On DVD & Blu-Ray: February 19, 2013

There is a scene in the The Town where Ben Affleck's Doug MacRay is attempting to cover a certain clue on Jeremy Renner's James Coughlin that could give away both of their identities to an unsuspecting Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). In this single scene Ben Affleck, the director, is able to put his audience in the most vulnerable of states as we feel as exposed to the possibility of this guys entire world shattering around him as he does. We are set in this moment and the tension is palpable. Affleck clearly has a gift for creating these types of moments on film that all have to do with pacing as he creates moment after moment of such suspense in his third directorial effort Argo. After exploring the cinematic landscape of his hometown of Boston in his first two films Affleck now seems to have the confidence to venture outside of this comfort zone and take on a story that deals with issues in the bigger scope of the world. What Affleck has now gone on to accomplish is to create what feels like a very authentic period piece that pulses with intrigue and keeps its audience first informed, second engaged, and third on the edge of their seat. It was clear from the vintage opening credits to the storyboard history lesson we receive in the first moments of the film that set the stage for the relationship between the United States and Iran at the time that everything here was meticulously planned out in order to elicit and implement the specific kinds of reactions and thoughts it wanted. This, for me, only exemplifies the kind of director Affleck is and shows us the care in which he takes on each project even if his craft does receive more attention because of his name. The point is the craft deserves the attention. A

It has become like a bad joke to get hooked into horror films rolled out by the studios no matter what time of year they come out, but the ones looking like nothing more than cash cows usually show up around this time of year. They never live up to much and if anything inspire more laughs and mocks at the bad acting than they do provide authentic fear or at least a few jump scares. I like scary movies though, and I love the atmosphere they can provide when done right. Thus, I get suckered into them more often than I probably should. In 2005, after becoming pretty well acquainted with the tricks of the trade it was a refreshing piece of contemporary horror mixed with the tired genre of the exorcism films that made me trust in modern horror movies. In The Exorcism of Emily Rose watching the scary stuff mixed with the courtroom drama inspired a new sense of investment in the material and I was surprised to find a first time director behind such well developed characters and a story that explored a very effective way of getting across a very scary situation. Needless to say, when I heard that same director, Scott Derrickson, was returning to the horror genre after a disappointing follow up in The Day the Earth Stood Still remake I was hoping for something that would again rejuvenate the failing genre. Though I will say 2012 was pretty steady when it came to its scary movie offerings (Woman In Black, Cabin in the Woods) I was looking forward to Sinister the most and it certainly didn't disappoint in being one of the best modern horror movies of the past few years. B

There is something magical about the way in which Joe Wright creates his films. There is a definitive eye for craft and a grand amount of attention paid to detail. It has resulted in some of the more beautiful shots of the last decade whether they be the glorious steadicam shot on the beach of Dunkirk in Atonement or some of his more subtle work in overlooked films such as Hanna or even The Soloist. There are moments in each of these films where you could simply sit back and marvel at the craft and skill being put into it rather than care about the story that is unfolding. In his latest effort, a retelling of Leo Tolstoy's meditation on love known as Anna Karenina Wright again enlists his muse for period pieces Kiera Knightley and takes us on a spectacle that may be his most beautiful film to date, but suffers from not having the emotional core that his other period pieces have contained. I am a huge fan of Atonement and have followed Wright's career since that film captured my heart. I was anxiously awaiting what the director would do having the opportunity to again venture into his comfort zone and while the results may not have been as spectacularly moving as I'd hoped there is no doubt this is a fine film. The acting is top notch and features an array of characters that all compliment the central theme in a way that writing seems to have lacked for some time. Adapting Tolstoy is no small task and Wright along with screenwriter Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) have not only brought to life a story that likely didn't need to be told again but have condensed it so as to elicit a central idea, a study of an emotion, and the way in which it controls our lives with an unnerving direction. C+

Also Out This Week:

Fun Size is a film apparently nobody went to see and is anchored by a former Nickelodeon starlet. I haven't checked it out and I doubt anyone else will either. Also out is Part II of  the Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged adaptations that continue to do horrible box office as well as the release of Monsters Inc. on Disney 3D Blu-Ray in anticipation of the release of Monsters University this June.

For Past DVD & Blu-Ray Releases Click Here.

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