On DVD & Blu-Ray: October 16, 2018


I heard a bug hit the windshield on my way home from the theater after seeing Ant-Man and the Wasp and genuinely felt bad about it. If that tells you anything about how well this movie will hit you. That isn't to say this superior sequel to 2015's Ant-Man is something of an emotional roller coaster that evokes real sympathy for characters that get minor in the most minor of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies, but in some ways...it kind of does. In its earnest portrayal of these characters we come to easily invest in each of their plight's largely (isn't that ironic?) because they are dealing in stakes that are so personal and thus small when compared to that of the end of the world. Is it kind of ingenious? Yeah, a little bit considering Doctor Strange goes to another dimension to stop a blob called Dormammu from engulfing the earth and all things considered that should terrify me far more than if Paul Rudd's Scott Lang survives his last few days under house arrest, but it didn't and I would rather watch Ant-Man and the Wasp a hundred times over than sit through Doctor Strange again. The best part of that? Doctor Strange isn't a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, Strange is simply a generic and forgettable one in the scheme of the last decade of MCU films whereas director Peyton Reed (Ant-Man) and writers Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer, Gabriel Ferrari, as well as Rudd himself lend their movie a more memorable signature by allowing it to indulge in its inherent goofiness while simultaneously proving this isn't as cheesy an affair as it has to be. I mean, the basis of a super hero being a super hero because he shrinks down to the size of an insect and can then communicate with said insect is a premise wholly owed to whatever drug-induced haze Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby were in at the time (1962 to be exact) which isn't a bold claim considering Lee's cameo here hints at how crazy the sixties were, but the fact is despite their powers being corny and their abilities being used more so for their own agendas than maybe any other heroes in the MCU Reed is still able to execute and exhibit these technologies and the capabilities they enable in ways that are effective and dare I say it...even kind of cool. There are less than a handful of big action sequences here, but that doesn't matter because everything about Ant-Man and the Wasp is enjoyable, but more each of those few action sequences are crafted in ways where it feels every facet of who these characters are and the world they exist within is being utilized in creative and fun ways. This kind of passion for the material also assists with the level of compassion we, the audience, feels toward the characters and thus the level of investment we pledge to what is admittedly a less vital piece of the MCU puzzle. That Ant-Man and the Wasp challenges this precedent set by the first film is enough to solidify its worthiness among the ranks as well as its quality outside of them. Full review here. B-

There have been a lot of documentaries around a lot of tragic celebrity figures recently and it would be easy to lump Whitney into this category where it's not hard to predict the beats and insights we can expect to get out of it-I certainly assumed a fair amount prior to walking into the film. That said, and I'm a sucker for music docs and music biopics, Whitney is a fascinating look into the life of a global superstar who everyone assumes they know because of this iconic status. The key word there obviously being "assumes" as director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, Marley) smartly presents the story of Houston's life as we thought we knew it and then brings the audience around to the possible truths of the matter as those being interviewed (mostly Houston's close friends and relatives) came to realize certain truths themselves. In doing so, Macdonald essentially comes to pose a theory by way of what is revealed and how these revelations fueled the demons that it always seemed Whitney Houston never possessed.

What is referred to as a "double consciousness" is something that seeps its way into every facet of Houston's being and is rather captivating given her life trajectory. Houston was raised in the church, but saw her mother have an affair (with the preacher, no less). She was raised in East Orange, New Jersey-a middle-class suburb-and went to a private all-girls Catholic school, but had roots in Newark. She was bullied in school, but found solace in a single female friend, Robyn Crawford. There was who she was, who she wanted to be, and who she was supposed to be. This only carried into Houston's pop career when she was ultimately bullied by the black community for diverting from her Gospel routes with her troubled relationship and eventual marriage to Bobby Brown seeming more a direct rebuttal to these criticisms than anything else. This is without even going into the topics of her sexuality, her drug use, her role as a mother, her relationship with her father, and how her outlook on each of these aspects of life were influenced from the very beginning. Fortunately, the documentary weaves each of these strands together in expert fashion into a single, complete picture painting a portrait of Houston we've never seen before, but that makes so much more sense and makes her story all the more tragic. Full review here. A

I have no idea how much of what goes down in Unfriended: Dark Web is based in reality, but even if it has only a shred of truth to it this more than scared the shit out of me.

#Shook

B-












Director Jonathan Watson's directorial debut, Arizona, is set in the midst of the 2009 housing crisis and is a darkly comedic story following Cassie Fowler (Rosemarie DeWitt), a single mom and struggling realtor whose life goes off the rails when she witnesses a murder. The film also stars Danny McBride, Luke Wilson, and Kaitlin Olson.