bit. Thorns doesn’t live up to Flowers, but it’s still interesting and following this twisted family through their journey is kind of addictive.
- Despite being only an hour long, the fantastic concert film A MusiCares Tribute to Carole King features a ton of performers paying tribute to King by playing some of her best and most well-loved songs. In addition to a few songs by Sir Paul himself, you also get Train, Lady Gaga, Zac Brown, Sara Bareilles, James Taylor, and more. The music is electric, the covers are all really strong, and its fun to play spot-the-celebrity in the audience (and trust me, there are plenty.) Great music that raises money for a great cause? I’m a fan.
- The latest in the series of direct-to-video films based on the popular doll line is American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success. This one focuses on a young girl who helps her grandparents’ bakery and finds trouble, success, and fun. Of course, it’s filled with positive, empowering messages, and that’s just fine for the age group it’s aimed at.
- Malcolm Stoddard stars in The Campbells: The Complete Series, another cult classic TV series from Timeless Media. In this show, Stoddard plays an 1800’s doctor from Scotland who settles in in the frontier land of Canada. Over the course of 100 episodes, he heals people, helps the town, and keeps his family happy. I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole frontier genre, but this show clearly has some talent behind it. Fans of Little House on the Prairie or Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman will probable enjoy this.
- Children of Giant is a terrific hour-long documentary about the making of the film Giant, which was the last movie for both James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. Featuring interviews with surviving crew members and the chidden of people involved in making the film, this special is an interesting exploration of one of the great Hollywood films of the past.
- Arrow Video presents Pit Stop on Blu-ray for the first time. One of the ultimate B-movie experiences, this B-movie produced by Roger Corman and directed by Foxy Brown’s Jack Hill is both awesome and terrible at the same time. Arrow continues its quest to become the Criterion of B-movie cinema with this newly remastered and restored high def presentation that also includes a number of new extra features.
- RX: The Quiet Revolution is a new PBS special that explores a new approach to medicine. Filmmaker Dave Grubin (himself the son of a doctor) travels across the country to show us how things are changing in some areas to try and provide lower-cost, higher coverage health care for people. Interesting stuff.
- I have to say, as far as kids shows go, The Wild Kratts: Super Sprinters is one of the better ones. It manages to combine animals and superhero-style adventures into one fun animated series that is both entertaining and educational. And, of course, not only do I find it enjoyable, but my kids also really like it, which is what’s really important. The show focuses on the Brothers Kratt, animal experts and adventurers, who use creature power suits to take on the traits of various animals and interact with them in their habitats. Along the way, a variety of villains, predators, or obstacles will show up, and the Kratt Brothers have to save the day. The show mixes in humor, action, and cool suit designs, plus it has a good supporting cast of characters that kids will like.
- How many books as Janette Oke written? Because I can count at least ten TV movies based on them. When Calls The Heart: Heart And Soul is the latest, and it stars Lori Loughlin and Jack Wagner. I’ll say this, you don’t see a lot of romances where one of the main characters is a Canadian Mounty, but in this case you do. It’s pretty typical Hallmark fare, but I imagine the target audience will enjoy it.
- Timbuktu is a foreign film about townspeople in Mali whose lives are uprooted by Islamic Jihadists. Made by Abderrahmane Sissako and nominated for an Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film 2015), the film is a moving and tough watch about human rights, religious extremism, and people in tough situations. It’s not exactly light viewing fare, but it will hit you right in the gut with its impact. Definitely worth tracking down for those who enjoy a more complex viewing experience.