Welcome to March and hopefully the beginning of Spring! Some big titles this week starting with Thor: Ragnarok. Chris Hemsworth returns to the role of Avenger Thor as he returns to his world of Asgard to find Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in charge and his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) gone. And with these events comes a previously unknown relative, Thor’s sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) who has returned to claim her throne and destroy all who stand in her way. Now stranded on the other side of the universe, Thor must team up with fellow Avenger Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and another Asgardian (Tessa Thompson) to escape The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum) and return to Asgard and stop Hela.
Thor: Ragnarok is really a Marvel movie unlike any before it. It has shades of the previous Thor movies but with a fresh dash of Guardians of the Galaxy humor, perhaps even surpassing the quirkiness of those films and creating a whole new colorful, silly, hilarious and action packed flick. Hemsworth has fantastic comedic abilities and really plays with them here. Add in the similar talents of Ruffalo and Hiddleston, the charismatic addition of Thompson and Goldblum, and many little tidbits of imaginative fun and you have a whole new direction for the Thor franchise that I sincerely hope spills over into the rest of the MCU. Marvel and Disney are really doing things right, let’s hope it continues through Avengers: Infinity War next month.
Next up is one of the most talked about films of the year as well as the recipient of five Oscar nominations, Lady Bird. Saorise Ronan plays Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson, a high school senior longing for meaning in her life that she just can’t seem to find in her hometown of Sacramento. Dealing with her complicated relationship with her parents, especially her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf), while also navigating relationships with peers and the opposite sex proves a great challenge for Lady Bird as she plans her future and her escape from the mundane.
Lady Bird is written and directed by actor Greta Gerwig with the skill and confidence of a veteran. Granted, Gerwig does have an impressive resume having only been acting for about 12 years with over 40 credits to her name, but if Lady Bird is any indication, let’s hope she also has more stories to tell from behind the camera. And Ronan as usual proves she is absolutely one of the best actors working today. Her subtlety and her ability to be totally relatable to any and all audience members is astounding and her pairing with Laurie Metcalf here is pure kismet. Lady Bird is a wonderful coming of age story that will not only appeal to women but to everyone that can relate to the tumultuous teen years. So, all of us.
Lastly this week is the newest film from Woody Allen, Wonder Wheel. Kate Winslet stars as Ginny, a waitress, wife and mother in in 1950’s Coney Island. Ginny was an actress once but now lives a sad existence dealing with her well-intentioned but abrasive and recovering alcoholic second husband Humpty (Jim Belushi). But Ginny finds some solace in an affair with a charismatic lifeguard, Mickey (Justin Timberlake) that is disrupted by the arrival of Humpty’s estranged daughter Carolina (Juno Temple) who shows up out of the blue begging forgiveness after running off with a mobster years before. And when Mickey starts to fall for Carolina, Ginny’s whole world is threatened.
Wonder Wheel is a different Woody Allen movie. It has his trademark smart dialogue and nostalgic setting, and the common themes of love, sex, betrayal and complicated relationships, but the real difference is in the way Allen filmed this one. There is a warm glow to all of the scenes with the bustling 50’s Coney Island always as the backdrop and it lends a wonderful dreamy feel to a story that involves so much sadness. The entire cast are excellent, as usual for an Allen film, with Winslet and Temple really standing out. But it is the inclusion of Belushi that surprised me the most. Belushi has done a few TV shows, like Twin Peaks, and a few smaller movies in the past decade or so, but has really kind of fallen off the radar. In Wonder Wheel, we get to see that he is actually a very good actor that really deserves to be seen in more films. And despite any opinions about Allen’s personal life, he is still one of the most talented filmmakers out there.
Also of note this week is the new post-apocalyptic thriller Scorched Earth starring Gina Carano, a beautiful new Blu-ray special edition of the classic Dario Argento thriller The Cat O’Nine Tails, and the Oscar Nominated animated feature film The Breadwinner.
Until next week movie lovers.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday March 6, 2018
A Trip to the Moon: Special Edition*
Aliens Ate My Homework
Blue Planet II
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Ninth Season
Donnie Darko Special Edition
Duck You Sucker*
Ethel & Ernest
Fangs of the Living Dead*
Hammer Films Double Feature: Maniac/Die! Die! My Darling! *
Hammer Films Double Feature: Never Take Candy from Strangers/Scream of Fear*
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV
Knights of the Damned
Legend of the American Sniper*
Lords of Dogtown*
The Cat O’Nine Tails: Special Edition
The Dark Crystal 4K
The Man Who Invented Christmas
The Revenge of Robert
The Strangers: Collector’s Edition
*Catalog Blu-ray debut