Recently in Pick of the Week

Scorsese Shorts is the Pick of the Week

A collection of early shorts by the legendary Martin Scorsese headlines a new week of stellar releases.
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As we all know, Martin Scorsese is one of the greatest directors in the history of cinema. His style, techinque, and craft have been imitated and influential since his 1967 debut, Who's That Knocking at My Door? However, he is also a truly gifted artist who became a major figure of the New Hollywood era during the late '60s and '70s, especially when he made short films during his time at NYU. The five shorts that accompy the release from Criterion, signify his artistic and innovative developments that would eventually lead to one of the most seminal and important directing

Dance, Girl, Dance is the Pick of the Week

A flamboyant, but highly important watermark of feminist filmmaking headlines a new week of eclectic releases.
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The iconic Dorothy Arzner was definitely an legend in the history of cinema. She was the only female director working in Hollywood during the "Golden Age", from the 1920s to the early 1940s, where she retired in 1943. She subverted the expectations of how women were depicted in film. Most of her characters were independent women trying to forge their own lives, and careers, without the usual scornful male dominance. Despite her body of work, it was her 1940 landmark, Dance, Girl, Dance, that would confirm her place in film lore. The film stars Maureen O'Hara and Lucille Ball as

The Great Escape is the Pick of the Week

A slightly flawed, but still exciting 1963 John Sturges classic starts off a new week of releases.
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A lot of things have been said about director John Sturges' admire 1963 anti-war classic, The Great Escape. Audiences and critics have enjoyed it as one of the great ensemble films ever made; a rousing and thrilling escapist film with many memorable set pieces; and another star-making vehicle for 'The King of Cool', Steve McQueen. McQueen, James Garner, Sir Richard Attenborough, James Donald, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, among other iconic actors, star as allied prisoners of war who plan an impossible escape for themselves and several hundred others from a German war camp during World War II. In typical fashion,

Eric Rohmer's Six Moral Tales is the Pick of the Week

Six legendary films by one of the most revered filmmakers of all-time headlines a new week of releases.
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The late, great Eric Rohmer (1920-2010) was a film critic, journalist, novelist, screenwriter, and teacher. However, he was best known for his gifts as a legendary director, especially of his portraits of the complexities of love and relationships between fragile, albeit clueless men, and the strong, somewhat elusive women who tempt or seduce them (or in certain cases, try to). The six films in the box set, which is going to be released on Blu-ray for the first time, don't exactly have compelling, and complicated plots, they are all a series of boy meets girl, boy flirts or falls for

Criterion's The Grand Budapest Hotel is the Pick of the Week

A 2014 Wes Anderson modern classic tops a new week of releases.
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Wes Anderson is one my favorite directors. His films combine quirky characters and deapan humor, but in mostly modern settings. Despite all the comedy, whimsicality, and unpredictability, there is always a subtle emotional streak that lingers underneath. Arguably, I think he has reached his zenith with his 2014 masterwork, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which on the surface seems like a mystery, but oddly enough, it also confronts a very dark side of 20th century European history that was mostly swept under the rug. The film stars Ralph Fiennes as head concierge Gustave H., who tries to keep everything afloat at

Sixteen Candles is the Pick of the Week

A 1984 John Hughes gem rounds up a new week of releases during continuous quarantine.
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When iconic director John Hughes passed away in 2009, he definitely left behind a legacy of teen cinema that remains influential and groundbreaking to this day. His stories of teenage drama in the midst of sex, drugs, and peer pressure continues to strike a chord with youth, and his 1984 classic debut, Sixteen Candles, did just that. He also brought us the charming actress who would define the '80s and its teen culture, Molly Ringwald. Ringwald stars as Samantha, an adorable, if not extremely popular teenager reaching her 16th birthday. Adding to her angst is not only her older sister's

Five Cool Things and a Salute to John Prine

It was a rough day and so instead of talking about cool things I'm listening to John Prine.
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Tomorrow is Easter. Due to social distancing, we won't be attending church, nor will we be having our traditional dinner with my parents and siblings. We won't be gathering with friends for the annual egg hunt. We will be doing what we've been doing the last several Sundays - we will sit at home watching television, reading books, and generally trying not to get on each other's nerves. We have some plastic eggs and we were planning on filling them with candy and letting my daughter hunt for them in the yard. Then the forecast said rain so we decided

