Welcome to a New Year and a New Decade! We kick off the year with one of the biggest hits of 2019, Joker. In 1980’s Gotham City, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a struggling street advertising clown and wanna be stand-up comedian. While taking care of his ailing mother (Frances Conroy) Arthur finds himself constantly getting mocked, bullied, and above all, marginalised until he starts to crack and slip into a dark state where he begins to rethink how society actually works and starts making plans to fix it in the only way he thinks will wake people up.
Joker is directed brilliantly by Todd Phillips and is one of the most beautifully written, visually gorgeous and socially relevant films in recent memory. Phoenix gives the performance of the year as the broken Fleck, playing him with such sorrow but such madness. The film is definitely inspired by the films of the 1970’s and 1980’s, especially the films of Martin Scorsese, but it is still its own film with its own identity and has really changed the game as to what a comic book related movie can be. The 4K disc of Joker especially is a feast for the eyes, stunning enough to soak in without the sound on. Joker is a heck of a way to kick off 2020 and is very highly recommended.
Next up this week is the new crime drama, Crown Vic. Nick Holland (Luke Kleintank) is a rookie with the LAPD on his first night on the streets with his new training officer, veteran Ray Mandel (Thomas Jane). Over the course of one night, the two cops must deal with a city boiling over, two cop killing bank robbers on the loose, and even a fellow cop becoming unhinged and running wild. But as the night rolls on, Holland will learn some valuable lessons from Mandel and face the reality of his job.
Crown Vic is one of the best cop movies in some time, with a great, intimate story reminiscent of classics like Colors, Training Day and End of Watch. Thomas Jane is in top form as Mandel, playing the veteran cop as a man weary of the world while still dedicated to his job and his pledge. Kleintank is also great as the naïve Holland and it is great to watch the two men get to know each other while both getting reality checks on the world around them as the one fateful night ahead of them. If you are a fan of great and gritty cop flicks, definitely check out Crown Vic.
Lastly this week is a fun new horror film, The Shed. Stan (Jay Jay Warren) and his best friend Dommer (Cody Kostro) are two high school students struggling with life’s challenges. Stan must deal with his abusive grandfather and Dommer is constantly harassed by vicious bullies. So when Stan discovers a violent vampire trapped in his shed, at first he is terrified and tries to figure out how to destroy it. But once he tells Dommer, the two guys hatch a plan to use the creature to solve all of their problems.
The Shed is a really fun horror flick with great performances by Warren and Kostro and some fantastic makeup effects. The whole set up is different and the pace is brisk and fun, with some pretty creative payoffs in the boys plan. Writer/director Frank Sabatella might have a cult hit on his hands once word of The Shed spreads. Check it out for a really fun movie night with friends.
Also of note this week is Primal starring Nicolas Cage as a hunter trapped on a ship with an assassin and a legion of deadly escaped animals, the new horror film Girl on the Third Floor, and the second season of the hit HBO show Big Little Lies starring Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep.
Until next week movie lovers!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday January 7, 2020
Batman and Harley Quinn Triple Feature
Big Little Lies: The Complete Second Season
Chained for Life
Dr. Cyclops (1940)*
Girl on the Third Floor
Holiday (1938)* - Criterion Collection
Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968)*
Omega Syndrome (1986)*
Pokémon the Series: Diamond and Pearl – Battle Dimension Complete Collection
Stand Alone (1985)*
The Blake Mysteries: Ghost Stories
The Final Programme (1973)*
The Hellbenders (1967)*
The Slasher (1953)*
The Specialists (1969)*
Vera: Set 9
*Catalog Blu-ray debut