Hitting movie theaters this weekend:
Gulliver's Travels - Jack Black, Emily Blunt, Jason Segel Little Fockers - Ben Stiller, Teri Polo, Robert De Niro True Grit - Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld
Movie of the Week
The Stars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld The Plot: A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father's murderer. The Buzz: This one's an easy pick for "Movie of the Week," as for me, Jack Black has worn out his welcome, and any film I've ever seen with the word "Focker" in the title was absolutely horrid. Though the Coen Brothers have been hit-and-miss in the last decade, with amazing highs (No Country For Old Men, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and abysmal lows (Burn After Reading, Intolerable Cruelty), this film, a modern day rehash of the old John Wayne vehicle, looks quite good. I've never been a fan of Matt Damon, but the rest of the cast here looks excellent. I love Josh Brolin, and for a wee lass, newcomer Hailee Steinfeld seems to have a lot of potential. Obviously, and most importantly, we'll get to see "The Dude" return to the world of Ethan and Joel Coen. I doubt we'll really recognize "His Dudeness," in this particular incarnation (a one-eyed rugged cowboy), but True Grit does represent a nice actor/director reunion regardless. I hope this reunion lends itself to a 1990's Coen Brothers vibe, back when everything they put out was fantastic (Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo, The Big Lebowski -- I rest my case).
I am a little skeptical that this film will be absolutely phenomenal, but the potential is there, and with Bridges in as the lead, Brolin in as the villain, and with the Coens running the show, there is reason to call my skepticism silly. I hope it is.
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New Blu-ray and DVDs released this week:
Angel (DVD) - Romola Garai, Sam Neill, Lucy Russell Devil (BD/DVD) - Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas, Bokeem Woodbine Easy A (BD/DVD) - Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Penn Badgley Let It Rain (DVD) - Jean-Pierre Bacri, Jamel Debbouze, Agnès Jaoui The Matador (BD) - Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis Orlando (BD) - Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane and Quentin Crisp Salt (BD/DVD) - Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Chiwetel Ejiofor Step Up 3 (BD/DVD) - Sharni Vinson, Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (BD/DVD) - Shia LaBeouf, Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan
Blu-ray/DVD of the Week
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
The Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Michael Douglas, Carey Mulligan The Plot: As the global economy teeters on the brink of disaster, a young Wall Street trader partners with disgraced former Wall Street corporate raider Gordon Gekko. The Buzz: For good measure, the night before I saw this film in the theater, I re-watched the original Wall Street. It was a lot of fun, living in the world of Gordon Gekko for a couple hours on consecutive days, and it also allowed for a fresh comparison between the two films.
I really enjoyed both films, but felt the story of the first was far superior to that of the second. The script of the first film was very well-crafted and facilitated a lot of brilliant acting moments. I wouldn't say good writing was necessarily missing from the sequel, but it was not quite on par with that of the original. I thought Shia Labeouf's performance was A+ material -- he's consistently blown me away in his more dramatic roles (it's a shame really that his career has gotten so bogged down in the Transformers franchise) -- Michael Douglas and Carey Mulligan were in top form as well. Charlie Sheen's cameo was pretty ridiculous, but then, it is Charlie Sheen. That being said, I've always thought the weakest element of Wall Street was Sheen himself. I've never found him to be charismatic at all, quite the contrary, so I've always thought it was strange that Oliver Stone cast him as the "charismatic lead" of the original. In that department, with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, I'd say they've made amends, as Shia's explosive confidence is a perfect match for his role.
All in all, even though the story and the script of the first film were technically better, I found the second film to be a more enjoyable watch. Primarily due to the whole Sheen vs. Shia charisma comparison, but also, I don't think Wall Street has aged very well -- it's really pretty cheesy. For me, that cheesiness is absent in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, well, at least for now it is. We'll have to wait another 23 years to know for sure.
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