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Out This Week (In The US): The Boss, Criminal, Hardcore Henry & more



The Boss – I’m not a very big fan of most of Melissa McCarthy’s movies, but this one is probably the worst of them all. It’s not that it’s absolutely terrible, but it’s overlong, not funny enough by half, and it gets really weird at the end. And Melissa McCarthy’s character — who is supposed to be unlikable — goes through such a small arc that by the end, she’s still mostly unlikable. The film’s bright spots are Kristen Bell and the under-utilized Tyler Labine, as well as some of the younger pseudo-girl-scout characters. I’ve seen worse ways to kill a couple of hours, but it’s just not a very good film overall.

Barbershop: The Next Cut – I don’t think I’ve even seen the second Barbershop, but I can’t imagine that you need to be versed in the franchise’s details to enjoy Barbershop: The Next Cut. Taking on a more issues-driven storyline this time around, the subject of racism and relationships is at the forefront. The film has the same style of humor as the first one, although the expanded cast and more serious topics feels it leaving less fleshed out and less on point than before. I think fans of the franchise will enjoy it, but if you haven’t seen the previous films, I’d start at the beginning.

Hardcore HenryHardcore Henry was inspired by a brilliant short film that hit the internet a couple of years ago. A first-person action piece, it was more exciting in four minutes than most action films had been in the past decade. So of course, someone decided to make it into a feature film. And that’s not a great thing. The film is interesting from a filmmaking perspective, but it’s hard to get engaged with a character that you never see or hear from. And the first-person conceit also makes it hard to follow the action. I really wanted to like the film, and I love the idea of an action movie trying something different, but it just doesn’t work.

Criminal – Despite an amazing cast that includes Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds (in his second mind-swapping movie of the past year), Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones, and Gary Oldman, Criminal is a turgid mess. Overly dour and way too serious, the film shines most when Reynolds is on screen, so of course he has the least amount of screen time. I have to imagine with a cast like that, the stars thought they were signing up for something better, and I’m not sure where exactly it went wrong, but it’s simply not a very good movie.

I Am Wrath – John Travolta and Christopher Meloni star in this new direct-to-video action film that isn’t great, but isn’t terrible, either. The biggest problem with it is that it has no idea what kind of tone it wants to have. Travolta plays a man out for revenge when his wife is murdered by gangbangers. Christopher Meloni plays his former partner who helps him kick the crap out of the bad guys. When the two of them are together, they banter and take jabs at each other and have a lot of fun, but the rest of the film is overly serious. It’s a weird mix that never quite gels. I think if the filmmakers could have gotten the tone more consistent, this could have been a good film, but as it is it’s simply a relatively benign way to kill 90 minutes.

Also available this week on Blu-ray & DVD:

