Out This Week: Dressed to Kill, Disney Shorts, Batman, The Black List, Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, & More!

DressedToKill

Dressed to Kill – I’ve been a fan of Brian DePalma’s since I first saw The Untouchables way back in the late ’80s, but it took me a long time to fill in the gaps when it came to DePalma’s early works. Dressed to Kill is one of his early hit films, and it takes a definite page from the Hitchcock playbook while completely retaining that De Palma style that has made the director such a love-him-or-hate-him commodity in Hollywood. For my money, Dressed to Kill is very enjoyable. I like the major twist the film takes about a half hour in, and there are some terrific performances in the movie, most notable Nancy Allen and Dennis Franz (both early DePalma regulars.) While the heavy handedness of De Palma’s directing style and his endless steadicam shots can slow the film’s pacing a bit at times, for the most part, this is really quite an engaging thriller. As a Criterion Collection release, you’re treated to restored and remastered sound and picture, as well as a wealth of cool extra features.

DisneyShortsWalt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection – This terrific collection includes all of the past few years’ worth of short films that have preceded Disney’s big screen animated efforts. You don’t get the Pixar shorts like the Toy Story ones, but you do get some of my favorites, including Tangled Ever After, Feast, and the brilliant Paperman. You also get Frozen Fever, which — as you can see — is prominently featured on the cover, for obvious reasons. Here’s the full list of included cartoons in this excellent compilation: John Henry, Lorenzo, The Little Matchgirl, How To Hook Up Your Home Theater, Tick Tock Tale, Prep & Landing: Operation Secret Santa, The Ballad Of Nessie, Tangled Ever After, Paperman, Get A Horse!, Feast, and Frozen Fever.

BatmanMonsterMayhemBatman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem – I’m still not entirely sure what to make of this new animated film series from DC. Unlike the superb DC Universe animated movies, this one is geared for a younger audience. And I have no problem with that, but I don’t know which Batman this is supposed to be. He looks different than any other animated incarnation; did we really need another new version of Batman in animated form? But I guess I can see how kids would like it. My son was pretty engrossed by it. So that should tell you something. This time around, Batman faces off against some of his “spookier” villains on Halloween, including The Joker, Scarecrow, Clayface, Solomon Grundy and Silver Banshee. It’s good stuff for what it is, I guess.

Blacklist2The Blacklist: The Complete Second Season – Easily one of my favorite shows of the last few season, The Blacklist is so much better than it has any right to be. When I first saw the promos for it, I thought it looked intriguing. A master criminal turns himself in to the FBI but will only work with a specific rookie agent, for reasons unknown. Cool. And with James Spader in the lead role, I figured it would be pretty good. But The Blacklist is better than good; it’s fantastic. The show has so many more layers than you’d expect. What seems at first like it will be a villain-of-the-week show quickly revealed itself to have a number of mysteries that would keep you guessing. I don’t want to say anything about any of them so as not to spoil any surprises, but you absolutely have to check this show out if you haven’t been watching.

Greys11Grey’s Anatomy: Season 11 – Another year, another season of Grey’s Anatomy. This is a show that I once watched regularly, but now have relegated to DVD-only viewing. It’s not that the show is bad, it just falls slightly outside of my “cup of tea” range. I like the show quite a bit, but I just don’t have the time in my TV viewing schedule to fit it in on a weekly basis. The past couple of seasons have seen a return in quality to the way the show was in its prime, especially towards the end. And of course, I doubt you could have avoided spoilers about a certain character’s exit, but if you haven’t seen that episode yet, you need to. Still, at the end of the day, you know what you’re getting with Grey’s Anatomy. If you like the show, you’ll like this set. If you’ve never seen it, start back at season one.

