You’ve got to hand it to director Ron Howard: he went out on a limb to produce and direct this film set during the golden age of 1970s Formula 1 racing — a sport little-known by most Americans (although it draws massive audiences worldwide, both at Grand Prix events and via broadcast). There are few auto racing movies that make money — actually, there have been only a handful of racing movies, period — and, unfortunately, “Rush” isn’t among those moneymakers. Which is a shame, since it’s actually a well-directed, honest and accurate look at men pushing themselves to emotional and physical breaking points in pursuit of their muse — which here happens to be winning Grand Prix races at all costs. The film portrays the exhilarating true story of two of the greatest rivals in the sport — handsome and flamboyant English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his methodical, brilliant opponent, disciplined Austrian perfectionist Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) — in the 1976 season, both on and off the track. The racing scenes are spectacularly amazing — Howard planned the scenes for months, mainly using vintage F1 cars and their drivers in lieu of special effects and stunt drivers (except for the crash scenes). It’s a breathtaking production. Extras: “Ron Howard: A Director’s Approach.” Blu-ray adds a six part featurette, “Race for the Checkered Flag: The Making of Rush,” with “Peter Morgan on Writing Rush,” “The Making of Rush — Finding James and Niki,” “The Light of Speed and Filming F1,” “Around the World in One Location,” “Fashion and Styles of the 70’s” and “The Making of Rush — Ron Howard: A Director’s Approach”; three-part featurette, “The Real Story of Rush” with “Meeting James Hunt and Niki Lauda,” “F1 Take 1: F1 Racing and the F1 Car” and “The Rock and Roll Circus.” Vitals: Director: Ron Howard. Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Stephen Mangan, Christian McKay, Julian Rhind-Tutt. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 123 min., Action, Box office gross: $26.491 million, Universal.
Picks up where the first film left off, but this time inventor Flint Lockwood’s infamous machine (which turns water into food, resulting in cheeseburger rain and spaghetti tornadoes) is now being used to create food-animal hybrids — “foodimals” — and he has to battle hungry tacodiles, shrimpanzees, apple pie-thons, double bacon cheespiders and other food creatures to save the world again. Like the original, this delightful animated comedy is set in a world all its own where imagination runs amok — and harkens back to the great surreal cartoons of the 40s and 50s where anything could — and would — happen. Fun for audiences of all age groups. Extras: Commentary with directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn; Cody Simpson “La Da Dee” music video and making of the video featurette; seven new featurettes: “Anatomy of a Foodimal”: Flamangos, Cheesespiders, Hippotatomuses! Oh my! The filmmakers discuss the inspiration behind these wacky food-animal hybrids that have taken over Swallow Falls, and chat with the gang to find out how they came up with the Food-imal’s creative and amusing names; “Production Design: Back in the Kitchen”: Where do you go after it rains cheeseburgers all over Swallow Falls? Back to the kitchen of course! Filmmakers Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn discuss how they came up with stories and jokes for the film; “Awesome End Credits”: The filmmakers discuss how they used a mix of 3D, 2D, stop motion and live action; “Cloudy Cafe: Who’s On the Menu?” featurette on the voice actors; “Building the Foodimals”; “The Sasquash” featurette on all the places in the film that the sneaky Sasquash is hiding; “Delicious Production Design.” Blu-ray adds deleted scenes and four mini-movies: “Attack of the 50-Foot Gummi Bear” in which Flint’s mischievous gummi bear grows to 50-feet by using his new food-modifying invention while Steve is in charge. Steve must frantically chase the gummi bear and transform him back to normal size before Flint returns to the lab; “Steve’s First Bath”: Flint’s failed date with Sam is because of Steve’s mischievous ways; “Super Manny”: Manny, the Jack of all trades, saves an adorable kitty with his many skills; “Earl Scouts”: The Foodimals join Earl’s scouting program but are very competitive. Vitals: Director: Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn. Stars: Voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Kristen Schaal, Will Forte, Terry Crews. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 95 min., Animated, Box office gross: $113.016 million, Sony.
“Jackass” ringleader Johnny Knoxville takes on the personna of 86-year-old Irving Zisman in the story of a crotchety old man unexpectedly saddled with the care of his 8-year-old grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll). This pair of troublemakers travel across the heartland of America pulling pranks on unsuspecting, real-life people — male strippers, disgruntled child beauty pageant contestants (and their equally disgruntled mothers), funeral home mourners, biker bar patrons — in this “Candid Camera” meets “America’s Funniest Videos” by way of “Borat” production. A huge moneymaker for the franchise. Blu-ray Extras: Behind-the-scenes vignettes, deleted scenes, ” Alternate Reactions from Real People.” Vitals: Director: Jeff Tremaine. Stars: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Greg Harris, Georgina Cates, Kamber Hejlik. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 91 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $100.020 million, Paramount.
