Pick Of The Week: New
Moonrise Kingdom (Universal)
Warning: If this is like every other Wes Anderson film ever made, Moonrise Kingdom will inevitably get the full Criterion treatment, with adorable illustrations by Anderson’s brother Eric, a commentary track, and feature after feature detailing the painstaking period minutiae that graces every frame. But the Moonrise Kingdom of the future is not the Moonrise Kingdom we have now, which is still one of the year’s best films, an enchanting fantasy that marries the promise of first love with the disillusionment of adulthood. It’s a melancholy vision lightened up by a district thread of optimism and hilarious deadpan gags. (We're giving a few copies away, right here.)
Pick Of The Week: Retro
Letter From An Unknown Woman (Olive Films)
Director Max Ophüls is best known for the sumptuous production and sweeping camera moves of films like The Earrings Of Madame De… and Lola Montes: “A shot that does not call for tracks,” said James Mason, “is agony for poor old Max.” But his 1948 classic Letter From An Unknown Woman reveals an engagement beyond mere technique, telling the richly emotional story of a woman (Joan Fontaine) whose love for an arrogant concert pianist (Louis Jourdan) spanned decades without reciprocation.
Do Not Break The Seal
That’s My Boy (Sony)
Why did America reject That’s My Boy while turning the equally dire likes of Grown Ups, Just Go With It, and Jack And Jill into spectacular—or at least relative—successes? It could be a case of popularity erosion, the bill coming due for a string of Adam Sandler duds. Or it could be the R rating, which kept actual juveniles away from a more explicit variation on his usual juvenilia. But here’s the important point: People stayed the hell away from it, and now that it’s on DVD/BD/whathaveyou, they have a fresh opportunity to stay away again.
What Else Is Out?
Mad Men: Season Five (Lionsgate): From Jessica Paré’s viral-ready rendition of “Zou Bisou Bisou” in Episode One, the fifth season of Mad Men found the show covering a year of transition with characteristic boldness, as Don (Jon Hamm) struggles to accommodate his new wife’s ambitions, Joan (Christina Hendricks) makes a shocking choice to gain a bigger stake in the firm, and one of the partners finds an extreme solution to his financial problems.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (Paramount)
The world didn’t need another Madagascar movie, but critics—including The A.V. Club’s Alison Willmore, who praised its “disarming exuberance”—gave the third installment the best notices of any in the franchise. Perhaps co-screenwriter Noah Baumbach (The Squid And The Whale) deserves a sliver of the credit.
Neil Young Journeys (Sony)
Neil Young and director Jonathan Demme have collaborated on three different concert films, but this one is considerably more unvarnished than the Neil Young: Heart Of Gold and Neil Young Trunk Show, following his spittle-filled tour behind 2010’s Le Noise.
Chernobyl Diaries (Warner Bros.)
Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli co-wrote and produced this dunderheaded—if occasionally effective—video horror about “extreme tourists” who bus into Prypiat, the abandoned city next to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It may seems in execrable taste to turn real-life tragedy into cheap scares but… yeah, it’s in execrable taste.
Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present (Music Box)
In a hugely controversial and successful MOMA exhibit in 2010, Serbian-born performance artist Marina Abramovic was part of “living sculpture” where she sat motionless while visitors were invited to sit across from her in a chair. The results, chronicled in this fascinating profile, were often dramatic and emotional.
The Forgiveness Of Blood (IFC/Criterion)
One of the lesser releases from the IFC/Criterion pact to give select films the Criterion treatment, Joshua Marston’s The Forgiveness Of Blood replaces the urgency of his Maria Full Of Grace with a stifling earnestness, though his commitment to understanding the blood feud between two Albanian families effective contrasts the modern world with one more resistant to change.
Sexual Chronicles Of A French Family (IFC)
Pascal Arnold and Jean-Marc Barr’s 80-minute fuckfest, clearly acquired as ripe OnDemand bait, celebrates libertine sexuality as only the French can.
Pete’s Dragon (Disney)
Helen Reddy, Mickey Rooney, Red Buttons, and Shelley Winters star in a mostly regrettable 1977 Disney live-action fantasy/comedy about an orphan and the green animated dragon that only he can see. Its Best Original Song nominee, “Candle On The Water,” is still sweet, though.
Terror Train/The Funhouse (Shout! Factory)
The current run of “Killer Scream Factory” DVD/BD reissues from Shout! Factory have been a boon for fans of ’70s and ’80s horror, each with cool illustrated covers by Nathan Thomas Milliner and extras that even diehard fans of, say, Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, could never have anticipated. The run continues with 1979’s Terror Train, which casts newly minted scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis alongside David Copperfield, and Tobe Hooper’s 1981 gem The Funhouse, which we’ll review in full next week.