OnceUponATime4Once Upon a Time: The Complete Fourth Season – One thing I love about this show is their willingness to change the status quo. It’s a completely different series than it was in Season One. Frozen characters? Check. Classic Disney villains like Cruella Deville? Check. Fantasy-based soap opera goodness? Check, check, and check! I don’t know if it’s still the hit it once was, but for people who have stuck with it, this show has become very rewarding in that it takes chances and pushes the story forward whenever it wants to. You get the sense that the show runners are actually in charge here and not the network. If you’re a fan or if you’re looking to catch up, you should definitely pick this release up.

NCISNOLA1NCIS: Season 12NCIS: Los Angeles – Season 6, and NCIS: New Orleans – Season 1 – We have a trio of NCIS releases this week. I’ll be honest, I never thought NCIS was going to last a full season, let alone twelve seasons. To me, it just seemed like such a blatant rip-off of the then-scorching hot CSI franchise that I figured viewers would reject it in favor of the original forensics investigators. Shows what I know; NCIS has been a constant presence on the television landscape for ten years now. So I get that NCIS is an incredibly popular show. What I can’t figure out is why; the show is terrible. I should clarify; it’s crap, but it’s entertaining crap. I mean, it’s a watchable show, it’s zippy, and there are some halfway interesting crimes to be solved, but the whole thing is just completely lightweight, with no emotional heft whatsoever. Mark Harmon seems to have disappeared now; his entire role mainly consists of walking on set, saying, “Come on, let’s go,” to the team, and walking right back out again. Pass. As for NCIS: Los Angeles, it is a better show than NCIS, by far. The writing is better, O’Donnell and LL Cool J have a good chemistry, and the show definitely is more action-packed. Yet I still don’t love it. It’s leaps and bounds ahead of NCIS, but there’s something about the whole franchise that just doesn’t do it for me. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s a style and a feel to the NCIS shows that just don’t work for me. Which leads us to NCIS: New Orleans. Much as I like Scott Bakula, you can probably guess my reaction to this show. Yep, it’s more of the same. Just like I could never get into any of the CSI spin-offs beyond the original, I just can’t get into this show. It’s just a retread of the original show (which is a retread of CSI anyway) with a different cast. Oh well.

Also Available on Blu-ray & DVD this week:

