Plus an Aussie musical, a Mexican circus documentary and more
Kristin Wiig co-writes and stars in the hit girl-bonding romp "Bridesmaids" (Universal), a hit comedy that reminds us that women can have just as much fun playing in the comedy sandbox of adolescent behavior, poor judgment and gross-out gags. Videodrone's review is here and Videodrone talks to Kristin Wiig about the film and DVD here.
Speaking of brides, "Bride Flight" (Music Box) is a romantic drama about three Dutch women emigrating to New Zealand to meet their husbands-to-be in 1953 and one young man emigrating for a better life. Set during the Last Great Air Race from London to Christchurch, the chance meeting becomes a turning point in their lives. Film critic Roger Ebert writes that ""Bride Flight" takes this melodrama and adds details of period, of behavior, of personality, to somewhat redeem its rather inevitable conclusion." It's the most expensive film ever made in the Netherlands and features an appearance by Rutger Hauer in his first role in a Dutch film in years. In English and Dutch with English subtitles. Arrives on DVD and Blu-ray, both with a featurette and bonus interviews, plus Digital Download and OnDemand.
"Brand New Day" (Fox) follows a runaway Aboriginal teenager on his way back home to reunite with his girlfriend while his boarding school headmaster (Geoffrey Rush) is hot on his trail. The Australian musical road movie was originally released under the title "Bran Nue Dae." NPR film critic Ella Taylor writes: "Enjoyable and forgettable in equal measure, the lovably cheesy Australian movie Bran Nue Dae is a must for children bitten by the musical-revival fever, for all who heart American Idol, and for anyone who came of age in the late 1960s - and is willing to hear the beloved pop standards of their youth massacred for a new age." On DVD and Blu-ray.
Bruce Willis goes direct-to-DVD in the heist thirller "Set Up" (Lionsgate) and he gets second billing to Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson to boot. If that's not a career wake-up call, I don't know what is. Ryan Phillippe and Randy Couture co-star. On DVD and Blu-ray, with commentary, featurettes and interviews.
"Circo" (First Run) follows a small family circus traveling the backroad circuit of rural Mexico. Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan describes it as "a marvel of a documentary, a clear-eyed and affectionate film that tells a remarkable story with both visual and personal sensitivity. More impressive still, it's largely the work of one man." Features an interview with director Aaron Schock and a follow-up featurette among the supplements.
And the rest:
"Forever Plaid: The Movie" (Flatiron) isn't a movie, it's a recording of the theatrical musical fantasy. "Breaking the Press" (Fox) is a sports drama with a religious theme. Ray Liotta and Ving Rhames star in the murder mystery "The River Murders" (Sony). "Spooky Buddies" (Disney) is the latest direct-to-DVD sequel in the cute little puppy series.
Plus 'Nostalgia For the Light' and horror films from hither and yon
Catherine Deneuve essentially plays herself in "I Want to See" (Typecast), a documentary/fiction hybrid about a famous French actress in Beirut and who, with a Lebanese actor (Rabih Mroue) acting as guide, driver and commentator, tours the devastation and reconstruction of South Lebanon. The unspoken politics behind the small talk is the elephant in the car but this is more conceptual art piece than documentary: strangers talking in a car as the world goes by outside. Like an Abbas Kiarostami film without the discipline or the design. The film is strongest when the cameras are turned outward to look at the world going by: urban ruins like rotting corpses, a village leveled to rubble, a coast buried in mountains of tangled of rebar and broken concrete, the surf orange from the detritus, and in between a verdant, green countryside that looks for all the world like a rural idyll. Except for the land mines. In Arabic and French with English subtitles.
Semih Kaplanoğlu's "Yusuf Trilogy" chronicles life in the Anatolian provinces of Eastern Turkey through the life of Yusuf, a poet raised by a single mother. The three films in the series -- "Yumurta" (Olive) (aka "Egg," 2007), "Sut" (Olive) (aka "Honey," 2008) and "Bal" (Olive) (aka "Milk," 2010) -- stairstep back through his life, from adulthood back to childhood, ending (or perhaps beginning in a rural village where (in the words of AV Club film critic Sam Adams) "sweetness is hard to come by, and its pursuit can be dangerous, even life-threatening. But its simple, unadulterated pleasures are matchless, and the same can be said for "Bal"’s best moments." The widescreen films are presented in soft, non-anamorphic editions from a lo-fidelity master, in Turkish with English subtitles. The films are only available separately in this release. Could be that a box-set edition will follow sometime in the future but no such plans have been announced at this time.
