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DVDs In Brief: March 28, 2012


DVD round-up

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Based on Jonathan Safron Foer’s novel, the surprise Oscar nominee Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close (Warner Bros.)—“surprise” in the sense that it’s grotesquely awful and received mostly toxic notices, not in the Oscar-pandering sense—follows a manic, precocious boy as he searches the five boroughs for clues about a key his father left behind when he died on 9/11. His symbolic and emotional journey nonetheless feels horrifyingly “too soon,” despite the film being produced more than 10 years after the fact. Some of that is due to its general shamelessness, but perhaps its biggest crime of all is forcing closure and healing on a tragedy that’s an open wound indefinitely… 

At first glance, an adaptation of a play about the relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud doesn’t seem like the right material for director David Cronenberg, who specializes in cerebral horror and how the traumas of the mind express themselves in the body. A Dangerous Method (Sony) doesn’t seem right for him on second glance, either. Yet fine performances by Michael Fassbender as Jung and especially Viggo Mortensen as Freud compensate for Cronenberg disappearing a bit behind Christopher Hampton’s play about the painful birth of psychoanalysis… 

David Cross’ ongoing humiliation at the hands of the sadists behind the Alvin & The Chipmunks trilogy continues with Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Fox). The second sequel in the achingly inessential franchise ropes Cross in under the flimsiest of circumstances—his record exec is so washed up, the only job he can secure is as an entertainer on a cruise line—and then makes him wear a ratty pelican suit throughout. He’s but a sideshow to the dispiriting main event: Chipmunk-ized versions of pop songs, including, bewilderingly, Lady Gaga’s LGBT anthem “Born This Way.” To paraphrase the bird on The Flintstones, “Eh, it’s a living.”…

The dreary, dour, and relentlessly grey star-crossed Bosnian War romance In The Land Of Blood And Honey (Sony) would have been quickly and justly forgotten if it wasn’t for the American mega-star in the director’s seat: Angelina Jolie. Jolie wrote and directed the provocative historical drama, but her passion for exposing the crimes of the Bosnian War get lost in a muddled tangle of alternately sluggish and histrionic storytelling and dicey politics… 

Foodies made the documentary El Bulli: Cooking In Progress (Alive Mind) a minor arthouse hit at Film Forum and beyond, but it’s hard to imagine anyone beyond foodies finding its dry, vérité-style portrait of innovative Spanish chef Ferran Adria all that compelling. Those who perk up at the phrase “molecular gastronomy” will want it at the top of their queue; others are hereby warned…