  • Lambert & Stamp – As top-notch as music documentaries come, this film goes in-depth into the duo of would-be filmmakers who launched The Who to worldwide fame. Orioginally, they were doing an almost reality TV kind of project: pick a band to manage and film it. The result was The Who. As they were shooting a film, there’s tons of footage from the Who’s early days, and the stories that are told are fascinating. This is a must-see, even if you’re not a Who fan.
  • Little Boy – This faith-based film stars Michael Rapaport and Emily Watson, and it’s as two-hanky as they come if you like this kind of movie. A boy with a growth disability has to find his faith when his father goes off to war. Then he has to learn to deal with racial prejudice in the aftermath of World War II. It’s heavy handed and overly emotional stuff, and the religious overtones are not very subtle. For the target audience, however, I expect this film will connect quite a bit.
  • Hackers – Johnny Lee Miller and a pre-fame Angelina Jolie star in this cult classic movie that’s now being released on Blu-ray for its 20th Anniversary. and if you think a film about hackers and computers is probably pretty dated 20 years on, well, you’re right. That doesn’t take away from the fun of the film, though. There’s a reason it’s a cult classic, and it’s not to do with the software or VGA chips on display. The music, the styles, the dialogue… it’s a snapshot of the mid-90s, and it’s a lot of fun in its own right.
  • The Jeff Foxworthy Show: The Complete Series – If you can imagine King of the Hill as a live-action TV series, then you have some idea of what’s in store with The Jeff Foxworthy Show. This new collection compiles all 41 episodes of the short-lived sitcom about life with a redneck flair. I find Foxworthy an amiable personality, and while this show wasn’t really up my alley, I can see the humor in it. Fans will be pleased to have the whole collection in one set.
  • The Riot Club – This is an interesting movie that I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about. Max Irons and Sam Claflin star as members of Oxford University’s most obnoxious and elite fraternity; a Billionaire Boys Club, if you will. For 90 minutes we see this group of spoiled rotten college students throwing money at everyone and everything and being as obnoxious as humanly possible. On the one hand, it’s a fascinating look at reprehensible privilege, on the other hand, you’ll want to smack every character in the film at some point. It’s an odd mix, but it’s worth checking out, if only to see how you’ll react to it.
  • Mike & Molly: Season 5 – As someone who’s not a Melissa McCarthy fan, this isn;t my favorite show. That said however, I like it better than some of her movie roles, in which she does the same thing over and over again At least here she’s not simply over-the-top obnoxious (see: Tammy, Identity Thief, Bridesmaids, pretty much every other movie she’s been in…) But for the most part, this is just a regular sitcom; not bad, not great.
  • The Royals: The Complete First Season – Elizabeth Hurley comes to television with E! Entertainment Television’s first scripted show, The Royals. I thought the show looked interesting but when I found out it was from the creator of One Tree Hill, I knew I had to check it out And it’s everything you’d want it to be: soapy, melodramatic, over-the-top, and addictive, in all the right ways. If you’re a One Tree Hill fan and have been missing that show, you definitely need to watch The Royals.
  • The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe – Despite being a Lifetime movie, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe is actually a pretty engaging film. Most of that is due to the terrific cast, which includes Susan Sarandon, Kelli Garner, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Emily Watson. It’s relatively typical biopic stuff, but I’ve always found Monroe interesting, and this film takes a new spin by focusing on her relationship with her mother, which was largely hidden from the world. Worth a watch if you like Marilyn or biopics.
  • Rookie Blue: Season 5, Volume 1 – Every year, you can knock me over with a feather when I hear that Rookie Blue has another season coming out on DVD. It’s not that I have anything against the show, it’s just that my impression of it is always that it’s not on the air anymore. But there sit is, year after year. Turns out that Rookie Blue is one of these Canadian-produced TV shows that isn’t as dependent on American ratings as many other shows. The series follows five young cops who have recently graduated from the academy, and… well, there’s no “and,” really. That’s pretty much it. It’s basically the first season of Grey’s Anatomy set in a police precinct. But that’s not a bad thing; the show is entertaining and easy to watch.
  • 5 to 7 – Anton Yelchin — who I like quite a bit — stars in this romantic dramedy about a young man who falls for a married French woman and can only see her between the hours of five and seven in the evening. While the concept is fairly straightforward, the film succeeds because of the cast and the script. It’s charming, fun, heartfelt, and romantic, and you will want to watch it again right after it’s over. This is a true gem that most people will miss; don’t be one of them.
  • Strangerland – When two teenagers go missing during a dust storm in the Australian outback, a couple’s marital troubles are pushed to the brink. That’s the basic concept behind this drama/thriller starring Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, and Hugo Weaving. It’s an odd film, with some moments that are truly engrossing and others that are a bit tedious. And the ending fails to satisfy completely. Still, the cast is great and the film is interesting enough to be worth watching.
