Blu Tuesday: The Revenant, Veep and Silicon Valley

Every Tuesday, I review the newest Blu-ray releases and let you know whether they’re worth buying, renting or skipping, along with a breakdown of the included extras. If you see something you like, click on the cover art to purchase the Blu-ray from Amazon, and be sure to share each week’s column on Facebook and Twitter with your friends.

“The Revenant”

WHAT: During a hunting expedition in the early 1800s, fur trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) miraculously survives a bear mauling and is left for dead by members of his group. When one of the men responsible (Tom Hardy) kills Hugh’s half-Native American son after he protests about leaving his father to die, Hugh conjures up the strength to navigate the rough terrain and weather in order to seek vengeance.

WHY: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s follow-up to “Birdman” is an unflinchingly brutal tale of survival and revenge that completely immerses you in the rugged conditions of early frontier life. Iñárritu does his best Terrence Malick impression with this gorgeous drama filmed largely in the Canadian wilderness, reteaming with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki to deliver more of the same great visuals and signature tracking shots, which amplify the realism of the never-ending suffering that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character endures throughout the story. The much talked about grizzly bear mauling may be one of the most intense sequences ever captured on film, but it’s only a small piece of the actor’s raw and physically demanding performance. Though Tom Hardy is absolutely electric as the villain, DiCaprio has the tougher role, and he makes you feel every bit of blood-curdling agony. “The Revenant” is the classic battle of man vs. nature at its cruelest, and save for some pacing issues (at 156 minutes, it’s way too long), it doesn’t disappoint.

EXTRAS: There’s a 44-minute documentary on making the movie and the social responsibilities of portraying Native American people and their culture in film.

FINAL VERDICT: RENT

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2015 Year-End Movie Review: David Medsker

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I am not a difficult person to please when it comes to movies. There is a big joke among the film critics in town that we are either film critics or movie reviewers, meaning that film critics dissect everything at a subatomic level, while movie reviewers talk about whether or not they liked the film. I am squarely in the latter category.

This year, however, something was off. There are films getting a ton of film group buzz that I just didn’t get, and even worse, I found myself enjoying what was widely considered to be the worst movie of the year, but more on that later. First up, the movies I liked.

Movies I Liked

1. “SPOTLIGHT”

Nothing comes even close to this one. This expertly-paced account of the Boston Globe’s expose on the Catholic Church’s systematic covering up of abusive priests is top-notch storytelling, one in which the city of Boston becomes not just the backdrop, but the main character.

2. “KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE”

Ten bucks says Daniel Craig likes this film more than any of the Bond films he’s done, and with good reason. “Kingsman” is the most entertaining spy movie I’ve ever seen, and it earned this spot on my list for the church scene alone.

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3. “THE REVENANT”

The bear attack. Once you’ve seen it, you can’t un-see it. Alejandro Inarritu’s film about life in the Pacific Northwest in the 1820s is every bit as hostile and unforgiving as the landscape in which it is based. There is a scene, though, where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character gets his hands on some raw meat (the first he has seen in a while), and he scarfs it down, even though there is a fire burning nearby. Dude, put it on a stick and cook that thing!

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Movie Review: “The Revenant”

Starring
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson
Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu

Say this for director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu: he does not make things easy for the audience. He staged the full length of “Birdman” to look like one long, glorious take, and challenged the audience to decipher which bits were fantasy and which were reality. “Babel” put us face-to-face with a sexually confused and oft-naked Japanese teenaged girl. “21 Grams” forced the world to imagine receiving the news that your entire family has been killed in a car accident, and then discovering that your new lover has your deceased husband’s heart inside of him. With “The Revenant,” he ups the squirm factor tenfold, but is careful to balance the film’s savagery – and make no mistake, this is one savage movie – with the most beautiful cinematography you’ll see all year. “Wow, that was one of the bloodiest things I’ve ever…ooh look, pretty mountains!” They’re palate cleansers, so you’re not tasting blood in your mouth for the entire film. Smart, and essential.

It is the 1820s, and a group of New World settlers and hired-gun Englishmen are on a fur-trapping expedition in God’s country. The group is besieged by a Native American tribe hell-bent on retrieving a young woman taken from them by one of the light-skinned invaders. (At this point in time, it was either the English or the French.) Captain Andrew Henry (Domhall Gleeson) looks to master tracker Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) to lead the way, but there is doubt among the surviving group, chief among them professional soldier John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), whether Glass can be trusted after miraculously escaping an impossible situation unscathed. Hugh also has a teenaged son, Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), whose late mother is of the Pawnee tribe. That doesn’t sit well with some of the white people.

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