Locke’s Redbox Picks of the Week

by | Sep 19th, 2011 | 12:49PM | Filed under: DVD Reviews, Movie Lists, Movies, Weekly redbox Picks

(More British Than Usual) Recommended Smaller, Overlooked, or Underrated  Movies in the Redbox Kiosks

Blitz

Why wasn’t this very R-rated Jason Statham flick released in theaters? It wasn’t due to poor quality–it’s a decent enough crime thriller, and Statham–who plays a Dirty Harry type cop–provides a strong center as always. However, Blitz is a veddy British film–it jumps and kicks with a fuzzy, dark energy (not to mention heavy slang and thick accents) that may feel off-kilter to American audiences. (Though that’s exactly what made me like it.) Best of all, it gives us two of my favorite British/Irish character actors of late: Paddy Considine as a weary fellow detective, and Irish villain de jour Aidan Gillen (HBO’s The Wire and Game of Thrones), who cranks up the wild-card mojo he worked in 12 Rounds while playing a serial killer who brutally targets cops.

The Gruffalo

I get sent a lot of direct-to-video animated family films, and most of them slide right into the “maybe later” pile. As did this British CGI film at first. Oops, my mistake. This is no cheap toss-off, but instead is a truly rich and delightful Oscar-nominated short that features voice work from genuine thespians like Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt, and Robbie Coltrane. (Plus Rob Brydon, who’s very familiar to Steve Coogan fans.) It’s a simple but fanciful survival fable about a mouse in the forest, but it unfolds with a quiet, steady pace and wry humor that’s always welcome in the go-go world of hyperactive kids movies. And being British, The Gruffalo also has a sweet dusting of light melancholy in the end. That and its stellar voice cast make it a highly recommended (and very Pooh-like) grace note for viewers of any age.

The Music Never Stopped

Inspired by an essay from Dr. Oliver Sacks (Awakenings), this mildly touching, mildly inspiring film plays a little like a TV movie, but is elevated by lead performances from Julia Ormond, Lou Taylor Pucci, and especially J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man, Juno). Pucci plays a man whose ability to create short-term memories has been damaged by a brain tumor. His therapist (Ormond) discovers the man’s beloved music from the ’60s–particularly the Grateful Dead–helps him reconnect to the world around him, including his long-estranged father (Simmons). (This is more than huggy, hippy stuff–how the brain remembers music and lyrics works differently from other neural processes.) Whenever The Music Never Stopped threatens to slip into gooey sappiness, Simmons is there grounding it with a heartfelt and moving performance.

Tracker

One thing I love about New Zealand and Australian period films like Gallipoli and Breaker Morant is the reminder that (duh) other countries have long, rich, sometimes painful histories of which we Americans are often ignorant. This one is a “Western” set in New Zealand at the turn of the 20th century that touches on both the aftermath of the British Boer War and New Zealand’s dealings with its native Maori. The plot is familiar even if the trappings are not: A Boer tracker (the great Ray Winstone) is hired to help capture a Maori sailor (Temuera Morrison of Once Were Warriors, Attack of the Clones, and Renegade) who’s been accused of murdering a British officer. Reminiscent of The Proposition (which also put Winstone Down Under) Tracker sticks Winstone and Morrison together in the wilderness and the two weathered, salty actors make it well worth the while as their distrust turns to surly respect.

Ironclad

Did you say you were itching for old-fashioned Medieval gore action centered around the Magna Carta and the Templars? Yearning for castle sieges, boiling tar, and catapult attacks? (Not to mention wenches!) Need your Brian Cox and Derek Jacobi fixes for the month? Big fan of British character actors James Purefoy, Jason Flemyng, Charles Dance, and Mackenzie Crook? Curious what Rooney “Lisbeth Salander” Mara’s older sister Kate looks like in period costume? And most of all, have you ever said, “I really want to see Paul Giamatti sputter and steam with eyes popping as England’s villainous King John”? This one has it all. The history may be a little dodgy, but Ironclad terrifically delivers the slings, arrows, and swords–literally, right into skulls with hack-and-slash abandon. Not for the faint of heart, but a ton of fun for those who like gritty blood and guts with their silly pseudo history.


One Response to “Locke’s Redbox Picks of the Week”

    • Currently 3/5 Stars
    moviegoer123
    Posted on September 19, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I watched The Music Never Stopped and it was a pretty good film. It was inspiring at times but I never felt that inspiration when I was watching it. I felt sorry more than anything. I think the film is good for a rental.