The 5 Best DVD/Blu-Ray and Streaming Releases of October 2013
This Is The End: “… until the Apocalypse hits. Amusingly enough, it’s the real deal here. Rapture, demons, the Devil, all of it. In a matter of minutes, Hollywood is destroyed and the main players find themselves holing up in the remnants of Franco’s house, trying to survive and figure out what to do. What follows is an oft-predictable set of hijinks and conflicts, over food, over what the plan is, over who’s in charge, etc., etc. Sure, the film parodies several disaster films, but what makes it work is that ultimately, it’s really parodying the actors themselves, and it does so with a certain wicked, self-effacing glee that’s hard not to appreciate. Each actor plays a sort of dumbass version of themselves, loosely based on the characters that they’ve each come to be known for in one fashion or another. Robinson is shrill and high-strung, Franco’s a smug, pretentious douchebag with an uncomfortable man-crush on Rogen born out of their time in Pineapple Express, Hill is a smarmy, fake-seeming dimwit, Rogen is a rather loud simpleton, and so on and so forth. There’s constant conflict between the group as they try to establish a pecking order, while also simultaneously dealing with their own, pre-fire-from-the-sky conflicts, and it’s often played with very funny results.” - TK
Much Ado About Nothing: “It’s telling that, peripheral touches aside, the only new or “updated” moment comes with that opening scene that lets us know what Benedick and Beatrice once briefly meant to each other, and that will provide a perfect set-up for what’s to come. It’s the kind of believable moment that shows Whedon realizing that adaptations like his will have to bend the book’s spine a little if they want to stand on their own. The moment sticks out even more when weighted against moments in the text where, say, a woman wishes to be a man so she could take action against those who’ve wronged her, or in which people are courted and traded among marriage partners like baseball cards. It’s only in the heat of certain moments like professions of love and forgiveness that Whedon finally connects the specificity of a classical text with the universality of the emotions involved. Put another way: Whedon puts on a nice play, but he’s at his best when he remembers to just tell a story.” - Daniel Carlson
The Heat: “Melissa McCarthy co-stars with Sandra Bullock in The Heat, opening today. You should see it. While it is largely a derivative buddy cop movie, McCarthy is hilarious in it, but only if you find boldly crass lines delivered with brutal fervor and perfect comic timing to be hilarious. Sandra Bullock is OK in it, too.” - Dustin Rowles
Pacific Rim: “What makes Pacific Rim such a solid, satisfying experience, however, is that it’s big and brash and deafening and silly, but unlike so many of the modern blockbusters, it’s also legitimately fun. There’s a genuine appreciation for its roots, but also an effort to draw in new fans by making the film relatively breezy . There’s a conscious effort to not bog it down with too much dark, gritty seriousness, yet also giving it just enough sturm und drang that there’s something to root for. While the destruction is huge and devastating, there aren’t any graphic depictions of human suffering (in fact, the film makes a point of noting how humans evacuate and shelter themselves during the chaos). As a result, you get to enjoy focusing on the story of the people and the fights, without feeling vaguely sick about the widescale calamity you are seeing. But there’s also a breathless, childish glee to the film, making it one of the more enjoyable trips to the cinema I’ve had in a long, long time. Its pacing is fast and fluid and packed with action, and as a result, its more than two hour running time slips past you almost unnoticed.” - TK
Before Midnight: “If I’ve sounded alternately vague or blase about the plot, passing it off as a series of talks in a random assortment of rooms, it’s only because I’m wary of untangling the web Linklater’s woven. On one level, “nothing” happens here; on another, everything does. These are whole lives on screen, and Linklater creates decades of back story through judicious use of small phrases and characters that feel lived in. It’s rare and a little harrowing to see a film that so bluntly and accurately deals with a marriage.” - DC
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