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This week’s DISCussion has a lot to offer, including the Criterion Collection release of Scanners and Pickpocket. While both are cinematic masterpieces in their own rite, we have collectively chosen, Under the Skin as our Recommendation of the Week.
Under The Skin (Blu-ray, DVD & Instant)
Wrinkles (DVD & Instant)
Bethlehem (DVD & Instant)
Rio 2 (Blu-ray, DVD & Instant)
A Night in Old Mexico (DVD & Instant)
The Face of Love (DVD & Instant)
Road of Paloma (Blu-ray, DVD & Instant)
Scanners – 1981 (Criterion Blu-ray/ DVD)
Pickpocket – 1959 (Criterion Blu-ray/ DVD)
Under The Skin (Blu-ray, DVD and Instant) *Recommendation of the Week*
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Writers: Walter Campbell, Jonathan Glazer (screenplay), Michel Faber (novel)
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lindsay Taylor Mackay
In this lucid, sci-fi fever dream, Scarlett Johansson plays an alien inhabiting human skin. Her duty is to seduce men using her sex appeal and bring them to a compound in order to harvest their skin for further alien colonization. Unforeseen and tragic events unfold, and she is left wondering what it means to be human. Johansson gives the performance of her career in this, Jonathan Glazer directed, sci-fi exploration of humanity.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 87% (Very Good)
Metacritic: 78 (Very Good)
IMDB: 6.7 (Good)
Entertainment Fuse: 8.5/10
Special Features: Making of “Under the Skin” Featurette
Amazon: $17.49 (Blu-ray); $12.98 (DVD); $3.99/ $12.99 (Instant Rent/ Buy)
Score (DVDTalk.com): Content: 3.5 stars(out of 5); Video: 4 stars; Audio: 4 stars; Extras: 3.5 stars; Replay: 2 stars. Recommended.
Wrinkles (DVD and Instant)
Director: Ignacio Ferreras
Writers: Rosanna Cecchini, Ignacio Ferreras, Paco Roca (Comic Book) and Ángel de la Cruz
Starring: Martin Sheen, Matthew Modine, George Coe
Wrinkles is the English language adaptation of the 2011 Spanish version. In this animated adventure aimed at adults, Emilio (Sheen) and fellow nursing home compatriots, Juan (Modine) and Miguel (Coe), make the most of their final days. In this hand-drawn and emotionally complex comedy/drama, the residents of the nursing home mostly go through the motions, drifting in and out of delirium and boredom, while others keep their minds sharp by conning their fellow seniors. Drifting beautifully between the doldrums of day-to-day life at the home and the beautifully-creative dementia-induced daydreams, Wrinkles is a powerful commentary on how society views the elderly.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 96% (Excellent)
Metacritic: 81 (Excellent)
IMDB: 7.6 (Excellent)
Bethlehem (DVD and Instant)
Director: Yuval Adler
Writers: Yuval Adler, Ali Wakad
Starring: Tsahi Halevi, Shadi Mar’i, Hitham Omari
Bethlehem is the gripping story of an Israeli Secret Service agent’s relationship with his teenage Palestinian informant. Both men are forced to consider their opposing affiliations, and their conflicting points of view. This brutal and seldom-seen story gives its audience an in-depth look at foreign affairs and counter-intelligence.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 77% (Very Good)
Metacritic: 68 (Good)
IMDB: 7.4 (Very Good)
Rio 2 (Blu-ray, DVD and Instant)
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Writers: Jenny Bicks, Yoni Brenner, Carlos Kotkin (screenplay), Don Rhymer, Carlos Saldanha (story)
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Jemaine Clement
Rio 2 is the sequel to the very successful Rio, and picks up a few “years” after the first movie ends. Blue (Eisenberg) and Jewel (Hathaway) now have three children, and Blu is having trouble acclimating to his new Amazonian home. Surrounded by much of the same cast as the first film, Blue must thwart the vengeance of the comically-evil Nigel (Clement) and faces his greatest adversary to date: his father in law.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 46% (Rotten)
Metacritic: 49 (Bad)
IMDB: 6.5 (Okay)
Entertainment Fuse: 6/10
A Night in Old Mexico (DVD and Instant)
Director: Emilio Aragón
Writer: William D. Wittliff
Starring: Robert Duvall, Jeremy Irvine and Angie Capeda
Robert Duvall plays an aging Texas rancher who needs one last wild night before he his sprawling ranch for single-wide in a trailer park. His Grandson (Irvine), trying to get to know his estranged grandfather, rides along to complete his own adventure. Each must choose his own path through the wild escapade and find their own destiny in Old Mexico.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 44% (Rotten)
Metacritic: 45 (Bad)
IMDB: 6.1 (Okay)
The Face of Love (DVD and Instant)
Director: Arie Posin
Writers: Matthew McDuffie, Arie Posin
Starring: Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Robin Williams
Annette Bening plays a widow, Anne, who meets (and subsequently falls in love with) Tom (Harris), who looks nearly-identical to her late husband. Confused by the torrent of forgotten emotions, she confides in her best friend Roger (Williams) who is secretly in love with her. A love story to the very core, Bening and Harris deliver emotion-filled performances that are accompanied nicely by that of Williams.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 42% (Rotten)
Metacritic: 51 (Okay)
IMDB: 6.1 (Okay)
Road to Paloma (Blu-ray, DVD and Instant)
Director: Jason Momoa
Writers: Jason Momoa, Robert Homer Mollohan, Jonathan Hirschbein (story and screenplay)
Starring: Jason Momoa, Robert Homer Mollohan, Lisa Bonet
Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) wrote, directed and stars in this revenge-driven action/drama. Momoa plays Wolf, who crosses the American West to find his mother’s murderer, gets more than he bargained for, and discovers the true price of revenge. Full of plot twists and turns, Momoa’s directorial debut is a respectable start to his career.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 50% (Rotten)
IMDB: 6.0 (Okay)
Scanners – 1981 (Criterion Blu-Ray/ DVD Combo)
Director/Writer: David Cronenberg
Starring: Michael Ironside, Patrick McGoohan, Jennifer O’neill
David Cronenberg’s 1981 cult-classic, Scanners features a not-too-distant future wherein medical experimentation produces a small faction of people (Scanners) who can read and control minds. Shunned by society, these Scanners are banded together by Darryl Revok (Ironside) to start an uprising and take over the world. Dr. Paul Ruth (McGoohan) must use his wits to convert a Scanner who has not yet been corrupted by Revok, and undermine his plot. Cronenberg’s visceral, low-budget foray into the American mainstream has become a cornerstone of his career. Thrilling and provocative, Scanners is a practical-effects-filled masterpiece worthy of any horror collection.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 79% (Good)
Metacritic: 60 (Good)
IMDB: 6.8 (Good)
Entertainment Fuse: 8/10
Special Features: New, restored 2K digital film transfer, supervised by director David Cronenberg, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray; The “Scanners” Way, new documentary on the film’s special effects, featuring interviews with Cronenberg’s collaborators; Mental Saboteur, a new interview with actor Michael Ironside; The Ephemerol Diaries, a 2012 interview with actor and artist Stephen Lack; Excerpt from a 1981 interview with Cronenberg on the CBC’s The Bob McLean Show; New, restored 2K digital transfer of Stereo (1969), Cronenberg’s first feature film; Trailer and radio spots; PLUS: An essay by critic Kim Newman
Pickpocket – 1959 (Criterion Blu-ray/ DVD Combo)
Director/ Writer: Robert Bresson
Starring: Martin LaSalle, Marika Green, Jean Pélégri
Robert Bresson’s beloved, Pickpocket is, on the surface, a story about a pickpocket’s journey through the “trade”. Initially pursuing stealing as a hobby, Michel (LaSalle) meets an expert in the profession, and begins to hone his craft. He begins to practice the art of pickpocketing, and begins to plot more and more complex “heists”. After the death of his mother, he shuts out his friends, and begins a downward spiral into depression. Using pickpocketing as his only means of self-expression, he loses himself. Incredibly dark, and a true study of the human condition, Bresson’s Pickpocket is an indelible masterwork, that finds itself on top of most film-lover’s lists.
Critics Rating (Rotten Tomatoes): 97% (Excellent)
IMDB: 7.9 (Very Good)
Entertainment Fuse: 9.9/10 (Read our Review)
Special Features: New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray; Audio commentary featuring film scholar James Quandt; Introduction by writer-director Paul Schrader; The Models of “Pickpocket,” a 2003 documentary by Babette Mangolte that features interviews with actors from the film; Interview with director Robert Bresson from a 1960 episode of the French television program Cinépanorama; Q&A on Pickpocket from 2000, featuring actor Marika Green and filmmakers Paul Vecchiali and Jean-Pierre Améris; Footage of the sleight-of-hand artist and Pickpocket consultant, Kassagi from a 1962 episode of the French television show, La piste aux étoiles; Trailer; PLUS: An essay by novelist and critic Gary Indiana