This Week in Blu-ray / DVD Releases: Inherent Vice, The Gambler, Paddington

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

This Week: Getting baked with Inherent Vice, the decent Mark Wahlberg movie no one saw last year, and a visit from Britain’s beloved bear

► Paul Thomas Anderson takes Thomas Pynchon’s weird novel INHERENT VICE and, if anything, makes it weirder. That’s a given working with Joaquin Phoenix, the De Niro to his Scorsese. Rocking a hall of fame sideburn, Phoenix plays a lowlife hippie private investigator asked by his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston) who’s worried her new wealthy lover (Eric Roberts) is going to get kidnapped and sent to an insane asylum by his former wife. Before long you’ll forget what the plot even is as Phoenix bumps into enough weird characters to fill a David Lynch convention. Killer soundtrack, priceless cameos, and a stoner flick worthy of your Lebowski love.

► In the proud tradition of James Caan and Kenny Rogers, Mark Wahlberg is THE GAMBLER. It thankfully gave him something else to show for 2014 besides ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction.’ In this decent remake of the 1974 original, Wahlberg is a literature professor with a steep gambling problem who comes up with a risky way to erase his huge debt to a loan shark (John Goodman). Not sure why this one was so maligned – it’s one of Wahlberg’s best performances in awhile and there’s real tension in the gambling sequences. Jessica Lange nearly steals the movie as Wahlberg’s fed-up mom.

► Probably the best family flick that slipped under your radar this year, the long-in-development PADDINGTON finds a charming little bear left homeless by an earthquake who heads to London to find a new home. He’s taken in by a family, but also catches the eye of a deranged taxidermist (Nicole Kidman). Based on the classic character in Britain, voiced by Ben Whishaw.

► Weird fact: It seems like Kevin Hart has just been around a few years, but I stumbled across ‘Along Came Polly’ the other day and there he was…and that movie came out 11 years ago. He’s a bonafide big deal now, and THE WEDDING RINGER was supposed to be his…well, ‘The Wedding Singer.’ He plays the CEO of a company which provides a best man for guys who don’t have the necessary friends for a wedding. That would be tax attorney Josh Gad, who orders the full service – best man and seven fake groomsmen. Hart continues to make movies you otherwise wouldn’t bother with watchable.

► Could there be a more ‘70s cover than that CONVOY blu-ray? For his second last movie, Sam Peckinpah tried ending his mid ‘70s slump with a box office hit, but it was an ugly shoot. Mired in alcohol and drug abuse, Peckinpah discarded much of the script and encouraged his cast to ad-lib. Before long, James Coburn was brought in to direct much of the film while Peckinpah stewed in his trailer. Kris Kristofferson plays a trucker at odds with the sheriff (Ernest Borgnine) who urges his fellow drivers via CB to form a mile-long convoy headed for the Mexican border. It marked Ali MacGraw’s first movie in five years. Despite being a train wreck, it ended up being the biggest hit of Peckinpah’s career.

► And that’s a wrap on COVERT AFFAIRS. The fifth and final season of the under-watched USA Network show about CIA operatives has Annie (Piper Perabo) resurfacing after a few months off the grid, and some colleagues aren’t buying her excuse. Nicholas Bishop joins the cast for the last 16 episodes. A lighter take on the Bourne movies when it started, the show got considerably darker as it went along, stealing cues from ‘Homeland’….but not the audience.

► Not the R-rated sequel to ‘The Girl Next Door’ we’ve all been waiting, THE BOY NEXT DOOR has Jennifer Lopez as a high school teacher who deals with her failing marriage by boning the teenager (Ryan Guzman) who just moved next door. She regrets it, of course, which prompts his inner psycho to come out. He threatens to expose her at work and vows to release a sex tape unless she sleeps with him again. Lopez holds her own, getting surprising praise for such a trashy thriller. A surprise hit during the January dead zone.

► Get past that crap stain of a blu-ray cover, and TEACHERS is one of those uncelebrated ‘80s gems. Nick Nolte is a jaded social studies teacher at JFK High asked to fill in as school psychologist while the place is going through a lawsuit. Confronted with ugly politics, he starts to see how the administration is screwing over the students (which include Ralph Macchio, Laura Dern and Crispin Glover). Judd Hirsch and Morgan Freeman add to a stellar cast. Bonus points to JoBeth Williams for one of the most pointless nude scenes ever. To make sure you never forget it’s the ‘80s, soundtrack includes .38 Special, Night Ranger and Bob Seger.

Also out this week:





About the Author

238 Articles Published