New On DVD And Blu-ray: March 26, 2013
Pick Of The Week: New
The Comedy (NewVideo)
One of last year’s most brazen and alienating indies, The Comedy may play to a narrow, self-selecting audience, but in its portrait of generational ennui and misanthropy, the film is a spiritual successor to Mike Nichols’ The Graduate and Carnal Knowledge. In a performance free of vanity and ingratiation, Tim Heidecker stars as a Williamsburg trust-funder who braces himself for his father’s death and the formalities of handling his estate. His emotional numbness, save for evidence of raw self-loathing, manifests itself in bored hostility, but director Rick Alverson maintains a melancholy tone that suggests some hidden pain that his hero’s interactions with other cannot salve. The DVD has a Heidecker/Alverson commentary track and deleted scenes.
Pick Of The Week: Retro
Panic In The Streets (Fox)
Kicking off a run matched by few in the ‘50s—A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, On The Waterfront, East Of Eden, Baby Doll, and A Face In The Crowd would follow—Elia Kazan’s 1950 film noir Panic In The Streets, brings a distinctive street realism to genre, shooting on location and reflecting, however obliquely, the Red Scare paranoia that was sweeping the country at the time. The great Richard Widmark (Kiss Of Death) stars as a New Orleans public health officer who rushes to prevent the spread of pneumonic plague sourced to a waterfront homicide victim. Features on the new Blu-ray include a commentary track by film historians Alain Silver and James Ursini, and featurettes on Widmark and Jack Palance, who made his acting debut here.
Don’t Break The Seal
Parental Guidance (Fox)
After spending a decade off the silver screen, Billy Crystal opted to come back for Parental Guidance as a doddering Andy Rooney-type who watches his daughter’s kids alongside his wife, played by Bette Midler. I had a chainsaw vasectomy scheduled for the day this movie screened, but The A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin reports “the film’s ham-fisted oscillation between schmaltz and scatology indelibly marks it as a product of Crystal’s hokey, mothballed sensibility.” Crystal and director Andy Fickman contribute a future Commentary Tracks Of The Damned entry, and other features include a gag reel, deleted scenes, and other featurettes.
Far from the typical lionizing biopic, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln focuses intently on the passing of the 13th amendment and the political courage and horse-trading it took to happen. There are lessons abound in Tony Kushner’s brilliant script about the compromise (and shrewdness) necessary to achieve legislative victories and Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance as Lincoln is the actor at his most uncanny.
Killing Them Softly (Weinstein)
CinemaScore audiences gave Killing Me Softly a rare “F,” but Andrew Dominick’s flawed attempt to graft the economic collapse of 2008 to a New Orleans heist thriller has plenty of virtues, including a stick-up at a mobbed-up card game that’s among last year’s most gripping sequences.
Jurassic Park (Universal)
The re-release of Jurassic Park in 3-D has prompted another round of Blu-ray reissues, but the gouging shouldn’t diminish the marvels of Steven Spielberg’s adventure, which remains the most impressive example of early CGI effects.
From Beyond (Shout! Factory)
H.P. Lovecraft has always been a tough nut to crack cinematically, but director Stuart Gordon has figured out the right way to do it, starting with his gonzo 1985 horror-comedy Re-Animator and continuing with 1986’s From Beyond, which stars Re-Animator’s Jeffrey Combs as a scientist’s assistant who deals with the messy consequences when his partner gets sucked into another dimension and comes back a monster.
The Sandlot: 20th Anniversary Edition (Fox)
Ten collectible playing cards—which will likely be as worthless 50 years from now as they are today—come with this special edition of The Sandlot, a family-oriented baseball movie that’s proven to have remarkable staying power.
The Collection (LD Entertainment)
Remember the 2009 horror movie The Collector? No? Well, here’s the sequel anyway, from the writing/directing team behind many of the later Saw movies. The A.V. Club’s Keith Phipps damns it with faint praise: “It also has enough nutty energy and oddball touches—The Wire’s Andre Royo shows up as a gun-toting, faux-hawk-sporting badass—that it’s never boring. Dumb, gross, gratuitous, and overly familiar, sure. But never boring.
Veep: The Complete First Season (HBO)
Creator Armando Iannucci, the brilliant satirist responsible for The Thick Of It and In The Loop, turns his attention to American politics with Veep, HBO’s mostly sharp half-hour comedy about a senator-turned-vice president (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) who believes in little but the politically expedient.
A Royal Affair (Magnolia)
The curdled marriage of British princess Carolina Mathilde (Alicia Vikander) and Christian VII of Denmark (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) leads Mathilde to seek the company of an enlightened physician (Mads Mikkelsen) in A Royal Affair. The A.V. Club’s Sam Adams admires the film, writing that it “has the trappings of an overstuffed costume drama like The Duchess, but it’s thankfully more limber than it initially suggests.”
A Man Escaped (Criterion)
Robert Bresson’s precise, methodical directing style found the perfect vessel in A Man Escaped, which stages a jailbreak with an eye toward the isolation and struggle involved in making it happen. Based on the escape of a French resistance leader, the film pays homage to a man’s single-minded devotion to winning his freedom.
Easy Money (Weinstein)
Based on Jens Lapidus’ crime novel, Easy Money received the quietest of theatrical releases, but reviews have been kind. Joel Kinnaman stars an impoverished status seeker who meets a wealthy girl and sells cocaine for an organized crime syndicate in a bid for upward mobility.
Step Up To The Plate (Cinema Guild)
There’s been no shortage of foodie documentaries in arthouses lately—Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, El Bulli: Cooking In Progress, Kings Of Pastry, etc.—but few as acclaimed as Step Up To The Plate, a doc about a three-star French chef named Michel Bras who’s preparing to hand his business over to his son Sébastien. Writes The A.V. Club’s Alison Willmore: “The through-line from a rustic preparation of milk skin and chocolate on bread to a high-concept dessert illuminates the story of a family and how food unites generations.”