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The Lobster Is a Romantic Comedy Like No Other

By  · Published on August 2nd, 2016

This Week in Home Video

Pick of the Week

The Lobster

What is it? David (Colin Farrell) is newly divorced, and as is the law of the land he heads to a nearby resort alongside other singles where he’ll get 45 days to find a suitable partner. If he succeeds he’ll live out the rest of his life in marital bliss, but if he fails? He’ll be turned into an animal of his choosing.

Why see it? Yorgos Lanthimos’ English debut retains his pitch-black sensibility and pairs it with a beautifully satirical commentary on modern relationships and societal pressures. Farrell has never been better (although I’d argue his performance in True Detective is just as good), and supporting turns from John C. Reilly, Lea Seydoux, and Rachel Weisz add to the magic. The writing is sharp, the delivery is dry, and the romance is unique. Lanthimos is not a filmmaker with mass appeal, but fans of originality should give this one a watch.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

The Best


What is it? Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) has just moved into a brand new high rise apartment building, and he couldn’t be happier in a hope with the best amenities available. It also includes a variety of tenants divided physically by floors and ceilings, and financially by, well, floors and ceilings. The lower class residents are positioned on the lower levels while the slightly better off and even more fiscally enlightened look down on them from above. It’s a delicately balanced microcosm, and it’s one outrage away from exploding into anarchy. Cue that outrage, and soon factions develop divided by class, supplies are hoarded, pets are eaten, and survival becomes the second biggest priority on everyone’s mind. The first is planning a fantastic dinner party, obviously.

Why see it? Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of JG Ballard’s classic bestseller is an incredibly funny and absurd look at class, blind consumerism, and the destabilization of community. The building has everything these people need, meaning there’s no reason to ever leave. Wheatley keeps the novel’s mid-’70s setting, but the modern (at the time) building could easily be re-imagined as the even more isolating “future” we’re living in today. Just as enjoyable though are the various faces in the supporting cast, many of whom appear to be celebrating the opportunity to cut loose in entertaining ways. James Purefoy, Jeremy Irons, and Luke Evans shine more and more as the high rise descends into deeper levels of chaos. Elisabeth Moss, Sienna Miller, and Keeley Hawes do great, emotional work here too, but for the most part the film’s female characters aren’t allowed to be as exuberant as the world crumbles around them. Exaggerated as it is, it doesn’t take much in the way of cynicism and common sense to see that today’s society is that much closer to a breakdown. Still, while the film’s observation may not be as biting as the book’s was forty years ago it manages to put its gums on us something fierce.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]

Invasion of the Body Snatchers [Scream Factory]

What is it? Seeds fall from the sky, silently and unnoticed, and over the next few hours they blossom into clones of humans who are then disposed of across the city. Most succumb, but a handful of people (including Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, and Jeff Goldblum) catch on to the invasion and try to escape the spores and the personality-free clones.

Why see it? Philip Kaufman’s late ’70s thriller is a brilliant exploration of paranoia and assimilation. It’s a frightening slice of sci-fi/horror that unsettles and entertains in equal measure ‐ and it still has one of the best movie endings of all time. The cast is pitch perfect throughout too with a terrific supporting appearance from Leonard Nimoy adding to the fun. Scream Factory’s new Blu-ray features a gorgeous 2K restoration alongside a ton of extras both old and new, so this should be an automatic buy for anyone who loves great genre cinema.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, interviews, featurettes, TV episode]


What is it? The economy is in the toilet, homes are being foreclosed upon, and suicides are on the rise. One man has the answer ‐ Trading. Put all of your wealth in a duffel bag, find a similarly equipped opponent in the Trading database and arrange a meet, and fight to the death. The winner keeps both duffel bags.

Why see it? Rachel Moriarty and Peer Murphy’s darkly comic and brutally observant thriller offers a satirical look at our very damaged reality. Financial situations lead people to extremes, and while this is an exaggerated situation it’s not a stretch to see it as a future truth. Killian Scott and John Bradley do good work as two desperate men driven to violence, and the film balances the brutality with both insight and wit.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries, featurette]

The Rest

The American Side

What is it? Nikola Tesla died in 1943, and much of his research subsequently disappeared, but three quarters of a century later his genius has found new purpose. A private eye investigating a simple blackmail case discovers there’s nothing simple about it, and he quickly finds himself in over his head at Niagara Falls.