A muddled attempt to track the rise and fall of WikiLeaks — the muckraking website that leaked hundreds of thousands of pages of secret documents from governments around the world — its founder, Julian Assange, and its impact on the flow of information to news media and the world at large. The film follows Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl), an early supporter and eventual colleague of Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Assange himself, as they rise from obscurity to worldwide notoriety. As the website flourishes, so does Assange’s megalomania, eventually alienating Domscheit-Berg and his supporters and friends. The film, unfortunately, lacks any coherence or vision in its depiction of government leaks and the people at the forefront of divulging secrets and bringing government transparency to the people of the world. Director Bill Condon has done much better work elsewhere (“Gods and Monsters,” “Kinsey,” “Dreamgirls”). Extras: “The Submission Platform: Visual Effects,” “In Camera: Graphics,” “Scoring Secrets,” trailers and TV spots. Vitals: Director: Bill Condon. Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Bruhl, Laura Linney, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Mackie. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 124 min., Drama, Box office gross: $3.254, million, Disney.
What do four of our greatest actors do when they have down time between meaty roles? They get together for an inconsequential comedy about four old friends who travel to Las Vegas for a senior citizen version of “The Hangover.” The plot: Billy (Michael Douglas, 69), Paddy (Robert De Niro, 70), Archie (Morgan Freeman, 76) and Sam (Kevin Kline, 66) have been best friends since childhood. So when Billy, the group’s sworn bachelor, proposes to his thirtysomething girlfriend, the four head to Vegas with a plan to stop acting their age and relive their glory days. There are a few predictable laughs as each man brings to Vegas — and overcomes — his respective emotional baggage concerning love, sex, loyalty and freedom, but for the most part this comedy just coasts along from one mediocre set piece to another. Extras: Commentary with director Jon Turteltaub and writer Dan Fogelman; three featurettes: “It’s Going to Be Legendary” behind-the-scenes look at the production of the film with commentary from the main cast, “Four Legends” look at the ensemble main cast and their insights on working with one another, “The Flatbush Four” glimpse at the character arcs of the four main characters. Blu-ray adds three more featurettes: “Shooting in Sin City,” “The Redfoo Party” and “Supporting Ensemble.” Vitals: Director: Jon Turteltaub. Stars: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen, Romany Malco, Jerry Ferrara. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 105 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $60.586 million, Sony.
Follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is at a crossroads. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles — some of them of his own making. Living at the mercy of both friends and strangers, scaring up what work he can find, Llewyn’s misadventures take him from the baskethouses of the Village to an empty Chicago club — on an odyssey to audition for a music mogul — and back again. Extras: “Inside Inside Llewyn Davis” making-of documentary, featuring Joel and Ethan Coen, Oscar Isaac, Elijah Wald, Stark Sands, T-Bone Burnett, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Marcus Mumford, Chris Thile, John Goodman, F. Murray Abraham, Jess Gonchor, Mary Zophres and Bruno Delbonnel. Vitals: Director: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen. Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham, Ethan Phillips, Adam Driver, Robin Bartlett, Max Casella. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 104 min., Drama, Box office gross: $11.239 million, Sony.
In the sequel to the blockbuster “The Hunger Games,” Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) have barely returned home after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games when they are whisked away once again by the Capitol. Forced to leave her family and best friend Gale, Katniss is dispatched on a victory tour of Panem with Peeta, where rebellion is seething in all 12 districts. The Capitol is enraged and ready to strike back … as President Snow (Donald Sutherland) prepares the most diabolical edition of the Hunger Games yet. Extras: Commentary with director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson, deleted scenes, sneak peek of “Divergent.” Blu-ray adds “Surviving the Game: Making Catching Fire” nine-part feature-length documentary. Vitals: Director: Francis Lawrence. Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Willow Shields, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Liam Hemsworth, Jeffrey Wright, Lenny Kravitz, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Amanda Plummer. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 146 min., Sci Fi Action, Box office gross: $418.019 million, Lionsgate.
