Hayao Miyazaki fans still down in the dumps about his retirement have a few Blu-Ray releases to help get them through it. First up, Miyazaki’s final film, “The Wind Rises,” is now available on Blu-Ray, ready to be debated all over again. For less controversial Miyazaki films, viewers can also pick up Blu-Rays of two of his best, 1989’s lighthearted children’s story “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and 1997’s mournful environmentalist parable “Princess Mononoke,” both of which beautifully demonstrate Miyazaki’s gifts for lyrical imagery and beguiling, magical storytelling.
Also on the classic front this week is Frank Capra’s 1934 masterpiece “It Happened One Night,” the film was the first movie to sweep the Oscars ( it won Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay) and the film that provided the template for the countless romantic-comedies that followed and the very few that equaled it. One of the best films of the German Expressionist movement, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” is being released by Kino, while one of Eric Rohmer’s strongest late-period films, “A Summer’s Tale,” is available via Artificial Eye. Those looking for something a bit more off the beaten path can check out some less heralded films by George Romero (“Monkey Shines,” “The Dark Half”) or Robert Altman (“Come Back to Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”).
New releases include the candid yet mysterious Nick Cave documentary “20,000 Days on Earth” and “22 Jump Street,” which proved that comedy sequels don’t always have to suck. The other three releases this week are dicier propositions: the YA adaptation “If I Stay,” the disaster movie “Into the Storm,” and Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” which was largely critically lambasted aside from Eva Green’s typically excellent performance.
A.A. Dowd, The A.V. Club
A real turducken of a teen movie, “If I Stay” stuffs a tale of budding musicianship into a banal romance and then stuffs that combination into a maudlin supernatural melodrama. Its biggest folly, however, is completely squandering the gifts of its lead actress. Moretz, who can do more with a sneer than most of her peers manage with pages of dialogue, seems stifled by a role that mostly requires her to just swoon and fret. Read more.
Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune
In the spirit of “Sharknado” and “Sharknado 2,” “Into the Storm” eventually goes into blender mode and mixes its elements of wind column terror, smoothie-style. At one point one of the twisters (there are several, though only one provokes the line: “This is the biggest tornado I’ve ever seen”) sucks up gasoline from a wiped-out petroleum semi, which leads to a tornado on fire — a firenado. Little else in “Into the Storm” could be described as dramatically fiery. Read more.
Nathan Rabin, The Dissolve
Miller and Rodriguez’s blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to storytelling and gender defeats the strength and diversity of an amazing cast. What’s the point of hiring a distinctive, sparky, original actor like Joseph Gordon-Levitt if you’re only going to push him into the same grubby tough-guy mold as every other male character? It’s telling that the only memorable character in “A Dame To Kill For” is seen only in pictures: Nick Stahl’s monstrous Yellow Bastard, who at least was lucky enough to die in the first film. True, Stacy Keach makes a bit of an impression as one of the film’s grotesque villains, but that’s probably because his character looks like Jabba The Hutt after a crash diet. Read more.
Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com
Forsyth and Pollard keep Cave on task, and cannily made acting naturally the main theme of “20,000 Days on Earth,” as we see in the film’s best scene. Retreating to his recording studio, Cave lays down the vocals soundtrack for “Higgs-Boson Blues,” one of the best songs on “Push the Sky Away,” the Bad Seeds’ most recent album. Cave’s soulful performance, shot in real-time and in extreme close-up, is that much more impressive once you realize he’s playing a song for Forsyth and Pollard before he’s performed it in front of a live audience. Read more.
Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects
The filmmakers are aware and happily poking fun, and they succeed in delivering several of the year’s biggest and most consistent laughs throughout the film, but maybe they could have gone a step further? Ideally the film would recognize these things and then do it differently, but instead it points them out, does them anyway and moves on to the next one. The script from Oren Uziel, Rodney Rothman and a returning Michael Bacall pounds away at these gags in the hopes that we’ll accept their abundance and quality as replacements for fresh thought… and we do because seriously, it’s a refreshingly hilarious movie. Read more.
“The Wind Rises” can be largely forgiven for its apolitical outlook, as Miyazaki trades an interest in the ramifications of Horikoshi’s work for his continuing investment in it. Horikoshi’s commitment to crafting an apparatus on par with the ethereal machines he imagines can be easily seen as a vessel for Miyazaki to explore his own creative process. Having proven his talent time and again, the master has explained himself. Read more.