New this Week: ‘The Mechanic,’ ‘The Rite’ and ‘Secretariat (DVD)’

Hitting movie theaters this weekend:

From Prada to Nada – Camilla Belle, Alexa Vega, Kuno Becker (limited)
The Mechanic – Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland
The Rite – Colin O’Donoghue, Anthony Hopkins, Ciarán Hinds

Movie of the Week

The Mechanic

The Stars: Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland
The Plot: An elite hit man teaches his trade to an apprentice who has a connection to one of his previous victims.
The Buzz: Jason Statham is kind of cookie cutter, and this looks to be just another of his many action extravaganzas, but he does turn in some good work from time to time. Death Race, for instance, was good, and I enjoyed the first Transporter too. Ben Foster has been on the rise now for quite some time — I imagine a few years from now he’ll be knocking on the door of the household name. I enjoyed him a lot in Pandorum, though it took me a long time to get over how vile his character was in Alpha Dog. This is director Simon West’s sixth feature, his most notable previous films being Tomb Raider and Con Air. The Mechanic looks to be a little more textured than his previous ventures, a little more stylish. This could be a good “one and done” action escape.

Every Friday we’ll have new reviews of the latest films.
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New Blu-ray and DVDs released this week:

Adventures of Power (DVD) – Ari Gold, Michael McKean, Jane Lynch
A Beautiful Mind (BD) – Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly
Broadcast News [The Criterion Collection] (BD) – William Hurt, Albert Brooks, Holly Hunter
Client 9: the Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (BD/DVD) – Directed by Alex Gibney
Color Purple (BD) – Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey
Dead Space: Aftermath (BD/DVD) – Christopher Judge, Peter Woodward
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (BD) – Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson
Feed the Fish (DVD) – Tony Shalhoub, Barry Corbin, Katie Aselton
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (BD/DVD) – Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre
Like Dandelion Dust (DVD) – Mira Sorvino, Barry Pepper, Cole Hauser
Nowhere Boy (BD/DVD) – Aaron Johnson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Anne-Marie Duff
Red (BD/DVD) – Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman
Ronald Reagan Centennial Collection (BD) – Ronald Reagan
Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (BD/DVD) – Tobin Bell, Costas Mandylor, Betsy Russell
Secretariat (BD/DVD) – Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Scott Glenn, James Cromwell
The Stieg Larsson Trilogy (BD) – Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Lena Endre
The Traveler (DVD) – Val Kilmer, Dylan Neal, Paul McGillion
White Wedding (BD/DVD) – Kenneth Nkosi, Rapulana Seiphemo, Jodie Whittaker

Blu-ray/DVD of the Week

Secretariat

The Stars: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Scott Glenn, James Cromwell
The Plot: Penny Chenery Tweedy and her colleagues guide their prized horse to the record-setting win of the 1973 Triple Crown.
The Buzz: Being a big fan of the world of horse racing, I was excited when I first heard this film was in production. However, when I learned who had been cast, I was a little disappointed. Diane Lane has never appealed to me much, and where I find John Malkovich to be a very talented actor, he’s never been a favorite. I was pleased though, upon watching this film, with the performances of both Lane and Malkovich. They both brought a particular weight to the film, providing enough presence to maintain the viewer’s interest.

As the title would suggest, the real star of this film is the horse. I have limited knowledge of the real Secretariat — and was not familiar enough to know if the Secretariat stand-in (the horse actor) was well cast or not — but in my naive estimation, he did an excellent job conjuring up the magic of the true Secretariat. Through watching this film, one learns about the intricacies of the tale of ‘Big Red’ (Secretariat’s nick name), and his story certainly instills a grandiose sense of awe. It was told, in the included bonus feature documentary, “Heart of A Champion,” that after Secretariat’s death, the autopsy revealed that his heart was twice the size of any typical horse. This perhaps explains how Secretariat came to completely dominate the Triple Crown in 1973. The explanation works on two levels, 1) a purely physical explanation, “he is moving like a tremendous machine,” to quote the announcer at the 1973 Belmont Stakes, and 2) a metaphysical explanation, where the size of one’s heart is proportionate to one’s will to win.

I found this film to be a truly enjoyable watch. It was technically sound, highly entertaining and equally educational.

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