With many awards season titles and the Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One, making a huge splash at the box office, it's difficult for January's new DVD and Blu-Ray releases to compete (December's suggestions). There's nothing to get too excited over this month, but I'll do my best to let you know all of the larger titles that will be available. Here's a look at what January has to offer:
Queen of Katwe - 2 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid review here)
In what's a small step above any other film I've seen that's arriving on DVD this month, Mira Nair's inspiring Disney drama, Queen of Katwe, tells the remarkable true story of a teenage Ugandan girl (Madina Nalwanga) whose whole world changes the moment she discovers her unique ability to play chess. There are many powerful themes scattered throughout this slightly outstretched and anticlimactic effort. Yet, the eye-opening account of what a third-world life truly looks and feels like is a humbling aspect to this successful drama. Queen of Katwe isn't exactly a must-see film, but it represents a morally rewarding viewing experience. (January 31st)
The Light Between Oceans - 2 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid review here)
I've been awfully impressed by director Derek Cianfrance's early career work. His attempt at ambitious filmmaking is something that's both admirable and noteworthy. And even though his previous endeavor, A Place Beyond the Pines, falls short of its lofty intentions - much like Cianfrance's newest adapted film - both still stand out as valiantly artistic efforts in their own right. The Light Between Oceans follows a lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander) who struggle to come to grips with her infertility. Yet, when an infant girl washes up on their shoreline on a rowboat alongside her deceased father, they raise the daughter as their own. The family lives this dark secret in utter happiness until years later when they cross paths with the young girl's biological mother. The Light Between Oceans offers a slow and mounting build-up that culminates in a fatally rushed third act. However, despite these noticeable flaws, the film keeps the audience engaged with a compelling story. (January 24th)
The Girl on the Train - Not Yet Rated
I admittedly haven't seen Tate Taylor's adapted thriller, The Girl on the Train, but I wasn't comfortable in suggesting any of the other run-of-the-mill films that January has to offer. Critics weren't too kind to the film, but lead star, Emily Blunt's, SAG Nomination for Best Actress really got my attention and will force me to seek this one out. The Girl on the Train follows Rachel (Bunt), a divorced woman who envisions a beautiful life for this family she sees every day while riding the train. Yet, after she witnesses a shocking revelation from the train, Rachel gets investigated for the disappearance of the women she's watched from a distance. I can't say whether or not the film surpassed its mediocre reception, but apparently Emily Blunt's performance is one worth witnessing, so count me in. (January 17th)
Honorable Mention: Middling films such as The Accountant (1/10), Deepwater Horizon (1/10) and Sundance winner Birth of a Nation (1/10) are all finding a release this month. A few other notable titles that I haven't seen include action adventures Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (1/31) and Inferno (1/24), Zach Galifianakis comedies Keeping Up with the Joneses (1/17) and Masterminds (1/31), as well as horror options Blair Witch (1/3) and Ouija: Origin of Evil (1/17). Finally, a decent amount of critical praise has been given to the historical drama, Denial (1/3).