A huge drop in releases this week but we still have a couple of recommendations for you. First up is the new film from Steven Spielberg, The Post. Kay Graham (Meryl Streep) has taken over her late husband’s business running the Washington Post and finds herself being second guessed by every man that must answer to her. But when editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) gets his hands on a complete set of top secret government documents revealing the US governments deceptions about the Vietnam War, Graham must decide whether to back down for the safety of her paper or to publish the documents and fight for the Freedom of the Press.
Spielberg never fails to impress with his ability to jump back and forth from huge scale popcorn entertainment like this year’s Ready Player One to small intimate character pieces like The Post. The story is well laid out and gives clarity to even casual viewers who may not know about the history of the actual events, while still giving the film a bit of a thriller feel as they race to decide what to do about the damning papers they are considering publishing. Hanks is fantastic as usual, underplaying the role of Bradlee and letting Streep take control as she dominated the entire movie with her portrayal of the iron-willed Graham, a woman who struggled with such a power position in an industry full of men who didn’t want her there. But Streep plays her arc beautifully as she navigates the waters until finally deciding to take control of the situation. A powerhouse character piece, The Post is another dramatic notch in Spielberg’s belt.
Next up is the new Liam Neeson thriller, The Commuter. Neeson plays Michael MacCauley, an insurance salesman, family man and former police officer who has taken the commuter rail into New York for 10 years. But on this particular day a mysterious rider named Joanna (Vera Farmiga) gives Michael instructions to find a particular person on the train before a certain stop. In exchange, he will receive $100 000 but is told if he does not comply his wife will be in grave danger. Now Michael must race against the clock and use his deductive skills to find one person among all the passengers and figure out the true intentions behind the deadly game.
Neeson is always a reliable star for these action-packed thrillers and The Commuter is no exception. The set-up is fun and makes for kind of a new style Agatha Christie whodunit with a stellar supporting cast including Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Sam Neill, Jonathan Banks, and Elizabeth McGovern. The story moves at a fast pace, remains unpredictable, and is exciting. And Neeson isn’t the indestructible skilled assassin here, he is a bewildered ex-cop who really just wants to get the hell out of his situation. A solid thriller worth checking out.
Lastly this week is a new comedy, Humor Me. Flight of the Conchords’ Jermaine Clement stars as Nate, a once-acclaimed New York playwright struggling in life. He is having trouble finishing his newest play, his wife has left him and taken their son with her, and the lease is up on their house. Now broke and alone, Nate begrudgingly moves in with his father Bob (Elliott Gould) in his New Jersey retirement community. Nate’s strained relationship with his father amplifies upon moving in together as Nate takes on a job in the community and takes on directing a senior citizen theater troupe to try and get his creative juices flowing again. Along the way, Nate learns a little about life, about himself and about his father, and may just find a way forward in his life.
Humor Me is a pitch perfect father/son comedy, especially with the genius pairing of two different generations of acclaimed comedic actors. Clement and Gould are brilliant together and the entire set up of Nate living in the retirement is comedy gold. And adding the always great Annie Potts and Bebe Neuwirth to the mix doesn’t hurt either. Humor Me has a heart of gold, lots of laughs and great performances.
Also of note this week is the Blu-ray debut of one of Sam Neill’s earliest performances in the excellent Sleeping Dogs, the shark sequel Deep Blue Sea 2, and the classic Cary Grant film getting the Criterion Collection treatment, The Awful Truth.
Until next week movie lovers.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday April 17, 2018
A Taxi Driver
Aloha, Bobby and Rose*
Caravan to Vaccares*
Deep Blue Sea 2
Killjoys: Season Three
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Season Eleven
Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years Vol. 2 - Border Crossings: The Crime and Action Movies*
Sheep & Wolves
The Awful Truth* - Criterion Collection
The Color of Pomegranates* - Criterion Collection
*Catalog Blu-ray debut