Tuesday, Jan. 21: Blue Jasmine, Captain Phillips and In A World... released on DVD/Blu-Ray
Available at all finer local media retailers
While not quite on par with the prestigalypse that occurred last week, wherein an insane amount of Oscar-worthy productions made their bow on digital formats, this week's most anticipated releases are no slouches. Blue Jasmine made my runners-up list of films for 2013, but could have just as easily made the top 15 proper – Cate Blanchett turns in what just might be career-best work, and is ably accompanied by a truly random collection of equally sensational performers (Louis CK, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins and a truly revelatory turn from Andrew Dice Clay) in this film that is unlike anything Woody Allen has attempted in the past. I didn't get a chance to catch Captain Phillips while it was in theaters, so I'm very excited to see what Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks cooked up with their collaboration. But the most intriguing release this week is a movie that never made it to theaters in the Milwaukee area, Lake Bell's directorial debut (she also wrote the picture) In A World.... The film follows Bell as she attempts to forge a path into the trailer voice-over industry, which has been exclusively the domain of male baritones since their inception, in an effort to prove herself the equal of her arrogant father (Fred Melamed aka SY ABLEMAN). Bell is a ferociously talented young performer, and the fact that she chose to deal with the paucity of rich roles for female leads in American film by doing it herself is worthy of commendation. That the film itself was very warmly received last year makes me that much more excited to finally check it out.
Friday, Jan. 24: I, Frankenstein
Opens nationwide, check local listings
Finally, our long national nightmare is over. It's been less than two years since the last Underworld movie hit theaters, and our country was feeling a little peckish when it came to CGI-drenched tales of ancient wars between monster races that hide in plain sight amongst us, but we're finally going to get not the movie we deserve, but the movie we need. Based on the true story of Steve Jobs secret final Apple project, iFrankenstein takes all of the things we loved about Mary Shelley's original tale of the modern Prometheus (mainly, the Filipino stick-fighting and ancient war against gargoyles) and excises any thematic relevance. If it seems like I'm being flippant towards this movie, it's only because it looks so incredibly stupid. Which is to say, I'm 100 percent going to see this movie. IT HAS A HUNKY FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER.
Friday, Jan. 24: The Invisible Woman
Opens Friday @ the Oriental Theatre (check here for showtimes)
I think we can all agree Ralph Fiennes is awesome. So Ralph Fiennes playing Charles Dickens in a movie he himself directed (Ralph, not Charles) will more than likely follow suit. Telling the story of Nelly Ternan (played here by the reliably excellent Felicity Jones), Dickens' mistress and muse over the last decade-plus of his life as they carried on a relationship in secret, Fiennes looks to have captured the Victorian milieu (and accompanying repression) finely. Unfortunately I was unable to catch this critically acclaimed film before its release, but I will make a special point to see it during its brief stay in Milwaukee.
Saturday, Jan. 25: The Big Sleep
7 p.m. @ The Church in the City, 2648 N. Hackett Ave. ($3)
If we are to talk about cinematic chemistry, real cinematic chemistry, the conversation should probably begin and end with Bogie and Bacall. It's a relationship that captured the country's imagination both on and off the screen, and the few films they made together have left an indelible mark on American cinema. Combine that volcanic chemistry with crackling dialogue and you've got one of the great achievements in film noir. A fun anecdote: Director Howard Hawks and screenwriter William Faulker famously didn't understand who killed a certain character, at which point they contacted Raymond Chandler to clear up any confusion, only for Chandler to admit he had no idea who committed the act either.