On DVD & Blu-Ray: September 23, 2014


Neighbors feels natural. For all its contrived plot set-ups that for no seemingly apparent reason allow a large, stereotypical fraternity to move off campus and into a typical suburban neighborhood where children play and senior citizens work in their gardens, it still feels completely natural. There is an honesty, an authenticity to the way in which the characters interact with one another and go about developing relationships with those around them and their changing worlds. This allows the film to make what is essentially an extended investigation into a premise rather than a full-fledged story work as well as it does. I'm a lover of comedy, whether that springs from a longing to not let go of adolescence (a theme explored in Neighbors) or simply because I've always felt a more inherently deep connection with those that make you laugh rather than those that deliver drama. I am always excited to see what people (actors, directors, writers) have to offer in the comedic genre and while this genre will no doubt always be the most subjective it has retained somewhat of a reliability factor due to the specific groups of actors working within it over the past decade or so now. There were a few years between 2008's Pineapple Express and last summers This Is The End where it seemed Seth Rogen had seen his career pinnacle come and go, that he had his good run in Knocked Up, Superbad and Express while his next few broad efforts (Zack and Miri, Observe and Report, Funny People) were all somewhat underwhelming either critically or commercially which only caused him to reassess and go in a different direction, some of which worked (50/50) and some of which didn't (The Green Hornet). With his resurgence not only as a comedic actor, but as the writer and director of last years summer hit he's seemed to hit a comfortable stride that has allowed him to surround himself with the right people (new and old friends) and to make the kind of strong, raunchy comedies he was always meant to while continuously diversifying the types of stories he is telling and the kind of comedy he is conveying. I may be getting a little ahead of myself as this is his first effort since This is The End, but that is how much I enjoyed Neighbors. Full review here. B

The definition of a "rover" is a person who spends their time wandering. This interesting, edgy, somewhat vague word that has garnered several interpretations is used here to define a wandering, drifting society. There is one man in particular with whom writer/director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) is taken with in this transient existence and it is through this hardened and disconnected perspective we come to know the world ten years after it has seemingly collapsed. Everything about the world that Michôd has built through his imagery and his characters keep the outside world unclear and of little concern. This isn't a movie necessarily about anything as much as it is an analysis of what might happen were the structure we've always lived within to fall apart. All systems fail eventually, it is inevitable, but usually when something is perceived as failing it is because something better, more efficient has come along-it will have been superseded. This, unfortunately, is not the case in post-apocalyptic thrillers and while I am hesitant to use that genre classification at all I suppose it fits. The idea of society as we know it failing has always been an interesting idea because the reason something fails typically ties into the reason it was created in the first place. So, when we look at a world without any civilizing influences we begin to wonder what the point of it all was and why we allowed it to mean so much and determine such a portion of our lives, our happiness. Civility is cause for order and without either of them what we have is infrequent chaos and it is within one of these small pockets of havoc that Michôd introduces us to a protagonist, but not necessarily a hero, and sets us out on a journey with no urgent motivation. It isn't the trying to decode this incentive that pulls one into the film though, but instead the characters themselves and why they are who they are, how they have come to be this way and their own realizations of why they feel the need to take the actions they do. The Rover is an unnerving experience in many ways as it is slow, but never tedious. The actions that take place feel as random and authentic as the settings and physicality of the characters that the camera captures while all adding up to a beautifully depressing conclusion about what this life means to us and what our lives mean to others. Full review here. A-

I am typically drawn towards small sci-fi features as they seem both the guaranteed way for an indie director to grab some recognition and break into the big time as much as they are interesting fort he reason of seeing someone do something ambitious with very little. Science fiction is a glossy, refined genre in most circles and so to pull off that aesthetic with a micro-budget is impressive, but even more so if the story is especially insightful. I don't know that William Eubanks' The Signal will break any rules or be anything to necessarily write home about, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't intrigued. Starring Brenton Thwaites (Oculus, The Giver) and Laurence Fishburne the film centers on a group of friends drawn to an isolated area by a computer genius where everything suddenly goes dark and only one of them regains consciousness to find himself in a waking nightmare. I'll probably give it a shot soon.