Trial by Fire
The film plods at points, trudging along, and there are a few misguided narrative "devices" tacked on, but still, "Trial by Fire" bristles with anger.
10 NEW TO NETFLIX
6 NEW TO BLU-RAY/DVD
Two things can be true. This could be the best possible version of Roald Dahl's beloved book that's loyal to the source and still just be an OK movie. While Steven Spielberg gets much of the spirit and tone of Dahl's story down, the film that results is so formless and often meandering that it's ultimately frustrating. It's a movie that works in fits and starts, instead of casting the spell it really needed to in order to work. Having said that, you really should see it for a reason you may not have expected: Mark Rylance. The Oscar winner for "Bridge of Spies" is simply fantastic as the lead character, who he gives unexpected humanity and depth.
Bringing The BFG to Life
The Big Friendly Giant and Me
Gobblefunk: The Wonderful Words of The BFG
Melissa Mathison: A Tribute
One of the most unexpected surprise sleeper hits of the year has finally come to DVD, where I expect it will find an even more supportive audience through word of mouth. This is the kind of film that people are talking about when they lament how Hollywood doesn't make movies for grown-ups any more. It is a thematically rich piece that undeniably cribs from Cormac McCarthy but has its own voice as well, made even more interesting by the fact that it's from an outsider perspective (a story of America made by a European). The performances are great throughout, but it's the use of setting that really elevates the film. Open spaces that somehow feel threatening, buildings foreclosed upon, rickety cars speeding down a highway - it's a visually confident film that looks great on Blu-ray. And it's a movie people are going to be talking about this awards season. Don't miss it.
Enemies Forever: The Characters of Hell of High Water
Visualizing the Heart of America
Damaged Heroes: The Performances of Hell or High Water
Red Carpet Premiere
There will be many pieces in the coming weeks, including on this site, about the best films of 2016, but I'll give you a sneak peek of one of my choices: This is the Best Animated Film of 2016. And it's not even close. LAIKA's latest is a gorgeous meditation on legacy and family, even stronger on repeat viewing. I liked it when I saw it in theaters, but I loved it after watching it with my boys at home, discussing its themes, admiring its ambition. LAIKA makes films that challenge young viewers, giving them new ways to consider and appreciate the world around them. This is one of their best.
Corners of the Earth
Features Commentary with Director/ Producer Travis Knight
"One-Eyed Jacks" (Criterion)
Marlon Brando's only directorial effort is a classic chapter in the legend's incredible career. Stories of making up the film as he went along and a first cut that was 5.5-hours long have almost overshadowed the film itself, which is very good. Well, it's good. My expectations were sky high after hearing stories for so many years, but one can tell that this piece had a, shall we say, tumultuous production. It's often wildly unfocused and inconsistent in its characters. However, there are moments of true beauty, particularly in the cinematography and Karl Malden's fantastic performance. I wish it was tighter, but I think the people who made it did too, and it's a film that I look forward to seeing again and dissecting further. Ultimately, it's perfect for the Criterion Collection, wonderfully remastered and the kind of thing that fans have been desiring for years. For the Western fan on your holiday wish list, this is tops. (Maybe for the Noir fan too, but how is this is as much Noir as it is Western is for another feature.)
New 4K digital restoration, undertaken by Universal Pictures in partnership with The Film Foundation and in consultation with filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New introduction by Scorsese
Excerpts from voice recordings director and star Marlon Brando made during the development of the film’s script
New video essays on the film’s production history and on its potent combination of the stage and screen icon Brando with the classic Hollywood western genre
PLUS: An essay by film critic Howard Hampton
What a special movie. A Disney remake of a beloved film shouldn't work this well, but most of them don't have David Lowery in the director's chair. The man behind "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" imbues this remake with a deep appreciation of nature/setting and an understanding that the human characters need to matter as much as the CGI creature in the film's title. The cast here all fully commits. Robert Redford's speech about believing in magic changing the way you see the world, and therefore raise your children, is one of my favorite scenes of the year. And the film's overall messages of friendship, trust and family are resonant. Here's all you really need to know: my kids can't wait to see it again. Buy it.
Note to Self: A Director's Diary - Director David Lowery Narrates the personal diary he kept through the Filming of Pete's Dragon in this Intimate and Fasinating look at the Movie's Making.
Making Magic - Discover fun facts about what went into Designing the Spectacular, Lovable Dragon.
"Disapperaring" Moments - The Director Shares a Montage of the Film's "Lost" Scenes
Audio Commentary - With Director David Lowery, Co-Writer Toby Halbrooks and Actors Oakes Fegley and Oona Laurence.
Music Videos: - "Nobody Knows" By The Lumineers "Something Wild" by Lindsey Stirling (Featuring Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness)
"The Squid and the Whale" (Criterion)
Noah Baumbach's deeply personal study of a family impacted by divorce is still one of the filmmaker's best films, and the most interesting special feature on the Blu-ray allows all of the key players to revisit the production and what the movie meant to them. Clearly, the film changed the career of Jesse Eisenberg, and he offers some fun anecdotes about the making of it (including how nervous he was for the song). The movie itself has held up well, still serving as an personally insightful examination of how often children are magnifications of their parents' flaws. Daniels and Baumbach even get their own standalone interview segments. Daniels openly discusses how much the film changed his life, and reveals several great pieces of trivia, including the fact that he's literally wearing Noah's father's clothes in much of the movie. It's not often that all of a film's major players return to discuss their work as interestingly as the players do here.
New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Robert Yeoman and director Noah Baumbach, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New interviews with Baumbach and actors Jeff Daniels, Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline, and Laura Linney
New conversation about the score and other music in the film between Baumbach and composers Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips
Behind “The Squid and the Whale,” a 2005 documentary featuring on-set footage and cast interviews
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Kent Jones and a 2005 interview of Baumbach by novelist Jonathan Lethem
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