Patricio Guzman directs the documentary "Nostalgia For The Light" (Icarus), a poetic portrait of the Atacama Desert in Chile, the driest place on Earth, with a political undercurrent. "This film demands patience from the viewer, unfolding its themes and its spectacular images gradually," writes Salon film critic Andrew O'Hehir. "But it packs a potent intellectual and emotional wallop, combining a post-Augustinian philosophical consideration of time with a passionate desire to uncover Chile's painful recent history." On DVD and Blu-ray, both with five bonus short films by Guzman. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Don Kaye reviews "The Silent House" (IFC), a thriller from Uruguay shot in a single, unbroken take, at MSN's Parallel Universe: ""The Silent House" (or "La Casa Muda") is certainly an impressive technical achievement. But what Hernandez accomplishes with his digital camera cannot replace the lack of a strong story, well-developed characters, or the sense that we've seen a lot of this before." In Spanish with English subtitles.
"We Are the Night" (IFC) is a German vampire drama about a quartet of forever-young women living high in the nocturnal nightlife of Berlin's nightclubs. Dennis Gansel (of "The Wave") directs. "Blades of Blood" (Lionsgate) is a South Korean martial arts costume picture.
The cops-in-paradise crime series gets a new incarnation
"What kind of cops are you?"
"The new kind."
"Hawaii Five-0: The First Season" (Paramount) revives the old cops-in-paradise crime series with a young cast and a maverick new sensibility. This Five-0 is a special branch of the Honolulu PD, personally created by the Governor (guest star Jean Smart) to take on major crimes and high-profile cases, and it makes up its rules. Think of it as a classic cop show on steroids and suntan lotion.
Alex O'Loughlin is the new model Steve McGarrett, the local boy made good: a former Navy SEAL hardcase with a cowboy approach to police work and the looks of a GC model. Danno (Scott Caan), a Jersey transfer with a sardonic streak, helps cut through McGarrett's intensity and counterbalance his single-minded pursuit of the men who murdered his McGarrett's father. Filling out the team is disgraced officer Chin Ho (Daniel Dae Kim), accused of a crime he didn't commit, and surfer girl turned fresh Police Academy graduate Kono (Grace Park).
This is boilerplate stuff: Steve McGarrett takes a job on the force to get the man who killed his father (guest appearance by William Sadler; get that man his own series) and stays on to run his own team. Between the weekly rotation of new cases, he digs into the web of criminal conspiracy and finds Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos, like O'Laughlin a good-looking and stylish new model villain) and corruption infiltrating the department and even the government.
O'Loughlin apprenticed under Michael Chiklis's Vic Mackey on "The Shield" and apparently brought some of those ideas to the island, but he's not crooked, merely reckless. Remember that thing about making up his own rules? He and his team heists $10 million from a police evidence locker and then lose it before he can sneak it back in, and then walk right into a major frame-up in the cliffhanger season closer. Danno's job here isn't so much to keep McGarrett honest but to remind him of all the lines he's stepping over, and then back his plays unconditionally. I can appreciate that kind of loyalty, but this is one cowboy cop who could use some push back from his partner.
24 episodes six discs plus commentary on two episodes and a big complement of supplements. A lot of those are basic promo pieces (like the "behind the scenes" look at recording the new incarnation of the iconic theme song) but there's also "Shore Lines: The Story of Season 1," a substantial half-hour featurette, plus "Picture Perfect: The Making of the Pilot," highlights from the Comic-Con panel and the usual deleted scenes and gag reel.
It's also coming out on Blu-ray, but it's exclusively available through Best Buy for now.
Kristen Wiig lets the girls play in the guy's sandbox of gross-out comedy
Every couple of years, some film with a predominantly female cast becomes a big hit and suddenly every paper and online film site is reminded that women also go to movies. With "Bridesmaids" (Universal), the story was extended to the insight that hey, women can be funny too. Really. Wow, insight indeed.
No, the real story is that women can have just as much fun playing in the comic sandbox of adolescent behavior, poor judgment and gross-out gags and that both male and female audiences find it just as funny. "Bridesmaids" found box-office gold in a girl-bonding romp filled equally with outlandish bridal showers and alcohol-fueled slapstick aggression, grand romantic gestures and furtive sex, high couture and low blows.
Wiig, like so many underutilized and highly creative performers before her, answered the lack of substantial roles by writing one for herself and her fellow funny ladies, but she built the character of Annie on a foundation of disappointment and anxiety that women and men both can relate to. An entrepreneur picking up the pieces from a failed business, she's broke, in a job she hates, a roommate situation that drives her farther into depression and a relationship with a cad who undercuts her self-esteem with every sleepover. When her best friend (fellow "SNL" regular Maya Rudolph) announces that she's getting married, the sinkhole just gets worse, especially when she finds herself competing with a spoiled society girl (Rose Byrne) who proclaims herself the new best friend.
