A couple days delayed, but this week’s batch of DVD and Blu-Ray releases is an unexpectedly rewarding one. The 2013 releases are wearing somewhat thin, the lackluster droppings of the summer season, but the week is enlivened by landmark TV treasures, South Korean cult standouts and one of the summer’s most undervalued blockbuster offerings. Not satisfying enough? Well how about a Leos Carax classic streaming on Netflix for good measure? Now we got you, so look on at a couple of purchases that may make for fun future Christmas presents.
Top 5 Releases
Kristen Wiig sure is trying, even if all her recent characters are doing no such thing. Few kind words, if any at all, were passed Girl Most Likely‘s way upon its release in July, though it’s admittedly hard for an indie comedy to make a dent without a significant emotional tether to it. The film pits Wiig alongside and against Annette Bening as her gambling addicted mother, a promising onscreen duo and dynamic, but by all appearances played purely for laughs. If laughs are all you’re looking for, you may find this welcome entertainment. At this stage in the year, though, are we really looking for disposable goods?
It’s a good week for fans of easy-to-love 90s sitcoms, be them for the adult of adolescent bracket. Or both, as many of the original fans of maturing ABC family show Boy Meets World are adults ready to fondly return to their old adventures with Cory Matthews and snarky on-and-off girlfriend Topanga. Its morals are typically geared through the hetero-normative perspective of its eponymous boy, though if distant memory serves there was occasionally sweet humor and insight to be gleaned from it. For the life of me, though, I can’t recall if William Daniels’ imminently memorable Mr. Feeny was honestly endearing or just ardently patronizing.
I must admit, though, I’m far less intimately familiar with Jerry Seinfeld’s self-named sitcom phenomenon, Seinfeld. I suppose the show can claim consistency as a defining quality of it, but it’s also a show that never changed or developed, something that doesn’t really hook me on as a viewer. Still, it was the personalities that drew people to it, particularly those of Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Elaine and Michael Richards’ Kramer. To the latter’s credit, I still to this day think of Kramer vs. Kramer as twin versions of his character in some courtroom setting… I’ll go home now.
We’ll learn later this month if Spike Lee’s Oldboy is a refashioning adaptation of the original Japanese manga or just an aspirational American remake of the South Korean cult hit. Much as we’d like Lee to be taking the story in a refreshingly new direction, the trailers strike a tone markedly familiar to that of Park Chan-wook’s much lauded effort. Not that that’s such a bad thing to aspire to, since Chan-wook’s deliciously twisted tonal frequency has made for some preposterously arousing genre entertainment. Of his stylistically daft and deft Vengeance trilogy, Oldboy may admittedly be the least surprising or sickeningly satisfying, but it’s a wild, raucous thriller that’s cemented its place in pop-culture through its immaculately designed set-pieces.
I know, I think Channing Tatum can do no wrong – Magic Mike, 21 Jump Street, the funniest joke in This Is The End, his body, – so I’m predisposed to drink this up like liquid candy. In blazing honesty, though, White House Down would be a ridiculous pleasure even without him. The 2nd of two oval office siege movies this year, both of which I reviewed in tandem, Roland Emmerich’s playhouse action extravaganza had its box office punch taken by Antoine Fuqua’s serious-minded, but individually entertaining Olympus Has Fallen. Seen one White House destruction flick, seen ’em all, right? Never more wrong, for what Olympus does with bleak proceduralism, White House Down replaces with rollicking enthusiasm, embracing the full scale of its adventurous attitudes, as well as the inherent silliness of its unmistakably Hollywood set-up. Perhaps we should just admit that Channing Tatum is superbly talented and smart at picking his projects, The Vow aside.
“I want to stop doing this.” That’s a line Jon Hamm utters in the first episode of Mad Men‘s sixth season. With only one season – fourteen episodes. two year. All time’s a blur till we reach the end of the 60s – left to go on Matthew Weiners’ landmark period office melodrama, we certainly don’t want to stop doing Don Draper. In spite that statement, the recklessly charismatic ad-man has shown few signs of slowing down on his indulgent activities, but only now are social standards finally getting the better of him. With all the lies and false faces he’s put up over the years finally suffocating him, Season Six represents a monumental step forward for the series, even as we bittersweetly realize the end is coming. There’s no better time to catch up, and you can rest assured TV Misery will be covering the seventh and final season in full, delicious detail once it swings back around this spring.
Also on DVD & Blu-Ray
No shortage of options this week, but given that among them are miserably received festival trifles like James Franco’s As I Lay Dying, Brian De Palma’s erotic lesbian thriller Passion, mediocre JFK assassination thriller Parkland, and disposable Sundance biopic Lovelace, I wouldn’t expect much quality amongst this quantity. That’s not even starting on Grown Ups 2, but why waste any more space on it? We may well spend more space discussing Renoir, that is if France’s submission to the foreign language Oscar proves any more formidable than their last sentimental bid. Given a similar sense of sentimentality, but not as much audience fervor, I wouldn’t count on it.
Capping off this week’s releases are two epic fantasy boxed sets, though both have their fair share of blunders between them. On the singularly excessive side is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, now with 13 extra minutes added on for the extended
addition edition, as if it wasn’t languorous enough. It admittedly wouldn’t be quite as butt-numbing an ordeal as Twilight Forever: The Complete Saga Box Set, clocking the entire series in at 609 minutes. Breaking Dawn: Part 2 may derive its kinky, unsuspecting pleasures from the series’ last hurrah, but I can’t imagine the previous four films would be at all worth the struggle.
Streaming Pick of the Week
Instantly Streaming via Netflix
This recommendation comes a little half-hearted, not because the film is anything short of stunning in its weirdness. I’d easily go to bat for Holy Motors director Leos Carax’s beautifully ragged romance as more honest and exciting in its oddity than Oldboy. So why such a tepid recommendation? Because, like many films we’ve brought forth in this space, it really deserves as big a screen as you can afford, yet is regretfully relegated to Netflix. With perhaps the grandest scene of romantic expressionism ever displayed on film, exploding and spiraling with grandest abandon, the best suggestion I can provide is you nestle in bed with your laptop, turn off the lights and hold Lovers on the Bridge close. Then spend the rest of your life seeking a big screen revival of it.