New this Week: ‘The Big Year,’ ‘The Thing’ and ‘The Tree of Life (DVD)’

Hitting movie theaters this weekend:

The Big Year – Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Steve Martin
Footloose – Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid
The Thing – Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen

Movie of the Week

The Big Year

The Stars: Owen Wilson, Jack Black, Steve Martin
The Plot: Three avid bird watchers compete to spot the rarest birds in North America at a prestigious annual event.
The Buzz: I was completely unaware of this film until about two weeks ago, when I first saw the trailer. Seems it snuck up on everyone, as there hasn’t been much buzz about it at all. Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin are all, of course, potential of amazing comedy cinema, and it’ll be interest to see how the three play off of each other. If the script is good, these three guys will do it justice. I’m not a big fan of director David Frankel (Marley & Me, The Devil Wears Prada), but yeah, the cast here looks enticing enough. Looks to be a unique enough story-line too, which is a ton more than can be said for this week’s latest remakes: Footloose and The Thing. Rent the originals, skip the hacks.

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

Arena (DVD) – Samuel L. Jackson, Kellan Lutz, Katia Winter
The Bad Seed (BD) – Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones
Beautiful Boy (BD/DVD) – Michael Sheen, Maria Bello, Kyle Gallner
The Family Man (BD) – Nicolas Cage, Téa Leoni, Don Cheadle
The Four Feathers [Criterion] (BD/DVD) – Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley, Kate Hudson
Horrible Bosses (BD/DVD) – Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis
Indian Summer (BD) – Alan Arkin, Matt Craven, Diane Lane
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (BD/DVD) – Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Parris Mosteller
The Princess of Montpensier (DVD) – Mélanie Thierry, Lambert Wilson, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet
Scrooge (BD) – Albert Finney, Alec Guinness, Edith Evans
The Tree of Life (BD/DVD) – Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain
The Trip (DVD) – Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Claire Keelan
Zookeeper (BD/DVD) – Kevin James, Rosario Dawson, Leslie Bibb

Blu-ray/DVD of the Week

The Tree of Life

The Stars: Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain
The Plot: This “story” centers around a family in 1950s America. Ultimately however, there’s not much of a plot here, just a lot of amazing-ness.
The Buzz: This film’s coupling of sound and image is brilliant. The abstract imagery plays beautifully against that of the firmly domestic, and the sweeping score brings it all together perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and If I’m honest, I got quite swept up in it. It made me see the world through different eyes, and that change lingered in me for a few days after visiting the theater.

Going into this film, I felt as if director Terrence Malick (The Thin Red LineThe New World) was poised to answer all of mankind’s greatest questions, to finally reveal the “man behind the curtain” and to show us that all of our existential angst is naught but a waste of time. Sure, that may have been a bit too much to ask of a mere mortal, but there was enough magical optimism present in the film’s trailer alone to warrant such expectation. Plus, this is Terrence Malick we’re talking about. Did he deliver on such? I’d say yes, but only abstractly. As long as you go into this film not expecting a linear narrative tale, my bet is that you’ll really enjoy it. If you appreciate fine attention to image and sound, and a healthy relationship between the two, amongst idyllic 1950s settings, then this is the film for you. Personally, I loved it.

I’ve loved all of Malick’s works, and I was excited when I first read about this film, but when I learned who had been cast, I must say I was a little disappointed. I’m surely in the minority here, but I’ve lately lost all interest in Brad Pitt, so I was bummed to see him cast, and Sean Penn, whom I believe to be a great actor, has always annoyed me as a person, so the cast is “Hollywood solid,” but in my opinion, it’s not the best it could have been. However, both Pitt and Penn did fine jobs — the former had a much larger role and, if I stop and think about it, he absolutely nailed it. Jessica Chastain was also great, exuding charm throughout, and based on her recent spate of casting coups (The DebtThe Wettest County in the WorldWild Salome), I think she’s likely to become a household name over the next few years. Time will tell.

The Tree of Life is a truly great film — check it out!

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