On DVD & Blu-Ray: March 15, 2016


In the context of the film it makes perfect sense, but squeezed in among last seasons holiday releases The Big Short unfortunately seemed to be one of the more forgettable titles. It helped marginally that the faces on the poster are four of Hollywood's heaviest hitters with Brad Pitt bringing in the biggest pull (and ironically putting in the least amount of screen time), but even this didn't feel like enough to distract moviegoers from what is always a saturated market only made worse here by a complicated story that has been relayed in sardonic terms by the director of Anchorman. Of course, if you've payed attention to any of Adam McKay's work you'd know the director of Anchorman and other such Will Ferrell comedies including Talladega Nights and The Other Guys is actually the perfect choice for a film that desires to tell of the housing market crash that occurred in America in 2008. It is a story in need of sharp social commentary, of a mind that might give the boring numbers game an insightful twist and McKay is able to deliver on all fronts by crafting a final product that is as funny and stinging as it is heartbreaking and tragic-a detriment, almost, to the American spirit. And yet, throughout the over two hour runtime the film never ceases to be breathlessly entertaining. There is so much going on, so many words being spoken, so many deals being made, and so many new characters being introduced at such rapid rates that we never have time to settle in, but rather stay perched on the edge of our seats. With its hands in so many different pots it would be easy for the The Big Short to go off the rails, but somewhat unexpectedly the film finds a certain groove in its latter half that, while not matching the frenetic speed of the first two acts, brings in the necessary levity that strikes the perfect balance between both the ridiculousness of the situation and the dire real world consequences. McKay, working from his and Charles Randolph's screenplay that is based on the book by Michael Lewis (The Blind Side, Moneyball), is able to remain so laser focused on what makes these characters so interesting in their own right that the fact they exist in this compelling real world situation is only icing on the cake. Full review here. A

Sisters is a comedy of errors that works more because of its sisters than its errors. It's a movie that is amusing based solely on the appeal of its two lead stars rather than the thin premise that presents a situation made amusing by Amy Poehler's bungling and Tina Fey's incompetence. Of course, when one has stars as appealing and with as much chemistry between them as Fey and Poehler the premise doesn't have to be extravagant and even the execution doesn't necessarily have to be flawless-it just needs to give the two stars it's serving a solid jumping off point. In what seems like a move that should have been made a long time ago, Poehler and Fey finally find themselves playing sisters with their relationship being put to the test when their parents decide to sell their childhood home. Of course, given this is a light, rather breezy comedy things don't become too bogged down in the themes of material versus memories, but rather the polar opposites decide to throw one last party to commemorate all the good times they had on what they consider to be hallowed ground. What is great about Sisters is that it so clearly knows what it is and what it wants to be that it aspires to be nothing more than an excuse to watch Fey and Poehler rift for two hours while bringing in some of their closest Saturday Night Live friends to play along. Like that sketch comedy show, the material may not always be the strongest, but it can go a long way based on the ability of the players it is in the hands of and while longtime SNL writer Paula Pell is behind this script (and one can catch how in tune Pell is with her stars at certain points) it is in the players that this material really finds life. The dynamic between Fey and Poehler is ripe for comedic opportunity and by casting each of them against type rather than going with the assumed roles it makes for a more interesting film despite the somewhat indulgent running time that could have been trimmed by twenty minutes in the middle. It's not that Sisters is bad or out of touch, but it's not a transcendent comedy, either (not that it was expected to be); the movie simply fulfills one's basic expectations and little more. That said, I had a fun enough time to recommend attending this party. Full review here. C+

Brooklyn is gorgeous and moving and all things warm and fuzzy without ever devolving into a Hallmark channel original. From the moment the film opens on a doe-eyed and innocent Saoirse Ronan working feverishly in a convenience shop in the early 1950's I was hooked by the effortless quality of the inviting atmosphere director John Crowley (Boy A, Closed Circuit) establishes. Even when a character as horrible as Ronan's prickly boss is present she can't dampen the mood of the eternally vibrant tone that radiates off this thing like a campfire in early fall. This immediate sense of safe familiarity allows for the rather objective-less story adapted from Colm Toibin's novel by Nick Hornby (About A Boy) to feel all the more profound and affecting as it unravels. While nothing that happens in Brooklyn will make you think too critically or give you a sense of accomplishment it is more a relaxing and comforting experience of a movie. It exists simply to make you feel something. Whether that something is overly sentimental or not will depend on your own mentality, but for the sake of my gullible and rather naive mind it was a perfectly cooked and plated dessert that made me feel cozy to the point of almost feeling gluttonous. Brooklyn gives and gives and never fails to keep you in line with it's simple narrative and somewhat complex emotional roller coaster that is complimented by its ability to paint its scenarios as simply as it can. Cheers to simplicity, to pleasantries and to being sappy; sometimes, it's all you need. Full review here. A

There is something to the quietness of Carol. There is nothing especially profound about what the film has to say on the surface or what it does with a rather straightforward story, but more the suggestions below the surface that crawl into the way this straightforward story is conveyed. Director Todd Haynes (I'm Not There, Far From Heaven) is not one to deliver straightforward though, in fact he is more inclined to get to the heart of what makes something or someone tick than he is to simply adhere to what is expected. The same could be said of his latest. And so, while at the outset Carol seems to be little more than a story of the forbidden love between two women in the 1950's there is clearly many more, larger implications of the type of world we lived and still live in as well as how things have or have not changed as much as most of us would like to think they have. Haynes is a deliberate filmmaker and one that gives us still moments and slight observations that culminate after being strolled out one by one into something immeasurably affecting. That is to say that while I watched the events of Carol unfold I couldn't necessarily connect with or understand exactly what the film was going for or why it seemed to be deliberately unfolding at a pace not intended to entertain, but to incite contemplation. It is a film that wants to move you to the edge of your seat not through the tactics of great tension or breathtaking stunts, but more through the unknown that is life and the uneasiness that comes with uncertainty. There is a steady truth to the film that it never wavers from. The film never feels the need to dip itself into more dramatic waters simply for the sake of something happening, but rather it is a film that holds steady to what it values most about its characters and the silent tragedies they must forever keep to themselves. Again, it is this quietness of both the film and its characters that is consistently emphasized to the point that once the film begins to draw to a close and the greater ramifications of the life these characters choose are realized that it becomes all the more clear we, the viewer, are truly rewarded for both ours and the films practice of patience. Full review here. B-

I've never seen one of these live action Alvin and the Chipmunks movies and certainly don't plan on starting now.