Zero Dark Thirty, Rust And Bone and Badlands lead a week of essential DVD/BD pick-ups
New On DVD And Blu-ray: March 19, 2013
Pick Of The Week: New
Rust And Bone (Sony)
When Jacques Audiard followed up his widely admired prison drama A Prophet with a romance concerning a street fighter (Matthias Schoenaerts) and a MarineWorld trainer (Marion Cotillard) who loses her legs to a whale, the immediate critical reaction at Cannes was a hearty scoff. But Rust And Bone was last year’s most original and resonant love story, an offbeat but disarmingly sincere pairing of two emotionally and physically damaged souls who turn to each other for rehabilitation. Audiard holds nothing back, either, turning a simple dip in the ocean into a scene of ecstatic liberation and setting the film’s most transcendent moment to Katy Perry’s “Firework.” The generous extras on the disc include a commentary with Audiard and screenwriter Thomas Bidegain, an hour-long making-of documentary, six deleted scenes, and a smattering of more minor features.
Pick Of The Week: Retro
As Terrence Malick’s career-long drift into poetic abstraction continues with his new film To The Wonder, now’s a great time to go back to his debut feature, 1973’s Badlands, which is a reminder of a time when he was more tethered to narrative. But that’s only relatively speaking: While the violent misadventures of a garbage collector (Martin Sheen) and a South Dakota teen (Sissy Spacek), inspired by the Charles Starkweather/Caril Ann Fugate killings, give the film a solid backbone, Malick’s interest in natural beauty was as keen then as it is now. For the unconverted, it’s still the best entryway into his work. The Criterion version has a 4K digital transfer, and special features, a new documentary and interviews, and Malick’s approval from afar.
Don’t Break The Seal
Les Misérables (Universal)
Given the grim fate of nearly every character in Les Misérables, there’s no need for a director to overplay the filth and the fury of Victor Hugo’s 19th century Paris, but that’s exactly what Tom Hooper does in his botched adaptation of the popular stage musical. The vocal performances vary from abysmal (Russell Crowe) to capable (Anne Hathaway) to lovely (all the no-names), but Hooper’s unrelenting use of wide-angle close-ups gets oppressive over 158 minutes and takes away from the one song (Hathaway’s “I Dreamed A Dream”) where the technique might have been really effective. Hooper explains his choices on the DVD/BD commentary track, but the more enticing features seem limited to BD only, including “Les Misérables Singing Live.”
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Warner Bros.)
What happened to Peter Jackson? Once the DIY prankster behind splatter comedies like Dead Alive and Bad Taste, Jackson branched out with the superb Heavenly Creatures and proved the ideal man to bring The Lord Of The Rings trilogy to the screen, but the indulgences of money and effects have proved ruinous lately. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit could be knocked out easily in one feature, Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first of three, and the extraneous material here proves hugely detrimental to pace.
Zero Dark Thirty (Sony)
Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s journo-thriller about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden was thoroughly hijacked by the controversy over its depiction of torture and to what degree it played a role in finding the world’s most wanted man. But drawing any hard conclusions about Zero Dark Thirty endorsing torture denies the ambiguity that makes it great, as well as the lingering question of whether his killing came at too great a moral cost.
This Is 40 (Universal)
The complaints leveled against Judd Apatow’s domestic comedy—the ungainly running time, the handful of disposable subplots, the general shapelessness of individual scenes and the movie overall—are all completely valid, but many of these liabilities are also assets. Apatow is attempting to make as personal and revealing a mainstream comedy as possible, and the film’s best scenes are hilariously, uncomfortably true to life.
Porky’s is on Blu-ray now. Do as you will.
Bachelorette (Anchor Bay)
“A raunchy comedy starring Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, and Rebel Wilson? Why haven’t I heard of this before?” you may be asking yourself. The A.V. Club’s Keith Phipps has the answer: “Spending time with these people is hellist.”
The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (Criterion)
Criterion issued a DVD of The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp a decade ago, but the Blu-ray version of the Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger classic includes a 4K restoration on top of ported-over features like a commentary track with the late Powell and Martin Scorsese. As for the film itself, it’s a wry original twist on David Low’s satirical comic strip.
The Girl (HBO)
Toby Jones’ superior performance as Alfred Hitchcock gives HBO’s The Girl a slight edge over the totally useless Hitchcock with Anthony Hopkins, but the drama about Hitch’s abusive treatment of Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller) is similarly reductive.
The Other Son (Cohen)
“Switched at birth” stories trend toward the wacky, but that’s far from the case in this earnest Israeli drama, in which a young man about the join the Israeli national service discovers that his biological parents are Palestinians from the West Bank. The A.V. Club’s Noel Murray found the premise too far-fetched to believe.
The Big Picture (MPI)
Not to be confused with the Christopher Guest comedy, Eric Lartigau’s The Big Picture is based on a reworking of Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, starring Romain Duris as an upper-class shape-shifter who changes his identity to cover up a crime. The film is effective all the way up to a hasty, hugely disappointing ending.