Army of Shadows is the Pick of the Week

A 1969 Jean-Pierre Melville classic starts off a new week of releases.
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Legendary director Jean-Pierre Melville was always adept at captureing humanity under devastating odds. Whether it was people trying to survive wartime (Le Silence De La Mer and Leon Morin, Priest), or the super dark and desparate lives of the gangster (Le Cercle Rouge, Le Doulos, and Le Samourai), Melville was definitely one of the masters of cinema, period. Perhaps the most stark and mercilessly personal of his work is his 1969 thriller, Army of Shadows, which arguably remains his magnum opus. Based on his own experience in the French Resistance and the novel by Joseph Kessel (Belle de Jour), the

Show Boat is the Pick of the Week

James Whale's classic 1936 adaptation of Edna Ferber's epic tops a new week of releases.
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Director James Whale was mainly known for crafting legendary horror films/adaptations, such as Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, and The Invisible Man. He wasn't exactly famously connected to other genres, so he seemed like a very odd choice to bring celebrated novelist Edna Ferber's 1926 blockbuster saga, Show Boat, to the big screen. However, his 1936 interpretation of the story is considered to the very best and most faithful telling of Ferber's epic five-decade story of the lives of a theatrical family living on a Mississippi river boat. The great Irene Dunne stars as Magnolia Hawks, a

April Fool's Day is the Pick of the Week

A very misunderstood '80s cult classic headlines a new week of pretty solid releases.
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During the late 1980's, the slasher flick was getting stale, and everyone was trying to either make their own Nightmare on Elm Street, considering how big that film was in 1984, or just simply bailing on the genre. However, there were some standouts near the end of the decade, but for my money, the one that tops them all is Fred Walton's totally underrated 1986 effort, April Fool's Day. I always found this to be an entertaining, tongue-in-cheek fest that has aged way better than its contemporaries. It still contains a style and sense of humor that you don't often

Bamboozled is the Pick of the Week

Spike Lee's nightmarishly timely satire tops a new week of releases.
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Obviously, when it comes to films that are challenging and confronting, I think that Spike Lee definitely comes to mind. His films are so on the nose, especially when it comes to the depiction of racism and the aftermath of it. From Do the Right Thing to Malcolm X to BlacKkKlansman, he continues to make movies that not only will slap you in the face, but also really give you something to think about. His savage, yet very underrated 2000 masterwork, Bamboozled, does just that. It's a truly uncompromising one that not very many people have seen, but should definitely

Salesman is the Pick of the Week

A landmark 1968 documentary headlines a new week of some pretty good releases.
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The documentary is an often celebrated genre of film that depicts real life, real human behavior, and some of the most infamous moments in history. The famous team of the Maysles Brothers (Albert & David) and Charlotte Zwerin, sit near the top of the list of greatest documentarians, with their iconic portraits of the Rolling Stones disastrous 1969 tour at Altamont (Gimme Shelter), and the eccentric world of the Beales (Big & Little Edie), cousins of Jackie Kennedy (Grey Gardens). With their 1968 masterpiece, Salesman, they successfully captured the brutal and depressing side of an often nihilistic profession. In excruciating,

The Sergio Leone Westerns Collection is the Pick of the Week

A box set of legendary director Sergio Leone's greatest classics tops a new week of releases.
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Honestly, legendary director Sergio Leone made me a fan of the Western. His take on the not-so-favorite genre is darker, grittier, and more violent than those from the John Ford, or Howard Hawks era. They aren't fun or conventional; they're full of bad people doing very bad things. Although the plots are not the best parts of the films; it's the style, atmosphere, and obivously Ennio Morricone's breathtaking music that takes center stage. With A Fistful of Dollars (1964); For a Few Dollars More (1965); his first masterpiece, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966); his second, Once Upon

Paris Is Burning is the Pick of the Week

A fearless, influential 1990 LGBTQ documentary headlines a new week of great releases.
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As a member of the LGBTQ community, I'm always trying to find documents that depict our lives, especially with honesty and accuracy. There have been major ones about our hopes and struggles, including The Celluloid Closet, The Times of Harvey Milk, and How to Survive a Plague. However, the one I always seem to think about often is Jennie Livingston's brave and vital Paris Is Burning (1990), which depicts New York City's African American and Latinx Harlem drag-ball scene during the 1980s. It's a powerful and insightful look at the warmth and acceptance of people on the outskirts of a

Teorema is the Pick of the Week

A radical 1968 Pasolini masterwork tops a new week of releases.
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The late, controversial director Pier Paolo Pasolini made his dangerous mark on cinema with blunt stories of taboo-breaking material, such as sex and religion, and how the two can sometimes coexist. There is his 1962 breakthrough, Mamma Roma, with Anna Magnani playing a former prostitute who becomes a market trader; his trilogy of life: The Decameron, The Canterbury Tales, and Arabian Nights, and his most shocking final film, Salo: Or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975). But his finest work is 1968's Teorema (theorem), which remains a timely story about the masks we wear, and our true selves hiding underneath

