Colin Farrell's 'Total Recall,' Matthew McConaughey's 'Killer Joe' and Spike Lee's 'Red Hook Summer' Hit HD (VIDEO)
As Christmas Day rapidly approaches, the studios race to make high-profile titles available for consumers so, if nothing else, they have some stuff to watch while all of the stores are closed. But this week offers a selection of titles which, unfortunately, aren’t altogether great gift ideas, if only because watching most of them once is one time too many, and owning them seems absolutely silly.
Nevertheless, we’ve assembled the cream of the crop, looking not only at Tuesday’s list of titles, but the films that distributors will release on Friday, in anticipation for a last-minute push from folks as irresponsible as, well, yours truly when it comes to holiday gifts.
Killer Joe (Lionsgate)
The One-Liner: Matthew McConaughey blows away his co-stars – in some cases literally – in this pitch-black tale of white-trash deceit, directed by The French Connection filmmaker William Friedkin.
Picture Perfect? A terrific transfer sufficiently preserves Friedkin’s filthily saturated images, perfectly creating a cohesive universe for his characters to unleash their worst impulses.
What Else Is There? A commentary track by Friedkin offers numerous insights into the creation of the film, while a collection of featurettes from the film’s screening at South By Southwest offers viewers comments from the cast and crew.
How Badly Do I Want It? “Enjoyment” of the film comes down to how much you are into watching bad people do terrible things to one another, but in a year when McConaughey seemingly couldn’t be stopped, this is one of his most remarkable performances.
The One-Liner: A seemingly featherweight musical movie starring powerhouse actress Anna Kendrick, this odd little movie chugged along when it was in theaters months ago, and comes home for folks to learn its songs and share in some big-screen Glee-style fun.
Picture Perfect? As always, Universal does a wonderful job of bringing the film’s big-screen presentation home, offering colorful, vivid imagery that perfectly suits its semi-music-video aesthetic.
What Else Is There? Two audio commentaries, deleted scenes, and the infamous line-o-rama expand this disc’s content significantly, offering what probably amounts to more than enough for a film that’s fun, but hardly demanding of substantial exploration.
How Badly Do I Want It? This is a film you might want to watch multiple times, and the Blu-ray offers a good value for your dollar with lots to view even after finishing the film.
Red Hook Summer (Image Entertainment)
The One-Liner: Spike Lee makes a remarkable return to form with this searing, intimate tale of a young man’s relationship with his uncle during a hot summer in New York.
Picture Perfect? Lee’s always been a terrific visual stylist, and the film is no different – and the Blu-ray does a great job preserving the saturated but naturalistic approach the filmmaker takes with the material.
What Else Is There? An audio commentary gives Lee a platform to discuss the film’s unique choices, in particular its unexpected third act, while a featurette offers some extra insights into the film’s creation.
How Badly Do I Want It? Lee’s been unfortunately uneven as a filmmaker in the last several years, but it’s a must-see if you’re a fan of his, so definitely make sure you rent it.
The One-Liner: Len Wiseman’s remake of the Paul Verhoeven original is decidedly a lackluster follow-up, but as featherweight summer entertainment is concerned, the film is mostly harmless fun.
Picture Perfect? SPHE’s transfer does an amazing job of maintaining vivid, clear image quality, ensuring a great viewing experience even on the small screen.
What Else Is There? A commentary track by Wiseman dives into his ideas for fleshing out the remake, but a series of featurettes and interviews examines the technical and artistic challenges the filmmakers faced as they tried to turn Verhoven’s film into another futuristic adventure.
How Badly Do I Want It? Not necessarily a movie you would want to own or rewatch, but as a rental the bonus content will keep you busy for several days.
Trouble With the Curve (Warner Home Video)
The One-Liner: Clint Eastwood’s first starring role in decades in a film which he didn’t direct feels just as much like an Eastwood film as ever, while Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake act adorable as Eastwood’s daughter and the baseball scout who wins her heart.
Picture Perfect? Warner Home Video does a predictably good job creating a solid, bright HD transfer that ensures that Eastwood, Adams and Timberlake look beautiful on the small screen.
What Else Is There? Only two short featurettes, which is fine since the film doesn’t really demand much more.
How Badly Do I Want It? A hopelessly generic film at absolute best, Trouble With the Curve is worth a rental if you really like the folks in it, but otherwise it’s hardly engaging enough to hold your attention.
Watch the trailer for Total Recall below, and let us know which of these films you've seen -- or want to -- in the comments section!