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Out This Week (In The US): Green Room, The In-Laws, Everybody Wants Some!! and more



Green Room – One of the late Anton Yelchin’s final movie roles, Green Room is an excellent thriller from Jeremy Saulnier, writer/director of the excellent Blue Ruin. This movie sees a punk rock band who accidentally witnesses the aftermath of a murder and gets trapped in the back room of a club with murderous neo-nazis outside. It’s tense as hell, a real nail biter, and the cast is fantastic. Anton Yelchin is absolutely terrific, while Patrick Stewart turns in a great performance as the “nice” leader of the bad guys. Also terrific is Macon Blair — the star of Blue Ruin — in a supporting role that could have been cookie-cutter and vanilla, and turns it into an electrifying part. This is a really fantastic thriller and it’s nice to see Yelchin in one of his final roles. He will be missed.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Not quite the hit that The Hunger Games movies have been, the first two Divergent films were nonetheless solid hits at the box office. They never quite escape their teen origins, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy them. This third installment took a huge tumble at the box office, which I don’t quite understand. I’m not saying the film is going to win over people who don’t already like the franchise, but I enjoyed it as much as the first two. It feels like the next logical step for the franchise to take, and there are some cool action sequences. I hope the poor performance doesn’t leave us hanging for a fourth film to wrap things up.

Everybody Wants Some!! – I don’t think I could have hated this movie any more than I did. Richard Linklater isn’t one of my favorite filmmakers but I do like several of his films. I think Dazed and Confused is severely overrated, but I don’t actively dislike it. Everybody Wants Some!!, however, is absolutely horrendous. It’s basically two hours of watching every guy you hated in high school drink, swear, and try to get laid. Unlike sex comedies like Porky’s or even Revenge of the Nerds, where the film’s focus is on the underdogs, here you’re watching a bunch of college baseball team jocks acting like, well, like college baseball team jocks. Translation: most of them are douchebags. I really, really hated watching this. Be warned.

Miracles from Heaven – This was a tough one for me, but not because it’s a bad movie. It’s perfectly fine for the target audience but I’m about as far from that as it gets. First of all, it’s a faith-based film, which I generally don’t go for, but it also deals with a child with a severe illness, something I don’t tend to cope with well. Add to that the fact that Jennifer Garner is in the lead role — someone I typically don’t care for as an actor — and the result is a film that really wasn’t my cup of tea. However, if you’ve seen the trailer and it seems like the kind of film you’d like, you probably will. It’s well-acted and has good production values, so there’s nothing technically wrong with it.

iZombie: Season 2 and Season 1 – Easily one of my favorite new shows of the last few years, iZombie is absolutely fantastic. Considering that it comes from Rob Thomas, creator of the similar and similarly excellent Veronica Mars, that’s not really a big surprise. It’s also based on a DC Vertigo Comics series by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, but the similarities to that series are almost non-existent. But that doesn’t matter, because the show is so much fun. Rose McIver plays a doctor-in-training who becomes a zombie in modern-day Seattle and becomes a coroner’s assistant to feed her need for brains. But feeding on brains gives her flashbacks to the people’s lives, which she uses to help a police detective solve crimes. With a perfect mix of mystery, humor, and overarching story lines, this show is the spiritual successor to Veronica Mars in every possible way, and I love it. Season 2 is out new on Blu-ray this week, while Season 1 (which was previously available on DVD only) makes its Blu-ray debut this week as well.

The In-Laws – Peter Falk and Alan Arkin star in this comedy classic that — I have to admit — I had never seen before and only vaguely heard of before. But it’s the perfect comedy caper — part Odd Couple, part spy comedy, part Father of the Bride. It shouldn’t work, but it does, and it does well. Serpentine! Now, the film has been out on video before, but this Criterion Collection edition marks the film’s debut on Blu-ray, It has also been restored and remastered for excellent sound and picture quality, and it comes with a nice collection of extra features that extend your enjoyment of the film. This one is a must-have!

Colony – Sort of a cross between V and Falling Skies — but with no actual aliens anywhere in sight — this intriguing show didn’t seem to make much of a splash with audiences, but judging by this DVD release, I’m assuming it’s coming back for another season. Starring two TV favorites, Josh Holloway (Lost) and Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break, The Walking Dead), the show focuses on a post-alien invasion world where most of the population has been killed ff and the remaining humans live in walled off cities. It’s the conflicts that arise inside these “blocs” that fuel most of the show. It’s not a slam dunk and there are a few clunky moments, but overall it’s intriguing stuff and I definitely want to see where things are going in season 2.

