This week on home video, we’ve got the latest installment of Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise, Jon Favreau’s indie hit, and the complete series of a hit Fox show that came back to television for a limited run earlier this year. On top of that, we’ve got a bunch of smaller releases starring the likes of Amy Poehler, Aaron Paul, Sam Shepard, Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, and more. Read on for details:



Transformers: Age of Extinction

17%

If you don’t know what you’re getting into when you set out to watch one of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, it may help to start with a little context. Long story short: they’re loud, chaotic, sometimes racist, sometimes misogynistic, and poorly reviewed. They’re also extremely popular worldwide, and extremely profitable, which is why it should surprise few people that, despite an 18 percent Tomatometer score, Age of Extinction earned more than $1 billion in global box office receipts. Leading a “rebooted” cast that includes Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, and Kelsey Grammar, Mark Wahlberg stars as down-on-his-luck inventor Cade Yeager, who comes into possession of a broken-down Optimus Prime and finds himself and his daughter wrapped up in a government conspiracy to hunt down all Autobots. While critics largely dismissed the film as a noisy, jumbled barrage on the senses, a few also conceded that those looking for a bombastic, effects-driven spectacle will probably get what they’re looking for. The Blu-ray comes with an entire disc of bonus features, which include an extensive series of making-of featurettes, a tour of the Hasbro facility where the toys are created, and a ten-minute interview with Bay about his approach to the film and his filmmaking style.

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Chef

87%

Though Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Cowboys & Aliens) is also no stranger to big, CGI-heavy popcorn movies, he nevertheless found time to sneak in a smaller, character-driven comedy this year and managed to earn some rich praise for it. In his latest feature, Chef, Favreau plays Carl Casper, the head chef at a swanky Brentwood restaurant who, stifled by his boss’s old school ways, quits his job in a fit of anger that goes viral. Reluctantly, Carl accepts an invitation from his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) to move back home to Miami to help raise their son, and in the process, he starts a food truck business and rekindles his passion for cooking. Critics found Chef to be a breath of fresh air, a charming respite from the summer season of action-packed blockbusters, thanks to a clever script and a formidable supporting cast that also included Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Downey Jr. and more. The only special features included are a commentary track and some deleted scenes, but this should make a worthy rental or purchase based on the film’s merits alone.



24: The Complete Series with Live Another Day

When Fox debuted 24 back in 2001, it would have been easy to dismiss it as a gimmick show. Each season unfolded more or less in “real time,” with episodes that covered a single hour — complete with a ticking clock — in the span of an extremely eventful day for Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), an anti-terrorist agent tasked with addressing all manner of threat to our national security. The show proved to be a critical and commercial success, and it aired successfully for eight seasons, notching dozens of nominations and awards, including 20 Emmys, before it ended its initial run in 2010. Back in May of this year, Jack Bauer returned to TV when Fox aired a 12-part series titled 24: Live Another Day, and this week, the studio is re-releasing the complete series — including Live Another Day — on DVD. It carries all of the special features available on the previous release, however, so if you already own that, you can also simply pick up Live Another Day, which is individually available on Blu-ray.

Also available this week:

  • Cold in July (86 percent), starring Michael C. Hall and Sam Shepard in a Certified Fresh thriller about a family man defending himself against an ex-con seeking revenge for the murder of his son.
  • Ivory Tower (85 percent), a Certified Fresh documentary exploring whether or not college is worth the cost of massive student loan debt.
  • Lucky Them (76 percent), starring Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church in a dramedy about a journalist chasing a story about a rock legend who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend.
  • Space Station 76 (61 percent), starring Patrick Wilson and Liv Tyler in a tongue-in-cheek relationship drama set in a 1970s version of the future.
  • Hellion (59 percent), starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis in a family drama about a young father learning to cope with his wife’s death and his two sons’ increasingly delinquent behavior.
  • Paul Haggis’ Third Person (24 percent), starring Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, and a bevy of stars in a film connecting three separate love stories.
  • Matt Weiner’s Are You Here (7 percent), starring Amy Poehler, Owen Wilson, and Zach Galifianakis in a road comedy about a man battling his sister for their recently deceased father’s fortune.
  • Season six of The Mentalist is available on DVD.
  • The Equalizer Complete Collection, featuring all four seasons of the 1980s action drama upon which the recent Denzel Washington film was based.

