In an attempt to write more regularly, I’ve decided to start a weekly column updating you all — however many readers are actually out there — on the week’s newest Redbox releases, which lets me write about films I enjoyed while also recommending to you titles you may have missed.
Without further ado, below is a listing of this week’s newest Redbox releases (subject, of course, to availability at your local Redbox kiosk), a reminder of last week’s best releases, and a smattering of other recent releases worth checking out. Not all releases are included, but these are the ones I’ve either seen, am interested in, or have at least something to say about, and each comes with a recommendation level — “see it now,” “see it,” “skip it,” or “you decide” — and my own rating of the film, out of 5 stars. In addition, some ratings can be clicked on for you to read my full review of the film.
Anyways, read on to learn about this week’s best (or worst) Redbox releases, and I hope you enjoy this first edition of The Redbox Report!
NEW TO REDBOX THIS WEEK (3/25):
Frozen || SEE IT NOW || ★★★★½
My #7 film of 2013 and a movie for audiences of all demographics, Disney’s Frozen is well worth seeing, whether you’re 8 or 88. A new spin on the classic Disney musicals we (likely) all grew up on — Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, etc. — the film features plenty of action and adventure, big laughs, heartfelt drama, progressive themes, and two, count ’em, TWO goofy sidekicks. And, of course, some unbelievably catchy tunes, which you may or may not catch yourself listening to in your car while sitting at a stoplight next to some dude bumping the latest beat from Rick Ross. Oh well. Just watch the movie and let it wash over you with delight.
The Wolf of Wall Street || SEE IT NOW || ★★★★½
My #10 film of 2013 and a movie for audiences of all demographics, Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is well worth seeing, whether you’re 8 or — wait, scratch that, this movie is rated-R for a reason. Or, perhaps, several hundred reasons. Loud, brash, shocking, and wildly funny, this intoxicating dark comedy from one of cinema’s greatest directors features last year’s best performance (Leonardo DiCaprio) and some of its absolute finest scenes and storytelling. Wolf isn’t a film for everyone, particularly from a content standpoint, but if you take its show of excess for what it truly is — a veil through which to view the film’s primary characters — you should walk away with something incredibly intriguing to discuss with your friends. Or, at the very least, with fellow Internet message board and comment section junkies.
The Past || SEE IT NOW || ★★★★
When people talk Oscar snubs, they usually talk about the big categories. “So-and-so wasn’t nominated for Best Actress?! Such-and-such missed out on Best Picture?! Leo lost again?!” But one of 2013’s best films, Asghar Farhadi’s beautiful family drama The Past, missed out on a category often overlooked by general audiences, one for which many pundits felt it was a shoo-in until the shortlist was announced and it didn’t even make the list. Yes, I’m talking about Best Foreign Language Film, a category of subtitled features displaying cultures and languages so different from our own that we Americans typically dismiss its films entirely. But with stunning performances from Berenice Bejo (The Artist) and newcomer Pauline Burlet, The Past is an intense drama not to be missed. Oscar-nominated or not, do yourself a favor and check this one out.
Gravity || SEE IT (on a big screen) || ★★★★
From a technical standpoint, Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar-winning film Gravity was a treat to watch on the big screen last fall: its sound (and often lack thereof) was fantastic, its cinematography and visuals astounding. Gravity was the big cinematic event of 2013. But just a couple of weeks ago, I tried to watch the film again on the small screen with a friend, and I have to say, the film just does not translate well, and I have to think I can attribute those sentiments to the slightness of its story. If you have a nice home theater setup — basically, a big (55-inch minimum) HDTV and some killer surround-sound — the blu-ray for Gravity might be worth your money, but if not, you’re better off with one of the films mentioned above. And I say that as someone who gave Gravity a 4-star rating (out of five) back in October.
Saving Mr. Banks || SKIP IT || ★★
This one sure came and went didn’t it? Once considered a likely Best Picture contender, among other categories, this warm portrait of the ever-popular Walt Disney and his attempt at bringing the story of Mary Poppins to the big screen failed to resonate all that well with critics or audiences alike. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are good in their respective roles, and the music is pretty solid, but overall, this is one film you can probably just skip. It’s contrived and overly sentimental.
Delivery Man || YOU DECIDE || no rating
A remake of the Canadian artificial-insemination comedy Starbuck, this Vince Vaughn-starring film is one I never got a chance to see, and at this point, likely won’t. But it’s out, so, if it sounds like something you’d like, give it a chance and let me know how it is, eh?
LAST WEEK’S RELEASES (3/18):
American Hustle || SEE IT || ★★★★
A con-artist period drama/comedy directed by David O. Russell, American Hustle is a film that gets better with rewatches, as most of Russell’s films are wont to do. Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Jeremy Renner star, bringing unbelievably great acting and enormous flair to a film whose simple premise is made worth the runtime by its layered story and excellent directorial execution.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire || SEE IT || ★★★★
Part two of four in the popular series of young adult novel adaptations, Catching Fire improves upon the original Hunger Games with a better story, better characters, better acting, better execution — really, better everything. An obvious step in the right direction for this franchise, you’ve probably already seen this one if you like the series, but if not, give it a chance, especially if you’ve read the books, seen The Hunger Games, or are interested in seeing Mockingjay – Part 1 this fall.
Dallas Buyers Club || SEE IT || ★★★★
All right, all right, all right. Great acting and solid storytelling make this multiple Academy Award-winning film worth checking out. Matthew McConaughey veritably crushes it in the lead role, making him a deserving Oscar-winner, and if you want an emotionally resonant true-life drama, well, here you go.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom || YOU DECIDE || no rating
Never saw it, and that 141-minute runtime is daunting. I’m skipping it, but I leave it entirely to you guys to decide whether you check it out or pass on it.