Out This Week (Part 2): Escobar, Murder My Sweet, 4Got10, Christmas Movies, & More!

Escobar

It was such a big release week this week, we had to split the listings into two columns. Here’s a look at the rest of this week’s notable releases!

  • Escobar: Paradise Lost – Josh Hutcherson and Benicio del Toro star in this crime drama that is loosely based on real-events. The story isn’t so much based on any real life events, but one of the main characters is the notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who was of course a real person. In this case, Josh Hutcherson plays a young man who begins to date Escobar’s daughter and finds himself drawn into a web of corruption. It’s a solid enough thriller that’s not outstanding, but is definitely watchable.
  • Road Hard – Adam Carolla turns to acting in this dramedy about a washed-up comedic actor trying to revitalize his career and — by extension — his life. The role isn’t a huge stretch for Carolla, but he does okay enough to carry the film. I know exactly who will ike this film, and it’s people who really like the humor stylings of people like Carolla, Brian Regan, Anthony Jezelnick, and the like.
  • Alleluia – This horror thriller hails from France and it is not for the faint of heart. The story follows a woman who falls in love with a man who seduces and murders women. When she embarks on his quest alongside him, things get… complicated. To say more would spoil the plot, but let’s just say this movie is IN-TENSE.
  • Murder, My Sweet – This acclaimed noir film makes its Blu-ray debut via The Warner Archive print-on-demand service (www.warnerarchive.com). Dick Powell stars as Philip Marlowe, and while he may not be Humphrey Bogart, he’s pretty great in the role nonetheless. While the film has been available on DVD, this marks the first time it’s out on Blu-ray. I love classic Hollywood crime films, and this one is terrific.
  • 4Got10 – Dolph Lundgren and Danny Trejo starring in an action movie together? This should be a slam dunk, right? There’s only one problem: they forgot the action. I can see that this film is trying to be more of a crime thriller, but frankly it’s kind of dull. And as much as I like Dolph Lundgren and Danny Trejo, I don’t pay to watch them stand around and talk. This was a little disappointing.
  • Blood & Glory: The Civil War in Color – This fascinating documentary takes a loot at the Civil War in a whole new way, by taking hundreds of black and white photos from the era and meticulous colorizing them. By striving for natural colors and not looking like day-glo abominations, the result is stunning. Seeing imagery you’ve only ever seen in black and white from a bygone era in full color is a completely different experience. This is a great one for history buffs.
  • The Code: Season 1 – This six-episode thriller from New Zealand is a slow, slow burn. The plot revolves around a cell phone video of a car crash that leads to a government conspiracy, but the story is complicated and gets bogged down too often. Despite Lucy Lawless in the cast, the numerous characters are hard to relate to. It’s not a bad series at all, it’s just paced a little slower than I prefer.
  • The Don Rickles TV Specials: Volume 1 – This set features two uncut Rickles TV specials from the 1970s: The Many Sides of Don Rickles and Don Rickles Alive and Kicking. Filled with his usual warmth and charm (read: biting sarcasm), Rickles features a host of guest stars including luminaries such as Johnny Carson, Don Adams, Harvey Korman, Anne Meara, Bob Newhart, Carroll O Connor, Juliet Prowse and Robert Goulet. Fun stuff for Rickles fans.
  • When Marnie Was There – This latest animated film from the acclaimed Studio Ghibli (although not directed by Hayao Miyazaki) features voices by Hailee Steinfeld, Kiernan Shipka, Grey Griffin, John C. Reilly, and Vanessa L. Williams. This isn’t one of those movies where you can describe the plot without giving away spoilers, but suffice it to say its themes focus on friendship and mystery, as so many Ghibli works do. This is a charming little film.
  • Jeanette McDonald & Nelson Eddy: Volumes 1 & 2 – These two collections are also available via The Warner Archive print-on-demand service (www.warnerarchive.com). Somewhat forgotten by today’s audiences, McDonald and Eddy were one of Hollywood’s popular musical movie couples, starring in a number of movies together. Volume One includes Naughty Marietta, The Rose-Marie, Maytime, and The Girl of the Golden West, while Volume Two includes Sweethearts, New Moon Bitter Sweet, and I Married an Angel.
  • Earthfall – More SyFy-styled earth destruction is the name of the game in this cheesy thriller that’s filled with so-so special effects and a mediocre cast. I like these kinds of movies, and I know a lot of people out there do too, and I’ve definitely seen worse than this, but it’s not great.
  • The Timber – Josh Peck and James Ransone star in this western about two brothers who become bounty hunters to save their home. Now, Josh Peck is not a great actor, and seeing him in a western is a bit jarring, but honestly, he’s not as bad as I expected. The film has a lot of your usual western tropes, but as someone who’s not an overt fan of the genre, I didn’t think it was too bad.
