On DVD & Blu-Ray: June 9, 2015

I don't know much about the early James Bond films. My parents weren't much for movies and much of my watching of older films has come from my own doing through my high school years with a large chunk of help from film classes in college. Still, neither of these have included going back and catching up on the twenty or so Bond films I'd missed since the beginning of the series. Instead, Daniel Craig became my Bond of choice after only seeing Die Another Day followed by Casino Royale. For the record, one day I will purchase the complete Bond collection and make my through each of them, but until that day I will continue to enjoy its current incarnation for what it is. All this to say that though I may not understand the specifics of the kind of movie Matthew Vaughn is attempting to riff from there have been plenty of other movies in the vein of Bond for me to understand the overall reach Vaughn has envisioned and to know that he grasps it all pretty damn well. With his fifth feature film, director Vaughn has created an exhilarating and hugely entertaining take on the spy movie franchise by keeping the structure and all the players intact and messing with the conventions of what each of these expectations play into. In all honesty, there isn't anything necessarily original or unique about what Vaughn and frequent collaborator/screenwriter Jane Goldman have produced here, but more than anything it is refreshing in its perspective and creative in its execution. These count for a lot in our current cinematic landscape and Vaughn knows precisely how to tap into making something old feel like something new and exciting. He did the same with Stardust eight years ago (yeah, that was eight years ago) taking a typical-seeming fantasy film and churning out a completely fulfilling adventure. The same can be said for Kingsman: The Secret Service though, on many levels, it is even more fun in a raucous sense given one has a similar mentality to that of the characters and the guy who's brought them to the screen. Full review here. B+

When thinking of what to write about a film I typically latch onto a main idea that comes to mind as I watch the movie. With something like Serena though it is hard to pin down because there isn't really anything there for one to think about and so the main idea, by default, becomes the lack of investment in what is going on. Despite the countless attempts by the story to keep throwing curve balls in an exhaustive manner intended to make me care there was simply nothing to dig into here. In many ways, I'm still sitting here wondering what exactly I watched as I type this and try to formulate a response to a film I'm not quite sure I understood the purpose of. What was it trying to say? Was there something I missed or were its intentions to purely demonstrate melodrama for the sake of entertainment? I may never key into what exactly director Susanne Bier's long delayed project wanted to be because I likely won't ever sit down to take it in again, but if there is anything to be said for the effort it is that I can see how this felt like a good idea. A winning formula, if you will. Grab two of the biggest movie stars on the planet right now (though at the time this was made they could easily be labeled up and comers), stick them in a period piece where they can flaunt their dramatic acting chops and lift the story from a well-received 2008 novel by Ron Rash in hopes that something of an Awards contender emerges. Unfortunately, that is not what we have on our hands here, but instead Serena is a middle of the road movie that features solid performances from its two leads and an eclectic host of supporting players with some lush photography and naturally gorgeous locations, but never matches its aesthetic in theme or story as it devolves into one trite situation after the next. These situations are intended to up the shock factor and the audiences emotional response and investment, but rather feel forced into a film that was never really all that interesting in the first place. Full review here. D

While I missed Project Almanac in theaters I actually rented the film this morning and plan on watching it later today. This isn't necessarily because I've heard great things about it, but I remember being somewhat fascinated by its potential given the handheld gimmick feels out of date already. Comparing whether the story this film tells would have been just as effective, if not an overall better movie, were it made in the traditional sense and not through the lens of a fad that has already seen its demise is the main hook here and I'm anxious to see what side of the line this falls on.

My wife, the 9th grade English teacher, seemed to have a slight bit of interest in The Duff as it is based on a book many of her students enjoy and given we recently finished watching Parenthood I have a bit of a soft spot for Mae Whitman and wouldn't mind giving this one a look. Maybe it will serve as nice alternative programming this weekend after the marathon of Jurassic Park movies I've subjected myself to this week in anticipation of Jurassic World. We'll see. Either way, this one did good, under the radar business and I'm curious to see if it will find an even wider audience on home video.

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