On DVD & Blu-Ray: February 9, 2016

I saw my first James Bond film at fifteen. What I saw, some say, is the worst Bond picture of all time. 2002's Die Another Day featuring the last go-around for Pierce Brosnan as the famous British super spy was goofy fun at the time, especially for someone keenly unaware of any of the traditional elements and archetypes included in a Bond film, but four years later and one year after the revolutionary origin story that was Batman Begins made it okay to make something campy into something more grounded and serious we received a new kind of Bond, a more grounded in reality Bond with a seriously serious streak about him. That isn't to say that producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli overcompensated as Casino Royale still sits as my favorite of the Daniel Craig Bond films. For what it's worth, I don't necessarily have a great affinity for the Bond movies. They have never done much to excite me, but I look forward to them because I more or less know what I'm getting, but on a grand scale. And I like epic. Moreover, Craig is the Bond of my generation and if I were to have any type of fondness for any of these films it would be his rough and rugged incarnation of the typically suave MI6 agent. All of this is to say that while I appreciate what the producers and director Sam Mendes (Skyfall) have done for the series in being bold and essentially wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch it can't help but feel as if they ran out of tricks with the latest installment, SPECTRE. While there is much to like in this new film-the set pieces are consistent, the familiar elements more present than ever since Craig took over as well as the gorgeous cinematography from Hoyte Van Hoytema (her, Interstellar) capturing it all-and yet there is something missing from the story. There is a lack of substance while still holding an unbelievable amount of aspiration. Spectre feels like a film that wants and has the intention to do so many things and fulfill so much fan service that it actually ends up doing very little. To say Spectre is a waste of time or even a bad movie is too harsh as there is clear craft that has been put into the final product, but what the film is and what it wanted to be are clearly two very different entities. Full review here. C

I'm not the biggest Guillermo del Toro fan. I like his stuff well enough, but I don't understand the fuss around him that has essentially made him a brand. It's easy to go back and say how much you enjoyed Cronos as it was an introduction to the director for many or how great Pan's Labyrinth was because it is in fact that (I still can't see del Toro ever hitting that kind of high again), but beyond his somewhat spotty resume what is there? I thought Pacific Rim was fine, but nowhere near great or even worth the excitement many a fanboy have lauded it with since the films release two years ago that have garnered it a sequel campaign for the ages (will it be made or not?!?!? Ahh who knows!!). With Crimson Peak though, I was intrigued from the moment gothic horror and del Toro's name were thrown together in the same sentence. It made perfect sense, but more it would be magnificent to see something of this genre made in the modern Hollywood system. If there were ever a chance for del Toro to return to the heights of Labyrinth it would certainly have to be in this type of film, right? It's as if the horror genre is ingrained in the way the director thinks-each piece of writing attempting to elicit the horror of whatever circumstances his characters find themselves in with a flourish of the fantastical thrown in to boot. As penned by Del Toro and Matthew Robbins (The Sugarland Express, Mimic) Crimson Peak is an amalgamation of something Edgar Allen Poe might have thought up conveyed in the style of the horror films of the fifties and sixties. It is easy to say that the film could easily fall into the "all style and no substance" category, but it's also easy to see there is a lot going on under the surface here even if the film I saw isn't exactly the one I expected. Given the title seemed to be referring to the colossal gothic mansion that the trio of main characters inhabit I imagined this would be a tale of a haunted family heirloom that held plenty of secrets for the innocent Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) to discover, but while this element certainly plays into the film, Crimson Peak is more about desire and how the nature of such emotion can consume every inch of our being. Full review here. B-

In this quaint, but quality production there is a message not necessarily about the housing market and the sad state of our legal system concerning real estate, but about the particular stories of those these widespread issues literally hit home for. As much as this might be a film telling us about a topical issue in our country today it is more a human drama about the advantages and disadvantages of being on both sides of the fence. Led by the terrific likes of Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon it becomes apparent less than ten minutes into the film that director Ramin Bahrani (At Any Price) wants to craft this personal story with such care so as to make us aware of the corrupt property, financial, and banking systems through the characters. Garfield is Dennis Nash, a single father also providing for his mother (Laura Dern), who are evicted from their home after Nash is unable to retain steady construction work. The man who evicted him from his house, Rick Carver (Shannon), see's the value in Nash's construction skills and offers him work with the promise of helping him get his house back. Though it all begins so innocently, the wealth in which Carver is willing to share and the game with which he is willing to play both become more appealing to the impressionable and desperate Nash. It becomes clear where the film is going and how it will ultimately handle it's forthright message, but that never stops it from being a tense thriller that paces itself briskly and never lets up once we really dig in. Making a damn good case for it's side of the argument, 99 Homes illustrates it's point in a way that makes one want to contribute to helping the real world obtain the same ideals this film puts on display through it's protagonist. B-

Love the Coopers was the Christmas film of last year that wasn't. Opening in mid-November with a current tomatometer score of 20% the film came and went with no lasting impression despite featuring a whole host of likable stars. That said, I'm a sucker for these types of Christmas movies and have the foresight to know what to expect and for such movies to fulfill a certain type of quota and nothing more. And so, I'll certainly be giving this one a shot at some point-even if that's not until this Christmas when the blu-ray will be marked down and sitting in the discount bin.  

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