  • Out of the Vault Christmas Collection – This 10-episode collection from Nickelodeon sees a bunch of Christmas themed episodes from the heyday of the networks 90’s-era cartoons, including Hey Arnold, Angry Beavers, Catdog, Rocko’s Modern Life, and more. I’m not a huge fan of these shows, but I know a lot of people who are, and this is a nice throwback at a low price point for them.
  • Earth: The Inside Story – It’s hard to condense 4-1/2 billion years of natural history into an  hour, but this PBS documentary doesn’t try to cover the history of the world. Instead, it focuses on the geology of the earth and the make-up of the planet itself. It’s interesting stuff for the science geeks out there, and the hour-long running time keeps it concise enough to not get too boring for the rest of us.
  • Escaping ISIS – Also from PBS this week is a moving and powerful documentary about freedom fighters in the middle east who are trying to save women and children who have been taken unwillingly by the forces of ISIS. It’s not easy viewing, but you will be blown away by what some people go through to fight for freedom.
  • Apartment Troubles – While the supporting cast includes Megan Mullally, Jeffrey Tambor and Will Forte, this movie is about (and written by) Jennifer Prediger and Jess Weixler, a comedy duo who created their own project. I’ll say that how much you like this movie will depend on how much you like these girls and their style of comedy. I’ll also say that I’m not a fan and leave it at that.
  • The FallingGame of Thrones‘ Maisie Williams plays a young girl at a private school that… well, I’m not sure how to explain the thrust of this story. It involves private school girls, obsession, friendship, lots of taboo sex, and some occult goings-on as well. The supernatural angle isn’t the main identity of the film, but it does keep things somewhat interesting. I just wish the tim wasn’t so slooooow.
  • Golden Shoes – Eric Roberts, John Rhys-Davies, David DeLouise, and Vivica A. Fox all co-star in this fun little family film that takes soccer and a pair of “special” shoes and turns it into a movie about believing in yourself. It’s the kind of thing we’ve seen a dozen times before, but kids will enjoy it and it’s not too painful for the parents to watch.
  • Nocturna – Jonathan Schaech and Estella Warren star in this vampire flick which is really just… weak. The plot is strictly paint-by-numbers, the action is nowhere to be seen, even the vampire moments are few and far between. This one is just — pardon the pun — toothless.
  • Twice Upon a Time – This animated oddity comes to DVD for the first time via The Warner Archive print-on-demand service (www.warnerarchive.com). Produced by George Lucas, this movie has an odd history. It was created using the lumage style of 2-D animation, and originally as geared for adults. The studio wanted it to be more for kids so an entirely different second audio track was created to make it more kid friendly. This DVD release includes both audio tracks so you can see the film how it was made and how it was seen. Interesting stuff.
  • Hustle – This Burt Russell crime drama from the 70s features an amazing cast that includes Catherine Deneuve, Paul Winfield, Eileen Brennan, Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, and Catherine Bach. While the film isn’t anything groundbreaking, it’s a solid 70s-style crime thriller that’s gritty and pulls no punches. Fans of the era or the genre will enjoy this one.
  • Lipstick – Also from The Warner Archive print-on-demand service (www.warnerarchive.com), Lipstick is a thriller that deals with rape and revenge. It stars Margaux Hemingway and Chris Sarandon, and it falls much more into the exploitation genre than it maybe wants to, although there are some dramatic moments to be found.
  • Best Christmas Party Ever and Christmas at Cartwright’s – Two new Lifetime Christmas movies make it onto DVD this week. Nobody does holiday TV-movies better than Lifetime, and these two are equally charming, equally formulaic outings. Best Christmas Party Ever stars Torri DeVito as a young party planner who ends up at odds with her new boss — who happens to be young and extremely handsome. Christmas at Cartwright’s stars Alicia Witt as a woman desperate for a job at Christmas time who ends up masquerading as a male Santa Claus at a department store. I like Alicia Witt, but… erm, not a fan of this one.
  • 20 Holiday Adventures and 20 Fairy Tales: Scholastic Storybook Treasures – These two latest releases from Scholastic each contain 20 themed animated storybooks. Scholastic does some great stuff with kids books on these DVDs, as they take popular kids’ books and bring them to life via animation and voice overs (often celebrity narrators.) The Holiday Adventures disc will make for great viewing for the holidays, while Fairy Tales is good for year-round viewing. Best of all, these discs have a nice, low price point, so your family can enjoy them easily.