After receiving a Publishers Clearing House-type sweepstakes letter in the mail, a cantankerous, booze-addled Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) thinks he’ struck it rich, and wrangles his estranged son (Will Forte) into taking a road trip from Montana to Nebraska to claim the “fortune.” On their way they stop off at Woody’s home town, Hawthorne, Nebraska, where he meets up with relatives, friends and enemies, and settles some old scores. Shot in black and white across four states, Nebraska tells the stories of family life in the heartland of America. Blu-ray Extras: “The Making of Nebraska” six-part featurette: “The Script,” “Cast and Characters,” “Locations,” “Shooting in Black and White,” “Working with Alexander,” “A Film Family.” Vitals: Director: Alexander Payne. Stars: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Stacy Keach, Bob Odenkirk, Rance Howard, Mary Louise Wilson, Tim Driscoll, Kevin Kunkel, Angela McEwan, Devin Ratray. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: R, 115 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $9.861 million, Paramount.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is releasing their latest selection of classic films on DVD from their popular Fox Cinema Archives collection beginning now through Feb.25.
Launched in 2012, Fox Cinema Archives includes more than 200 classic films drawing from the studio’s deep vault of movies. The collection dives into the studio’s rich catalog to resurrect some of the most memorable films from the 1930s, 40s and 50s.
In the coming weeks, 14 essential titles will be added to Fox Cinema Archives, including classic war dramas, comedies and musicals, giving film buffs the opportunity to enhance their collection by purchasing a variety of iconic films at major top-tier retailers. The release schedule for this wave of titles can be seen below.
In Love and War (1958), 111 min.
Three Marines take shore leave in San Francisco in Phillip Dunne’s World War II drama starring Golden Globe winner Dana Wynter alongside Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter and Bradford Dillman. Between a dysfunctional family, pregnant fiancée and wild girlfriend, each marine must choose whether to make the best of their situation or escape.
Island in the Sky (1938), 67 min.
Academy Award-nominated actress Gloria Stuart plays Julie Hayes, a woman convinced the man her fiancé, Michael Fraser, Asst. D.A. (Michael Whalen) helped convict of murder is innocent of the crime. Julie postpones their wedding, and then seeks a former gangster to help save the life of the innocent man.
The Glory Brigade (1953), 81 min.
Victor Mature, Alexander Scourby and Richard Egan star in Robert D. Webb’s Golden Globe–winning film. During the Korean War, a Greek-American Lieutenant wrongly blames the Greek troops he has volunteered to lead for the death of his own men.
Danger: Love at Work (1937), 81 min.
In Otto Preminger’s screwball comedy, an ineffectual attorney must convince an eccentric family to close an important land deal and ends up marrying the only sane member of the bunch. The film stars Academy Award-nominated actress Ann Sothern with Jack Haley and Edward Everett Horton.
Home in Indiana (1944), 103 min.
Lon McCallister plays a teenager with a penchant for trouble sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Indiana, where he discovers a love for horses. Based on George Agnew’s story “The Phantom Filly,” this Academy Award-nominated film also stars Walter Brennan, Jeanne Crain, June Haver and Charlotte Greenwood.
City of Bad Men (1953), 81 min.
In Harmon Jones’ Western film, gangs of outlaws converge on 1897 Carson City, planning to rob the box office of a high profile prizefight. The noteworthy cast includes Dale Robertson, Jeanne Crain and Richard Boone.
Pride of St. Louis (1952), 92 min.
A biopic based on the life of Major League Baseball Hall of Fame pitching ace ‘Dizzy’ Dean, following his bumpy rise from minor leaguer to World Series great, to beloved broadcaster. This Academy Award-nominated film stars Dan Dailey as Dizzy Dean.
Follow the Sun (1951), 93 min.
Glenn Ford plays Ben Hogan in the inspiring biographical film of the golf legend. The film also stars Anne Baxter and many sports figures of the day, including Jimmy Demaret, Carry Middlecoff, Grantland Rice and Sam Snead.
Five Fingers (1952), 107 min.
The valet to the British ambassador in Turkey during WWII decides to improve his lot by selling his employer’s top-secret documents to the Nazis in this classic spy film starring James Mason. Based on the true story of Elyesa Bazna, one of the most famous spies of World War II, the film was nominated for two Academy Awards.
The Great Profile (1940), 70 min.
John Barrymore stars in this semi-autobiographical film about the dysfunctional life of a self-destructive actor. Directed by Academy Award-nominated director Walter Lang, the film stars John Barrymore and John Payne.
Margin for Error (1943), 74 min.
When a Nazi consul who was embezzling funds from the German consulate turns up dead, a Jewish policeman exonerates his wife and partner of the crime. Otto Preminger, Joan Bennett and Milton Berle star in this adaptation of the 1939 play of the same title by Claire Boothe Luce.
