Welcome back to my Home Movies! This week, we have the latest Pixar effort in Elemental hitting shelves. Also among the slate today are a pair of Criterion Collection releases, including Moonage Daydream (don’t miss our interview with filmmaker Brett Morgen here), plus the documentary Clerk coming to Blu-ray, as well as the first season of Loki. Read on for more…
Elemental is among the most beautiful looking Pixar movies yet. In telling an old-fashioned romantic comedy story, they managed to showcase some breathtaking new visuals. I previewed the flick here and here (alongside what it’s like to be at Pixar’s headquarters), as well as spoke to several people involved with the production. Check out my conversations with composer Thomas Newman here, leads Mamoudou Athie and Leah Lewis here, plus director Peter Sohn and producer Denise Ream here. My review here of the film includes the following bit:
When you sit down to watch a Pixar film, you have a certain set of expectations. You go in expecting a story fit for adults and children alike, alongside some cutting edge visual achievements. Well, not only do you get that with their latest effort in Elemental, but there’s a bonus as well. What Pixar is doing with this movie is telling an old-fashioned love story. In fact, it’s the animation giant’s first romantic comedy. Unsurprisingly, the studio is a good fit for the rom-com, which also has an immigrant story subtext, in addition to some technological achievements that will boggle your mind.
Elemental is a classic Hollywood romantic comedy, which is a definite compliment. The budding romance of our central characters is lovely. Additionally, the social commentary at play fits well within the rom-com vibe. If the overall plot is a bit thin, with a crammed in almost action subplot that’s not as engaging as the rest, it’s just what prevents this from being a full-on Pixar classic. That being said, it’s still incredibly warm (no pun intended) and supremely entertaining.
This documentary about Kevin Smith is pretty much made for me, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still great. A fascinating look at a fascinating filmmaker, it’s the sort of doc about creativity that’s supremely easy to enjoy. Coming to Blu-ray today, it’s a great get (and only available here at Mercantile Instinct). You can see my interview with director Malcolm Ingram here, while my rave review here out of SXSW that year includes the following:
Full disclosure: I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan. None of you reading this are probably ignorant to that fact, but still, I’m putting it out on Front Street. Now, that being said, I’m also here to say that Clerk is a fantastic documentary about him. Playing at SXSW, it presents Smith as not just a jack of all trades type figure in entertainment, but as a true auteur as well. That’s what makes the doc far more than just something you’d find on one of his Blu-rays or DVDs (those Making Of documentaries are terrific in their own right, just as an FYI). Clerk works both as an introduction to Kevin Smith as well as a gentle reminder that he deserves more kudos than he gets.
Clerk champions Smith, not just as a filmmaker, but as a person, too. Now, the latter is an easy sell, since no one ever has a bad thing to say about him, as a man. However, considering how many discount Smith talents, including sometimes Smith himself, the flick pulls heavier duty there. It does it well, though, presenting the works in a context that highlights why they work, even if they may not have been thought to at the time. Is he a storyteller who’s not for everyone? Sure, but then again, aside from a handful of auteurs, who is?
Malcolm Ingram has known Smith for years, but beyond that connection, is an accomplished filmmaker in his own right. Documentaries like Small Town Gay Bar and narratives like Drawing Flies have more than proven that. So, this isn’t a friend making hero worship. It’s a director with a personal stake seeking to showcase what he’s seen in Smith for so long. It’s very effective in that way, with a simple style that keeps the subject front and center. Sure, there’s talking heads, including some really interesting takes from filmmakers like Richard Linklater and Jason Reitman, but Smith himself rightly remains the star.
Also Available This Week
A Thousand and One
Insidious: The Red Door
Interview With The Vampire: Season 1 (TV)
Loki: The Complete First Season (TV)
Mayfair Witches: Season 1 (TV)
Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan: Season Three (TV)
From The Criterion Collection: “The brief but incandescent life of rock-and-roll trailblazer Ritchie Valens is immortalized in this enthralling biopic from another Mexican American icon, Luis Valdez, the father of Chicano cinema. With sweetness and swagger, Lou Diamond Phillips embodies the 1950s California teenager who, forged by his fiercely supportive mother (Rosana DeSoto) and rebellious brother (Esai Morales), rises from his farm-working roots to chart-topping fame in the early days of rock—until one fateful night that haunts music history. Propelled by a hip-shaking soundtrack featuring Los Lobos and Carlos Santana, La Bamba captures the electric vitality of an artist who bridged cultures to create his own American dream.”
From The Criterion Collection: “An ecstatic voyage through the creative and spiritual universe of David Bowie, Moonage Daydream is a fittingly unclassifiable tribute to the shape-shifting rock iconoclast and his singular sound and vision. Exploding the conventions of the music documentary, director Brett Morgen remixes dazzling, never-before-seen footage of the artist throughout his career, reveling in his otherworldly presence while revealing the restless philosophical inquiry that guided his myriad metamorphoses. Graced with soulful narration by Bowie, this immersive audiovisual head rush transmits the essence of a phenomenon that cannot be explained—only experienced.”