Take Shelter Criticize This! Pick of the Week – Take Shelter was my third favourite film of 2011 and has only gotten better with repeat viewings. In the film Michael Shannon plays Curtis, a man who fears the apocalypse is upon us. As he sees more signs and becomes convinced the end is near, he begins to build a bomb shelter in his backyard. His wife (Jessica Chastain) and friends worry he’s lost his mind, but he believes what he’s doing will eventually save his family. It’s a damn shame Shannon’s unnerving performance was passed over for an Oscar nomination as he took Take Shelter from being an ordinary film to an extraordinary film. Out of all the roles Chastain delivered in 2011, her performance in this was her best as well and should have been recognized over her work in The Help. Special features on the DVD include deleted scenes, audio commentary with director Jeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon, and more. Film **** DVD *** (out of 5 stars).
The Rum Diary (Blu-ray) – An adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s famous novel starring Johnny Depp as the Thompson-esque lead character? I was sold well before I even had a chance to see The Rum Diary. And thankfully, the film delivered everything I expected and then some. While not as crazy as his role in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Depp does a great job playing Paul Kemp, an American journalist working for a Puerto Rican newspaper in 1960. Depp doesn’t carry the film though and I found it was the supporting cast that held my interest throughout, especially Michael Rispoli as a photographer at the newspaper and Giovanni Ribisi as an alcoholic/druggy writer. Both of these actors added so much more to the film and made it a much more enjoyable watch. Directed by Bruce Robinson (Withnail and I), The Rum Diary is a fine adaptation that is sure to become a much more bigger classic with time. The Blu-ray release has a great image and sound mix and is highly recommend if you’re a fan. Special features include cast and crew soundbites and select clips. A regular DVD of the film is also included. Film *** Blu-ray *** (out of 5 stars).
Love Story (Blu-ray) – Being Valentine’s Day and all, I was going to recommend the Blu-ray release of Love Story for all you romantics out there. Then I sat down to watch it, and not only is it much worse than I remember it being, but the quality of the Blu-ray is atrocious (the image is grainy and dirty and the sound is horrendous). How was this nominated for seven Academy Awards? Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neil are super annoying, and the script has some of the cheesiest dialogue I’ve ever heard. It’s just bad. Instead of picking up Love Story on Blu-ray for your special someone today, give it to someone you hate. Like an ex. Special features include audio commentary with director Arthur Hiller, a making-of featurette, and the original trailer. Film * Blu-ray * (out of 5 stars).
Elite Squad: The Enemy Within – Wow! That was my first reaction after finishing Elite Squad: The Enemy Within. This is a solid crime-drama from Brazil, and while it is a sequel to a previous Elite Squad film, you don’t need to see the first one to enjoy this. The film deals with corrupt cops and politicians taking over the slums of Rio and how one super agent plans to take them all down. Great cinematography, lots of action and violence, and an amazing cast help keep the momentum of the film going from start to finish. Special features on the DVD include a making-of featurette. Film **** DVD ** (out of 5 stars).
The Lorax (Blu-ray) – Before heading out to see the new 3-D feature-length version of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax next month, I highly recommend watching the 1972 television special, which just happens to be coming out on Blu-ray this week. If you don’t know the story, it’s about a young businessman using up all the trees in a forest to make a pointless fashion accessory and how a little creature warns him of the dangers of what he’s doing. Yeah, it’s a bit hippy-dippy, but it’s also a great message and is still very relevant these days. Although it’s presented in a 4×3 aspect ratio, the Blu-ray release is very nice quality and I’m happy to have it in my collection. Special features include two animated vintage featurettes with Dr. Seuss and a new featurette on the importance of the story. A regular DVD is included as well. Show *** Blu-ray *** (out of 5 stars).
Beavis and Butt-Head Vol. 4 (Blu-ray) – They’re back! Yes, Beavis and Butt-Head — the dumb, headbanging staple of MTV during the 90s, returned last year with 11 brand new double episodes. And now they’re on Blu-ray for your viewing pleasure. Not much has changed since the show ended 15 years ago. The animation is the same, the voices are the same, only now the guys watch more Jersey Shore than Metallica videos. If you were a teenager during the Beavis and Butt-Head heyday, this is a great nostalgic watch and is worth checking out. The Blu-ray is presented in a 4×3 aspect ratio but the animation has a nice clean look to it and the sound is excellent. Special features are limited and most of them are just too annoying to mention. Set *** (out of 5 stars).
If one of our reviews got you interested in the movie, support Criticize This! by purchasing it from Amazon.ca:
Top image: A scene from Take Shelter. Courtesy Sony Home Entertainment.