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Ep. 043 – George Takei, Sin City 2 reviews & More
Tim kicks off the show sharing critics’ reactions to Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, If I Stay, and When the Game Stands Tall. Then Ryan talks about new DVD/Blu-ray releases The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Only Lovers Left Alive, and Sarah talks about BBC America premieres of Doctor Who and Intruders. Team Tomato covers all of that pretty quickly to clear the way for Matt & Grae to have an in-depth interview with the great George Takei, in to talk about the new documentary To Be Takei.

This week at the movies, we’ve got a town without pity (Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, starring Josh Brolin and Eva Green), a pigskin powerhouse (When The Game Stands Tall, starring Jim Caviezel and Laura Dern), and a teenage tragedy (If I Stay, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Jamie Blackley,). What do the critics have to say?



Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

42%

When Sin City was released in 2005, it sent shockwaves through the fanboy universe: it was a comic book movie that really felt like a graphic novel come to life. Nine years later, we get a sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and while critics say its noirish visuals are as astonishing as before, the film’s slow pace and would-be hard-boiled dialogue make for a less satisfying journey. Like its predecessor, A Dame to Kill For is a series of vignettes set within the rainy, pitiless confines of Sin City, a metropolis rife with brutal violence, double-crosses, and vengeance. The pundits say Sin City: A Dame to Kill For benefits from a stellar cast and bleak ambiance, but this material just doesn’t feel as fresh as it used to. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down director Robert Rodriguez’s best-reviewed films.)



When The Game Stands Tall

20%

With the NFL season just around the corner, the inspirational drama When The Game Stands Tall hits theaters to sate the appetites of anyone in desperate need of a football fix. But while critics say the film’s on-field action is visceral and exciting, its script sticks a little too close to the sports movie playbook. It’s based on the true story of the De La Salle Spartans, a Concord, CA high school team that compiled a 151-game winning streak under the calm, thoughtful guidance of coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) before tragedy struck. The pundits say When the Game Stands Tall is best in its smaller, more character-driven moments, but it could use a little more “rah-rah-sis-boom-bah.” (Flip through this week’s 24 Frames for a gallery of the best and worst movie coaches.)



If I Stay

35%

There’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned tear-jerker, as long as the tears are jerked honestly. Unfortunately, critics say that’s not the case with If I Stay, a well-meaning, well-acted melodrama that ultimately collapses under the weight of its forced, schmaltzy story. Things are going pretty well for Mia Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) — she’s a Juilliard-bound cellist in a relationship with an aspiring rocker (Jamie Blackley) — until she’s left comatose by a terrible car accident. As Mia clings to life, her spectral presence roams free, checking up on her family and friends while contemplating the afterlife. The pundits say If I Stay offers further proof of Moretz’s talent, but she’s ill-served by clunky dialogue and soapy plotting. (Watch our video interview with Moretz, Blackley, and co-stars Mereille Enos and Joshua Leonard.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • K2: Siren of the Himalayas, a documentary about a trek to the summit of the foreboding mountain, is at 100 percent.
  • Love Is Strange, starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as an aging couple who must each find new lodging after losing their apartment, is Certified Fresh at 98 percent.
  • Metro Manila, a thriller about a rural couple who get into big trouble in the big city, is at 96 percent.
  • The Expedition to the End of the World, a documentary about a diverse group of adventurers who journey by boat to a remote area off the coast of Greenland, is at 83 percent.
  • Kink, a behind-the-scenes look at a poplular BDSM website, is at 83 percent.
  • To Be Takei, a documentary about the remarkable life and times of the Star Trek star, is at 81 percent.
  • The One I Love, starring Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss in a dramedy about a married couple trying to rekindle their relationship while on a romantic getaway, at 79 percent.
  • Salvo, a thriller about a hitman whose life is changed when he spares the life of the blind sister of the man he was ordered to kill, is at 79 percent.
  • 14 Blades, starring Donnie Yen in a martial arts film about an assassin who goes on the run after being betrayed by his men, is at 63 percent.
  • Winter In The Blood, a drama about a drunken man on the trail of his estranged wife and his late father’s rifle, is at 53 percent.
  • May In The Summer, a drama about a celebrated writer whose life is upended by a visit to her family in Jordan, is at 50 percent.
  • The Possession of Michael King, a found footage horror film about a documentarian looking for proof of the supernatural, is at 50 percent.
  • Jersey Shore Massacre, a horror/comedy in which vapid bar-hoppers are stalked by a crazed killer, is at 17 percent.
  • Are You Here, starring Zach Galifianakis and Owen Wilson in a comedy about a slacker who inherits his father’s estate over the objections of other family members, is at four percent (check out director Matthew Weiner’s Five Favorite Films here).

