Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
“Zero Dark Thirty”
Director Kathryn Bigelow won a half-dozen Oscars with 2008’s “The Hurt Locker.” She kept the band together to make this film. Originally, a film about the unresolved hunt for Osama bin Laden, but when Seal Team Six took bin Laden out, Mark Boal had to rewrite his script to give it the ending we all know. This and “The Hurt Locker” ask big questions about morality when a country is at war – where do individuals and humanity fit into wartime policies? How do the people that dedicate themselves to global justice readjust to normal society when the hunt is over? It seemed Bigelow and her team would have another critical and commercial success. Then, Senate hearings happened and the film took a big hit from liberals about the use of torture in the storyline and from conservatives about the factual aspects of torture in the storyline. Still, the movie was nominated for five Oscars and won one for Sound Editing. It doesn’t represent how good this film is or Jessica Chastain’s career-defining performance. Regardless, this is far from torturous viewing – really worth a watch.
“Life of Pi”
Talk about Oscar relevance, this film won four of its 11 nominations and Ang Lee pulled in his second Oscar for Best Director. He deserves it, in making a PG film of merit that can be enjoyed by a tremendously wide range of demographics. It’s an emotional story of survival and love and faith. But it’s also extremely entertaining and pretty to look at. Based on the hugely successful book by Yann Martel about a teenage boy being trapped on a lifeboat for 227 days with an untamed Bengal tiger, the film captures the imagination of the book and Lee turns the text into a visual masterpiece. But it’s the actors, Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan, that bring the life into the lead character of Pi – Sharma as a teenager and Khan as an adult. Both add a soulful boom to Lee’s cinematic fireworks and make this film definitely worth a watch.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Which leads us to the scene of the crime, this film was robbed by not being nominated for a single Oscar. Stephen Chbosky wrote the book, adapted it into a screenplay and then directed the film. Taking place in the early ‘90s, the story deals with a high school introvert with a laundry list of issues. The film does a tremendous job of utilizing music and Chbosky must have written the script especially for David Bowie’s “Heroes.” And the cast is a list of heroes – Logan Lerman played Percy in “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” and Emma Watson was Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. Along with standout Ezra Miller, all the players build a film that’s gained a following and proved it’s more than a forgettable high school movie or a highbrow art-house flick. This one has plenty of perks – worth a watch.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge