Tuesday Releases: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey & Zero Dark Thirty

MARCH 19TH, 2013

BACHELORETTE // If not for the impressive showing from the leading ladies, “Bachelorette” would be extremely lacking. The humor is female vulgarity at its finest, with an honesty of how manipulative ladies can be, even with their closest “friends”. There’s definitely a lot of inside humor or real-life experiences at play in the film, as the allusions to past events seem extremely close to the chest. Where the film falls short is in the severity of the night’s events. If you’re going to tout ruckus, then go all out. The plot lines are drawn in the sand and you see the conclusions coming from a mile away, but somehow placing a serious actress like Kirsten Dunst in the midst of these comedic ladies, while reuniting Lizzy Caplan and Adam Scott (“Party Down”) creates an overall enjoyable comedy, even if it doesn’t quite live up to “The Hangover” or “Bridesmaids”.

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THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY // Visually enthralling, grandiosely captivating, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” proves that fans are safe with Peter Jackson at the helm of Middle-earth. Martin Freeman is by far the most enjoyable portion of the film, with the look and charisma to deftly carry this latest Tolkien franchise, as lead Bilbo Baggins, while returning faces like Ian McKellen as Gandalf, along with several other familiar faces, help keep the film on par with its predecessors from “The Lord Of The Rings”. The adventure is grand enough, the villains are once again developed, Howard Shore’s score is an unequivocal achievement, and with several key scenes contained in the frames of this particular film, including the return of Gollum, this first film in the trilogy sets the bar fairly high for the forthcoming films. Of course, “The Hobbit” still falters, mainly in its overabundance of CGI, relying too heavily on graphics over practical effects. Also, in its widely publicized high frame rate, the effect leaves much to be desired, with fast motions coming off strange to the eye, and although there are several scenes where the higher frame rate looks impressive, mostly sweeping shots, it is not worth the time spent “adjusting” to its differences. We can only hope this is a passing fad.

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LES MISERABLES // Several factors make “Les Miserables” the success film that it is. Tom Hooper’s willingness to bring the frame of the camera in closer to the actors is always appreciated. His slightly cocked camera positions are highlighted in “The King’s Speech” and continue on into this latest Hooper adaptation. Also, the decision to record the singing performances on the set instead of re-recording afterwards is a bold choice and often allows for much more appreciate of the actors abilities and the ability of the mixers and composers to match these aspects after the fact. The performances from the leads are astounding. Anne Hathaway delivers a breathtaking performance, revealing a devotion to the role in losing her hair for it, and baffling with the ability to sing some of the strongest melodies while sobbing, what seems like almost an impossible feat. Hugh Jackman carries himself superbly, never drawing too much attention to himself, but never quite losing our focus. Russell Crowe surprises, despite the negative press around his singing and performance, and actually becomes one of the most enjoyable parts of the film for me. Sacha Baron Cohen continues to impress with his ability to “turn it on”. As much as he appears as a bumbling idiot outside of films like this and “Hugo”, he really has a knack for certain roles, including these, to which he will one day be recognized for. Where the epic drama loses me is in the constant singing, even with spoken words that are song. It, at one point, becomes quite laughable and, upon multiple viewings, has the possibility of losing my attention completely. Many of the songs are quite memorable, including Anne Hathaway’s last number, Cohen and Carter’s soiree, and the multiple revolution songs, my favorite being the one of the young boy as he makes his way through the town. Overall, “Les Miserables” is a film to behold, a film that sets itself apart from all the other films released in 2012, and for that, it deserves a standing ovation.

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RUST AND BONE // “Rust and Bone” is a showcase of two of the best foreign actors currently working, bringing “La Vie En Rose” actress, Marion Cotillard, together with last year’s favorite leading man, Matthias Schoenaerts (“Bullhead”). Although Schoenaerts’ performance is often read as emotionless, that lack of emotion allows for larger crescendos and a perfect backdrop to the kindness he shows Cotillard’s character, Stephanie, after her near fatal accident which leaves her handicapped. This French language film is hardly a love story, as its more about finding hope in despair, but it eventually makes its way around to the human connection elements. “Rust and Bone” is visually stunning, with several key moments that encapsulate the entire film. Also, Alexandre Desplat provides a viable score, with the help of Bon Iver and his soulful melodies opening and closing the film. One could easily produce a case for Audlard’s film making a run at Best Foreign Language film, and even though I yet to see many of its competition, this is easily at the top of my list for the year.

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THIS IS 40 // Props must go to Judd Apatow for “This Is 40”, as it is a realistic look at a couple’s life in their 40’s. The major problem with “This Is 40”, however, is it’s a far too realistic look at a couple’s life in their 40’s. Yes, there are portions of the Apatow-written film that are humorous, but to wade through its two hour plus run-time to find them is atrocious. Paul Rudd steps up to the challenge of carrying this film as the lovely Leslie Mann often just comes off naggy and ill-equipped. Had this film taken a much tighter, less rounded approach to displaying this couple, relating a little more to the characters we knew of “Knocked Up”, and cut down on the painstaking length, this could have been much more enjoyable.

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ZERO DARK THIRTY // “Zero Dark Thirty” is powerful and captivating, with overly impressive and year’s best worthy performances from Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke who hand-carry this film with their determination and prowess in front of the camera. From scene one until the suspenseful night raid of which the film gets its name, Kathryn Bigelow builds a distinct surrounding of political and actual warfare, with phenomenal moments built around actual occurrences following the events of 9/11. Whether this film is fully, loosely, or not all based on the actual events of killing Osama bin Laden doesn’t matter, as the progression through the aggravation and constant loss amongst this impossible manhunt is more than enough to mark this film as monumental.

New Releases
Bachelorette
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables (2012)
The Other Son 2-denied2
Price Check
Rust and Bone
This Is 40
Zero Dark Thirty

TV Box Set

  • Chance in a Million: The Complete Collection
  • Daktari: Season Two
  • Ghost Hunters: Season Eight V1
  • Jersey Shore: Season Six
  • A Mind to Kill: The Complete Collection
  • No Job for a Lady: The Complete Collection
  • Quincy, M.E.: Season Five

Special Editions/Other Releases

  • 23 Minutes to Sunrise
  • 24-Hour Love
  • 4 Minutes
  • Adventures in Appletown
  • Angus Buchan’s Ordinary People
  • Badlands: Criterion
  • The Big Picture
  • Company of Heroes (2012)
  • Dark Feed
  • Fatherland
  • Fred Won’t Move Out
  • Gorgo: Ultimate Collector’s Edition
  • Gottfried Helnwein and the Dreaming Child
  • Grave of the Vampire
  • Great Magician
  • Hellgate
  • The Jitters
  • Les Miserables (2000)
  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp: Criterion
  • Lost Angels: Skid Row is My Home
  • MVP: Most Valuable Primate
  • Sassy Pants
  • Shadow People
  • Straight A’s
  • Strange Frame
  • The Suicide Forecast
  • Thor: Legend of the Magical Hammer
  • Time of My Life

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