New Blu's On the Block - 10/12/10
Released: Oct 12, 2010
Sara Michelle Fetters
New Blu's On the Block
Blu-ray and DVD Releases for Oct 12, 2010
This week on Blu-ray isnít nearly as exciting as the one last week was, but there are still some great titles here worthy of discussion. Not that I was conflicted at all about what my top two were (even if I wasnít sure which one to lead with) as it almost goes without saying that a Wes Anderson flick from Criterion and one of the best filmís (not just animated) of 2010 should undoubtedly be the place to start.
As for the rest? Take a look for yourself. Thereís definitely something of interest to be found.
The Darjeeling Limited
Wes Andersonís The Darjeeling Limited is a movie that grows on you after youíve watched it but one that can frustrate and drive you a little bit crazy during the actual viewing itself. Personally, while Rushmore is without question my favorite from the idiosyncratic filmmaker, this one has started to make its way up my list the more and more I get the chance to ponder on it. For my part, it is right up there with The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox competing for the second spot, the journey its gaggle of brothers (wonderfully played by Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman) take through India one that resonated with me quite deeply. My feelings havenít changed all that much since my 2007 review (read it here) where I summed up my thoughts by saying that watching the film, ďis a quest worth taking, and those with the passion to do so might just find a cinematic rapture boarding on the spiritual.Ē
Criterionís new Blu-ray release of The Darjeeling Limited comes with a brand new 2.40:1 Widescreen transfer supervised by Anderson and director of photography Robert Yeoman. It also contains the beguiling short Hotel Chevalier which is an essential must-watch before proceeding into the motion picture itself. Other extras include an audio commentary with director Wes Anderson and co-screenwriters Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, a feature-length documentary made by Barry Braverman, some assorted featurettes, deleted scenes, an illustrated booklet containing Richard Brody's essay "Voyage to India" and much, much more.
How to Train Your Dragon (releasing Friday, Oct. 15)
Releasing on Friday is the yearís second best animated spectacle, DreamWorksí soaring coming-of-age adventure How to Train Your Dragon. Back at the end (read my full review here) of March I called the film, ďa fun-filled frolic through the skies as seen through the eyes of a kid both young and old will be able to relate to, its ultimate destinations ones many viewers will thrill to again and again and again.Ē I saw it twice in the theatre myself and canít wait to get this Blu-ray, sure Iíll find it just as enjoyable at home as I did at the multiplex.
DreamWorks is releasing How to Train Your Dragon in three different hi-def editions, a two-disc with both the Blu-ray and a DVD, a Blu-ray only edition and finally a 3D edition made for 3D-enabled television and Blu-ray players.
I Am Love
Operatic in the extreme, director Luca Guadagninoís I Am Love is an Italian cacophony of marital woes, familial in-fighting and bourgeois appetites that held me captivated first frame to last. After watching catching a press screening of it during the Seattle International Film Festival I wrote that it was all, ďa big Faustian mess of decadence and debauchery, even choices that seem good on the surface wickedly transforming into one of nascent naked tragedy upon further inspection. The script, based on a story by director Guadagnino (Melissa P) and credited to four writers, is a Sirkian muddle of epic proportions, and trying to keep track of all the tangents as they weave this way and that is both mystifying and hypnotic.Ē You can read my full review here, but just know that, in the end, this is a movie that challenges the viewer and asks them to go on a journey full of bumps and bruises, its final destination one full of heartbreak and woe that still manages to exhilarate all the same. I was told we just received the Blu-ray so expect a review of it very soon.
I know very little about Ingmar Bergmanís 1958 effort The Magician, and as Criterion did not send us the title for review Iíll guess Iíll have to add it to the Netflix queue to discover its secrets. The story of a nineteenth-century traveling magician put to the test by a small townís cruel minister of health, the movie stars Max von Sydow and Ingrid Thulin and apparently contains some of the directorís most startlingly imaginative images. Personally I canít wait to get a look at it, and considering itís a Bergman film and a Criterion release that look should be more than satisfying.
Dollhouse: Season Two
Joss Whedonís short-lived series ďDollhouseĒ wasnít without its problems. The premise never quite clicked and the stories, especially during the first season, were decidedly hit-or-miss in nature. But Season Two showed a lot of promise, Whedon and company starting to take Eliza Dushkuís character Echo into some potentially interesting places that early on hand my definitely excited. Unfortunately viewers never came in the numbers the show needed to survive, and after 13 episodes it all came to a rather bitter end. Iíll hopefully have a full review of the title soon.