Why skip it? The intent in this minor noir is evident, but it’s clear throughout that the filmmakers are trying way too hard with far too little. Dialogue and performances feel equally forced, and it’s a shame because the film looks good with a style befitting the genre. The Tesla-related plot and an eclectic cast (Matthew Broderick, Camilla Belle, Robert Forster, Janeane Garafalo) give it an appeal that never quit pays off in the execution. Skip it and watch The Man from Reno instead.

[DVD extras: None?]

April and the Extraordinary World

What is it? An alternate history is set in motion involving Napoleon that sees the absence of certain wars, but when scientists begin disappearing all over the world their future discoveries and inventions go with them. The ’50s are a steampunk world without the various technologies they would have developed, and at the heart of it all is a young woman named April whose own scientist parents were abducted years earlier by a mysterious electrical cloud.

Why see it? There really aren’t enough steampunk adventures hitting screens, but for now at least we have this animated, action-packed romp to scratch that itch. I’m not sold on the animation style, but the world-building is engaging, the action is plentiful, and while it’s a playful film the story never caters down to children.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette]

Batman: The Killing Joke

What is it? The Joker wasn’t always a psychotic madman. Once upon a time he was a struggling comic trying to make rent and support his wife, but his life changes when he has one very bad day. Now years later and far less sane he’s trying to prove that anyone can fall if they’re pushed far enough.

Why skip it? Look, I haven’t read the original graphic novel, but this movie is an insulting, poorly-written piece of shit. Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, is portrayed as an incompetent tart ‐ and this is even after three years under Batman’s tutelage ‐ prone to weakness, stupidity, and excess emotion. She exists here solely as an object to be used, abused, and sexualized for the male characters’ amusement and frustration. She has no arc of her own. I can’t imagine being a young, comic-loving girl watching this garbage. Even beyond the piss-poor treatment of its lead female, the film is filled with idiotic actions and behaviors from everyone but the Joker.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Bite [Scream Factory]

What is it? Three friends head to the tropical paradise of Costa Rica for an extended bachelorette party, but after one of the girls is bitten by an unseen creature they realize too late that they should have gone to Las Vegas instead ‐ because what happens in the jungle is about to follow them home.

Why see it? Fans of David Cronenberg’s The Fly may land on this film for its “body horror” element, but it shares more in common with 2013’s Contracted as a young woman’s body seemingly pays a physical price for a fun but ill-advised excursion. A bite is immediately to blame here, but the connection between sexual activity and her body’s subsequent physical devolution are clear. The effects work here does a fantastic, cringe-worthy job of of depicting the things that happen to Casey’s body as well as the things her body does to others. Equally effective is her apartment’s transition into a lair befitting a human-sized creature with messy eating habits. The film’s more focused on visuals and gore than jump scares, and it works to its favor resulting in a messily atmospheric creature feature.

[Blu-ray extras: Commentary, featurettes]

Blindspot: The Complete First Season

What is it? A mysterious duffel bag is spotted in Times Square, but as the bomb squad approaches and opens it the contents are revealed to be nothing but a naked young woman covered in tattoos. She’s a mystery with no memory, and the name of an FBI agent on her back only raises more questions. Together they discover the links between her markings and upcoming acts of terror.

Why see it? As is often the case this show (this season at least) is a case of a terrific premise that’s never quite lived up to, but even if the subsequent episodes can’t reach the level of the premiere they’re still engaging affairs. NBC gives the show a solid budget leading to locations, action, and set-pieces that carry excitement and visual appeal, and the cast is equally solid. The drama lessens as more of the mystery is unveiled ‐ the multiple layers and story turns eventually grow silly ‐ but it’s played serious across the board which helps make it all just compelling enough.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary, deleted scenes, gag reel]

The Bronze

What is it? Hope (Melissa Rauch) is an Olympic medalist who won America’s heart only to see her own sour in the years since. She’s the biggest thing in her small hometown, and she goes to great pains to make sure they don’t forget it. When an opportunity arises to return to the games as a coach Hope finds herself and her attitude at a crossroads between the person she was, the person she is, and the person she’d like to be.

