They let everyone into their home, these two kind folks, no matter how hard times may be. Tom (Jim Broadbent) and Gerri (Ruth Sheen) are the best friends anyone could have, and they are the empathetic core of writer/director Mike Leigh’s Another Year. A year goes by, and the two encounter the joy of new life, the pain and confusion of death, and the loneliest of lonely hearts, Gerri’s best friend Mary (Lesley Manville). A fine ensemble delves deeply into this introspective retrospection, as they come to terms with getting older and realizing how little things change. My review is here. Available on Blu-ray/DVD Combo.
A solid remake, True Grit shows Joel and Ethan Coen’s command of language in service of characters and style in service of tone. A spare, isolated backdrop of wide-open spaces and confined woods is where a band of colorful characters clash and collaborate to avenge the murder of a young girl’s father. She is Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld in a superb performance), the no-nonsense, business-minded protagonist who ends up playing second fiddle to a drunken, one-eyed US Marshall named Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). Like the original, the story is slight but bolstered by strong characterizations. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
An up-and-coming middle manager (Ben Affleck) finds himself laid off in The Company Men, as his boss (Tommy Lee Jones) and fellow manager (Chris Cooper) try to survive the perilous aftereffects of a company whose executives realize further lay offs are a great way to ensure their own salaries and even build an off-site office just for them. The film wisely avoids class, even though Affleck’s Bobby Walker has surrounded himself with the finer things (sports car, big house). It sees him only in his new social status: the unemployed in a difficult job market. While the sketch is cut-and-dry, it is not without substantially honest observations. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
A group of researchers enter a cave and die off one by one. The characterizations are slim (The major ones are defined mostly by their relationships to someone else (e.g., father and son, boyfriend and girlfriend), and there’s also comic relief, a redhead, and two women), and the theme is survival and never, ever giving up no matter what happens. There is a genuine sense of claustrophobic tension in the underground cavern, but the beats are habitual to the point of being able to count down until the next gruesome demise. My review is here. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D.
A wholly laugh-less affair about a pathological liar and plastic surgeon (Adam Sandler) who convinces his assistant (Jennifer Aniston) to pretend to be his wife so he can carry on deceiving a pretty, young thing (Brooklyn Decker). There are two halves of obnoxiousness here–the first when the characters are dumb, the second when movie is. The low point: Nicole Kidman shows up to return a favor or as a result of losing a bet. The lower point: An awkward Hurricane Katrina reference. The lowest point: A character performs the Heimlich maneuver on a sheep. My review is here. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and DVD/Blu-ray Combo.