  • Person of Interest: Season 5 – Lots of changes are in store for those of you who haven’t seen the fifth and final season of CBS’s inventive hit procedural yet, but the show remains as strong as ever. Taraji P. Henson’s presence is still missed, but Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi remain strong leads, and the show’s new twists (the team is now on the run) make for a gripping and exciting season full of action and intrigue. I really love this show, and I love how the producers keep things moving. Too bad it’s over.
  • Sing Street – Director John Carney’s first film, Once, remains his most well-known, yet it also remains my least favorite. I thought his follow up, Begin Again, was ten times better, and Sing Street is an equally delightful, fun, and charming movie. There isn’t a single big-name actor in it, and while technically I guess it could be considered a musical, it is one more so in the way of Begin Again, where the songs come organically from the music group that is the center of the story, not from people just randomly breaking into song. This film is simply delightful.
  • Jack Irish: Season 1 – Guy Pearce stars in Jack Irish, a fierce Australian-set crime drama based on Australian writer Peter Temple’s award-winning novels. The show sees Jack, a lawyer who is grieving after the murder of his wife, become a sort of investigator-for-hire, fighting not only bad guys but his demons, often with a bottle of liquor to aid him. It’ss dark and well-written, but of course the real star here is Guy Pearce, who is utterly terrific in the lead role. Worth a watch if in you’re in the mood for something gritty and gripping.
  • Opry Video Classics II – Now, admittedly I’m not the biggest country music fan in the world, but I do love a good live performance and this gigantic box set is packed with some of the most legendary performers in country music history. Spread out over eight discs, this set includes: Songs That Topped the Charts 2, Legends 2, Love Songs 2, Pioneers 2, Queens of Country 2, Hall of Fame 2, Kings of Country, and Jukebox Memories. That gives you live performances from the namesake of country music from people such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Chet Atkins, The Statler Brothers, Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and literally too many others to list here. I was also pleased to see that there were some artists I wasn’t familiar with, which gave me a chance to experience some new performers. This set isn’t cheap, but if you’re a fan of classic country music, you really can’t go wrong with it.
  • Born to be Blue – Ethan Hawke stars in this biopic of jazz legend Chet Baker that is equal parts fact and fiction. It’s the… creatively inspired, shall we say, story of Baker’s life. Now, I have to say, I really don’t care for jazz music and I really had no knowledge of Baker’s life, so this was illuminating in that respect. And Hawke’s performance is truly fantastic, no doubt. But overall, I found the film just… okay. I think maybe jazz aficionados will enjoy it more, and it’s not a bad movie at all, it’s just not great.
  • Careful What You Wish For – Nick Jonas — yes, that Nick Jonas — stars in this thriller that treads on very familiar ground. A young man gets into an affair with a married woman and when a murder occurs, he gets sucked into a mess of corruption and betrayal. It’s not great filmmaking, but I do like this kind of movie and I found it to be enjoyable overall. Likewise, while Nick Jonas may be a better singer than an actor, he’s not bad here and he carries the movie well enough. Check it out if you like standard direct-to-video thriller fare; it’s not too bad.
  • Roald Dahl’s The BFG – Not the current Steven Spielberg film that’s in the theaters, but rather the old-school Rankin-Bass animated special, this charming throwback movie is a fun little version of Roald Dahl’s classic book. I haven’t seen the Spielberg big-budget version so I can’t compare, but I grew up watching these cartoon specials and this one took me back to my childhood. Plus, it’s available at a pretty low price, so it’s a good way to hold your kid over until the big-screen version makes its way to video.
  • The Last Diamond – I’ve been saying for years that the French have been quietly putting out the best thrillers for the past decade or so, and The Last Diamond continues that trend. More of a heist movie than a straight-up thriller, this one stars Bérénice Bejo (whom you will probably remember from The Artist) and Yvan Attal and deals with a diamond heist. To say more would be to give away the plot, but with some nice suspense, a great heist, and excellent performances, this one is worth tracking down.
  • Nexo Knights: Season One – You get two discs of Lego-ey action in the toy company’s latest TV series, Nexo Knights. My son absolutely loves these Lego sets, and he really enjoyed the TV show as well. If you’ve seen Ninjago or any of the Lego Star Wars specials, you know exactly what you’re in for here. Semi-serious storytelling, surprisingly good CGI, and moments of humor that are appropriate for kids. This is a fun show that any Lego fan will probably enjoy.