The anxiety of underemployment and the palpable humiliation of slowly losing her independence gives a human dimension to the over-the-top comedy and helps smooth out the sometimes spotty nature of this kind of filmmaking. But mostly, it's satisfying to see Annie act out in ways that movies allow men to constantly but rarely extend to women: responding to stress and jealousy like an overgrown adolescent, misbehaving out of pique and anxiety, screwing up big and getting the opportunity to make good and be forgiven.
Videodrone's take on the biggest, best, coolest and culty-ist home video releases of the week.
"Bridesmaids" (Universal) is a necessary reminder that women can have just as much fun playing in the comedy sandbox of adolescent behavior, poor judgment and gross-out gags (they clearly do) and that audiences find it just as funny. Kristin Wiig co-writes and stars in this hit girl-bonding romp and gives a charming vulnerability to it all between the laugh. Videodrone's review is here and Videodrone talks to Kristin Wiig about the film and DVD here.
Speaking of brides, "Bride Flight" (Music Box) is a romantic drama about three Dutch women emigrating to New Zealand to meet their husbands-to-be in 1953, while "Brand New Day" (Fox) is an Australian musical road movie starring Geoffrey Rush.
On the foreign front we have a couple of horror films -- "We Are the Night" (IFC), a German vampire indie, and "The Silent House" (IFC), a haunting thriller from Uruguay shot in a single, unbroken take -- plus the Lebanese drama "I Want to See" (Typecast) starring Catherine Deneuve and the documentary "Nostalgia For The Light" (Icarus) from Chile. Videodrone's Foreign Affairs round-up is here.
Finally, Bruce Willis goes direct-to-DVD in "Set Up" (Lionsgate), getting second billing to Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.
TV on DVD:
"Hawaii Five-0: The First Season" (Paramount) revives the old cops-in-paradise crime series with a young cast and a new sensibility. This Five-0 is a special branch that makes up its rules, sort of a classic cop show on steroids and sun tan lotion. The season ends with a cliffhanger rife with conspiracy, corruption and criminal frame-ups. Book 'em, Danno. Videodrone's review is here.
Dana Delaney returns to TV in "Body of Proof: The Complete First Season" (Disney), playing a flinty former neurosurgeon turned forensic pathologist who has to learn to tone down her attitude and reconnect with her estranged daughter after a car accident ends her surgical career. Videodrone's review is here.
There are more debut seasons: "Mike & Molly: The Complete First Season" (Warner), with newly-anointed Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy, "Happy Endings: The Complete First Season" (Sony), "Raising Hope: The Complete First Season" (Fox) and "Law & Order: Los Angeles – The Complete Series" (Universal), the latter reviewed on Videodrone here.
Also this week comes Emmy Award powerhouse "Modern Family: The Complete Second Season" (Fox), "Castle: The Complete Third Season" (Disney) and "The Mentalist: The Complete Third Season" (Warner), while on the classic TV front, "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer: The Complete Series" (A&E) stars Darren McGavin in a late-fifties version of the iconic detective and "The Dick Van Dyke Show 50th Anniversary Edition: Fan Favorites" (Image) offers 20 classic episodes. The vintage releases are reviewed on Videodrone here.
Cool, Classic and Cult:
"Le beau Serge" (Criterion) and "Les cousins" (Criterion), the first two films from Claude Chabrol, mark the official birth of the French nouvelle vague. The two confident, mature dramas don't have the stylistic flash or narrative invention of the more famous works by Godard and Truffaut that followed, but that was always the way with Chabrol, the classicist of the "Cahiers" crowd. They make their respective American home video debuts on beautifully-mastered DVD and Blu-ray editions from Criterion. Videodrone's review is here.
"Landmarks of Early Soviet Film: A Four-Disc DVD Collection Of 8 Groundbreaking Films" (Flicker Alley) may sound like dry lesson plan in film history on the surface but the diversity of films, from dynamic dramas to witty comedies to striking documentaries, makes this collection a revelation for lovers of silent films, classic cinema and adventurous filmmaking. Such a labor of love certainly gets some love from me in the Videodrone review.
Also debuting this week is "Visions of Eight" (Olive), the anthology documentary on the 1972 Munich Olympics with sequences by Milos Forman, Kon Ichikawa, Claude Lelouch, Arthur Penn, John Schlesinger, Mai Zetterling, Juri Ozerov and Michael Pfleghar, and "hitRECord RECollection" (hitREcord), a multimedia collection of short films, music and art collected in a hardcover book.
The 1941 Disney animated classic about a little circus pachyderm with big ears and the unlikely ability to fly, makes its Blu-ray debut with "Dumbo: 70th Anniversary Edition" (Disney) in newly remastered edition, reviewed on Videodrone here.
