Welcome back! Well, to some of you, anyway. To the rest of you, glad you decided to stop by and I hope that this humble column helps you navigate the stacks of new releases each week. My goal is to point you towards titles of interest and warn you away from those films that seek to do nothing but leech away your time and give you nothing in return. This week's offerings run the gamut from 'classic' to 'avoid like the plague'. Read on and discover which is which.
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Reminiscent of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this movie is filled with magical whimsy that is downright infectious. It does not work, not completely, but it is lighthearted and fun and impossible to ignore. It also happens to be the first screenplay that writer/director Zach Helm ever wrote, although the superior Stranger Than Fiction was produced first. This is a movie to watch with the family and just enjoy.
101 Dalmatians: Two Disk Platinum Edition. This is an undisputed Disney classic. It is now available for a limited time, as all of these Platinum Editions are. So, while it is out there, be sure to snap it up as it will likely be some years before it is available again. If nothing else, Disney knows how to work its catalog of classics. I am looking forward to seeing this again, with one of their cruelest villains, and highest hero count. I am also impressed with the genuinely eerie promo trailer that was released for it.
Into the Wild. Here is a film that is shot well, acted well, and generally presented well, yet I have a hard time recommending it. There is just something that is holding me back. I am not taken with McCandless' reasons for leaving and what it did to his family and to that end I cannot say I like the movie or wholeheartedly recommend it. Still, it is at least worthy of renting for the elements that do work (like Hal Holbrook's Oscar-nominated performance).
Hogfather. Set in an alternate universe Earth called Discworld, each Christmas the Hogfather flies around the planet distributing gifts to the children, until someone contacts the Tooth Fairy to assassinate the gift-giver. Sounds wild to me! I do not know much, having just found out about the title, but it is based on a popular novel and is supposed to be a faithful adaptation.
Things We Lost in the Fire. Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro star in this relentlessly, unforgivingly sad movie. This is one to avoid, unless you have the desire to feel bad. Still, Del Toro turns in a fine performance as a recovered drug addict helping out the wife of his recently killed childhood best friend. Wow, that was a mouthful.