As the snow melts we start the week with one of the very best movies of last year and the winner of the Best Picture Academy Award, Green Book. It’s 1962 and Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) is a tough guy nightclub bouncer and a dedicated family man. Looking for work when the club closes for renovations, he takes a job driving a renowned African-American pianist named Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) on a concert tour of the Deep South USA. With drastically different views on the world the two men set out on their journey and witness many of the appalling racial injustices in the South, but they also get to know each other and start to see the world through each other’s eyes.
Green Book really took me by surprise, and not just because it is directed by one of the Farrelly brothers famous for gross out comedies like There’s Something About Mary. I was taken by surprise because it was a screamingly authentic, touching, emotional and laugh out loud character drama that won me over very fast and pulled me even closer as the film progressed. Both Mortensen and Ali absolutely shine together with incredible chemistry and while both characters are fairly extreme in their personalities, both actors are so good they never let it get away into silly territory. I have no idea why the Academy deemed Ali to be nominated in the Supporting Actor category, this film is absolutely held up by the double lead of Mortensen and Ali equally. Green Book is a beautiful film about love, friendship, racism, society, loneliness, and empathy. Absolutely deserving of every accolade it is receiving.
Next up is the newest movie in the Wizarding World universe, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Eddie Redmayne returns as Newt Scamander, who has now had his international travel rights revoked by the Ministry of Magic following the events of the first film. But when Newt’s former professor, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) requests Newt’s assistance following the escape of the dangerous dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), Newt is reinstated and the race begins to thwart Grindelwald’s plan to wage war on the muggles begins.
The two Fantastic Beasts films certainly lack something from the Harry Potter films, perhaps the characters just are not as well rounded or likable overall, but Redmayne’s Scamander saves most of that with a great and memorable character to lead these new stories. Another great selling point of this film is the addition of Jude Law playing the beloved Dumbledore character from the Potter series as a younger man. And while Johnny Depp is a decent villain here, Colin Farrell is sorely missed. The effects are top shelf as usual, and this one does get a slight bit more talky than the first one, but ultimately it is still a wondrous and entertaining entry in the series.
Lastly this month is the Blu-ray debut of a fantastic Ridley Scott thriller from the late 80s, Someone to Watch Over Me. Tom Berenger plays Mike Keegan, a newly promoted New York detective and family man. One of Mike’s first duties in his new position is to protect socialite Claire Gregory (Mimi Rogers) who has witnessed the murder of a club owner by powerful mobster Joey Venza (Andreas Katsulas). With Venza out to kill Claire before she can testify, Mike guard Claire in her Manhattan apartment, but the two must fight a growing attraction to each other as well as any attempts on Claire’s life.
Someone to Watch Over Me is another great thriller from a fantastic period in the late 80s/early 90s that seemed to crank out great thrillers. Scott does a great job of keeping the tension high and the suspense crackling, while still balancing the love story and conflict. Berenger is in his prime here and reminds us what a great lead he actually was in his heyday. It is a shame he isn’t cast more nowadays, but at least we have great releases like this to remind us how charismatic he was, and to remind us of Ridley Scott films that may be overlooked.
Also of note this week is the romantic drama If Beale Street Could Talk from director Barry Jenkins, a new Blu-ray special edition of The Craft, and London Fields with Amber Heard.
Until next week movie lovers!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday March 12, 2019
6-Headed Shark Attack
Beyond Atlantis (1973)*
Damned Hot Day of Fire a.k.a. Gatling Gun (1968)*
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Fort Yuma Gold a.k.a. For a Few Extra Dollars*
Friends for Life*
Hunter x Hunter: The Last Mission
If Beale Street Could Talk
Life in the Doghouse
Man's Best Friend (1993)*
Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Showdown* - Special Edition
Someone to Watch Over Me (1987)*
The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends: The Complete Series
The Craft – Collector’s Edition
The Kid Brother* - Criterion Collection
The Last Man
The Last Ship: The Complete Fifth Season
The Magic Flute* - Criterion Collection
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
The Unknown Soldier
The Wild Pussycat (1969)*
Then Came You
*Catalog Blu-ray debut