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DVDs In Brief: October 10, 2012


DVD round-up

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Credit Ridley Scott with knowing how to get people talking about a movie. Prometheus (Fox), an ultra-glossy sort-of-prequel to/sort-of-remake of Alien, launched a zillion Internet flamewars, both with deliberate ambiguities and with frustrating plot holes. Regardless, it’s a gorgeous and impressively tense movie, designed to promote gawking as well as arguing. At its best, it establishes and explores a series of fascinatingly detailed alien worlds, though they aren’t as alien as the ones inside its characters’ minds…

The problem with The Raven (Fox), starring John Cusack as tormented, vain author Edgar Allan Poe, is that it’s a knockoff of a movie series that isn’t that great in the first place. It apes the look, feel, and milieu of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies, with a famous figure solving crimes with a literary bent. But while Cusack does his best crazy-ranty Nic Cage impression, the film is just a forgettable series of fights linked by questionable clues and smirking Poe references…

Hairspray director Adam Shankman brought the Broadway hair-metal smash Rock Of Ages (Warner Bros.) to the big screen with its flaming bad taste intact, then added all manner of star-power via turns from everyone from Tom Cruise to Russell Brand to Catherine Zeta-Jones to Paul Giamatti, but the public roundly rejected the film’s pandering shamelessness, proving that, despite H.L. Mencken’s words to the contrary, it is possible to go broke underestimating the intelligence (or at least taste) of the American public… 

A documentary about LCD Soundsystem’s last show at Madison Square Garden, Shut Up And Play The Hits (Oscilloscope) has its strongest criticism embedded in the title. Where fans might clamor for a straightforward, Stop Making Sense-like filming of a great band’s final bow, the film instead delivers a lot of scenes of frontman James Murphy being interviewed by Chuck Klosterman and dithering around in the hours before curtain. It’s a frustrating experience, but exhilarating once it settles onstage… 

One of two out-of-the-blue nominees for last year’s Best Animated Feature Oscar—the other being Chico And Rita—the charming but slight hand-drawn trifle A Cat In Paris (New Video Group) is a prime example of the Academy fishing titles from a shallow pond. Still, it’s short and well-proportioned, following a red-striped black cat named Dino as he skitters between his cozy home with a detective and her daughter and a nightlife accompanying a burglar on jobs. Worlds collide, naturally.