“Spring Breakers”: Harmony Korine’s surreal ode to Terrence Malick, Michael Mann and sweet, sweet trap music. Gucci Mane is Jesus of Nazareth, James Franco is Judas Iscariot, Selena Gomez and Rachel Korine are why you shouldn’t raise your children in cultural insular suburbs and Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson are God’s unrelenting vengeance made manifest. It one of the best movies of the year and you can read my full review here.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, four featurettes, deleted scenes, outtakes, commentary by Korine but not the Chopped and Screwed recut of the film he eluded to so expect a special edition later in the year.
“Tyler Perry’s Temptation – Confessions of a Marriage Counselor”: The latest impossibly heavy handed morality tale from the eponymous director, best known for his impossibly heavy handed morality tales and the occasional dressing up as a feisty church lady to impart said impossibly heavy morality tales. This one is about a married matchmaker (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) who gets involved with a wealthy client (Robbie Jones) to her everlasting regret. That’s not hyperbole; the central affair leads to the end of the protagonist’s marriage, her addition to hard drugs, her vicious beating and her eventual infection with HIV, a biblical punishment for the crime of becoming bored with a relationship that was obviously not worked. As with all Perry films, forgiveness only comes after extreme suffering and because it’s a Perry film about a woman, forgiveness is graceless, signifying only lessening of intense pain, with no redemption in the offing. For all the hash that is made of Tyler Perry being a Christian filmmaker, few of his female characters ever know the quality of mercy.
Special features: A digital copy of the film and two featurettes.
“The Host”: Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” follow up wherein a bunch of incorporeal aliens conquer humanity via possession but the process goes wrong when applied to one young woman (Saosire Ronan) who fights to maintain her identity. In addition to that debilitating personal problem and the fall of the civilization, both the young woman and her dark passenger fall for a hunky resistance fighter (Jake Abel), proving that Romeo & Juliet is not only Meyer’s favorite book, it’s also the last one she bothered read. I wonder if she has a huge peg board in her office with a bunch of flashcards tacked on it, with words like “sad,” “pale,” “metaphor” and “unbearable but appropriate sexual tension” on one side with “vampires” and “aliens” on the other so she can calcify her ideas into her next million dollar property. I can’t wait to see Frankenstein reimagined as a dour teen drama.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, a making of, deleted scenes and commentary with Meyer, Ronan, Abel, producer Nick Wechsler and screenwriter/director Andrew Niccol.
“Admission”: Tiny Fey is an admissions officer at Princeton who’s super organized life falls is upset when an old high school buddy (Paul Rudd) tries to get her to admit a brilliant but academically unsuccessful young man who may or may not be the son she gave up for adoption. Normally, low stakes, upper class character studies bore me to tears but director Paul Weitz (“In Good Company”) gives his films so many wonderfully small human moments that they can’t be anything other than thoroughly enjoyable.
Special features: A digital copy of the film and one featurette.
“Dead Man Down”: Niels Arden Oplev follows up “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo” with the ridiculously convoluted thriller about a hitman (Colin Farrell) who plans to kill his boss (Terrence Howard) for ordering the murder of his wife years before but! his mission is complicated by a woman (Noomi Rapace) who is blackmailing him to kill a drunk driver who disfigured her in a car accident years before. This is the kind of movie where instead of using his hitman skills to simple murder his enemy in a non-violent fashion, the surprisingly non-sociopathic hitman sets in motion an overly elaborate plan that puts his own life at risk and begins a romance with an unstable and vengeful woman who has life-in-prison evidence on him instead killing her, as someone who commits murder vocationally might. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of movie that’s actually enjoyable to watch.
Special features: A digital copy of the film and three featurettes.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at email@example.com