New on DVD and Blu-Ray: August 14, 2012

Unlike the past few weeks, there is a lot to get excited about with today’s new releases. We have some well-regarded gems from earlier this year, a couple of contemporary classics and even an all-time masterpiece or two whose unequivocal greatness none would dispute.

Here’s what we have to look forward to on DVD and Blu-Ray this week:

Top 5 Releases:

'The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Best Wes Anderson Films5) The Royal Tenenbaums – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray (2001)

The collective favorite among Film Misery Staffers, arguably no other movie in the Wes Anderson oeuvre is as deserving of the Criterion treatment. Despite its unapologetic quirkiness, I love Tenenbaums as much as I do because it successfully captures our relationship with our personal disappointments in life, and how the ensuing pain of such disappointment goes on to inform the dynamics and dysfunction of what many of us refer to as “family.” Anderson’s third film is melancholic and jaded, but it is also funny and surprisingly hopeful in what it has to say about our capacity both to forgive and to find redemption. As good as this summer’s Moonrise Kingdom is, this might end up going down as the director’s masterpiece.

4) Klovn: The Movie (2012)

Based on star Casper Christiensen’s Danish TV series of the same name, the buzz around this dark comedy has been incredibly strong. Klovn: The Movie is about a man who, in order to prove his potential as a father, “kidnaps” his girlfriend’s young nephew for a canoe trip weekend. I don’t know much more about the film beyond that, except that it is supposed to be quite hilarious. I don’t think I want to know much more about it anyway, as I will no doubt see it before year’s end.

NOTE: This movie is also currently available to rent on iTunes.

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3) The Raid: Redemption (2012)

Gareth Evans’ Indonesian import opened to rave reviews and eked out fairly strong numbers in North American box office. I hate that I missed The Raid when it came to my town, especially considering how difficult it is for Hollywood to craft an intelligent, well-made action flick. Of all the movies that eluded me in the first half of 2012, this one currently stands at the very top of my must-see list.

2) Rosetta – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray (1999)

Mostly due to their general lack of availability, the only films I have seen by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have been their most recent efforts: Lorna’s Silence and this year’s superbly understated The Kid with a Bike. These Belgian directors have a strong reputation as masters of the so-called “neo-neo-realist” sensibility we’ve been seeing in many films of the past decade, and this 1999 Palme d’Or winner about a young girl (Émilie Dequenne, who also won the Best Actress prize at Cannes) trying to make a better life for herself sounds like the Dardennes doing what they do best.

1) Jaws – The Blu Ray Collection

What really needs to be said about this one that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before? The movie that made Steven Spielberg a household name and (for better or for worse) served as the prototype for practically all blockbusters moving forward remains one of the true greats of this post-New Hollywood era of filmmaking. As expertly taut as any work by Hitchcock and as giddily evocative of the old-school, big-screen pleasures we got from Lean and Hawkes, Jaws is about as impeccably suspenseful as monster movies get. As impressive a creation as “Bruce the Shark” is, Spielberg doesn’t skimp on the small-scale, human pyrotechnics either; with superb performances from Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, Jaws doubles as a riveting character drama and as a rather inspired meditation on masculine braggadocio and insecurity.

Alex gave a very positive review to Kill List several months ago, calling it “a genre-bending film that masters its tonal shifts perfectly.” It’s one I’m sorry to have missed during its limited theatrical run. In TV-land, Fox’s Glee and Showtime’s Dexter are releasing their third and sixth seasons, respectively. Both shows are widely well-regarded, but both these latest seasons were almost universally reviled. The release of  Bye-Bye Birdie, which stars Ann-Margaret and Janet Leigh, marks an ideal occasion for folks to check out the 1963 George Sidney’s musical – particularly those who are only familiar with the movie thanks to its obscure reference a few years back in Mad Men.

Streaming Pick of the Week:

Tokyo Story (1953)

Currently available on Hulu Plus.

It was a helluva shock to film geeks last week when Yasujiro Ozu’s signature work dethroned Citizen Kane as the favorite film among film directors, according to Sight & Sound. But if any one movie deserved to supplant the Orson Welles masterpiece, then surely it was this one. The story of an elderly couple coming to grips with their own obsolescence in the lives of their children and grandchildren, Tokyo Story is a deeply moving and unsentimental family drama that meditates effortlessly on a multitude of existential themes. Cinematographically, the film is a magnificent achievement as well. Comprised of almost exclusively static shots (the camera itself moves but once in all its 135 minutes), here Ozu demonstrates a masterclass of meticulous framing and emotionally resonant imagery that will come off as stodgy and dull only to the most untrained of eyes.

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  • Tokyo Story is one of the best movies ever, i was really moved by its premise.

    The Raid: Redemption i though was very overrated, there is just non stop action and blood and thats it.. just to please the action junkie audience however i don’t understand why it became a critical favorite movie.

  • The Raid hands down! Great list though. Bought that and Tenenbaums (blind purchase).

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