Mother Wore Tights (1947), 107 min.
Dan Dailey and Betty Grable star as a young man and woman who team up as performers during the age of vaudeville and soon fall in love. The story of their rise to fame, and the subsequent professional and personal setbacks, is told in flashback and set against a rousing musical score.
Wild on the Beach (1965), 76 min.
Its Spring Break 60s style as two unfamiliar groups of college kids, one male and the other female, arrive at the same beach house on the same weekend. Featuring memorable musical acts, “Wild on the Beach” is also the film debut of Sonny & Cher.
Sing, Baby, Sing (1936), 87 min.
At the insistence of her manager, a nightclub singer tricks a drunken movie star into thinking they’ve had a relationship. The musical features Alice Faye, Adolphe Menjou and Gregory Ratoff.
From the Big Screen:
“Rush”, “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2,” “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” “The Fifth Estate” and “Last Vegas.” For more information on these and other releases this week, see the Weekly Guide to Home Video Releases.
There’s a mixed bag of releases this week to add to your collection, highlighted by three Paramount films from the cusp of the 1960/1970s, when the studio system was being buried and a new generation of American filmmakers was overturning the apple cart; these three films represent old-style Hollywood filmmaking: In “The April Fools” (1969), starring Jack Lemmon, Catherine Deneuve, Peter Lawford, Jack Weston, Myrna Loy, Charles Boyer, Kenneth Mars, Melinda Dillon, Harvey Korman and Sally Kellerman, Howard Brubaker (Lemmon) is a newly promoted man trapped in a loveless marriage. Catherine’s (Deneuve) marriage would be ideal if her husband (who, unknown to Howard, is his boss) weren’t a womanizer. When Howard and Catherine meet at a trendy party for New York’s corporate elite, they decide to escape and explore the city instead. Soon the pair find themselves falling in love and deciding to run off to Paris. All they have to do now is tell their spouses … “Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?” (1971) follows Georgie Soloway (Dustin Hoffman), a hit love-song writer who ironically can’t love others, or himself. Although he’s rich, successful and seemingly on top of the world, he spends his days dreaming of suicide and trying to track down a man named Harry Kellerman, who has been spreading outrageous lies about him. Co-stars Barbara Harris and Jack Warden … In “The War Between Men and Women” (1972), starring Jack Lemmon, Barbara Harris, Jason Robards and Herb Edelman, Peter (Lemmon), a near-sighted cartoonist, abhors women, children and dogs but falls for Theresa (Barbara Harris), a divorcee who comes bag and baggage with all three. Peter and Theresa couldn’t be more wrong for one another, but Cupid has a sense of humor and soon the pair finds themselves dangerously close to living happily ever after … if they can overcome flirtatious ex-husbands, clashing lifestyles and Peter’s potential blindness. Features live-action and animated sequences based on the artwork of James Thurber.
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, Warner has put together the “Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection,” a boxed set with the seven films based on Sparks’ novels: “Safe Haven,” “The Lucky One,” “Dear John,” “Nights in Rodanthe,” “A Walk to Remember,” “Message in a Bottle” and “The Notebook.” Sparks is one of the world’s best-selling authors and romantic storytellers: all 17 of his novels have been New York Times bestsellers, have been published in more than 50 languages, and have sold more than 90 million copies worldwide (including more than 60 million copies in the U.S.). This is the first time these films have been together in one collection. On DVD only for $69.97. Extras include a special postcard set with images from each film and a letter from Sparks as well as all the extras on the original DVD releases.
And, closing out January from The Criterion Collection comes a Blu-ray/DVD Combo of “The Long Day Closes” (1992), a glorious cinematic expression from the unique sensibility of Terence Davies (“Distant Voices, Still Lives”; “The Deep Blue Sea”). Bursting with enchantment and melancholy, this autobiographical film takes on the perspective of a quiet boy growing up lonely in Liverpool in the 1950s. But rather than employ a straightforward narrative, Davies jumps in and out of time, swoops into fantasies and fears, summons memories and dreams. A singular filmic tapestry, “The Long Day Closes” is an evocative, movie- and music-besotted portrait of the artist as a young man. In a new, high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed stereo soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include commentary by Davies and director of photography Michael Coulter; an episode from 1992 of the British television series “The South Bank Show” with Davies, featuring on-set footage from “The Long Day Closes” and interviews with cast and crew; new interviews with executive producer Colin MacCabe and production designer Christopher Hobbs; the trailer; and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Koresky.