New on Blu: AMERICAN HONEY, SNOWDEN

American Honey

Do you even care to know how "gorgeous" the 1080P or 2/4 K scan transfer looks, or how cool the extra features are? By now, you are well-versed in what transfers look like and you know what's coming with the release. You're (hopefully) here because you want to know the experience I had watching this/these film(s). 

New on Blu is a column from film pundit Chase Whale (that's me!), exploring studio, arthouse, underground, exploitation and cult cinema released on Blu-ray and DVD from some of the most cutting-edge independent distributors around the U.S. He talks about the movie and whether it's worth a buy or rent, not how amazing the transfer looks because you already know this system. 

Director: Andrea Arnold
Writer: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Sasha Lane, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough
Film Rating: ★★★★★
Special Features:
Buy/Rent: BUY

Andrea Arnold is one of the finest working filmmakers in Hollywood. She knows her lead when she sees him/her. She sees the talent and plucks no-names off the street to star in most of her films. She did this for FISH TANK, which garnered then newcomer Katie Jarvis a British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer. 

She did this again seven years later with this gem, AMERICAN HONEY. Fun trivia: She grabbed her non-name star right in my hood, Dallas-Fort Worth. Arnold's eye for talent is fascinating. Jarvis was a natural in FISH TANK, and AMERICAN HONEY's lead Sasha Lane carries that same inherent quality. Looking at her IMDb, it's bloated with big upcoming roles. She's that terrific. 

Another quality of AMERICAN HONEY is the co-star, Shia LaBeouf. Sure, he's been an egghead over the last few years, but there's no arguing he puts in a full tank of gas in his acting. Every role he baptizes himself in. I want his career to last for decades; he surely deserves it. He just needs to calm down on the weird art shit -- which turns average moviegoers away -- and he's golden. (He'll never lose his pleasant weirdness; for this role, he get two 12 tattoos, two are of Missy Elliott on his kneecaps.)

There are not many special features, but this is worth the buy for the film itself. DVD is being phased out, so before 4K completely takes over, Blu-ray is they way to go for Superb films. This is one of them. 

 

Special Feature: 
Sasha Lane & Riley Keough on AMERICAN HONEY
 

 

American Honey [Blu-ray + Digital HD]
Starring Shia LeBeouf, McCaul Lombardi

Snowden

Director: Oliver Stone
Writer: Andrea Arnold
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Nicolas Cage
Film Rating: ★★★
Special Features: ★★★
Buy/Rent: RENT

I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt as much as the next Josh Gordon-Levitt fan, but I'm scratching my head why this was made so soon after CITIZENFOUR, a bold documentary on whistleblower Edward Snowden. That released in 2014. This could have pulled a lot of punch if Hollywood didn't jump the gun making a fictional film about him so soon. (Same for that horrible movie about 9/11, WORLD TRADE CENTER; a real tragedy Hollywood took advantage of.) Snowden is still hiding out wherever and uncovered a terrifying thing about what the U.S. government were up to. As a viewer, I knew the outcome, but watching Citizenfour as it was unfolding was heart pounding. 

SNOWDEN does journey where CITIZENFOUR didn't: his journey to becoming the whistleblower/turncoat/maniac/true patriot or whatever noun you prefer. Gordon-Levitt spits out an excellent performance, and he's always good in everything he does, so perhaps give this one a rent for him and its director, the great Oliver Stone. 

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Finding the Truth
Snowden Q&A -- An interview with Edward Snowden, Oliver Stone, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Shailene Woodley

Snowden (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson