Note: To order these films, click on the poster.
This new Oz is a kind of prequel to the original story of Dorothy and her three friends, though it appears to be more of a nod to the classic 1939 movie musical than the original L.Frank Baum novels. The yellow brick road has that same buttery, yellow look to it, while cornstalks line its sides on the way to Emerald City, hemmed in by a wooden fence that looks like the same fence Ray Bolger crashed against back in the late thirties. The new film even has a surprisingly lengthy introduction in black and white with a look that occasionally evokes the spirit of the 1939 original. The three women who make up the witches are highly effective. Michelle Williams as the good witch, Glinda, has a comforting and pleasant charm about her; Rachel Weisz as the evil Evanora has a grand time indulging in her badness and relishing the destruction she causes, while Mila Kunis as her sister Theodora nicely conveys a sense of conflict. Only James Franco seems wrong. His presence doesn’t exactly spoil the proceedings, but you can’t help wondering how different the film might have appeared had someone with more weight played the central character. Try to get the Blu-Ray edition; it looks superb, and the transition from black and white to color is incredibly effective. Available on both DVD and Blu-Ray formats.
Who would have thought it? A film positioned as an action-thriller starring Dwayne Johnson turns out to be a surprisingly thoughtful drama where the action takes second place to the plot. Snitch is more interested in storytelling than showing a continuous barrage of gun play and car chasing, and more power to it. The film touches on themes explored in thorough detail by the recent documentary The House I Live In, which explained the injustices of drug laws, mandatory sentences, and the innocent lives affected when trapped in the system. While I’m not suggesting that Snitch is in any way as serious a study or as thought-provoking as that excellent documentary, it nevertheless successfully illustrates both the injustices and ugliness of being involved in any way with the distribution of illegal narcotics. It’s good to be occasionally surprised and this was one of those times. Available on both DVD and Blu-Ray formats.