Welcome back to my Home Movies! Today, we actually have another really good slate to share with you all. This week features not just The Suicide Squad (which should have been a smash hit), but a potential awards player in Stillwater, not to mention a snubbed title from last year with On the Rocks. It’s a real strong crop, so read on for more…
The Suicide Squad
James Gunn‘s The Suicide Squad is as good as Suicide Squad was rough. Rarely do you see a hard 180 like this, but Gunn pulled it off. He’s having a blast and it shows. Moreover, it clearly extends to not only the cast, but the crew as well. This is one of my favorite films of the year. You can find my interview with composer John Murphy here, where we got into just how much fun this flick is, and it really is fun. Here is a bit from my rave review:
The Suicide Squad, for what it’s doing, is perfect. For as much as Suicide Squad was a misfire, this hits the bullseye. Not only is it absurdly violent and absolutely hilarious, it beats with the heart of a work that truly cares about its characters. I loved every second of it. Gunn’s choices all pay off, even the ones that seem like long-shots (and especially some of them, even). Ambition, confidence, and just a bit of insanity come together to form a masterpiece. When a giant silly thing is phenomenal, as well as a sentient rat (not to mention a man-eating shark) capturing your imagination, you know you’re in for a one of a kind experience.
On the Rocks
It seems like a distant memory now, but how enjoyable was On the Rocks last year? For me, it was an utter delight, with Bill Murray at arguably his most charming. Finally coming to Blu-ray and DVD, it’s a perfect movie to just kick back and relax with. My review here from a year ago said the following, though obviously keep in mind the timing from when the review was written:
There is an element of On the Rocks that takes on an added significance during our current times. Surely, filmmaker Sofia Coppola had no idea the world would more or less come to a halt in the months following her production of this movie, but watching it now, it’s impossible not to notice the New York City she’s captured. Previously, it would just seem like the Manhattan we all know and love/hate/have a love-hate relationship with. Now, it’s inadvertently become a love letter to a city that’s temporarily gone on hiatus. Until it comes back, getting to see it in Coppola’s flick, thriving in its own bustling and busy way, makes an already wonderful film into something even better.
On the Rocks is more than a love letter to New York City, as it’s also a brilliant showcase and vehicle for Bill Murray. Given one of his best roles to date, he’s having an absolute blast. If you could design a part for Murray in a lab, this would likely resemble what you came up with. Once upon a time, this was what the Academy had created Best Supporting Actor for. Oscar voters don’t always go for this sort of aces comedic role anymore, but they certainly should take notice again for what he’s doing in partnership with Coppola.
Though it might not be an Oscar player anymore, Tom McCarthy‘s Stillwater is still a rock solid drama for adults. I spoke to co-star Abigail Breslin here, and she’s very good, but this is one of Matt Damon‘s best recent roles. It’s just the sort of thing we really don’t see made much anymore. My review right here has more:
There’s a really bad version of Stillwater that easily could exist. One doesn’t have to speculate too wildly to imagine a tone-deaf and America First type version of the film. Or, there easily could have been the Clint Eastwood version of the movie, that just seems tossed off. Luckily, Tom McCarthy is too good for that. Instead, the flick is thoughtful and ruminative, allowing the story to build naturally. Now, that doesn’t mean that all of the choices work here, since they do not, but it’s all done with both heart and intelligence. Factor in some very strong acting and this is the sort of adult drama cinemas all too rarely are stocked with these days. Kudos to Focus Features for reminding us that this sort of film is still very much worth making.
Stillwater steadily builds to a moving conclusion, even if there are fits and starts along the way. One focus of the flick is far more successful than the other, but it always feels as thought McCarthy and company believe in the story they’re telling. That goes a long way in making sure he never loses the audience.
Gomorrah: The Series, Season One (TV)
The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Series (TV)
Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius: The Complete Series (TV)
Middle-Earth Theatrical Collection (4K)
New Amsterdam: Season 3 (TV)
Ride the Eagle
Underworld Limited Edition 5 Movie Collection (4K)
Walker: Season One (TV)
From The Criterion Collection: “Master filmmaker Satyajit Ray explores the conflict between fanaticism and free will in Devi (The Goddess), issuing a subversively modern challenge to religious orthodoxy and patriarchal power structures. In rural India in the second half of the nineteenth century, after his son (Soumitra Chatterjee) leaves for Kolkata to complete his studies, a wealthy feudal landlord (Chhabi Biswas) is seized by the notion that his beloved daughter-in-law (a hauntingly sad-eyed Sharmila Tagore) is an incarnation of the Mother Goddess—a delusion that proves devastating to the young woman and those around her. The elegantly stylized compositions and the chiaroscuro lighting by cinematographer Subrata Mitra heighten the expressionistic intensity of this domestic tragedy, making for an experience that is both sublime and shattering.”
Stay tuned for more next week…