DVDs In Brief: August 22, 2012 
-

DVDs In Brief: August 22, 2012 

-

DVD round-up

The first season of Revenge (ABC), now available on DVD, turned into an unhealthy addiction for its pulpy mix of primetime soap opera and Profit-like dark machinations. Emily VanCamp stars as the revenge-seeker in question, the daughter of a man wrongly accused of involvement in a plane-bombing and later murdered in prison. Under a false name, VanCamp moves into the Hamptons beach house next to the Graysons, the family of bluebloods she holds responsible for framing her father. Madeleine Stowe’s performance as the diabolical Grayson matriarch is the main draw, though the show loses some of its momentum as VanCamp gets more involved in Grayson family drama and less active in taking people out… 

Although A Separation (Sony) won 2011’s Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award, it’s still been a long wait for it to hit DVD/Blu-ray in America. But now home viewers can finally catch up on Asghar Farhadi’s rich Iranian drama, which explores gender, class, and religious tensions in his homeland via a conflict between a beleaguered, temperamental man and the housekeeper taking care of his Alzheimer’s-stricken father. It’s a socially complicated film, but a powerful, emotionally direct one…

Richard Linklater’s wonderful docu-dramedy Bernie (Millennium) is a heartwarming tale of murder centering on the too-strange-for-fiction case of a gay mortician/sweet-natured renaissance man (Jack Black, in the performance of a lifetime) so beloved in his small Texas town that nobody wants to punish him for the murder of a hateful old biddy (a sour-faced Shirley MacLaine) only he is able to tolerate, even after he confesses to her murder. MacLaine is a malevolent force of nature as a hideous shrew pretty much everyone concedes is better off dead, while Matthew McConaughey contributes a juicy supporting turn as a pragmatic prosecuting attorney with the unenviable task of trying the most popular man in town for a crime most folks view in an unmistakably positive light… 

Sacha Baron Cohen embarked on one of his patented stunt-filled publicity tours in support of The Dictator (Paramount) and Admiral General Aladeen, his latest creation, an iron-fisted North African monarch who’s like a comedic amalgam of Gaddafi, Ahmadinejad, and the Saudi royals. But the tour did The Dictator a disservice by making it seem like another Borat or Brüno, placing a made-up wacky character in a real-world context. In fact, the film owes more to the inspired anarchy of the Marx Brothers, specifically Duck Soup: It’s full of barbed political humor and random bits of silly spoofery… 

It’s unreasonable to expect a Disney nature documentary to avoid any cute anthropomorphized animal footage, but the better ones, like Earth and Oceans, at least try to strike a balance between wild-animals-are-just-like-us sequences with some helpful information about the environment. That never happens in Chimpanzee (Disney), which has the gall to frame the development of a baby chimp named Oscar as a real-life Lion King, complete with an evil rival clan headed by a thug named “Scar.”