Also available on Blu-ray & DVD this week:

  • The Dresser – Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen star in this heavy drama from Starz about an aging theater star and the man who dresses him as they perform King Lear on the eve of World War II. The film isn’t about war per se — it serves as a backdrop but does have some impact on the story — but is instead more about aging, frailty, and the relationship between these two men. It’s powerfully made stuff, and even if it isn’t exactly the kind of film I typically go for, it’s worth watching just for Hopkins and McKellen’s performances.
  • Naked and Afraid XL – While the title of the show is the television equivalent of linkbait, Naked & Afraid XL is actually solid reality television. A cross between Survivor and anything Bear Grylls does, the show features 12 survival experts spending 40 days in the wilderness, dropped off in a remote location with nothing but a few survival items; not even the clothes on their back are allowed. And while I take all reality TV with a grain of salt, these people clearly go through some hellish experiences. It’s a better show than I expected it to be.
  • Slasher: Season 1 – While MTV’s excellent Scream got a lot more mainstream press coverage, Slasher gained a few fans on its own. Basically, the show gives us grisly kills (predicated around the seven deadly sins), overly forced character melodrama, and acting that ranges from pretty good to pretty awful. I can’t say that I got wrapped up in it like I did with Scream, but it’s also not terrible if you’re a horror fan. Check it out, but keep your expectations tempered.
  • EndgameModern Family‘s Rico Rodriguez stars in this family-friendly film that follows a formula we’ve all seen a hundred times, which is both its biggest strength and its biggest weakness. In this case, it’s the story of the small-time school’s chess team that tries to go up against the big guns and win the chess championship. I can name a dozen other films with the exact same story, which makes the movie feel a bit tired, but it’s also such a perfect formula that it’s hard not to get caught up in the drama. Worth a watch, especially because it’s appropriate for all ages.
  • Belladonna Of Sadness – This fascinating piece of animated filmmaking is something of a cultural oddity, cult classic, and piece of cinema history wrapped up all in one. The story deals with sexual assault and a deal with the devil, but to focus on the plot is to miss the point of this film, which is all about art, mood, and evocative imagination. The imagery is what I imagine taking acid to be like; it’s honestly like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s not an easy watch, as narratively it suffers at the expense of all of the gorgeous visuals, but once you see it you will find yourself drawn into it.
  • Stressed to Kill – With echoes of Falling Down, this indy thriller/black comedy stars Bill Oberst Jr. and Armand Assante. When a man with a medical condition is told to reduce the stress in his life, he sets out to eliminate them completely. The movie was fined in Florida (where I’m from) so admittedly I had a bit more curiosity about this film than I might have otherwise. I can’t say that I loved it, but it does have some entertaining moments.
  • Power Rangers Dino Charge, Volume 3: Breakout – This week also sees another volume of Power Rangers Dino Charge: Resurgance, the latest series of the Power Rangers, which wisely mixes dinosaur-shaped zords back into the mix. Obviously this is for kids, but I think as far as entertainment for youngsters go, there’s a lot worse than this. You get the usual collection of five episodes, all of which are loud, colorful, and action packed.
  • Adventure Time: Card Wars – I’ve never been an Adventure Time fan. I just didn’t get it, couldn’t get into it, could never really see what people like about it. So I haven’t watched it in a few years, and along comes this new DVD. So I figured I’d give it a shot. I guess I can say it’s not completely terrible but I still don’t get what people love about it so much. I suspect that fans will love it, though.
  • Model Hunger – Actress Debbie Rochon steps out from in front of the camera and takes her place behind it as she directs this new horror film. And she does at least a capable job of it, too, but I didn’t really like the film. Not because it’s poorly directed — because it isn’t — it just isn’t my kind of flick. It’s a little grotesque and a little disturbing, and while I’m sure there’s an audience out there for it, I can’t say that audience included me.
  • The Preppie Connection – What if Ferris Bueller used his BS skills to traffic drugs instead of skipping school? While this film is tonally very different from the John Hughes classic — and also based on a true story — you get the basic idea. Led by a strong performance from Thomas Mann, the film is your typical sex, drugs, and rock and roll story… if that story centered around a high school kid who becomes a small time drug kingpin and gets in way over his head. It’s not the best film I’ve ever seen, but it is pretty interesting and worth a watch.
  • Margeurite & Julien – Well. Apparently this movie’s script was originally written for Francois Truffaut. I can see that; it seems like the kind of movie that might fit in his oeuvre. But as well-shot and well-acted as it is, this loosely-based-on-a-true-story film is about a brother and sister who’s love goes from innocent to flirty to romantically passionate… and that’s a hard pill to swallow. It’s excellently made, and it’s not meant to be salacious, but the subject matter is obviously difficult and awkward. Not quite my kind of film.

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