A lot of people hated Jonah Hex, it currently has a 13-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 33 on Metacritic, but I didnít loath it as much as everyone else apparently seemed to. Not that I thought it was good, mind you, my June review (read it here) calling the picture, ďdumb with a capitol D, Neveldine and Taylorís script basically making things up as it goes along.Ē But both Josh Brolin and especially Michael Fassbender are almost sort of great in it, and if you can forget the fact that the story itself is a colossal waste of time and energy watching them comes close to making up a lot of the filmís substantial Ė almost unintentionally hilarious Ė shortcomings.
Sex and Lucia
Outstanding and absorbing melodrama starring the great (and gorgeous) Paz Vega about a Madrid waitress named Lucia who flees to a secluded island to mediate and mourn the supposed loss of her boyfriend after what she believes to be a tragic accident. But truth and fiction always arenít what they seem, and whatís true and whatís false (and what actually happened to her boyfriend) is a mystery the viewer feels compelled to discover. Director Julio Medem crafts a kinetic spectacle grounded in emotional realism, and although I wasnít sent a copy of the Blu-ray to review Iím almost tempted to stick it into the Netflix queue just so I can have the chance to experience it again.
Ladies and GentlemenÖ The Rolling Stones
Shot over four nights in Texas during the ďExile ON Main StreetĒ tour in 1972, the concert film arrives in 1080p after having remained largely unseen since its limited theatrical engagements in 1974. The film has been restored and remastered, and bonus material includes previously unreleased rehearsal footage and interviews with Mick Jagger from 1972 and 2010. If youíre a Rolling Stones fan, this might be up your alley.
-Written by Dennis Crane
Leaves of Grass
Troubled Edward Norton (in two roles) satire/drama/farce/comedy that for whatever reason never got the widespread theatrical release many suspected it would get after it debuted at Sundance. I missed my chance to see it earlier this year at the Seattle International Film Festival, figuring it would hit theatres later in the summer and Iíd get my opportunity then. Never happened, and now like everyone else Iíll have to get it from Netflix if I want to give this one a look.
Deep Blue Sea
Two wildly different Warner Bros. catalog titles, both of which were actually released a few weeks back as Best Buy exclusives before becoming available everywhere else as of today. While David O. Russellís explosive Gulf War (the first one) dramatic thriller Three Kings starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube is by far the better picture, I have a huge soft spot for Renny Harlinís crazed man-eating shark enterprise Deep Blue Sea. While I completely realize the whole thing is a pile of sophomoric phooey, the film is nonetheless a huge guilty pleasure, and for no good reason I can think of it remains a picture I just canít get enough of.
As for Three Kings, simply stated it is one of the best films of 1999, a truly great year for cinema that included stunners like The Matrix, Eyes Wide Shut, Toy Story 2, American Beauty, All About My Mother, Magnolia, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Being John Malkovich, Fantasia 2000, Boys Donít Cry, The End of the Affair, Fight Club, The Insider and Galaxy Quest (just to name a few). In fact, it might be my absolute favorite of the bunch, and while I think that Stanley Kubrickís final effort is the best of the lot Russellís is the movie Iíve seen more times than any of the others (including Toy Story 2, The Matrix and Fight Club).
I am not a fan of Brett Ratnerís Red Dragon. Although Anthony Hopkins reprises his role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and although Ralph Fiennes is unquestionably menacing as Francis Dolarhyde, the movie doesnít come close to holding a candle to Michael Mannís definitive take on Thomas Harrisí novel, 1986ís Manhunter. Itís too glossy, too happy with its own tricks and ticks, never focusing on the inherent drama and terror at the center of the story instead focusing on set pieces and signature moments instead of staying true to the characters. That said, this version does have its fans, so Iím sure Universalís new Blu-ray release will sell more than its fair share of copies.
The Hangover (Extreme Edition)
The only reason this is coming out is because the directorís upcoming feature Due Date releases in November. The Hangover was released in an Unrated Blu-ray edition nine months ago, and the only additions to this ďExtremeĒ version seem to be a CD soundtrack sampler (with five songs from the movie) and a ďdeluxe full-color 28-page wedding photo albumĒ. The rest of the extras are carry-overs. This is for the collector only, if at all.
