I’ve been writing this column for almost three years now. That’s roughly 156 picks of the week. Yet, I’m still not entirely sure why I pick some films. Or rather what is it that makes me (or anyone) think I’ll like certain films over others? Some weeks include films that I’ve seen and love. Some weeks have films released in special packages. But I’d say the majority of my picks are films that I’ve not seen but are very much interested in. The question becomes what makes me want to see one film more than another? What makes me pick my picks?
Take The Red Turtle for example. I looked through this week’s releases and pretty easily decided it would be my pick. Why that is true is hard to say. I actually don’t know a lot about the film. I know it's an animated film that contains no dialogue. I know it's about a turtle, and I believe that turtle is red, but that’s really about it. It's not a really buzzy film. I’m not constantly hearing about it in the various cinephile circles I run in. It has been mentioned a couple of times by people’s whose opinions I trust.
It's a co-production between Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli and its got all of Ghibili's tell-tale signs of being awesome. The trailer is fairly mesmerizing. It came to the local independent theater and me and my wife were excited to go see it. And then didn’t. As these things happened, something or other came along and we didn’t make it to the theater before it left. I think its that, more than anything else that made me want to pick it this week. I love that local theater and it gives me great pleasure going some place independent, watching something lesser known, rather than hitting up the giant cineplex catching the next block buster. So even though I didn’t get to see The Red Turtle, knowing that I could have, knowing that seeing it in the theater would have given me a certain cool edge, makes me love the film from the start.
It really does look like a wonderful film thought and I’m happy to make it my pick of the week.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
A Dog’s Purpose: Lasse Hallström directs this very sentimental-looking drama about a dog discovering, well, his purpose over a series of lifetimes and owners.
Saturday Night Fever (Director’s Cut): Apparently the “director’s cut” of this beloved '70s flick adds in about three minutes of new footage, none of which appears to be essential. The selling point of this release is that its been newly remastered and the early reviews have been favorable. I’ve never actually seen the film so I figure now is a good a time as any.
Rings: Unnecessary sequel to a mediocre American remake to a really rather scary Japanese horror film.
I Am Not Your Negro: Director Raoul Peck takes an unfinished novel by James Baldwin which was a personal account of the assassinations of three of his close friends (Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.) and has turned it into a treatise of race relations in America. Reviews have been strong and good.
Gold: The McConaissance may be be over but Matthew McConaughey is still out there making some interesting movies. In this one, he stars as a based-on-a-real-life business man who strikes it rich with some Indonesian gold and how a blast of quick fortune changes him.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe: Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox star in this horror film about a father and son who run a morgue who perform an autopsy on a mysterious woman. It falls apart in the last quarter but up until then its sets a real creepy tone. I wrote a review when it first hit theaters.
The Resurrection of Gavin Stone: A washed-up, former celebrity pretends to find religion so he can play Jesus in a local mega-church’s Easter play. I’ve not heard of this before but that plot sounds like it could either be gloriously funny or god-awful depending on how serious the filmmakers take their Christianity.
The Comedian: Robert De Niro stars as an aging insult comic trying to put his life together. Costars Danny Devito, Cloris Leachman, and Harvey Keitell. That’s a good cast but the reviews have not been kind.
Empire Pictures Blu-ray Collection: A boxed set of 18 films from the beloved cult-movie studio. Includes Robot Jox, Ghost Town, Cellar Dweller, Catacombs, Prison, Dolls, Troll, Terror Vision, From Beyond, Crawlspace, Trancers, The Dungeonmaster, Eliminators, Metal Storm, Ghoulies, and Ghoulies 2.