Welcome to this week’s installment of Your Mid-Week Guide to DVD and Streaming. Our beloved Morton Salt is currently nursing a hangover after attending the Metropolitan Museum’s Gala as Sarah Jessica Parker’s merkin. In the meantime, I’m going to recommend a bunch of movies for you to watch this week and then talk about at your next parent-teacher conferences.
This week’s streaming pick: Hemlock Grove on Netflix. I know it’s not a movie, but I just started watching this series and eventually I’d like to have other people to complain about it with. So watch it and then we can pretend that we’re experts together. [Vince’s Note: Screw Burnsy, watch Top of the Lake so we can whine about how everyone mumbles.]
On DVD and Blu-Ray this week:
Steel Magnolias (2012)
The Assassin’s Blade
If I Were You
In the Hive
Revenge for Jolly!
Now let’s get to the meat and potatoes.
(As always, all synopses via Rotten Tomatoes)
Synopsis: An affirming and suspenseful story about a young woman’s struggle to love again, Safe Haven is based on the novel from Nicholas Sparks, the best-selling author behind the hit films The Notebook and Dear John. When a mysterious young woman arrives in a small North Carolina town, her reluctance to join the tight knit community raises questions about her past. Slowly, she begins putting down roots, and gains the courage to start a relationship with Alex, a widowed store owner with two young children. But dark secrets intrude on her new life with such terror that she is forced to rediscover the meaning of sacrifice and rely on the power of love in this deeply moving romantic thriller.
Should You Watch It? If you love Nicholas Sparks and attractive white people making out, then this is your holy grail.
Synopsis: Guillermo del Toro presents Mama, a supernatural thriller that tells the haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day that their mother was murdered. When they are rescued years later and begin a new life, they find that someone or something still wants to come tuck them in at night. The day their father killed their mother, sisters Victoria and Lilly vanished near their suburban neighborhood. For five long years, their Uncle Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain), have been madly searching for them. But when, incredibly, the kids are found alive in a decrepit cabin, the couple wonders if the girls are the only guests they have welcomed into their home.
Should You Watch It? I’d rather watch the story of Charles Ramsey instead, but once the Internet gets bored with that and starts destroying him, I’ll probably watch Mama.
Synopsis: Six shots. Five dead. One heartland city thrown into a state of terror. But within hours the cops have it solved: a slam-dunk case. Except for one thing. The accused man says: You got the wrong guy. Then he says: Get Reacher for me. And sure enough, ex-military investigator Jack Reacher is coming. He knows this shooter-a trained military sniper who never should have missed a shot. Reacher is certain something is not right-and soon the slam-dunk case explodes. Now Reacher is teamed with a beautiful young defense lawyer, moving closer to the unseen enemy who is pulling the strings. Reacher knows that no two opponents are created equal. This one has come to the heartland from his own kind of hell. And Reacher knows that the only way to take him down is to match his ruthlessness and cunning-and then beat him shot for shot.
Should You Watch It? Despite all of the complaints from the loyal fans of the books, I thought this was a decently entertaining movie.
Steel Magnolias (2012)
Synopsis: American comedy-drama television film directed by Kenny Leon that premiered at Lifetime Network on October 7, 2012. It is a remake of 1989 film of the same name.
Should You Watch It? I guess if you loved the first version but wanted to know what it would be like if Lifetime made it in 2012, then this will answer your question.
Synopsis: Norman tells the story of Norman Long (Dan Byrd), a self-aware and darkly funny teen who is trying to handle his daily high school existence. An unexpected set of life-changing circumstances turns his world upside down and then ultimately right side up as he meets the magnetic Emily (Emily VanCamp). With love, humility and a heavy dose of truth, he emerges to face challenges not meant for a boy his age.
Should You Watch It? Cougartown is one of the most underrated shows on TV, and Dan Byrd is pretty good on that show, so based on that vague relationship alone, you should check this movie out.
Synopsis: Starlet explores the unlikely friendship between 21 year-old Jane (Dree Hemingway) and 85 year-old Sadie (Besedka Johnson), two women whose worlds collide in California’s San Fernando Valley. Jane spends her time getting high with her dysfunctional roommates, Melissa (Stella Maeve) and Mikey (James Ransone), while taking care of her Chihuahua, Starlet. Sadie, an elderly widow, passes her days alone tending to her flower garden. After a confrontation between the two women at Sadie’s yard sale, Jane uncovers a hidden stash of money inside a relic from Sadie’s past. Jane attempts to befriend the caustic older woman in an effort to solve her dilemma and secrets emerge as their relationship grows.
Should You Watch It? It wouldn’t be my first choice of movies to watch this week, but if the 85-year old woman starts telling stories about her college experimentation phase then I might be willing to give it a shot.
Synopsis: David and Paige Walling (Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener) and Terry and Cathy Ostroff (Oliver Platt, Allison Janney) are best friends and neighbors living on Orange Drive in suburban New Jersey. Their comfortable existence goes awry when prodigal daughter Nina Ostroff (Leighton Meester), newly broken up with her fiancé Ethan (Sam Rosen), returns home for Thanksgiving after a five-year absence. Rather than developing an interest in the successful son of her neighbors, Toby Walling (Adam Brody), which would please both families, it’s her parents’ best friend David who captures Nina’s attention.