-written by Dennis Crane
Directed by Richard Attenborough, written by famed screenwriter William Goldman, based on his novel, and starring Anthony Hopkins, Magic is the horror tale of a ventriloquist at the mercy of his brutal dummy as he pursues an old romance with his high school sweetheart. The 1978 film enjoys a rating of 6.4 on IMDb out of 2,977 votes (as of this writing), which begs the question, just how many folks are really going to get this on Blu-ray, but I wouldnít be surprised if Magic has its followers.
-written by Dennis Crane
Lost Boys: The Thirst
So Lost Boys: The Tribe was flat-out terrible, and as straight-to-DVD sequels go that 2008 effort has to be one of the very worst. So my expectations for this third entry arenít exactly high, and although Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander both return this time around (only the former appeared in The Tribe) thatís not near enough to get me excited about watching it. Not that any of what Iíve said is going to stop me from doing so all the same, and as Warner Bros. didnít send over a copy for me to review I guess Iíll have to add it to the top of my Netflix queue in order to give it a look.
OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES
NOTABLE DVD RELEASES
Criminal Justice 2 (Catch up on the original Criminal Justice)
The original series was an engrossing drama released on DVD last November, and this five-part follow-up, which aired on ITV and received a BAFTWA award, follows a woman charged with stabbing her barrister husband as he lay in bed. The officials investigating the case are in no doubt as to her guilt, though her motives are called into question. As she passes through the British legal system under constant scrutiny, the terrible consequences of her actions become clear. I have only seen the first 2 episodes, but so far so good. If you're in the mood for solid British TV, pick up both seasons of Criminal Justice today, and I mean that in a sincere way.
C.S.I.: Miami Ė The Eighth Season
Ah yes, Horatio Cain and the Miami squad of CSI are back at it again. As if they ever left, right? Ha. Actually, "this time it's personal" or so the description says. Not that I can attest to, because I donít watch the show, the season probably includes further conspiracy storylines and secrets to be exposed. This first spin-off remains successful for the CBS network and has its followers, yours truly not included. If you own the previous sets youíll know what type of bonus material to expect; a series of featurettes and a couple of commentary tracks.
Ghost Whisperer: The Fifth Season
Being the final season, if youíre a fan of the show, you likely will want to complete your collection. Fans, however, have complained that the show got canceled, notably because the season introduced a new mythology for which there is not going to be a conclusion. That sucks. Extra material is along the lines of previous sets.
In Treatment: Season Two
A series that I still have yet to see, it is however a critical success and is coming back for a third season on HBO. The structure of In Treatment is interesting; aired five times a week, each day represents a different therapy session with psychiatrist Gabriel Byrne meeting with his clients, for a number of weeks, resulting in over 30 episodes.
The Tudors: The Final Season
Having started watching the first season not too long ago, there isnít much I can say about this fourth and final season, except to say that it runs for 10 episodes. Obviously, viewers who follow the show may very well be interested in this release.
-written by Dennis Crane
Not really sure why Iím including this one, because as a low budget zombie-driven horror film it really isnít anything special. The acting isnít great, the story Ė escaped convicts, some lost hikers, a televangelist and his young assistant stumble upon a fishing lodge where the missing fisherman have been transformed into zombies! Ė is forgettable and the directing (by Kevin S. Tenney, the man behind Witchboard and the original Night of the Demons) is haphazard at best. Yet the gore effects here are totally awesome, almost making the film worthy of a look all by themselves. I have to admit, I watched it twice, and even though Iíd never tell anyone itís a good movie for genre fans this one has just enough teeth (and blood, and guts, and viscera) to make renting it certainly worthwhile.
I saw Four Boxes back at the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival and for the life of me I canít figure out how it never got some sort of a theatrical release, even a minor one through a distributor like Magnolia or Anchor Bay. The movie was a fun, twisty little thriller with a decent payoff, and even though it never quite took my be total surprise I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I was going to beforehand. Well acted by leads Justin Kirk, Terryn Westbrook and Sam Rosen and cleverly directed by Wyatt McDill (who also wrote the script), the movie maybe be slight but that doesnít make it any less worthwhile, and viewers who like crafty little thrillers with a bit of something on their minds should certainly give this one a chance.