This monthly column offers a sampling of the major releases coming soon to Blu-ray and/or DVD.
The Great Escape (MGM/Fox, 1963)
Jack Reacher (Paramount, 2012)
Shanghai Noon / Shanghai Knights (Disney, 2000 / 2003)
Mama (Universal, 2013)
Upstream Color (ERBP, 2013)
Battlestar Galactica: The Movie (Universal, 1978)
Cloud Atlas (Warner, 2012)
Crimewave (Shout! Factory, 1985)
Leave Her to Heaven (Twilight Time, 1945)
3:10 to Yuma (Criterion, 1957)
The Burning (Shout! Factory, 1981)
Medium Cool (Criterion, 1969)
My Neighbor Totoro (Disney, 1988)
Side Effects (Universal, 2013)
Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Classics and Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Contemporary (Warner, 2013)
Cleopatra (Fox, 1963)
Life Is Sweet (Criterion, 1990)
The Magic Christian (Olive Films, 1969)
Rolling Thunder (Shout! Factory, 1977)
The Star Chamber (Anchor Bay, 1983)
Mad Max Trilogy (Warner, 1979 / 1981 / 1985) - June 4
Street Trash (Synapse, 1987) - June 11
The Kentucky Fried Movie (Shout! Factory, 1977) - July 2
Ishtar (Sony, 1987) - Aug. 6
Body Double (Twilight Time, 1984) - Aug. 13
So apparently there are plans for a new biopic of Hillary Clinton's life in the 1970s. Rodham will focus on the former first lady, U.S. Senator and secretary of state's career as a young lawyer on the House Judiciary Committee's staff during the Watergate scandal.
The film is reported to be aimed at Clinton's expected 2016 presidential campaign, and will be scripted by Young Il Kim (no relation to the late Kim Jong Il of North Korea, although you know conservatives will have a field day with it).
Our question to you: Who should play Hillary? Below are six actors who could do the job. Tell us which you think would be best to play a young up-and-coming attoryney/Bill Clinton's "love interest" in our comments section below, or choose a different person for the job. We'll pass along your votes to the producers of the film.
1. Emma Stone
2. Amy Poehler
3. Jessica Chastain
4. Kristen Wiig
5. Emma Watson
6. Jennifer Lawrence
When it comes to specialized films, Charlotte's usually far behind the curve, not receiving limited releases until well after their New York and Los Angeles openings. But with the Gathr Previews program, Queen City residents will have an opportunity to see select titles before their NYC & LA openings.
The distribution company Gathr Films has chosen 20 national markets, including Charlotte, to host a series of special screenings that begins tonight and runs at least through June. In a statement, Richard Matson, Head of Distribution for Gathr Films, noted, "Think of it as your year-round film festival, movie club, and mid-week date night all rolled into one. Every week, subscribers can ... experience a diverse range of comedies, documentaries, dramas and international movies, curated from the major independent distributors' upcoming releases."
All screenings will be held at Studio Movie Grill at the Epicentre, and admission is handled on a monthly basis. The cost is $19 a month or $49 for three months. With four movies being shown each month, either option proves to be a great deal. If you don't care to subscribe, seats will be available to the public after all reserved-member seats have been claimed.
The series kicks off tonight with an 8 p.m. screening of The Iceman (reviewed here), which is included in the May package. Upcoming films include What Maisie Knew, starring Julianne Moore and Alexander Skarsgard, and the documentary Ain't In It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm.
Click on the title to be taken directly to the review.
Also, be sure to check out our coverage of Winston-Salem's 15th Annual RiverRun International Film Festival:
Finally, be sure to catch the 5th Annual GayCharlotte Film Festival, continuing through Sunday. CL's coverage here.
The Big Wedding - Robert De Niro, Robin Williams
The Company You Keep - Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf
Disconnect - Jason Bateman, Paula Patton
From Up on Poppy Hill - Animated
Mud - Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon
Pain & Gain - Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson
To the Wonder - Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem
With the 15th Annual RiverRun International Film Festival a done deal, we look back at the films reviewed for this publication (listed below in preferential order), as well as again cite all the movies that won awards. Click on the title to be taken directly to the review.