  • The Boy Who Cried Werewolf – The ’70s brought us some of the best in horror movies (Halloween, for example) and then it also brought us movies like The Boy Who Cried Werewolf. To be fair, this isn’t really a horror film. It’s more of a family drama that happens to have a werwolf in it. It’s kind of an odd viewing experience, and it s VERY of its time. However, I can see how fans of cult cinema would really take to it, and the fact that this is its first time on home video makes it a real gem for anyone who remembers the film.
  • 50 Films: Cowboy Legends – I can’t say I’ve heard of many of the films in this set, but that’s kind of what I love about. Filled with multiple movies from legends like John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, and many others, this budget set will run you under $20 at most online sites and delivers 50 full movies. And there are a few recognizable titles in there, such as Angel and the Badman, The Dawn Rider, and more. Now, the movies are packed five to a disc, so this isn’t a set for cinephiles, but if you’re in need of some cheap entertainment that will take a while to plow through, this is the perfect answer.
  • 50 Films: Icons of Comedy – Like the set above, this 50-film mega set is a low-priced way to get a lot of viewing material in short order. I particularly love this set because Im a huge fan of silent era stars like Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and the like, and this set is packed with many of their films that I’ve never seen. With short film collections from Our Gang, Fatty Arbuckle, W.C. Fields, and Buster Keaton included, as well as movies like His Girl Friday, Love Laughs at Andy Hardy, and The Inspector General, I can’t recommend this one highly enough!
  • Hellhole – Ray Sharkey and Mary Woronov star in this oddball horror film about a woman pursued by a relentless killer who ends up in a prison that also serves as a scientific experiment lab/torture chamber. I’ve always liked Ray Sharkey and it was fun to see him in a role other than Wiseguy‘s Sonny Steelgrave, but this is one of those movies that — like the one I reviewed above — is very much of its time. It’s cheesy and cheaply-made, and while I know there are fans out there for it, it ultimately wasn’t quite my thing.
  • ListeningListening is an interesting indie sci-fi thriller about college kids that develop what is effectively mind-reading machinery. And guess what? Things go wrong. Shocking, right? Don’t take my flippant tone as a slam against the film, though; it’s actually pretty decent for a low-budget indie. There are some interesting concepts and the story is engaging. It’s not a slam dunk as there are a few pacing issues and the acting is solid if unspectacular, but it’s worth a look if you like sci-fi.
  • River – Rossif Sutherland (yes, of THE Sutherlands) stars in this indie thriller about a man in Laos who accidentally kills a man who just assaulted a woman, and then goes on the run. It’s the kind of stripped down thriller that enjoy, even if it’s a little slower in places than I would like it to be. And Sutherland, while he looks good on camera, isn’t really leading material just yet. Still, I’ve seen worse and if you like gritty little films, this one will certainly do the trick.
  • Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision of Paradise – I’ve heard of Lee Scratch Perry, but that’s about the extent of what I know about him. I don’t listen to reggae or dub step or whatever, so my knowledge of what he does is pretty limited. This movie, however, didn’t clear much up for me. It’s not a documentary or a biopic or a music video. Instead, it’s an avant-garde art project filled with animation and live-action footage; I would almost think it’s a glimpse inside Perry’s mind. I can’t say it was for me, but fans might enjoy it.
  • L’Attesa – This Italian drama (with suspenseful elements) is a slow-burning piece that features strong performances but is ultimately kind of disappointing,. The story of a young woman who goes to visit her boyfriend but finds him absent and meets his mom instead, this isn’t a thriller or a horror film like my on-sentence description makes it sound. It’s a dramatic piece, and while the actors shine, the film is slow with a capital S. It’s well-shot and well-made, but it was too dull for my tastes and I couldn’t get caught up in it.
  • The Return Of Ruben Blades – I thought this was a movie about Ruben Blades the actor; you know, the guy from Predator 2. It’s not; it’s about a musician named Ruben Blades who is the same guy and a legend in some circles. I didn’t know anything about his music career, but this film by Robert Mugge (an accomplished music doc maker) gave me a glimpse into his world. Rife with political passion and music that, while I’m not a fan of, I can certainly appreciate, the film is a treat for fans.
  • Ozland – What an interesting movie. A film about a post apocalyptic world in which a survivor finds a copy of The Wizard of Oz and starts to build a society after it, this is an intriguing and engaging film. The low-budget origins don’t do it any favors, but at the same time, the aesthetic kind of fits the film. It’s not fast-moving or overly clever, but it has a lot of heart and is a neat concept. Worth a look if you don’t mind indie fare.

One Comment

  1. Ruben Blades the actor and Ruben Blades the musician are the same person. He was in Predator 2, he’s on Fear the Walking Dead, he ran for president in Panama, he’s a famous musician. If you watched it you would have known that.

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