This is a big week for underseen 2012 releases, so you’ll have to wait a week if you’re keen on revisiting past cinematic gems. While they’re not entirely absent, they ultimately aren’t as urgent gets as the prominent indie releases from earlier this year. In any case, there are plenty of options that would make for worthy droppings of cash this week!
So without further hesitation, here’s what we have to look forward to on DVD and Blu-Ray this week:
Top 5 Releases:
If it missed your ears that Hugo Weaving had top billing in a strong Australian drama this year, you wouldn’t be alone. Last Ride had its first viewing back at 2009’s Toronto International Film Festival before struggling nearly three years towards a US release. All that time past, it’s no wonder the film didn’t get much exposure on its late June arrival. Those who did trek out to find it, like myself, were in for quite a strongly made cinematic anecdote. The familial tale of a convict father hauling around his son is nothing distinctly new, often recalling John Hillcoat’s interpretation of The Road. It does, however, feature some of Hugo Weaving’s least cartoonish and most aggressive onscreen work in some time. Add to that the gorgeous way rising cinematographer Greig Fraser (Bright Star, Let Me In) handles the unmistakably fantastical Australian landscape, and I think you’ll find a rather rewarding piece of intimate cinema here.
In case you weren’t with us back in the quiet month of April, Justin found himself particularly enamored with this Norwegian comedy about a (presumably) sexually active teen girl. The film was such a rarity in theaters that he caught the only screening in New York at the time, so its release for home viewing has me particularly invested in discovering this under-appreciated treat. To rob Justin’s opinion word-for-word, “the movie is not about sordid titillation, but about maintaining an honest dialogue about the way we react to – and attempt to suppress – sexual desire at its youngest and scariest stage. That the movie is also piercingly funny is just gravy.” Of course, this could end up another Arbitrage incident of wildly differing opinions, but I tend to have a fondness for youth comedies like this, so consider me on board!
I try not to demean television as anything less than a vignette-bound form of cinema, especially in the case of such series’ as Mad Men. More than any prior year of the series, their fifth season showed that the 60’s set drama is still very much a work in progress. Many have gone to call it the show’s weakest thus far, and I tend to be in agreement with that statement. There’s an overtly cinematic feel about this season that felt most akin to a Dystopian future, not unlike the sci-fi fare that was breaking out during that period. As ever, though, the show features some of the spunkiest performances on television from Christina Hendricks, Elisabeth Moss, and yes, even Jessica Pare. Just as brilliant were the tragic character arcs given to Jon Hamm, John Slattery, newcomer Ben Feldman, and most of all Jared Harris. If you’re not hip to this show yet, I advise you to catch up and catch on. We’re on the home stretch now!
In case you’re curious what this Albanian set drama is doing with such a quick Criterion treatment after its release earlier this year, The Forgiveness of Blood has a history behind it, as does its director. Joshua Marston has twice been entered into the Foreign Language Oscar race for films set in countries he does not belong to. The American born director previously made Columbian drama Maria Full of Grace, which earned its lead actress Catalina Sandino Moreno an Oscar nod in lieu of the film’s ineligibility due to Marston’s American heritage. The same claim led to The Forgiveness of Blood being deemed ineligible this past year, so I particularly admire Criterion’s advocacy for such an undervalued feature. It certainly gives credibility enough to check out this tale of familial drama turned bloody.
There are few that would dare to undervalue Wes Anderson’s latest film, a typically vivid military satire representing childhood as the fiercest battleground Anderson has yet tackled. Even as strong a critic in opposition of Wes Anderson’s style as myself, who has often found his catalog to be overly witty and lacking in heart, found Moonrise Kingdom to be painterly and sublime. Better than his films that portray adults as absolute morons is the focus on how together these kids are in comparison to the parental figures. Kara Hayward in particular gives a strong debut performance, and I half-wish Bruce Willis’ career-best work as a sad-sack policeman would get some small attention this awards season. Maybe an Indie Spirit nod? The only negative thing about Moonrise Kingdom‘s DVD/Blu-Ray release is that it’s not available on VHS. That feels like it’s how this film was meant to be shown.
There are plenty positive alternatives elsewhere on DVD/Blu-Ray release this week. Though I personally didn’t fall for Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, I imagine others on the Film Misery staff might be happy to. I have it on good authority, however, that Chernobyl Diaries is to be avoided at any cost. Though hardly anyone’s seen it, I’d say the same goes for Sandler-Samberg comedy That’s My Boy. Coming in from the documentary end are Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, Chely Wright: Wish Me Away, and Neil Young Journeys. All the while, I really have no clue what The Obama Effect is. What has the world come to?
Some oldies that are getting the Blu-Ray treatment include A League of Their Own, which I hear Tom Hanks (SPOILER) has dialogue in. Avatar 3D is available for anyone willing to splurge on a 3D TV, and who by chance found the film more entertaining than I did. Disney fantasies Pete’s Dragon and The Santa Clause land for a new generation of kids to consume them. Finally, on the less reputable end of television, The Firm, Psych, and The Touch release their 1st, 6th, and 1st seasons this week. The full series of Fox’s canceled sci-fi procedural Alcatraz is available. And who in their right mind would say no to Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume Two? Perfect for a dull afternoon, I’d say.
Steaming Pick of the Week:
Currently Available on Hulu Plus.
We’re knee deep in the Halloween season, when spooky tales are sought out for some well timed shivers. Though not particularly mortifying in its use of the genre, I can never deny a chance to watch Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn. After all, where else can you get Quentin Tarantino dialogue delivered by George Clooney while killing of a grotesque legion of vampires? Never! If you even tried to answer that, I’d have to ask what other film you were thinking of. Though the second half of this film is an onslaught of wall-to-wall murderous (be it rather trashy) fun, it’s all laid on the groundwork of an unexpectedly disturbing first act. The relationship between the Gecko brothers is given such an honesty and intensity that you forget the artlessness of Rodriguez’s style just long enough to get into the action. Not the smartest, scariest, or deepest horror film you’ll see this month, but damn if it’s not a shameless bit of fun!