New On DVD And Blu-ray: April 9, 2013
Pick Of The Week: New
In Another Country (Kino Lorber)
Korea’s Hong Sang-soo isn’t a director who strays too far outside his comfort zone, opting to do variations on the same elements (filmmaking, booze-fueled love triangles, structural gamesmanship) than reinventing himself with each new project. But he steps out a little with In Another Country, which again follows a film director with romantic troubles but casts the great French actress Isabelle Huppert in the role, stranding her on a South Korean beach town for a triptych of different scenarios. The A.V. Club’s Mike D’Angelo wouldn’t rank it among Hong’s best, but he admits that “the language barrier does provide Hong with a new, rewarding source of goofy humor (every scene involving [a] lifeguard’s excitable efforts to seduce Huppert is pure gold), and his gift for exposing the various ways in people kid themselves romantically remains intact.”
Pick Of The Week: Retro
Naked Lunch (Criterion)
“I can think of two things wrong with that title.” Nelson Muntz’s assessment of David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch on The Simpsons may be the film’s most lasting cultural contribution—and a great joke for those who have actually seen it—but it deserves a better airing. Criterion released the film on DVD a decade ago, but the new Blu-ray version offers another chance to see him adapt William S. Burroughs’ book into a hallucinatory mix of black comedy, science fiction, and psychodrama, all informed by biographical elements of Burroughs’ life. It’s a lesson in how to capture the essence of a extremely film-resistant book without following it to the letter.
Don’t Break The Seal
Hyde Park On Hudson (Focus/Universal)
Every year, some piece of prestige-y, semi-independent Oscar bait clogs up the fall festivals and earns a well-deserved spanking by critics who eager to squash its end-of-the-year awards aspirations. In 2012, that movie was Hyde Park On Hudson, the stirring tale of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the handjob that changed history. Here’s The A.V. Club’s Sam Adams, writing it up for our year-end worst-of piece: “In order to call Hyde Park On Hudson one of the year’s worst movies, one must first stipulate that it is, in fact, a movie, which remains very much in doubt. That the story of a venerated U.S. president getting wanked off by his distant cousin is awful is not a surprise, but the slapdash manner in which it’s assembled is genuinely shocking.”
The Sorcerer And The White Snake (Magnolia)
Produced two years ago and released briefly in the states last year to dismal reviews—41 on Metacritic, 21% on Rotten Tomatoes—this lavish Jet Li martial arts fantasy apparently relies heavily on special effects to tell of the love story between a man and a 1,000-year-old white snake.
Gate Of Hell (Criterion)
Winner of Best Foreign Language Film in 1954, Teinosuke Kinugasa’s sumptuous 12th century period piece gets noted mainly for its costumes (which also won an Oscar), but its story of a warrior who falls for the wrong woman remains a stirring, passionate tale of unrequited love.
Bad Kids Go To Hell (Phase 4)
A movie about six high-school kids stuck in detention starring Judd Nelson? No, this isn’t The Breakfast Club redux, but a cheeky Final Destination-style horror movie. Please disperse, nothing to see here.
Snoop Dogg embarks on a journey of pot-fueled reawakening, returns as Snoop Lion. In his “D” review, The A.V. Club’s Sam Adams is unimpressed, calling it “essentially an MTV Cribs episode padded out to feature length.” Given that Snoop’s Cribs episode was one of the best, however, perhaps Mr. Adams isn’t doing a good enough job talking us out of seeing it.