On DVD & Blu-Ray: October 28, 2014

The exorcism/possession movie should be retired for the moment and given some time to breathe. The idea of scaring people through a visual medium while relying on the inherent mysterious and otherworldly aspects of religion has officially become tired. Of course, if Hollywood were to stop cranking out horror movies centered around exorcisms it would pretty much be akin to them doing away with action movies based around super heroes. It's not going to happen so at the very least we should be able to hope for a film that is competently put together (which seems to be asking for a lot in these days of found footage) while also bringing something new to the table. Deliver Us From Evil always had the potential to bring a fresh perspective to this tired genre given several factors including its director, Scott Derrickson. Derrickson has slowly been making a voice for himself over the past decade as this marks his third trek into the realm of horror after 2005's The Exorcism of Emily Rose and 2012's Sinister. Yes, even he has already crafted an exorcism film which proves to be somewhat of a template for his latest that again melds the idea of a scary movie with another genre entirely. In Emily Rose it was that of a courtroom drama, Derrickson pulling back the small bubble of a world that these supernatural events seem to happen in on film with no repercussions on a larger societal scale and showing us what would happen if they did. It is what happens when one takes their subject matter seriously and as both director and co-screenwriter Derrickson is able to give his stories the utmost respect in terms of credibility. All of that said, this latest addition (which feels like the end of a horror trilogy before Derrickson moves on to Marvel) is a lesser work than Emily Rose or Sinister in that it doesn't have the same edge or thrill to its pacing or proceedings. Where Emily Rose felt urgent and truly disturbing Sinister was a meticulous slow burn that, admittedly, has a clunky third act. Deliver Us From Evil has all the elements to keep us interested and intrigued from the get-go, but never does it feel as compelling as it should until the final scenes. Full review here. C+

I am a sucker for movies that deal with the creation of music or the business of it in any way and so it is with fair warning that I say I delightfully indulged in the charms of Begin Again. I suppose there is nothing wrong with indulgences when they come from director John Carney and contain talent such as Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightley, Catherine Keener and what is hopefully only another notch in a string of performances that will eventually lead to a major breakout for James Corden. Carney broke onto the scene in 2006 with his simple, music-infused love story that was Once and even garnered his stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová an original song Oscar. Now, I have admittedly not made it around to seeing Once, but understand it to be a much slower, more meditative experience than this more mainstream, pop confection that illustrates the pure bliss of the moments in music that cause you to soar. I read an interesting quote from director Richard Linklater a few weeks ago where he talked about how he felt more like an extra in a movie during the big moments of his life; ones first kiss, graduation, weddings, funerals and the idea that none of these events actually belong to you, but that you are simply cast in them. I find this interesting because it says a lot about the basic human instinct of how we reflect and classify our memories and more importantly the memories that are intended to be significant. What brought this quote to mind is that Begin Again operates in the moments that aren't intended to be major, but instead stem from a more natural, organic place that leave a mark on your life that belongs solely to you. They aren't moments everyone might share, but are specifically tailored to the experience of life that you have created for yourself and only register as such when you're in the middle of them and you realize it is a piece of time you will never forget. I can imagine it was difficult for Carney to nail down exactly how he might convey those types of complex emotions and the nostalgia and sentimentality that comes along with them while presenting a present situation, but Begin Again not only illustrates his love for music, but why music is so integral in making these moments real, heartfelt memories. Full review here. B

I didn't watch Scrubs and only recently caught up on Garden State a few years ago so I was never in the loop on what made Zach Braff so appealing. That said, I've always felt a kind of understanding sympathy towards the guy given how his profile has seemingly continued to fall over the last few years. In his second, completely crowd-funded directorial effort, Wish I Was Here he plays a father at a crossroads which naturally forces him to ask serious existential questions and reassess his life, his family and his career. The flick didn't receive the greatest reviews, but again for some reason, I feel a sense of obligation to check it out-if not for my sake, but for Braff's.

All I know about Life of Crime is that it is a sort of prequel to Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown in that the stories the two movies are based on come from the same author. I don't know that that is enough to make me want to see the film as I've already had the chance to do so on streaming services and haven't taken the opportunity so it being on DVD & Blu-Ray likely won't change that.

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