Why see it? There are laughs here, mostly of the raunchy, dirty, and crass varieties, but they come in bursts leaving long spells of flat annoyance. Hope is an unlikable character by design, like Billy Bob Thornton’s Bad Santa in a track suit, and we know the arc she’s on by heart making for a film with few surprises. The handful of laughs, including a terrifically nimble sex scene and the always appreciated efforts of Gary Cole, make it worth a watch, but don’t expect a medal-winning comedy.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes]

The Girlfriend Experience

What is it? Christine (Riley Keough) is a law student working a competitive internship for a big Chicago firm, but finances and a desire to juggle more balls leads her to moonlight as a high-priced escort.

Why see it? Steven Soderbergh’s film translates well to episodic TV, and I’d argue it’s even an improvement here. Christine’s journey works better unfolded across multiple hours as we see the effect her new “job” has on the other aspects of her life as well as her person. Keough is a stunner here showing beauty and range, and she keeps things interesting even as the story takes some expected routes ‐ she’s not likable, but she’s always watchable. Amy Seimetz’s involvement as co-creator, director, writer, and occasional actor is also a major bonus.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes]

Hangs Upon Nothing

What is it? Jeremy Rumas is a man who goes out and does things, so it’s no surprise when he picks up a camera to document them. Moments of sailing, surfing, and living all pass before the camera as he documents his outdoor experiences.

Why see it? Experience is the key word here as Rumas’ documentary is less concerned with telling a story or finding a direction than simply capturing the images and moments. It’s shot on 16mm and it’s no Endless Summer, but the raw earthiness of it all comes through just fine.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentary, featurettes]


What is it? Rell (Jordan Peele) is heartbroken after his girlfriend dumps him, but he finds new hope when a stray kitten arrives on his doorstep. He and his best friend (Keegan-Michael Key) are devastated though when the cat goes missing. They set out to find the critter and wind up involved in gangland battles with drug dealers and authorities.

Why see it? Key & Peele have shown a mastery with their forays into sketch comedy, but their move to a feature film reveals some limitations. The film feels like a sketch that goes on far too long. The gag runs its course early on leaving only a handful of laughs throughout the remainder. The cat’s cute, and an early shoot-out is stylishly done, but it’s not nearly as funny as it should be.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, deleted scenes, gag reel]

Lazer Team

What is it? An alien attack is heading our way, but after years of preparation by the US military it’s a foursome of local losers who are forced onto the front lines when they come across alien tech at a crash site.

Why see it? There’s a visible heart beating beneath this indie comedy, but it unfortunately doesn’t translate into laughs or excitement. Far too many of the jokes fall flat, the visual gags are obvious, and the performances are a mixed bag. All of that said, comedy is subjective, so if the premise and the promise of a Rooster Teeth feature film interests you give it a shot. Otherwise, skip it and watch The Last Starfighter instead.

[DVD extras: Deleted scenes, bloopers, featurette]

Louder Than Bombs

What is it? The death of a famed war photographer (Isabelle Huppert) leaves her husband (Gabriel Byrne) and two sons (Jesse Eisenberg, Devin Druid) in emotional turmoil.

Why see it? The filmmakers behind Oslo August 31st and Reprise are on familiar ground here with an exploration of grief, sadness, and anger, but their aim doesn’t quite succeed this time. The pieces are there, but the whole fails to come together. It’s tempting to blame Druid’s performance as well as his character ‐ he is so damn annoying ‐ but the payoff from his subplot is worth it.

[DVD extras: None?]

Meet the Blacks

What is it? Carl Black (Mike Epps) moves his family from the crime-riddled city of Chicago to the fancy, upper-class community of Beverly Hills, but no zip code is safe on Purge night.

Why see it? Spoofing the popular Purge films seems like an easy enough goal, but this “comedy” somehow manages to be less funny than those action/thrillers it’s targeting. None of the laughs land, and instead there’s just an ugliness throughout in its script and story turns. Skip it and watch The Purge instead.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, music video, outtakes]

Mother’s Day

What is it? A bunch of women celebrate being women and having women for mothers.

