On DVD & Blu-Ray: February 4, 2014


I never thought myself smart enough to be a doctor and never had any ambition as a child to reach for those stars, but as I got older it became more and more clear why the rewards of such a job might not justify the many negatives that come along with the business of saving lives. There always seem to be these rules in place to dictate how we live and how our society operates and we always seem to come across scenarios where those rules seem completely out of sync with the reality of what is going on in the world. While the latest in Matthew McConaughey's career turn-around, Dallas Buyers Club, isn't fueled by these issues, but more so by the strength of the human condition, it takes them into a large account due to the fact that in this case our protagonist must deal with humanity as a business and push back against those attempting to somehow make the case that the aforementioned rules outweigh actual humanity. How it all boils down to being a business rather than abiding by the patient-centric ideals of their mission statement, the pharmaceutical companies and the FDA are the baddies here; one paying the other to push their product no matter the health of their "customers" or the opposing team McConaughey's Ron Woodroof brings to the game that might be better, but doesn't carry the backing which means little extra profit for anyone involved. Why someone chose to tell the story of Woodroof though is because he decided to take up arms against the corporation that began as a gratifying profession and has evolved in many aspects to a business much like any other that deals with products that bring comfort and luxury to our lives but are not providing the luxury of sustaining life as hospitals do (a point many of the doctors represented in the film seem to be missing). Woodroof wasn't the most ideal of people to head this kind of revolution up, he had more faults than he did kind qualities, but it sometimes takes that kind of attitude to say, "screw it, I'll do it my own way if the only option you're offering is to die comfortably." There is just the right amount of rebel cowboy and logical thinking in our main character for him to stand by those words and provide the incredibly gratifying character arc in which director Jean-Marc Vallée's film delivers while opening our eyes to the harsh realities of our systems flawed philosophies. Full review here. B+

In the early months of 2013 audiences were overwhelmed with the amount of testosterone-filled action flicks that typically didn't see the light of day until the prime to late summer months, but this was different as each of these were more a solo effort from a band of well-tested performers that did well enough together, but couldn't pass up the temptation of breaking out on their own. Whether it was Arnold Schwarzenegger's fun and entertaining comeback flick The Last Stand, Sylvester Stallone's bleak and dreary Bullet to the Head, Jason Statham's five-hundredth attempt at playing a hit man in Parker or Bruce Willis taking up the ole McClain name again for another Die Hard go around, the fact of the matter is that none of them performed all too well and left most of us simply yearning for a time when they all re-unite and turn out another Expendables movie (except for you Bruce Willis, you greedy bastard!). Needless to say, this didn't bode well for the other flick Stallone and Schwarzenegger teamed up to make this year; originally titled The Tomb and later changed to Escape Plan. But hey, at least they were pairing up for this one which had to mean some level of excitement would follow, right? I was personally pretty excited to see what kind of over-the-top antics these guys could get into and put up on screen at their age. And while they may not be the marquee names or box office draws that they used to be on their own, Escape Plan is a more than competent action flick with such an outlandishly intriguing plot and strong sense of pacing that we never get bored, are never taken out of the plot turns and are right in the thick of the conflict with Stallone's Ray Breslin and Schwarzenegger's Emil Rottmayer that we don't care to step back and examine its shortcomings or bother to comment on the acting. Reality is checked at the door and despite the fact this will be one of those films that will play countless times on HBO and eventually FX where it will no doubt be easier to take it for what it is I can't say I didn't enjoy myself to the fullest as I experienced what is the pure definition of unabashed, unadulterated B-movie brilliance. Full review here. C+

Maybe it is the point I'm at in my life, maybe it was the non-existent expectations, or maybe it is the simple fact that there is true emotion coming through on screen that translates to the audience in spades, but any way you cut it, About Time bowled me over and hit me like a ton of bricks. Billed simply as a romantic comedy I should have known to expect more upon seeing that Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Pirate Radio) wrote and directed the film and has also said this would be his final directorial effort, that we were in for something magical. For all intents and purposes the film looked to be nothing more than a light romantic comedy with the twist of time traveling all of which was plagued by the fact star Rachel McAdams had already starred in a movie where the central conceit was that her husband involuntarily time traveled causing all kinds of problems with their marriage. Still, despite these pre-conceived notions, I was more than anxious to see Domhnall Gleeson (the best part of Anna Karenina, Bill Weasley) get a leading role and the supporting cast of top notch British talent wasn't so off-putting and neither was the fact it was obvious the film would have that native sense of charm that director Curtis effortlessly sprinkles throughout each of his projects. It was watching the film progress, feeling it move in on you and being completely taken aback when you realized you were watching something truly great that took me by surprise. The pure characterization of these people brought to the forefront and developed so well throughout that we genuinely feel we've been on a journey with them, that we've come to be a part of their close-knit family gives the film the ability to transcend its time traveling plot device and help us understand the point it is trying to make with said device rather than succumbing to the inherent hokey nature it usually implies. This is a film about life and it is as equally funny, warm, heartbreaking and uplifting as any single day of any of our lives might be. It is a truly moving film that I didn't see coming, but was one of my favorites of 2013. It struck a chord no other film last year did and has serious replay value, something we're all looking for in our home video purchases. Hats off to you, Mr. Curtis. Full review here. A

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