Thursday, April 9, 2015

DVD Outlook: April 2015

We were spoiled in both February and March with a massive selection of top flight Oscar films. Unfortunately, it was difficult for me to sift through the lowly month of April's DVD and Blu-Ray offerings to find movies worth suggesting. While I'm hesitant to say that I recommend the following because they all come with their flaws, they are of the best options available this month.

The Babadook - 3 stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid view here)

All throughout its festival circuit run last year, rumblings ran wild about Jennifer Kent's horror film, The Babadook. Lavish praises were constantly doled out from nearly every critic and outlet. Despite feeling that such fawning was a little overblown, The Babadook truly is a solid spectacle. Aussie actress Essie Davis stars as a single mother who can't control her son's fear after they discover a demonic book about a monster living in their new house. While the scares are minimal, Jennifer Kent delivers a remarkable psychological thriller that crawls under your skin. It's impossible to refute that the film's young boy is overly annoying and that the finale is extremely anti-climactic. Yet, The Babadook's clever writing and deeply emotional story hurdle these shortcoming with ease. (April 14th)

A Most Violent Year - 2 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my full review here)

As one of my final viewing pleasures of 2014, J.C. Chandor's late-year release, A Most Violent Year, actually fell well short of its lofty Oscar-filled expectations. This slow-burning psuedo-gangster flick follows Oscar Issac as an ambitious oil man during New York City's most violent year on record. This honest man avoids using his wife's mob connections to combat a string of brutal attacks on his company's delivery drivers by the competition, all while trying to fend off a police investigation into his finances. Playing more like a drawn-out character study than an up-tempo mob movie, A Most Violent Year never really amounts to much during its long-winded running time which is north of 2 hours. But if you enjoy diving deep into a character and you're willing to take the journey, it's a somewhat rewarding watch. (April 7th)

The Wedding Ringer - 2 stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid review here)

It was difficult finding a third movie to suggest for the month, so I went to with the default comedy choice. Released early in 2015 was the hilarious buddy comedy, The Wedding Ringer. Josh Gad stars as Doug, an in over his head groom who's promised his fiance a best man and seven groomsmen for their upcoming wedding. Luckily for Doug, Jimmy (Kevin Hart) provides such a service and the duo embark on a fake wedding for the ages. There are plenty of funny moments all throughout The Wedding Ringer. However, a cliched script and a heavy reliance on shock-value humor that's overplayed these days prevent the film from reaching its pinnacle. Yet, if you're looking for some mindless laughs this month, you could do much worse than The Wedding Ringer. (April 28th)

Honorable Mention: A trio of Golden Globe Nominated films arrive to DVD this month. There's Tim Burton's Big Eyes (4/14) featuring fine performances from Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, an Oscar-snubbed Jennifer Aniston role for the melodrama Cake (4/21), and Oscar winner Julianne Moore's other recognized film from 2014, Map to the Stars (4/14). A few other big-named titles released this month include the latest from Liam Neeson's money-printing franchise, Taken 3 (4/21), a remake of The Gambler (4/28) starring Mark Wahlberg, Paul Thomas Anderson's punishingly long detective comedy, Inherent Vice (4/28), and the unbearable Jennifer Lopez thriller, The Boy Next Door (4/28). Finally, the documentary surrounding the aftermath of the Penn State sex abuse scandal, Happy Valley (4/7), is available in April, as well as the wildly adored foreign film, Mommy (4/28).

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