Should You Watch It? The way I see it, Leighton Meester owes us about 10 good movies after she threw away all of her hard work to this point for a starring role in That’s My Boy. And I don’t mean, “Yeah, that movie was good.” I mean, “Wow that movie was GOOD.” So this better be movie No. 1.
Synopsis: Set in the 1970s, Mighty Fine is the story of Joe Fine, a charismatic, high-spirited man, who relocates his family-wife Stella, daughters Nathalie and Maddie – from Brooklyn to New Orleans, in search of a better life. Joe’s devotion to his family knows no bounds, and he seeks to provide them with the ultimate in the good life, from a palatial home to a steady string of extravagant gifts. Unfortunately, Joe’s spending spree is wildly out of touch with reality, as his apparel business is teetering on the brink of collapse, a fact he refuses to accept. Mighty Fine ultimately shows how coming to terms with the past without judgment is the most fruitful way to move toward the future.
Should You Watch It? I don’t really ever read a lot of film reviews for movies that won’t be in theaters, but I caught some ramblings about this one last year and let’s just say that it wasn’t very popular with critics. [Vince’s note: I’m a sucker for any movie with the character’s last name used as a pun in the title. It’s the movie equivalent of raps that start “My name is ___ and I’m here to say… I like ___ in a major way.”]
The Assassin’s Blade
Synopsis: The Assassins Blade follows a young woman sent into the mountains to learn the martial arts with an elite clan. To be accepted she has to disguise herself as a man and begins her intense training, but at odds with her trainer. Soon their connection becomes stronger and their attraction grows as does the danger of discovering her true identity. This is a timeless story regarded as the Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet and takes an interesting turn when thrust into the martial arts setting. (Via)
Should You Watch It? I could barely find a description of this movie, so if you can find it on DVD, then you’re one step ahead of me.
If I Were You
Synopsis: Madelyn Reid (Academy Award winner Marcia Gay Harden) accidentally learns of her husband’s infidelity when she saves his sexy young mistress (Talk to Her’s Leonor Watling) from a bungled suicide attempt. When her unsuspecting young rival suggests the two new “best friends” take each other’s advice – on everything – Madelyn sees an opportunity to seize the upper hand. But the plan backfires when Lucy, an aspiring actress, insists Madelyn keep her end of the bargain – and orders her to star as King Lear in a very amateur production, with Lucy playing The Fool. Things really get out of control when Lucy starts giving Madelyn instructions on dealing with an amorous coworker and a handsome stranger (the ever delectable Aidan Quinn). Marcia Gay Harden gives a hilarious, touching and utterly believable performance in this delightful comedy about two women who become the unlikeliest of friends. With pitch-perfect chemistry between odd couple Harden and Watling, a fine supporting cast, plenty of laughs, and a few pearls of wisdom, If I Were You is a very entertaining look at the unexpected places that life can take us.
Should You Watch It? How could you not? It has the ever delectable Aidan Quinn!
In the Hive
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Xtra Keys lives by a few simple rules, all rooted in a world of brazen, retaliatory violence. His very survival depends on his ability to be brick-hard, emotionless and impenetrable with everyone. Only his infant son is excluded from the hard-shell persona. Xtra hopes to raise his son better than his boozy, razor-edged mother raised him and his younger siblings. Xtra just might get his wish when he’s thrust into the world of the HIVE, an unorthodox alternative school full of other discarded boys who, because of their disciplinary issues and substandard grade levels, have been kicked out or abandoned by every school in this Southern rural county. For these black boys, the HIVE may very well be their last chance before jail but first they have to persevere under the HIVE’s director, the indomitably audacious Ms. Inez and her friendly giant of an assistant, Mr. Hollis, both of whom rule the HIVE with love, discipline, soul food and the expectation of excellence, none of which Xtra is in any way prepared for. Based on an actual school in North Carolinas Bertie County, IN THE HIVE is a movie about the power of love and a gripping reminder that we can all make a difference in a child’s life, even the ones who’ve been relegated to the discarded heap for far too long.
Should You Watch It? Yes, because Michael Clarke Duncan would have wanted us, too.
Revenge for Jolly!
Synopsis: Harry is having a very, very bad day. He returns home from an all-night drinking binge with his cousin Cecil to discover that his little dog Jolly-Harry’s one true love and the source of light in his dark, solitary life-has been murdered. Brokenhearted and beyond consolation, he vows to track down the dog’s murderer at any cost. Armed with a stockpile of firepower in the trunk of his car, he and Cecil embark on a frenzied, alcohol-fueled wild-goose chase, leaving a bloody path of destruction in their wake.
Should You Watch It? I will watch anything that involves revenge plots created by murdered pets. I only hope that the eventual payback is creative and horrifying. Also, it stars Kristen Wiig, Elijah Wood and Bobby Moynihan, among others, so I think this one might be decent.