On DVD & Blu-Ray: August 19, 2014

Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy set a high standard for comic book films. Not only did they have ambitions to be the best of their kind, but the best kind of film period. They looked to transcend the genre and that is more than well and good because I am a huge fan of Nolan and what he did for Batman, but in many ways that can only be the right approach for so many comic book heroes. Not every super hero benefits from being dark, brooding and grounded in reality. This idea of grounding everything from these fantastical, imaginary worlds into the reality that surrounds us will not always be possible and that is what director Marc Webb seems to have tapped into with his re-booted Spider-Man series that looks to fully embrace the world of the comics. Unlike many, I was a big fan of the 2012 re-boot starring Andrew Garfield as the masked webslinger for despite the fact it lacked credible or sometimes even remotely intelligent dialogue (an issue that continues here) as well as relying too heavily on special effects in its clumsy action sequences (an issue both improved upon while still heavily leaning on the computer generated crutch here) it was a Spider-Man film, that for the first time felt like it captured the spirit of the comics. I'll be the first to admit I am not a big comic book reader, but Spider-Man is an exception and was always a personal favorite of mine growing up. Not only for the little bit of comic reading that I dabbled in, but like Batman and the X-Men it was for the 90's animated series that pulled me into these worlds in the first place. What I enjoyed about 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man was that it seemed to fully immerse itself in the world of its relatable protagonist and was unafraid to try and bring to the screen the more ridiculous of Spider-Man's villains which included a giant lizard in a lab coat. Seeing these actual worlds jump off the pages and onto the screen is what comic book fans have presumably wanted for years yet now that Nolan's Batman films have re-defined what a credible super hero movie is it is easy to look at those that don't adhere to the same rules as something of a lesser accomplishment. It is by this fact fans should come to the realization that this may be the closest in regards to all aspects of the way a movie can be made that a motion picture has captured the essence of what makes a comic so entertaining and endearing through its world building, its dramatic beats, its character development and most of all, its silliness. In short, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 really bowled me over. Full review here. A

Jim Jarmusch is a filmmaker I admittedly know little about. The only one of his previous films I have seen is his 2005 effort Broken Flowers which I only rented once it hit video store shelves because it featured a Bill Murray performance that was receiving grand reviews. I'd like to see more, sometime at least, as Jarmusch seems a stubborn yet eclectic artist willing to try his hand not only in different kinds of stories, but films that share a kinship with his overwhelmingly high standard of influences. I don't know this for a fact and I can't tell you any visual clues I picked up on in the composition of certain shots in Only Lovers Left Alive, but what I can see through the writing of these characters alone is that our writer/director is not simply attempting to make a statement on his perception of what has become the quickly deteriorating society of our modern world, but also the way in which art progresses, innovation is scary yet necessary and how almost nothing besides ideas, creation, expression and any other words used to describe the essence of being artistic are really worth anything when the sun goes down on ones life. Jarmusch intends to teach us this lesson and re-assure his targeted hipster audience that there is nothing wrong with remaining spiteful of everything that is popular while he parades around one of the more popular actors in the world at the moment to somewhat hypocritically say that as long as they still have credibility, the fame doesn't count. The fame shouldn't count, I agree, but you can only feel fully vindicated in your plight of pursuing a life, not simply a career, in the arts if you become noticeable enough to make a living off of your talent. It is understandable and to be of the line of thinking in which our main character Adam (Tom Hiddleston) is here where he consistently downplays or demeans the merit of what one naturally wants under the construction of today's society is only saved by his rare, mythic condition. This suggestion one should rather not have their work recognized, but simply remain underground so it never loses that edge of credibility impossible to re-gain once deemed a sell-out. I doubt Jarmusch will ever "sell-out" in the way he likes to defend his independence by never taking a big-budget studio movie on, but his characters who simply trade pretentious dialogue to prove how credible he still is are nothing if not a bunch of jaded, cynical beings waiting for an end that will never come. Full review here. B-

I had a sliver of interest in The Quiet Ones when I began seeing the trailers for it at the beginning of the year, but those quickly dissolved once the reviews started coming in and more footage came out showing it looked more like a slapdash effort than a fully formed horror film. The presence of Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) and Jared Harris was reason enough to be interested, but as it stands now I doubt I will check this out. It could possibly make for a worthy rental on a rainy night in, who knows.

Speaking of worthy of a rental, Fading Gigolo may be the home video release this week that wins that title. John Turturro's latest directorial effort casts Woody Allen as a gigolo employing his friend Fioravante (played by Turturro) as a way to make some extra cash to get themselves out of a bind. Naturally, the involvement in this world leads to a dilemma between love and money. The film received mixed reviews, but the cast which also includes Liev Schreiber, Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara, piques my interest. While The Quiet Ones may be suitable when the weather is gloomy, Gigolo could prove a pleasing experience no matter the weather.  

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