Roma (2018) is the Pick of the Week

Alfonso Cuaron's hauntingly beautiful portrait of 1970's Mexico headlines a new week of releases.
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When Green Book won the Oscar for best picture, it immedidately became a controversy, simply because it was a rather terrible pick, and also a safe choice. It felt more like a conventional Oscar-bait movie more than anything. The Academy really screwed up there, because Alfonso Cuaron's 2018 masterwork, Roma, should have been the choice. Not only was it arugably the best film of that year, but it was one of the best films of 2010s. Cuaron really hit his stride with his sharply moving depiction of not only its central family, but also Mexico at a certain time and

Crooklyn is the Pick of the Week

An underrated 1994 Spike Lee dramedy headlines a diverse week of good releases.
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When it comes to the coming-of age film, Spike Lee is not exactly the first director that comes to mind. However, with his 1994 sleeper hit, Crooklyn, I think he made one of the very best films about youth and family during a certain time and place. With an amazing soundtrack and great performances from Alfre Woodard, Delroy Lindo, and especially newcomer at the time, Zelda Harris (in her film debut), you get a classic that mostly hits all the right notes. The story is set in Brooklyn, New York, 1973, when eight-year-old Troy Carmichael (Harris) tries to navigate growing

All About My Mother is the Pick of the Week

A gorgeous 1999 Almodovar classic tops a new week of stellar releases.
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Director Pedro Almodovar is one of the finest filmmakers in the history of film. He is truly the greatest master of the modern melodrama, works of colorful art that features strong women, explicit themes of sexuality, and symbolic approaches to story/plot. In one of his sublime masterworks, All About My Mother (1999), he arguably reached his zenith, by tributing his love and respect for females, their friendships, and the issues that connect them forever. Cecilia Roth stars as Manuela, a nurse whose life is emotionally shaken and devastated after her son gets killed in a hit-and-run accident. She moves to

The House by the Cemetery is the Pick of the Week

Lucio Fulci's gore-iffic 1981 haunted house chiller tops a new week of releases.
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The late Lucio Fulci will be forever known as the Italian "master of gore." His films have become influential templates of how gruesome blood and guts have been depicted in the horror genre, even if none of the plots are particularly original or inventive. His 1981 haunted house creeper, The House by the Cemetery, tends to get overshadowed by his more popular works, such as Zombie, City of the Living Fead, and The Beyond. However, Cemetery may arguably be his most accessible flick, because there is a sort-of sense of structure taking place that is actually missing from those iconic

The Fugitive Kind is the Pick of the Week

Sidney Lumet's 1960 adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play heads a new week of releases.
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Legendary director Sidney Lumet (1924-2011) had a knack for creating cinematic creations from some of history's greatest plays, novels, and true stories. Whether it was his iconic examination of Reginald Rose's timeless 12 Angry Men; Al Pacino's Sonny's bizarre bank robbery in Dog Day Afternoon; or a harrowing study of domestic and familial breakdown that surfaces Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night, Lumet brought his own stylistic flourishes that continue to be beloved to this today. However, and this is painful for me to do this, but if I had to choose his most divided work, it has to

Holiday (1938) is the Pick of the Week

An almost forgotten 1938 George Cukor classic starts off 2020's first new week of releases.
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Talking about the films that Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn made together, you usually go to 1938's Bringing Up Baby, and definitely 1940's The Philadelphia Story. However, George Cukor's somewhat overshadowed romance, Holiday (also 1938), shouldn't be left in the dust, especially because it is actually more grounded and honest than both Baby and Philadelphia Story. There is a type of subversive social commentary that you didn't really expect in the '30s. Adapted from Philip Barry's 1928 play, the film stars Grant as Johnny Case, a free-spirted man from humble beginnings who is engaged to Julia (Doris Nolan), a beautiful

Silver Bullet is the Pick of the Week

A 1985 cult horror classic headlines a new week of eclectic releases.
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As far as Stephen King adaptations go, 1985's Silver Bullet does rank up there with other great '80s adaptations such as The Shining, The Dead Zone, Christine, Cujo, and Stand By Me. As we all know, the story of Marty Colsaw (the late Corey Haim), a young handicapped kid who thinks the local priest (Everett McGill) is a serial killer, especially after a series of bizarre murders that have taken place in the small town he lives in, isn't exactly compelling material, but director Daniel Attias infuses the film with enough campy teen humor with gory thrills that definitely makes