Matthew-Weiner's-Five-Favorite-Films

“I really don’t like ranking things,” director Matthew Weiner told Rotten Tomatoes. “I have so many movies that I like and if I have to name my top 10, I might be in the neighborhood where I cover the bases. But I love movies and I watch all kinds of movies and all kinds of movies have influenced me in my life so it’s very hard for me.”

Fair enough, Matthew Weiner. Maybe it’s time Rotten Tomatoes goes the way of Wheel of Fortune‘s R-S-T-L-N-E and gives our esteemed interviewees Casablanca, The Godfather, On the Waterfront, Gone With the Wind, and Citizen Kane as freebies, since who in show biz wouldn’t pick at least one of these films in a list for all of posterity? That said, Weiner, whose first post-Mad Men feature Are You Here opens this week, was able to name five of his favorite films — while trying to avoid the obvious choices. So now, in no particular order…


Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993; 97% Tomatometer)



You can’t leave Casablanca and Gone with the Wind and Citizen Kane off of this list, but there are other movies that I think of when I think, “I’m going to watch a movie tonight that I’ve already seen — what is it going to be?” It’s so hard.

I think Groundhog Day is one of the great movies. To me — and I know a lot of movies — it’s a very original form. It has this light touch, and [a] cynical main character who is taught a lesson about what matters. It’s a profound movie and I never get tired of watching it. I think Bill Murray is amazing in it. The script is ingenious. Obviously, it’s one of a kind and everyone tries to figure out a new version of it, but it is what it is, and I salute it for its originality and for the fact that I always feel very emotional when the character just comes down to it and says every day is the same day, and it’s up to you to make something out of it. That’s something profound and it’s said in such a funny way.

Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950; 98% Tomatometer)



Sunset Boulevard is the ultimate film noir for me. It has this incredibly unpleasant main character, who is played with a lot of charm by William Holden, and he thinks he’s really smart, and it turns out that he’s kind of in over his head. I love the environment. I love the way the story is told in flashbacks. I love the sense of Los Angeles. I love the humor in it — it’s a really funny movie — and it’s just one of those iconic things that, if you know the movie, you run into it once a month in some way, especially living in L.A. It’s got great lines in it. There’s incredible dialogue, incredible visual moments. Surprises. It’s a horror movie and a comedy at the same time; it’s all over the place in terms of genre. When I first saw it, I just couldn’t believe that it was a big Hollywood movie made by a studio because it’s so peculiar.

Il conformista (The Conformist) (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1970; 100% Tomatometer)



It’s another movie that you run into everywhere because it’s so frequently stolen from. Another reluctant hero, and an unsympathetic, morally ambiguous character… Besides its visual triumph as a movie, there’s a constant juxtaposition of an individual versus the fascist architecture, and the way that politics become very personal, and the way this guy, who doesn’t seem to care about anything, ends up caring about everything. It references Casablanca in many ways, and it also feels like it’s got a great sense of irony about politics because he flips over in the end in a second, and I think a lot of people identify with him and the fact that he’s being forced to do something that he thinks he can do easily and doesn’t have the stomach for. It’s image after image of people either in nature or in the civic environment that are part of fascist architecture and it’s a very memorable, evocative movie. Great music, great cinematography, great acting, and it’s a movie that’s a touchstone for me.

Toute Une Vie (And Now My Love) (Claude Lelouch, 1974; 67% Tomatometer)



I’m trying not to go the obvious route, but I do love Citizen Kane and I can’t leave that off here. It’s an incredible movie and the story’s told in this ingenious way and I never get tired of looking at it. It’s like visual fireworks and the sound is incredible — everything about it.

But if I had to watch a movie that means something to me — and I did see it in my childhood — it’s And Now My Love by Claude Lelouch. It is a story told over the 20th century that is told stylistically as a history of film, so the film style changes throughout. It starts off in silent movie and goes through cinema verite and goes through everything. The gimmick is it’s the story of love at first sight and you follow two family lines through the couple meeting. It was very influential on me in many ways; it’s got a lot of the highlights and influences of European cinema. It’s about a criminal and a spoiled brat who belong together, and it also has a bigger thing which is that you’re learning the story of the 20th century. Its depiction in particular of the 1960s, definitely had an impact on me in terms of how to portray an intimate experience in the midst of history. I saw it in a second-run movie theater. All those movies were being released in the United States and they would end up on the weekend in double features and I can tell you right now, I was 12 years old when it was in the theater and I went back and saw it. It’s super-romantic. It’s got this incredible depiction of France and it’s got this great love story and it’s really ingenious. All the themes with reference to film style and film genre. One of the characters actually turns out to be a filmmaker. It’s incredible.

Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979; 98% Tomatometer)



It’s going to be a draw between Godfather II and Manhattan. Obviously, there’s no point in seeing Godfather II without seeing The Godfather, but Godfather II is the only sequel I like. It’s just a spectacular character study and the scope of it, the humor of it, the sex appeal, the action, and the twist of the story and Fredo Corleone and Robert Deniro in the flashbacks — all of that is everything you ever want when you watch a movie.

Manhattan I saw in the 1970s as a teenager. Woody Allen was pretty important in my house. My parents are both New York Jews and Manhattan is just an incredibly beautiful movie with a deep expression of humor and existentialism together. It now seems more morally complex to me than I realized, but I just loved things in it like the camera being locked off and people walking in and out of the frame. I noticed that even as a kid and tried to bend my head around the corners.



Next up, Weiner remembers some of the odd double features that he caught at his local cinema as a kid.

And Now My Love wasn’t the only movie that made an impression on Matthew Weiner as a kid. He spoke to Rotten Tomatoes about some inspired double-feature pairings at his local childhood theater.

Weiner: There was a time when you would go see a double feature and you would see All That Jazz and The Shining. They were both in second-run at the same time. Or I remember — I swear to you — I saw Chinatown and Gates of Heaven at the same time. Even though they were released years apart from each other, they were both in the same second-run movie theater. This was not an art house theater either — it was just a regular theater where they got stuff for the weekend. Sometimes, they were things that were inappropriate together. I remember seeing Superman and California Split, which is a Robert Altman movie, together and just saying, “What is this about?”


I remember the worst double feature ever. My mother took us to see it. It was What’s the Matter With Helen? which is a really, really creepy movie, sort of like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? — I think it’s written by the same person [Henry Farrell] — with Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters, and Shelley Winters is a homicidal maniac and it’s really, really scary. I saw that with A Man for All Seasons.

In between the two movies, you’d get popcorn and watch the adults smoking in front of the theater and you’d be like, “Well, let’s just go in and see whatever the movie is.” The one thing that I don’t have, which a lot of the theater-going pre-DVD, pre-VHS public does have, is that I will not walk into the movie in the middle. But my parents and that generation, they’ll just go in. I’ve never had any tolerance for that.

In Baltimore, before that, we’d do a lot of drive-ins. My parents didn’t like violence and it was a time, post-Bonnie and Clyde, of very violent movies, but they did not have a problem with sex. There was no consideration for that at all. So, I remember I was taken to see Shampoo in the theater — I must’ve been nine. I saw Cabaret when I was seven. I’m sure it had an effect on me, but to us it was just a movie. We’d go to the drive-in, see what’s playing, and then, “OK, we’re going to see Patton.”


One movie that I saw during that era which was not appropriate for children and was an influence on Are You Here is Five Easy Pieces, which is a very twisty, turny movie, where you never know what’s going to happen and it starts off in one genre and it peels off layer after layer, all the way down to a very personal, intimate experience for Jack Nicholson’s character that has to with his father. Now, in many ways — though I know it appears to be about the state of the culture at that time, which I guess it certainly is — it’s really about substance abuse and a character who does not want to feel things. That is something that I was very interested in when I was writing Are You Here And certainly, when we made it, I made everybody watch it.


RT: Your movie has such a great cast.

Weiner: It’s a dream cast. They’re all doing things that they haven’t done before, but you should feel you have permission to laugh. It’s a little bit genre-bending.


RT: So do you have a taste for directing movies now? Do you think this will be a big part of your life?

Weiner: I assume that it will be a part of my creative life in the future. I direct a lot on the show as well. Sometimes when you think of a story idea, you don’t know what form it will take. Is it a one-act play? Is it a series? Is it a movie? For me, I do it by the idea, and I don’t really think of them in different forms. In the end, they all just end up getting watched on people’s phones, don’t they?




Are You Here opens Aug. 22 in select theaters.

Click here for more Five Favorite Films.

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