Locke’s Redbox Picks of the Week

by | Aug 15th, 2011 | 7:19PM | Filed under: DVD Reviews, Movie Lists, Movies, Weekly redbox Picks

Recommended Smaller, Overlooked, or Underrated Movies in the Redbox Kiosks

Kill the Irishman

Ray Stevenson (from HBO’s Rome, Punisher: War Machine, and a dozen “thug” roles) plays the real-life Danny Greene, an Irish-American union leader and mob-defying “Robin Hood” of Cleveland in the late ’70s. The plot hook is that the mob continually tries (and fails) to kill tough-guy Greene (hence the title), but the film’s ’70s crime landscape is pretty familiar Goodfellas territory. Luckily Stevenson’s heavy-lidded, slow-burn magnetism is supported by fine work from Vincent D’Onofrio, who can play mob roles in his sleep but never nods. Also on hand are Christopher Walken, Val Kilmer, Vinnie Jones, and Paul Sorvino as various underworld figures–it’s a parade of mobbed-up characters that works well enough with Stevenson’s glowering anti-hero up front.

Ceremony

A slice of amusingly twee irony in the Wes Anderson mold (similar recent entries include The Romantics and The Extra Man), at times this slight rom-dramedy feels in danger of flitting away on its own embittered whimsy. But it ends up pleasing thanks to the light-but-sharp-edged touch of writer-director Max (Henry’s son) Winkler and the off-kilter chemistry between Michael Angarano (Sky High, Gentlemen Broncos) as a wedding-crashing, Sam-Rockwell-esque, would-be writer and Uma Thurman as the friend and bride-to-be he hopes to woo away from the altar. The Great Lee Pace plays the typically self-absorbed, arrogant, A-hole groom, and Reece Thompson is Angarano’s pal. But the name and face to watch is No Strings Attached‘s Jake M. Johnson–both in that movie as Ashton Kutcher’s buddy and here as Thurman’s inappropriate brother, Johnson gives attention-grabbing serio-comic performances that could signal a big career ahead.

Barney’s Version

A blink-and-you-missed-it, awards-season dark horse from last winter, Barney’s Version has slowly crept up and on repeated viewings become one of my favorite overlooked films of the year. (I remember getting an awards screener in the mail last December and thinking, “What the heck is this? I’ve never even heard of this film.” These kinds of cinematic discoveries are the best part of this job.) This rollicking tale of humor and heartbreak is boosted by fine performances from Rosamund Pike and Dustin Hoffman, but it’s Paul Giamatti at his most lovably prickly who makes it all soar. (Between this and the terrific Win Win, it’s been a great year for Giamatti playing his menschy “Giamatti Character.”) Barney’s an aging, oft-married scoundrel looking back and trying to justify his life and his questionable choices–to tell, as best he can, in the best light he can muster, the complicated story of his life.

Bloodworth

We’re in Faulkner-Flannery O’Connor territory, with lots of twisted Tennessee family trees and steamy, sordid, modern-day secrets. And Reece Thompson makes his second Picks appearance of the day as the young, innocent heir of the aptly named Bloodworth legacy. His naive, would-be writer (lots of those going around) is trying to woo Hilary Duff’s small-town gal and deal with a feuding older generation that includes his dangerous pa (Dwight Yoakam) and feckless uncle (Val Kilmer again!), not to mention the venerable Kris Kristofferson as the brood’s estranged patriarch. That Kristofferson’s elder Bloodworth is a road-weary singer-songwriter with his own dark past fuels Crazy Heart comparisons, but while the acting is all over the place, there are enough dusty roads and bloody obsessions here to keep Bloodworth nice and murky.

Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost

I’ve become a huge Jesse Stone fan, and as I’ve written before, Tom Selleck is “tremendous at playing Jesse’s laconic dissatisfaction with its mix of wry, self-loathing humor and morose cynicism” portraying Robert Parker’s sleuth as a “disgruntled, damaged and flat-out grouchy” “melancholy drinker who finds it much easier to solve crime than deal with his own demons,” in a series of mysteries that are “no-frills, straightforward, typical detective tales” “that unfold around well-crafted characters” played by “fine actors like Kathy Baker, William Devane, William Sadler, and Saul Rubinek.” All that’s still true in this, the seventh Jesse Stone film. If anything, things are darker, colder, and more depressing for Selleck’s Stone, now forcibly “retired” (“fallen”) as the town of Paradise’s police chief and fumbling for comfort from a new dog and the same old bottles of Scotch. The plot revolves around the apparent suicide of a young woman Stone once took under his wing, but a bigger story is unfolding: As Jesse nears the bottom, the gripping Innocents Lost is setting him up for heavier emotional and occupational struggles in the future.


4 Responses to “Locke’s Redbox Picks of the Week”

  1. Sarah Wersan
    Posted on August 16, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Well, I think I’ve found the corner of Redbox that’s like a comfortable chair, coffee, and good conversation! Thanks.

  2. NANCI
    Posted on August 16, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I HAVE WATCHED ALL OF THE JESSE STONE MOVIES. I SKIPPED “INNOCENTS LOST” I REALLY KEPT HOPING THEY WOULD GET BETTER. IT IS LIKE A B MOVIE WHERE YOU KEEP WATCHING HOPING THINGS CHANGE. THEY NEVER DID. I FOUND THEM TOO MOROSE. TOM SELLECK’S CHARACTER HARDLY SPEAKS AND/OR IS DEPRESSED. ONE GOES FROM HIM TRYING TO SOLVE A MURDER TO HIS DRINKING AND AN EX WIFE WHO CALLS. THE TOWN OF PARADISE, TO ME, IS NOT A BIT LIKE HEAVEN. THE WHOLE MOVIE JUST BECOMES A VICIOUS CIRCLE. ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT I WOULD LOVE TO RESCUE THAT POOR DOG IMMEDIATELY.

    • Currently 5/5 Stars
    kerry blacketer
    Posted on August 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    kill the irishman is absolutly one the best movies i have ever seen. so fn good

  3. Locke Peterseim
    Locke Peterseim
    Posted on August 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Hi Sarah and welcome to redblog — hope you get a chance to poke around all our reviews, news, quizzes and contests :)