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What to Watch: Mar. 11-24, 2014

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Average: 5 (1 vote)

An Oscar winner, a major Oscar nominee, two more pieces of Oscar bait, and a few movies that never got anywhere near Oscar. Welcome to What to Watch. We don’t play favorites. Oh, wait, yes we do. You should definitely rent or buy the titles on this first page. The second page is more optional.

Frozen
Frozen
Photo credit: Disney

“Frozen”

The best Disney movie since “The Lion King” (Disney, not Pixar), “Frozen” gets the lavish Mouse House treatment. There’s no better studio for family releases and they’re not about to slack on one of the biggest moneymakers of their existence. We are JUST getting started with “Frozen”. You know how “Beauty & The Beast” and “The Lion King” became industries unto themselves? Spawning Broadway musicals, theme park rides, new shows, straight-to-DVD sequels, etc.? “Frozen” will end up the same way. If you have a kid, you won’t be able to avoid picking it up and you won’t be disappointed. Heck, you should think about grabbing it if you MIGHT have a kid someday. Just plan ahead.

From my film review: “Disney’s marvelous “Frozen” fits snugly in the lineage of princess stories that the studio has been crafting for decades while also looks forward to empower girls in ways that its predecessors never considered. It is a remarkably fun movie, especially in 3D, alive in ways that so many of its peers in this lackluster year for animation simply are not. With great voice work, fantastic music, and a script that feels like its themes emerge naturally from its story and characters instead just being forced upon them, “Frozen” is Disney’s best animated feature since “The Lion King.”

Synopsis:
Walt Disney Animation Studios presents a chilly twist on one of the most humorous and heartwarming stories ever told. “Disney Animation’s best since The Lion King,” (William Bibbiani, CraveOnline) will melt your heart. Fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey — teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven — to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom. Bring home Frozen on DVD and Blu-ray - featuring cool bonus extras with gorgeous animation, memorable characters and unforgettable music. It’s dazzling fun for the whole family!

Special Features:
o The Making Of Frozen
o D’frosted: Disney’s Journey From Hans Christian Anderson To Frozen
o Deleted Scenes
o Let It Go (End Credit Version)
o “Get A Horse!” Micky Mouse Short

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

American Hustle
American Hustle
Photo credit: Sony

“American Hustle”

It’s kind of sad that the story of David O. Russell’s once-beloved ensemble piece may now be rewritten as the movie that earned an amazing TEN Oscar nominations but went home empty-handed. It almost makes you want to see the final votes. I would bet money that Amy Adams came close to Best Actress and that the Best Original Screenplay and Best Costume Design trophies nearly went here as well. But history doesn’t remember the movies that almost won the Academy Award. Oh, wait, sure it does. Forget the Oscars. PLEASE forget the backlash that turned on this movie in increasingly ignorant ways as the hype built. This is an often-great film with an amazing cast working at the top of their game. And it’s a great Blu-ray with solid special features and a Sony-caliber transfer.

From my film review: “There are some structural issues early in “American Hustle.” Irving, Richie, and Sydney all get to narrate, leading to a slight feeling of being overwhelmed instead of interested in the story they’re telling, but when the true con – the story that became known as Abscam for those of you old enough to remember it – gets going, Russell’s film clicks. The film moves like a cat, pushed along by Russell’s great music choices, the performances he helped craft, and the undeniable influence of Scorsese hanging in the background like a forged piece of art.

Synopsis:
A fictional film set in the alluring world of one of the most stunning scandals to rock our nation, American Hustle tells the story of brilliant con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), who along with his equally cunning and seductive British partner Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) is forced to work for a wild FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia that’s as dangerous as it is enchanting. Jeremy Renner is Carmine Polito, the passionate, volatile, New Jersey political operator caught between the con-artists and Feds. Irving’s unpredictable wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) could be the one to pull the thread that brings the entire world crashing down. Like David O. Russell’s previous films (The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook), American Hustle defies genre, hinging on raw emotion, and life and death stakes.

Special Features:
o The Making Of American Hustle
o Deleted And Extended Scenes

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

Kill Your Darlings
Kill Your Darlings
Photo credit: Sony

“Kill Your Darlings”

Absolutely none of the hype that put “American Hustle” on a pedestal and then smashed it to the ground got anywhere near another Sony film, the arguably superior “Kill Your Darlings,” a unique biopic that I saw in Park City at Sundance this year and really hoped would find a deserving audience. This is an unusual, energetic, vibrant piece of work, carried by great performances from Daniel Radcliffe and Dane Dehaan. Don’t miss it.

From Pat McDonald’s film review: “This film is also an essential lesson in the contrast between our era and the college freshman of 1944. That generation was tempered by war, with a knowledge of how short life could actually be – there were 420,000 American casualties between 1942 and 1945. The purpose of discovery, as embodied by the “new vision” that sprung from the Beat Generation, was born of an attitude after that bloody war. The urge to say “f**k you” to the nuclear age was powerful in these genius folks, whether fueled by drugs or not.

Synopsis:
When Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) is accepted at Columbia, he finds stuffy tradition clashing with daringly modern ideas and attitudes - embodied by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Lucien is an object of fascination for shy, unsophisticated Allen, and soon he is drawn into Lucien’s hard-drinking, jazz-clubbing circle of friends, including William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), who clearly resents Allen’s position as Lucien’s new sidekick. A true story of friendship, love and murder, Kill Your Darlings recounts the pivotal year that changed Allen Ginsberg’s life forever and provided the spark for him to start his creative revolution.

Special Features:
o Commentary With Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, John Krokidas And Austin Bunn
o Deleted Scenes
o Q&A With John Krokidas And Austin Bunn
o In Conversation With Daniel Radcliffe And Dane DeHann
o On The Red Carpet At The Toronto Film Festival

Where to Watch: Blu-ray, DVD, Vudu, Amazon Instant Streaming, iTunes

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