Saturday, January 2, 2016

DVD Outlook: January 2016

Let me begin by wishing a Happy New Year to everyone! And while you spend the rest of the weekend recuperating from your late night antics, you'll want to consider the best new titles arriving to DVD and Blu-Ray this month (December's List). I wasn't too impressed by last month's weak selection of titles, but we can rejoice because January is bringing the goods. Although only one top recommendation will land on my Top 10 list for the year, a trio of others nearly broke into 2015's best. So in an unprecedented fashion, I will recommend four new releases for the month of January.

Infinitely Polar Bear - 3 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my full review here)

This is the time of year where I spout off about the most overrated, most underrated and best films of 2015. And because of that, you tend to here a lot of repeat information. One such film is Maya Forbes' crowd-pleasing dramedy, Infinitely Polar Bear. It's risky and daring constantly throwing my support behind a film I haven't seen since I ventured to the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2014, but the film gave such a lasting impression that I feel like it needs to be seen. Mark Ruffalo's relentless Golden Globe nominated performance is the movie's anchor, but there's no shortage of laughs and hearty moments in this touching family story of a bi-polar and unstable father who's forced to become a Mr. Mom while his wife travels to graduate school. With a very impressive showing on my upcoming Top 10 list of 2015 and certainly one of the year's most overlooked indie gems, Infinitely Polar Bear is a wonderful feel-good movie experience. (January 5th)

The Martian - 3 Stars out of 4 - (Read Greg Rouleau's guest rapid review here)

Acclaimed filmmaker, Ridley Scott, had a huge rebound with his 2015 sci-fi drama, The Martian. Earning a trio of Golden Globe nominations, the adapted screenplay blends together exceptionally-timed humor with a thrilling scientific story. Matt Damon gives a spectacular turn as Mark Watney, an astronaut stranded alone on Mars after an unforeseen emergency forces the rest of his crew to abort their mission and return home. Left to fend for himself on a planet where nothing grows and there's no water to be found, the resourceful scientist must use all of his knowledge to survive until help arrives. Ridley Scott delivers a wildly entertaining and gripping story that's guaranteed to impress a wide variety of audiences. The Martian still stands as an Oscar hopeful, so catch it before the big awards show in late-February. (January 12th)

Sicario - 3 stars out of 4 - (Read Greg Rouleau's guest rapid review here)

One of 2015's most thrilling movie experiences comes from Canadian filmmaker, Denis Villeneuve. While many praised the director's previous dramatic work, Prisoners, I was left mainly unimpressed by the predictable whodunit mystery. However, Villeneuve's dark and gritty tone plays mightily well with his drug-cartel action endeavor, Sicario. Emily Blunt stars as an FBI agent sent to work with a secret government task force on a mission to dismantle the drug cartel responsible for bombing and killing members of her unit. This heart-pounding thriller features a ruthless performance from an actor born to play the role, Benicio Del Toro. Both he and co-star Josh Brolin are dynamic in their supporting work and a no holds barred approach to the story makes for a tumultuous finale that you'll never forget. There is a fair amount of violence and intensity scattered all throughout Sicario. But if you can stomach it, this is certainly a film to embrace. (January 5th)

Straight Outta Compton - 3 stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid review here)

In a story straight out of my youth comes F. Gary Gray's hard-hitting hip hop biopic, Straight Outta Compton. Growing up on the revolutionary musical creativity of gangster rap pioneers, N.W.A., I was very familiar with the story at play. However, F. Gary Gray's superb all-star cast of unknowns provides a rebirth to the origins of this musical movement. Straight Outta Compton's long list of performers landed the film a highly coveted SAG nomination for Best Ensemble and enough high marks across the board earned Gray a chance at a sequel. This is a fantastic underdog tale of disenfranchised youth from the mean streets of Compton who re-write history with their unique and personal rhymes of corrupt law enforcement and life in the hood. And although the mainstream media and high-brow America tried to deny these young men of their freedom of expression, it only made their voices louder. F. Gary Gray opens the world's eyes to many things with this film but, most importantly, he allows us to witness a historical phenomenon with remarkable authenticity. (January 19th)

Honorable Mention: Another trio of titles arriving to DVD this month that I enjoyed are Robert Zemeckis' high-wire biopic, The Walk (1/5), Baltasar Kormakur's dramatic account of a 1996 mountain-climbing expedition, Everest (1/19), as well as the romantic comedy, Sleeping with Other People (1/5), starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie. A couple new options that I found to be more mediocre include Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway's, The Intern (1/19), M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit (1/5) and the overly praised indie, The Diary of a Teenage Girl (1/19). Finally, horror fans may be interested in Eli Roth's The Green Inferno (1/5) and sequel, Sinister 2 (1/12), while kids movies Goosebumps (1/26) and Hotel Transylvania 2 (1/12) may appeal to some of your parents out there.

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