Why see it? Garry Marshall’s final film isn’t exactly the high note a director would hope to go out on, but he and his cast ‐ Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis ‐ manage one or two laughs/touching moments. I’m being generous. This is a bad film. The gag reel is even worse, strangely, as it stretches a handful of gaffes into a nine minute featurette hosted by a desperately unfunny Marshall. Skip it and watch Father’s Day. (This one, not this one.)

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, gag reel]

Puerto Ricans in Paris

What is it? Luis (Luis Guzman) and Eddie (Edgar Garcia) are NYC cops whose beat involves catching counterfeiters of fashion accessories, but when their latest case catches the eye of a Parisian fashion agency the pair head to Europe to assist on a case.

Why see it? This is lightweight buddy comedy at its lightest that only stands apart from the crowd through its lead pair. The comedy that comes from their “fish out of water” experience is fairly basic and obvious, but the duo find a couple laughs along the way. Guzman’s character is more than a little over the top, abrasively so at times, but you can’t take any of it seriously.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: None]

Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues

What is it? When a king’s army defeats his enemy and frees two fierce women from the dungeon a bloody trail of honor and carnage follows. Red Sonja is one of the women, and she proceeds to prove her worth as a warrior even as her efforts bring her closer to revenge.

Why see it? Gail Simone and Walter Geovani collaborate on this new animated comic ‐ less of an animated film than a comic book with motion ‐ and the result brings Red Sonja to bloody, wise-cracking life. She’s probably a bit too verbally punchy given the carnage and brutality around her, but it keeps things light even in the face of the violence.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews]

Sea Fog

What is it? Captain Kang has watched as his fishing business has slipped in its successes, and when he learns his boat is being sold out from under him he makes a desperate bid for one last score. He agrees to smuggle a group of Chinese immigrants into South Korea, but weather, greed, and bad luck lead to disaster.

Why see it? Bong Joon-hoo’s (The Host) name is being used to promote the film, but he serves only as co-writer and producer here. This is Shim Sung-bo’s film, and he crafts a strong thriller that throws morality overboard with the dead. It’s not a disaster film, despite the cover art and box description, at least not in the traditional sense. The disaster here is one of human fallibility and morality, but the result is just as devastating.

[DVD extras: Short film]

Summer Camp

What is it? A group of counselors arrive at a remote Spanish compound that’s been turned into a summer camp, but before the kids arrive the young adults accidentally unleash a plague with deadly results. They turn violent and murderous, but the effect fades returning them to normal. What’s causing it, and will it return?

Why see it? There are a lot of generic, darkly-lit thrills here as the counselors and others experience a 28 Days Later-like rage virus, and most of them are fairly bland in their result. It’s worth the 80 minute watch though for an absolutely killer final few minutes that displays an edge the rest of the film is lacking.

[DVD extras: None]


What is it? Kansas in the late 19th century is a rough and tumble place filled with threats both natural and man-made. Clay (Michael Pare) and his wife lost their young son to a snake bite, but when their teenage daughter goes missing a short while later Clay refuses to let her go too.

Why see it? Ignore the cover quote calling this a “Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western Meets Taken” because it’s neither of those things. It is a western though, an okay one at that, so fans of the genre might want to give it a watch. Pare does solid work here even if he is neglected on the cover to the likes of Trace Adkins and Kris Kristofferson.

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurette, deleted scenes]

The Trust

What is it? Stone (Nicolas Cage) and Waters (Elijah Wood) are Las Vegas cops who aren’t opposed to breaking a rule now and then if it makes their days that much easier, but they step up their game when they come across an illegal vault sure to contain fantastic wealth. Spoiler… it does not.

Why see it? Cage and Wood, and the dynamic between them, are the main reasons to watch this little thriller. It’s a blackly comic affair at times, and both actors give fun performances as severely flawed cops worming their way deeper and deeper into trouble. The story twists a bit, and while none of it really surprises it remains engaging enough. And did I mention Cage and Wood are on fire here?

[Blu-ray/DVD extras: Featurettes, commentary]

Also Out This Week:

The Binding, Confimation, The Knick: The Complete Second Season, The Last Days in the Desert, Manhattan Night, Monster Hunt, Observance, Saving Mr. Wu, Viral

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.