The Kings of Summer - ***1/2
Mud - ***
First Comes Love - ***
At Any Price - **1/2
The Iceman - **
With apologies to all, one of my patented Killer Headaches ™ - the ones that have plagued me since I was a mere lad of 14 - prevented me from seeing my chosen afternoon screening on the final day of the 15th Annual RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem: Smiling Through the Apocalypse: Esquire in the Sixties, a documentary about NC native Harold Hayes and how he turned Esquire Magazine into a different type of literary publication by tapping the skills of such New Journalism writers as Tom Wolfe, Nora Ephron and Norman Mailer. Fortunately, two Relpax pills in my system allowed me to recuperate enough to catch the closing night event, consisting of the announcement of the various award winners followed by a screening.
AT ANY PRICE - Writer-director Ramin Bahrani is a RiverRun favorite, and no wonder: A Winston-Salem native, he's made a series of award-winning indie flicks, two of which were screened at past RiverRun fests and one of which was filmed right here in Bahrani's hometown. (That last-named would be the wonderful Goodbye Solo, which played Charlotte in May of 2009; see CL's review here.) Unlike his past efforts, At Any Price finds the filmmaker working with a name cast and a larger budget, but it's hardly an example of an indie talent going Hollywood - after all, it's not like he's directing a Transformers sequel or a superhero flick. Yet elements of sloppy scriptwriting - the types of dramatic shortcuts we often associate with multiplex fillers - do make their way into the picture, and they serve to weaken a work that otherwise can feel as earthy as its Iowa farmland setting. In his finest performance in over a decade, Dennis Quaid plays Henry Whipple, a farmer who's doing whatever it takes to hold onto the land that's been in his family for generations. With his father (Goodbye Solo co-star Red West) constantly accusing him of destroying the legacy that was left to him, Henry hopes that one of his own sons will agree to take over the agriculture business. With the oldest boy off climbing mountains in Argentina, the duty falls on Dean (Zac Efron), but he clearly isn't interested in helping out a father he detests; besides, he'd rather be making out with his girlfriend Cadence (Maika Monroe) and racing cars in hopes of working his way up to a lucrative NASCAR career. Henry's problems don't end with his son: His wife Irene (Kim Dickens) knows he's having an affair with the local floozy (Heather Graham), he's being crushed in the region by a fellow seed salesman (the always-welcome Clancy Brown), and a potentially illegal action regarding his seed distribution results in a pair of company agents sniffing around. With his potent performance, Quaid manages to earn audience sympathy for his often unlikable character, never more than in a scene in which he tries to explain to his dad the differences between the farming business now and decades ago. Efron gives his role his best shot, but the actor's a little too soft around the edges for this part - a kid like the one who played Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) in Mud would have been much more believable - and the result is that Dean comes off less as an understandably angry rebel than as a petulant brat who needs to be put into time-out. But the problems with Dean are created by Bahrani as much as by Efron: While the situations surrounding Quaid's Henry Whipple remain interesting - his scenes with Brown and with Monroe are among the film's best - the plot points focusing on Dean veer drastically off course, starting with the ludicrous reason he balks on his racing career and ending with a third-act twist that feels more like a screenwriter's last-second Hail Mary pass than a natural progression of events. With Bahrani's assured direction squaring off against his ragged script, this proves to be a mixed bag of a movie, worth seeing for reduced admission but not necessarily at any price.
On my second full day at the 15th RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, I caught two movies about real-life individuals - one a fictionalized take, the other a bona fide documentary.
THE ICEMAN - Nobody would think to call The Iceman a romanticized version of anything, but when compared to the real-life story of Richard Kuklinski, this excessively brutal film comes off almost as gentle and dreamy-eyed as a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Kicking off in the mid-1960s, the movie stars Michael Shannon as Kuklinski, who woos and weds Deborah (Winona Ryder) while holding down a menial job dubbing porno tapes (he tells Deborah that he dubs cartoons for a living). An encounter with crime boss Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta) leads to him working as a hit man for the mobster, and once that relationship begins to sour, he teams up with another killer-for-cash (Chris "Captain America" Pine, unrecognizable under all that ratty hair) for more murderous mayhem. Over the course of approximately two decades, Kuklinski kills over 100 people, and the sick punchline is that his wife and daughters are never the wiser, believing him to be a financial broker. The movie posits that Kuklinski did everything for the sake of his family, with the character himself saying that he only cares for Deborah and his girls and nothing else. The film also repeatedly pushes his claim that he will never hurt women and children, preferring instead to only murder men - and even then mainly for monetary gain. In real life, though, Richard Kuklinski was more of a serial killer than a paid assassin - he enjoyed the art of the kill - and he would occasionally beat up his wife on the side. Writer-director Ariel Vromen and co-writer Morgan Land, adapting both Anthony Bruno's book and an HBO documentary, naturally need to streamline actual events for the sake of a coherent movie that clocks in with an acceptable running time, but in this case, they have marginally softened the character while also jettisoning many elements that would have made this picture unique. As it stands, this largely plays out as a formulaic mob flick, full of messy double-crosses, tough-guy patter, secretive meetings in big limos, debts that must be repaid in blood ... you get the drift. Shannon delivers an appropriately steely performance, but since his character isn't inherently interesting, he can only provide so much of a center to the movie. The supporting roles are all well-cast - Robert Davi is especially memorable as a gangland in-between, and the prolific James Franco pops up in one particularly distinctive sequence - but even the heat these actors are packing isn't enough to thaw out the picture's frosty approach.
Forget The Lords of Salem, the Rob Zombie flick that opened in limited release this weekend. More noteworthy are The Lords of Winston-Salem, those organizers, filmmakers, sponsors and audiences whose combined efforts have allowed the 15th Annual RiverRun International Film Festival to continue the event's tradition of matching up tantalizing films with hungry moviegoers.
This is the third consecutive year I've attended the festival (along with my wife, freelance writer Natalie Howard), and as before, I've opted to catch the final few days of the 10-day event rather than the opening stretch. Here, then, is the first batch of reviews.
THE KINGS OF SUMMER - Coming-of-age tales are generally a dime a dozen, but here's one pretty much guaranteed to make viewers feel like a million bucks. A big-screen breakthrough for both writer Chris Galletta and director Jordan Vogt-Roberts, The Kings of Summer centers on two teenage boys experiencing miserable home lives. Joe Toy (Nick Robinson) has trouble relating to his father Frank (Nick Offerman), who's been in a perpetual state of depression since the death of his wife. Meanwhile, just being around his pesky parents (Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson) has caused Patrick Keenan (Gabriel Basso) to bust out in hives. Past their respective breaking points, the boys, with a weird acquaintance named Biaggio (Moises Arias) in tow, decide to build a house deep in the woods; once it's completed, they leave their homes behind, opting to live in complete freedom while their parents wonder what's behind their disappearance. At first, it's an idyllic life, with the main hurdle being the trio's inability to catch their own food (fortunately, there's a Boston Market just on the other side of the bordering highway). But matters take a turn for the worst after Joe, deciding that the only thing missing from their cabin in the woods is "a woman's touch," invites his crush Kelly (Erin Moriarty) to hang out with them. That decision, along with the presence of a menacing copperhead, provides a potential "Eve and the snake" dynamic that might destroy this snatch of Heaven on Earth. The first hour of this 90-minute gem siphons humor from just about every ingredient available, most notably Frank's grizzly-bear personality, Patrick's reactions to the idiocy of his parents' utterances, and pretty much any moment focusing on the unique Biaggio. But even with this abundance of gags, it's clear that there are somber issues percolating just beneath the surface, and these are elevated - and handled - in mostly satisfying fashion during the third act. Admittedly, some of the film's comic bits come off as arch and artificial - no surprise, considering how many of the participants are involved with such snarky shows as Mash Up and Funny or Die Presents - but for the most part, The Kings of Summer will provide audiences with the royal treatment.
No - Academy Award nominee, Best Foreign Language Film
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