  • Ejecta – A lower-bedgeted, half-found-footage movie, Ejecta is an alien abduction film that reaches beyond its grasp and partially succeeds. I don’t want to tell you too much about the story except to say that it involves past alien abduction and a current invasion, but this is more of a psychological thriller than an all-out alien invasion movie. The cast is solid, and luckily there’s some traditional filming iced in with the found footage elements, so that balances things out. The film could have been better, but it’s pretty interesting overall.
  • The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared – The biggest hit comedy in Sweden’s history, this film has been waiting for US release for a couple of years now. An over-the-top slapstick comedy with overtones of Forrest Gump, this foreign comedy is pretty funny. There are some things which I think might only appeal to a Swedish sense of humor, but overall I found it quite enjoyable, even if it is a bit silly.
  • The Seventh Dwarf – This animated mash-up film that combines Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and several other fairy tales reminds me of Hoodwinked, a similar fairy-tale themed animated film from a few years back. While the tone is a bit different, there is some definite familiar ground here. Starring Peyton List and Norm McDonald, it’s not a bad movie, but it’s not great ether. I suspect the kids will like it more then the adults, but I guess that’s how it should be, no?
  • Nomads – Pierce Brosnan stars in this ’90s era horror film. His co-star? A French accent. Yep, Brosnan plays a Frenchman who appears mostly in flashback as a female doctor is possessed by the “nomads” of the title, who possessed him previously. I love Brosnan and thought it would be fun to watch him in a horror film, but this movie is pretty bad. Unless you’re already a fan, I wouldn’t waste the time.
  • Vendetta – Dean Cain stars with the WWE’s Big Show in a prison-based action film about an ex-cop who goes to jail to kill the man who murdered his wife. Directed by horror ingenues The Soska Sisters, this movie is pretty dreadful. The acting is mediocre at best (even Cain, who I like, seems to be phoning it in), the script is even worse, and Cain spends most of his time getting beat up instead of doing the beating. Not a fan.
  • Welcome Back, Kotter: The Final Season – To many, Welcome Back, Kotter may mean nothing more than the springboard for John Travolta’s career in the same way that 21 Jump Street launched Johnny Depp. Yet, while Travolta is clearly the star of the show, especially judging by audience reaction to his on-screen entrances, Gabe Kaplan steals every scene he is in with his expert comic timing, impressions, or even when he “gets serious.” Fans of the 70’s, high school sitcoms, or just good television in general should all either revisit or discover this excellent show.
  • Soaked In Bleach – Another terrific music documentary this week, Soaked in Bleach explores the death of Kurt Cobain. Instead of focusing on The Life And Times Of Kurt Cobain, this one solely focuses on his death and explores whether or not foul play could have been involved. The private investigator hired by Courtney Love to find Cobain before his death is heavily involved, and the film makes a compelling argument. The actor-based reenactments are a bit odd, but they do put some of the events of the film into context. Fascinating stuff.
  • The Rebel: The Complete Series and Season One – While I’m not familiar with this show or star Nick Adams, The Rebel is a good slice of classic Hollywood western fun. Ovet the cours elf 11 discs, we meet The Rebel, an ex-Civil War soldier who’s out to right wrongs with double fisted fury. The show features notable guest stars such as Jack Elam, Agnes Moorehead, Dan Blocker, Soupy Sales, Robert Vaughn, and Leonard Nimoy, and it’s really right up the alley of anyone who loves westerns. The show’s first season is also available separately.
  • Catching Faith – I suppose you have to roll with the fact that, in a faith-based movie, the idea of a teenager drinking is so incredibly scandalous that it throws the town into turmoil. Sure, when that teenager is a star football player in a small town, I guess there can be consequences, but it seems a bit over the top for me. That said, for families looking for faith-based dramas, this movie will fit the bill nicely.
  • Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Daniel Goes to School – Just in time for your kids to go back to school, Daniel Tiger returns to his school as well. This latest disc features seven episodes of the popular PBS kids’ show, with a school and classroom theme taking the forefront, of course. This DVD makes for a great treat for the kiddies, and at a nice, low price.
  • Frontline: Obama at War – Pretty typical Frontline material, this hour-long special documents the Obama administration’s struggle with ISIS and the war in the middle east. It’s not my favorite subject matter, but it does give a good overview of the events of the past few years.
  • The Love LetterThe Cosby Show‘s Keisha Knight Pulliam is all grown up and headlining her own movie now. She stars as an advice columnist whose male best friend suddenly gets engaged and… well, come on, if you can’t guess what happens next, you’ve never seen a romantic comedy before. While this isn’t a straight-out comedy, it does follow many of the rom-com rules, so if you like that kind of thing, you’ll probably enjoy it.