Welcome back to my Home Movies! Today, The Mauritanian hits shelves, complete with a quote on the back cover from yours truly. What else is coming out this week? Well, read on for more, but the slate includes Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Criterion…
Joey’s Top Pick
One of the more tragically overlooked flicks of 2020, The Mauritanian deserved far more recognition. Whether it was the lead turn from Tahar Rahim (who I spoke to here and here), or the memorable supporting work from Jodie Foster (my interview with her is here), everyone involved is giving it their all. Director Kevin Macdonald (our interview is here) shepherds this one along in a way that demands you pay it heed. My rave review here on the site explains more:
Over the past two decades or so, many events have shaken the belief that the United States has the world’s moral high ground. When it comes to how we treat prisoners, the value we place in the Constitution, and the concept that we always honorable, that mindset has taken many a hit. Now, right as faith in our ideals is shaken again, comes along The Mauritanian, a true life drama and legal thriller that shines a light on another injustice. At the same time, while this could be a downer and the last thing audiences want to see, it’s so well done, full of righteous anger and an ability to call folks to action, that it instead demands to be seen.
The Mauritanian is going to make you angry. It’s also likely to lead you to want to make a difference. That’s what sets this one apart from so many 9/11 adjacent films. This is a far cry from Rendition, for example. Whereas movies from that era just never connected, this one certainly does. Truly, that’s what helps this flick to rise above and work as well as it does.
Robin Wright does a very solid job with Land, her feature directorial debut. Wright, along with Demián Bichir (who we interviewed here), turns in strong work, anchoring an emotional story with added weight. It looks good, leaves an impact, and yet, goes down easy. Here’s a bit from our Sundance Film Festival review:
Land marks a solid welcome to feature filmmaking for Robin Wright. If you like her as an actress, prepare to like her as a director, too. Wright’s performance, along with Demián Bichir’s, leaves an impact…
Dead To Me: Season Two
Saw (on 4K)
Shrek (on 4K)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
From The Criterion Collection: “The wild world of adolescence has rarely been captured with as sharp an observational eye as in this refreshingly smart, frank spin on the teen comedy by director Amy Heckerling and screenwriter Cameron Crowe—for each of whom it kicked off a hugely successful film career. Based on Crowe’s experiences going undercover as a student at a Southern California high school, Fast Times at Ridgemont High blends hormone-fueled hilarity with an almost sociological examination of the 1980s teenage experience: the shopping mall hangouts, fast-food jobs, buzzkill teachers, awkward dates, and first experiences of love and sex. This pop-culture touchstone launched to stardom practically an entire cast of unknowns—including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold, Forest Whitaker, Anthony Edwards, Eric Stoltz, and Sean Penn as stoner icon Jeff Spicoli—and broke new ground in its raw yet sensitive depiction of the realities of coming of age.”
Merrily We Go to Hell
From The Criterion Collection: “Addiction, nonmonogamy, and female sexual liberation: decades before such ideas were widely discussed, Dorothy Arzner, the only woman to work as a director in 1930s Hollywood, brought them to the screen with striking frankness, sophistication, and wit—a mature treatment that stands out even in the pre-Code era. Fredric March (in one of four collaborations with Arzner) and Sylvia Sidney turn in extraordinary performances as an urbane couple whose relationship is pushed to the breaking point by his alcoholism and wandering eye, leading them into an emotionally explosive experiment with an open marriage. Exposing the hypocrisies and petty cruelties simmering beneath the surface of high-society elegance, Merrily We Go to Hell is a scathing early-feminist commentary on modern marriage.”