DVDs In Brief: March 7, 2012
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DVDs In Brief: March 7, 2012

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DVD round-up

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If you like the fantasy genre and/or premium cable services even a little bit, you’re probably aware that Game Of Thrones (HBO) exists. With the first season now available on DVD and Blu-ray, the HBO-deprived can now experience it, and should: While the series takes a couple of episodes to build up a head of steam, the careful character-building of the early installments rewards the patient by capturing the complicated political intrigue and persistent moral ambiguity of George R.R. Martin’s fiction. And those who just like beheadings and weird castles and such... stick it out…

A remake of the ’80s Kevin Bacon staple Footloose (Paramount) in our current, vastly more permissive social climate seems like a bizarre idea (though perhaps less bizarre given the ascendancy of Rick Santorum, whose values are old-fashioned to say the least). But director Craig Brewer turns out to be the perfect choice, bringing the hothouse musicality of his Hustle And Flow and Black Snake Moan to bear on a Southern small town where the young and sexy are primed to break the rules and dance. It’s still innately ridiculous, though… 

The ingenious sports documentary Senna (Arc Entertainment) explores the life and death of ironic Brazilian Formula One racer Ayrton Senna using only the wealth of archival footage he left behind. Without narration or talking heads, director Asif Kapadia still provides a coherent and mesmerizing portrait of a racer who rejected convention and racing authority while appealing to his countrymen. His tragic death on the track in 1994 is rendered with extraordinary irony and grace… 

The fact that Immortals (Universal) was billed on posters as “From the producers of 300” and not as “a film by Tarsem” served as a hefty warning: The film’s lumbering, awkward content felt like a money-grubbing attempt to merge 300 and Clash Of The Titans without any of the flavor of Tarsem’s more personal work, like The Fall. Like all Tarsem’s work, it’s a mighty pretty film, but only Mickey Rourke as the villain feels like remotely like a human being instead of a painted, polished CGI model…

The central mystery of Pedro Almodóvar’s low-key thriller The Skin I Live In (Sony) takes a bit too long to unravel, given that audiences will likely see the reveals coming long before they arrive. But that’s part of the experience of the film: Knowing what’s coming, but watching it happen in slow motion, with plenty of detail. It’s like an emotional version of a torture-porn film; while the content is rarely graphic (apart from one grim rape scene), the unfolding relationship between plastic surgeon Antonio Banderas and his captive subject Elena Anaya is gruesomely fascinating.

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