Blu Tuesday: Evil Children, Fistfights and More

After celebrating Memorial Day weekend partying with your friends and family, eating good food, and drinking way more than you planned, there’s nothing better than relaxing in the cool confines of your home while watching a movie. Thankfully, there are a few new Blu-rays out today to help pass the time, including a personal favorite from last year and one of the more enjoyable sports comedies in recent memory.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin”

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that knocks you completely on your ass, and Lynne Ramsey’s psychological thriller “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is such a film. A thoroughly engaging and disturbing look at the strained relationship between a mother and her sociopathic child, Ramsey has crafted a modern day “Rosemary’s Baby” of sorts that lingers in the back of your mind long after it’s over. Tilda Swinton delivers a powerhouse performance as a mother trying to adapt to life after her son commits a Columbine-esque massacre at his school, although most of the story takes place before the tragic event, with Ramsey exploring the idea of nature vs. nurture and how much Swinton’s parenting tactics are to blame for the subsequent actions of her malevolent son. Though the constant use of red imagery throughout the film feels a little forced at times, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is so brilliant from top to bottom (especially the acting, score and cinematography) that it’s absolutely mesmerizing.

Blu-ray Highlight: “Behind the Scenes of Kevin” isn’t your typical making-of featurette, but rather an intelligent discussion about the movie with interviews from the cast and crew on a number of topics like adapting Lionel Shriver’s controversial novel for the big screen, casting, production design and the film’s various themes.

“Goon”

With the exception of Disney’s “The Mighty Ducks” series, the hugely overrated “Slap Shot” and a handful of other films, hockey has been inadequately represented by Hollywood compared to most sports, which is probably why “Goon” is such a welcome treat. Though the Michael Dowse-directed comedy is a fairly average underdog story in most respects, it’s still one of the best sports films in recent years. Seann William Scott has never had a better role than that of bouncer turned hockey enforcer Doug Glatt, and his understated performance is a big reason why the movie works as well as it does. In fact, most of the cast is excellent throughout, including Liev Schreiber as a fellow enforcer nearing retirement, the divine Alison Pill as Doug’s awkward but sweet love interest, and Kim Coates as the no-nonsense coach who recruits Doug for his special talents. Speaking of which, the fight scenes are awesome, delivering plenty of blood and laughs with every blow. And if you didn’t know much about hockey goons before, you’ll have a newfound respect for them by the time it’s over.

Blu-ray Highlight: Magnolia’s two-disc release of “Goon” comes jam-packed with extras, some of which are actually quite good. Though the audio commentary with director Michael Dowse and actor/co-writer Jay Baruchel is definitely worth checking out, there’s a pretty lengthy interview with Baruchel and star Seann William Scott that covers a lot of the same material about making the film in a third of the time.

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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to January

I’ve joked in the past about January being a dumping ground for all the misfit movies that the studios deemed unworthy of a more attractive release date, but the truth of the matter is that there are 12 months in a year, and you can’t expect every month to be overflowing with quality programming. With that said, however, this year’s pickings don’t look as bad as usual, with a surprising amount of action films led by big-name stars, some of which have real sleeper hit potential. The general lack of confidence by the studios suggests otherwise, but when expectations are this low, anything is possible.

“CONTRABAND”

Who: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Giovanni Ribisi, Lukas Haas and Ben Foster
What: To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills.
When: January 13th
Why: It’s pretty funny that a movie about counterfeiting should turn out to be an imitation itself (the Icelandic film on which its based featured the U.S. version’s director, Baltasar Kormákur, in the lead role), but despite the fact that its clichéd plot seems to have been ripped off from a number of generic action thrillers just like it, “Contraband” has one thing that a lot of those films didn’t – a killer ensemble cast. Mark Wahlberg has had his share of duds over the years, but he’s always entertaining to watch, and guys like Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Foster and J.K. Simmons are some of the best character actors in the game. It’s probably not something you should rush out to see on opening weekend, but “Contraband” at least looks like it’ll be a fun way to kick off the 2012 movie season.

“UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING”

Who: Kate Beckinsale, Michael Ealy, Stephen Rea and Kris Holden-Ried
What: When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, Selene leads the battle to protect both of their species.
When: January 20th
Why: For as entertaining as the first “Underworld” movie was, I’ve never understood how the series has managed to stick around for as long as it has. The second film was really bad and the third one was even worse, but for some reason, Screen Gems is intent on milking the vampire/werewolf franchise for as long as they can. And until people stop blindly handing the studio their money, they’ll keep making them. The only reason anyone should even consider seeing this fourth installment is for the leather-clad return of Kate Beckinsale as vampire heroine Selene, because the rest of the film reeks of desperation. Why else would they be releasing it in (undoubtedly subpar) 3D?

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