Until the End of the World is the Pick of the Week

Wim Wenders' 1992 epic headlines a new week of stellar releases.
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As we all know, Wim Wenders is a master filmmaker, who has given us an amazing and eclectic career of films such as Alice in the Cities; Paris, Texas; Wings of Desire; Buena Vista Social Club; and Pina. These films are mediations on life, death, music, and humanity, in such a way that arguably very few directors have ever attempted. However, if there is one Wenders film that I'm excited for, it is his 1992 scifi road movie, Until the End of the World, which is honestly one that I've never seen or heard of until Criterion announced it for

Big Trouble in Little China is the Pick of the Week

A John Carpenter cult classic rounds up a new week of releases.
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Director John Carpenter has had a long-standing career of making great movies, especially in the horror genre. Some of them (Halloween, The Thing, The Fog, Escape from New York) are absolutely iconic; while others (1995's Village of the Damned, Vampires, Ghosts of Mars, Escape from LA) are not so much. Fortunately, his 1986 exciting action horror comedy, Big Trouble in Little China, is definitely one of his more accessible films. It's pretty clear that he was influenced by the comic books of the '50s, and it totally shows here. It has a fun and refreshing performance by Kurt Russell, amazing

All About Eve is the Pick of the Week

A legendary 1950 masterpiece about the perils of Hollywood headlines a week of good releases.
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What else can one say about Joseph L. Mankiewicz's 1950 landmark backstage drama? It's a film that remains arguably the most quotable film ever made, a film that contains Bette Davis' greatest performance, and a film that set a record of nominations in Oscar history. It's also a bitchfest of the highest order that many gay men, besides myself, always look to for inspiration and sharp wit quips. You obviously know the tale, dim protege Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) works her way from naive, guillble waif to ambitious evil in the body of a woman, trying to steal the spotlight,

Abbott & Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection is the Pick of the Week

It is another big week for Blu-ray releases, we've got your scoop.
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When I was but a wee lad, my uncle and all of my cousins were gaga over The Three Stooges. I loved those knuckleheads too, but my favorite old comedy legends were Abbott & Costello. I can remember having these long debates with my mother about why they were better than the Stooges. The slapstick comedy of the Stooges was the best, but Abbott & Costello told actual stories. Their movies weren’t just a bunch of gags. As I write that, I realize how much that thought has informed my opinion of comedy even today. I always prefer my laughs

The Farewell is the Pick of the Week

It's a big, beautiful week for new releases.
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Every now and again, my wife will load up the daughter with her in the car and take off to visit her parents or some other such thing, leaving me alone in the house for a few days. I always take this opportunity to go to the movie theater and see things we normally wouldn't see on the big screen. The wife doesn't consult the movie listings before she goes to ensure there is something I really want to watch, so it is always a bit of hit and miss as to what is available to watch. This last summer

Good Omens is the Pick of the Week

Come and see all the cool new releases coming out this week.
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Davey is still missing in action so I’m keeping the reigns this week. I love me some Neil Gaiman. I love me some David Tennant. I’m quire fond of Michael Sheen. Put those three together for an Amazon Prime series and I’m all in. Good Omens is based upon the novel by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It follows Tennant and Sheen as two angels playing for opposite sides of the moral spectrum. They are supposed to be preparing the world for Armageddon - the ultimate war between Satan and God, but they both rather enjoy Earth a little too much.

Godzilla: The Showa Era Films (1954-1975) Is the Pick of the Week

It's a big week for horror films and a terrific week for Criterion fans.
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Davy is off this week so I’m picking up my old reins and talking new Blu-ray releases. It is Halloween week! One of my favorite weeks of the year. I’m a huge horror fan and boy, does this week have plenty of horror releases. But first, we have to talk about the Criterion Collection. Since the mid-1980s (yep, you read that right, they started making Laserdiscs in 1985), Criterion has been releasing superior editions of independent, art-house, and foreign films on home video. For serious cinephiles, Criterion is the place to begin one's collection. Their DVD and Blu-ray releases come

When We Were Kings is the Pick of the Week

A landmark documentary headlines a week of very low-brow releases.
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I'm not really a sports guy, and I'm obviously not athletic. However, I will watch documentaries about sports. There have been some phenomenal ones such as Hoop Dreams, The Endless Summer, Tokyo Olympiad, Pumping Iron, and 1996's When We Were Kings, which not only tells the story of the legendary "Rumble in the Jungle" boxing match of champion George Forman and then electrifying challenger Muhammad Ali, but also showcases the often harrowing relationship between African Americans and the country of Africa, especially during the Black Power movement. It's an often moving document of racial politics, music, and Ali's magnetism that

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