Tuesday Releases: Mud, Oblivion, & The Place Beyond The Pines

AUGUST 6TH, 2013

ON THE ROAD // Interesting and sublime enough to grab and hold your attention, speckled with strong actors and believable performances, “On The Road” takes Jack Kerouac’s novel and presents it almost literally to the audience, leaving a sense of actual storytelling and plot progression behind. Garrett Hedlund steals the show as Dean Moriarty, the eccentric and constantly shifty ex-con, who befriends writer Sal Paradise, the character based on Kerouac, played convincingly by Sam Riley. Accompanied by familiar faces like Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, and Kirsten Dunst, along with strong showings from Alice Braga and Tom Sturridge, this novel adaptation is enthralling if not a bit too plodding. The real question arising from the film is whether Kristen Stewart is starting on the correct path following her “Twilight” days. The answer is yes, she does take a step forward in my book, finally exposing herself, not only physically, which often takes a lot of willpower, but showing her first seminal range of emotions, from an invigorating dance scene with Hedlund to the expression of her devastation regarding Dean and being his mistress. “On The Road” definitely is not the film to highlight a Beat Generation, but it is entertaining enough to warrant a viewing.

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MUD // Marking the career best performance of Matthew McConaughey, “Mud” is a slow burn, heavy hitting drama with themes of coming of age, family systems, and the reality of love. Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland deliver breakthrough performances as Ellis and Neckbone, both of whom stumble upon a hideaway named Mud (McConaughey) living in an abandoned boat in a tree. Director Jeff Nichols continues to display his gift for down home drama, creating an aura of mystery, unease, and emotional growth, all without slapping the viewer across the face with it. “Mud” also displays male father figures in a more realistic light than any drama before its time, with many exchanges of affection. Also, Nichols turns the stereotype of what most would consider rednecks completely around and shatters preconceptions when dealing with adults interacting with children. McConaughey displays a deep seeded understanding for his character and becomes him. His stern face and cold, Southern drawls steal you in and never let go, as you begin to anticipate the boys going to see him again, so you too can experience his mystery. Dramas don’t get any better than this.

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OBLIVION // Captivating in all the right ways, “Oblivion” delivers strong, well tread science fiction staples in a new and visually enthralling way with a competent high level Hollywood star in Tom Cruise. The set pieces alone make this a must-see, producing a post-apocalyptic backdrop that rivals any previous endeavor. Add to that a strong script that plays its twists close to the chest, grandiose and gorgeous cinematography from Academy Award-winning Claudio Miranda, and a score from the band M83, and “Oblivion” becomes not only the first big blockbuster of the year, but a strong contender for best science fiction film of the year. Similar to the impact that last year’s “Looper” had on me, “Oblivion” will definitely land on my top 10 of the year list.

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THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES // Don’t let the two hour and twenty minute run-time frighten you away, Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine”) uses every last frame of that run-time to create a masterpiece of drama. Ryan Gosling is easily one of the best actors of his time, creating the persona Luke, a motorcycle stuntman who finds out he has a son from a one-time fling with Eva Mendes. There’s no surprise that Gosling knocks this role out of the park, but one surprise performance does come out of this film from Ben Mendelsohn (“Killing Them Softly”) who plays backwoods mechanic, Robin, who befriends Luke. In attempt to show Romina (Mendes) he’s taking the kid seriously, Luke ventures out with his “particular skill set” to rob banks in order to provide for his son, thus bringing in Bradley Cooper’s character, a cop named Avery. This epic genre spans multiple generations and also brings a shattering performance from Dane DeHaan, who I now have high hopes for. “The Place Beyond The Pines” is visually stunning, especially when venturing into the pines. It is also poetic and crosses through several different moral predicaments and social themes. Cianfrance brings to light both performances and story, taking dramatic storytelling to an entirely new level.

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TO THE WONDER // Meditative and reflective, “To The Wonder” is an ethereal glimpse at the emotions of love as perceived by director Terence Malick. Not for everyone and described by one patron as “over two hours of leaves blowing in the wind”, Malick’s latest is much more down to earth than “The Tree Of Life”, but still relies heavily on strong earthly ties like flowers and water. But seeing these images with the subtle scores and delicate nuances brings all brands of emotions from those willing to invest, allowing for one of the most spiritual experiences one can have during a film, the same inflicted by “The Tree Of Life”. Like a majority of Malick films, most of the actors could have been anyone. Ben Affleck and Javier Bardem are for the most part just stepping off points for the females around them. Olga Kurylenko captures the heart of the revolving emotions perfectly, presenting an almost childish perspective on the essence of love. Her dancing and spinning captures the lively moments well while her looks of sadness are almost devastating to experience. Also, with how little she is present, Rachel McAdams is also able to reflect some of the same reflections, making it that much harder to see her go. As with most of Malick’s body of work, “To The Wonder” is definitely not for everyone but is a much lighter experience than some of his previous films. For me, these films are a form of church, allowing for a deeper look into not just a body of emotions, but into myself as well.

New Releases
Aftershock (2013) 2-denied2
Antiviral
Mud (2013)
Oblivion
On the Road
Paradise: Love 2-denied2
The Place Beyond the Pines
The Sapphires
Storm Surfers The Movie 2-denied2
To the Wonder
West Of Memphis

TV Box Set

  • Auction Kings: Season One
  • The Borgias: Season Three   
  • Community: Season Four   
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Season Five
  • Duck Dynasty: Season Three
  • Gunsmoke: Season Nine
  • Midsomer Murders: Set 22
  • Political Animals: Complete Series
  • Scapegoat: The Mini-Series
  • Smash: Season Two
  • Smiley’s People: The Mini-Series
  • Strike Back: Season Two
  • The Thick of It: Complete Series
  • Top Gear USA: Season Three
  • The Twilight Zone: Season Four
Special Editions/Other Releases
  • 5 Souls
  • Act Like You Love Me
  • Adventures in Zambezia
  • Blue Water White Death
  • Climbing High (1938)
  • The Corrupted
  • Do Not Disturb (2013)
  • Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal   2-denied2
  • Fear Not
  • Freaked (2013)
  • Frostbite!
  • Gallowwalkers
  • Garden of Words
  • In Heaven There Is No Beer
  • The King of the Streets
  • La Sirga
  • Living Downstream
  • My Amityville Horror   
  • October Baby
  • Quicksilver
  • Raising Izzie
  • Rhinestone
  • Riddick Collection
  • Robin Hood: 40th Anniversary
  • Room on the Broom
  • Shanghai Story
  • Sushi: The Global Catch
  • Sword in the Stone: 50th Anniversary
  • Tomboy: Remastered Edition
  • Torn
  • White Water Summer
  • The World Before Her
  • Zombie Massacre

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