On DVD & Blu-Ray: February 12, 2013


Having never been a huge Bond fan for most of my life, my interest in the franchise was peaked when director Martin Campbell delivered a hard boiled, gritty action film with the suave, iconic agent at the head of the film. Embodied by the newly minted Daniel Craig, for the first time I felt as if I was watching a man who could actually take part in a secret government agency and come out on the other side alive rather than seeing Pierce Brosnan as a version of some high class socialite who wondered into a gunfight, some off kilter version of the character Mike Myers so easily lampooned. Granted, I haven't seen many of the films in the franchise (though I certainly plan on doing so at some point) I've seen plenty of footage and clips from the older films when I prepped to see Casino Royale as a newbie to the franchise. I have caught a few of the Brosnan era Bonds on TV as well as seeing Die Another Day as my first in a theater which as you can imagine, wasn't the greatest introduction. A year after experiencing Chris Nolan's dark, realistic take on the Batman story it was interesting to have seen Bond go the same way within his own world. With the twenty-third film of the franchise, Skyfall, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have recruited Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) to helm this latest installment that acts as a continuation of Craig's time in MI6 but also reestablishes much of the series history and lays the ground work for much to be excited about in what is coming in Mr. Bond's near future. A

Everything about The Perks of Being a Wallflower is subtle. As it should be. From its beautifully subdued soundtrack to its washed out color palette. Even in the most flashy of performances and moments that creep towards the melodramatic this lovely film is limited to its inherent honesty. I have never read the book by Stephen Chbosky on which this is based, but I will be sure to pick up a copy to really understand the culmination of our main character. I found myself, throughout the entire film, wanting to really get a grasp on the writing of our main character in order to get to know him all the better. The film does more than a fine job at this, don't get me wrong. It is more a justification of how well this film draws you into each and every character we are presented with that we want to continue on their journey with them, that we never want it to end. I can only imagine the kind of emotionality that goes into re-creating ones experience at such a delicate time in their lives but Chbosky, who not only is the author of the novel but also adapted it to a screenplay and then directed the film has done so in award-winning fashion. He shows the natural intuition of a seasoned director as he manages each of his characters and their equally important journeys with such care that we truly feel the effects of that first love, those traumatic experiences that come with every high school experience, the loss of innocence and how what we feel in being carefree will always exist as shadows of those moments that will forever stay with us; meaning so much more than anyone who recalls them around you will ever know. They will never know the individual, personal experience of what memories your mind drifts to, but this movie provides a universally identifiable yet uniquely individual story of one boys account that will not only move you, but help you to understand life a little bit better. A+

First things first I have no real knowledge concerning the kung fu genre. I have never watched much of the landmark films in its canon as I generally wasn't interested in what these types of film had to offer so, if one is looking for an expert opinion on The Man with the Iron Fists you are reading in the wrong place. This is simply an overview and opinion of the film as a film in general and not in comparison to what standards might have been held for in relation to other martial arts films. There is a certain type of vibe you expect a film to have as well when it is labeled with the infamous "Quentin Tarantino Presents" banner though and I am familiar with that directors work. While this is a film I will likely never lay eyes on again I cannot be mad at it either. It delivers everything you expect from it and probably a little more, but as far as really going for it, really getting it and exuding that quality of self-aware honesty and ridiculous characters and violence the film sometimes seems to be trying a little too hard, then again maybe that is the point. That is what a film so intent on honoring the style of this genre does seem to deserve and the effort is clear in every aspect as writer/director/composer RZA has thrown himself into this world and developed a universe for his story to take place. It is evident the man has a real knack for tone and pacing. The film is a brisk hour and forty minutes and it speeds by feeling more like a Saturday morning show than a feature length film. In the end though, the film feels more slight than epic and it should have at least emulated this feeling in one area or another. It makes a good amount of connections but is unable to land all its punches. C

The Sessions is certainly somewhat of a more acquired taste of a film in that it requires a sense of maturity about it that will not carry over with large amounts of people my age among their peers. Yet, sitting in a nearly empty theater with two couples that were 50+ and one other likely devoted film lover I was delivered a film that was both real and slightly sentimental, but mostly genuine. It is a quick film to behold, with a tone that matches its flighty pacing. The subject matter is a little tough to explain without getting an odd look as to why this would be intriguing. First, because it is in fact one of those movies based on a true story that has a physically handicapped lead overcoming some obstacle to prove to himself and everyone else that just because he is different doesn't necessarily mean he deserves to be looked down on. The magic of this film though is naturally that hill our main character, Mark O'Brien, is trying to climb but also the way in which director (and polio survivor) Ben Lewin handles the subject matter. Making this not just a small indie drama but also a very funny film that doesn't wallow in the challenges of Mark's disability but instead covers that with a sense of humor (as Mark does) used in such a way that it is a type of survival mechanism helping him as a person with polio and us as an audience deal with what is ultimately a very difficult, and emotional situation. Each of the principal actors here deliver great performances that are each worthy of nominations but more importantly they lift what could have been a typical, over-sentimental story to something completely opposite. Something fresh and truthful we've not seen committed to screen before. B

Having just recently seen Robot & Frank I was surprised by how touching it and effective it turned out to be after flying under the radar in the latter part of last year. It is a strange, unique kind of film that approaches the future as realistically as we've probably ever seen put to film and though I may come to regret that statement within the next fifteen years or so, I don't know that I won't either. There are interesting questions being posed here and director Jake Schreier, in his feature debut, doesn't get caught up in trying to answer them all but instead allows his story and his characters to breathe. With Frank Langella in the lead as title character Frank he gives a fine, measured performance of an aging thief, who sometimes can;t remember where and when he is. His two grown children (played respectfully by James Marsden and Liv Tyler) are concerned for his safety as neither of them live close to him. To make up for this, Marsden's Hunter buys his dad a robot programmed to improve his state of life though his father couldn't despise the idea more. Frank develops an unexpected relationship with his aluminum assistant and the film is a joy to follow because it never necessarily goes where you expect it to. There is a sense of familiarity here in the characters and the stubborn actions of the old man and his yearning to return to his prime, but those elements of surprise that creep in consistently add a layer to the film that allows it to feel fresh, be funny, and sometimes even heartbreaking in a most genuine way. I don't know whether it was that I expected a rather mundane experience from the film that had me so surprised by it, but I really loved Robot & Frank and if it even sounds a little too far fetched for you it is worth seeking out for Langella's performance alone. B+    

Also Out This Week:


I hope to see Lee Hirsch's documentary Bully at some point. The film has been equally praised and knocked for not really getting into the mind of the bullies themselves or their families but instead investigating the aftermath rather than the cause. Either way, I'm interested to see what the fuss is about. As for the overdue sequel to Silent Hill that adds a forgettable noun to the title to make it feel cool and edgy I had no desire to see this in theaters and that feeling remains the same as it makes its way to home video today.

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