Audrey Hepburn is perfection as carefree and kooky New York party girl Holly Golightly in "Breakfast At Tiffany’s" (Paramount), Blake Edwards’ sparkling adaptation of Truman Capote's bittersweet novella, and Wes Craven's first two films get new Blu-ray editions. Also new this week: "The Others" (Lionsgate), "Scary Movie 2" (Lionsgate) and "Scary Movie 3: Unrated" (Lionsgate).
The complete calendar of releases this week is after the jump:
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Talking movies and DVDs with the star and co-writer of 'Bridesmaids'
Kristin Wiig, one of the only reasons to check in with "Saturday Night Live" in recent years, has been turning bit parts into defining comedy moment in films as "Ghost Town" and "Adventureland," not to mention a half dozen Judd Apatow comedies. Now Wiig takes charge as co-writer and star of "Bridesmaids," a boys night out comedy for women that defied all industry expectations, becoming a smash hit and the most successful comedy to date for producer Apatow. It’s also a necessary reminder that, Hollywood's obsession with making films for adolescent males aside, effective comedy cuts across gender lines. Especially when you throw in a little bathroom humor. "Bridesmaids" hits DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download this week and Videodrone checked in with the multi-talented Ms. Wiig to talk movies, DVDs, Jon Hamm and doing nasty things in bridal shops.
MSN: I just listened to the "Bridesmaids" commentary track, with you, director Paul Feig, co-writer Annie Mumolo and most of your fellow bridesmaids.
Kristen Wiig: Uh-oh.
It sounds like you guys had a lot of fun.
Wiig: We did. I'm actually nervous because I haven't heard it yet. Did I say anything to embarrass myself?
Let's just say that you didn't say anything that was more embarrassing than anything you said in the movie.
Wiig: There! Okay, that's fair.
You recorded that commentary track the day before the film opened, when you had no idea that it was going to be huge.
Wiig: Yeah, that's crazy. I was probably very, very nervous. It's probably why we were drinking wine.
If the commentary track is anything to go by, it sounds like you all had quite a time on the set as well.
Wiig: We did. It was like summer camp for three months. It was so fun and the cast made it so special. We just got lucky. All the girls all fell in love with each other and, yeah, those are my girls.
Here's what's in the Blu-ray debut, what's not, and what's the big deal
Long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I gave up my indignation over George Lucas screwing up "Star Wars" and sequels/prequels by re-editing scenes, adding special effects and rewriting small but central parts of the original experience. That doesn't mean I like it – I've kept my lo-fi, non-anamorphic DVD edition of the original "Star Wars," just so I can preserve a copy of the experience I first had way back in 1977 without the CGI noodling in the margins of the Mos Eisley spaceport and other scenes – just that I'm tired of complaining about it.
See an MSN Exclusive Clip from the supplements, featuring George Lucas discussing the origins of Boba Fett, below.
So in "Star Wars: The Complete Saga" (Fox), I can confirm that Greedo doesn't noticeably shoot first (it's pretty much simultaneous by now) and Muppet Yoda has NOT been replaced by a CGI version, that all those distracting CGI embellishments to the original "Star Wars" (aka "A New Hope") are still there and still distracting, that Vader doesn't scream "Noooooooooooooooo!" so much as growl "Nooo!" at the end of "Return of the Jedi," and that I still don't care about Episodes I-III.
With that out of the way, we get to the question that the collectors have: is it worth the upgrade? And the answer is pretty simple: if you want the highest quality of presentation for a high-definition system, then yeah, this is a definite step up in video clarity and audio muscle. It's possible that it could be better, as Lucas is using digital source material created for its DVD debut, but it looks good to me.
If you are more concerned with the integrity of the original films, however, you might as well hang on to those unrestored editions on DVD. Those are hardly state of the art (Lucas made sure of that back in 2006 by presenting them in non-anamorphic editions -- an unnecessary slight to his loyal fan base) but they are the original theatrical versions, which Lucas is apparently uninterested in making available on Blu-ray.
And in terms of supplements, Lucasfilm has dropped some of the more substantial documentaries from the earlier DVD editions (notably the superb two-and-a-half-hour "Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy" but also some terrific shorter featurettes) and added a few new ones, including the 2007 "Star Warriors" (more time than you'd ever want to spend with fandom's answer to Civil War reenactors), 90 minutes of spoofs, and "A Conversation with the Masters: The Empire Strikes Back 30 Years Later," a 25-minute interview featurette with Lucas, director Irvin Kershner, screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and composer John Williams discussing the challenge of creating the second film in the series. In addition to the commentary tracks of the DVD releases, there is a second commentary for each film constructed from archival interviews.
But watching the films again with all this increased detail simply reminds me how much I like that roughed-up texture of the props and sets and miniatures of the original "Star Wars," that physical quality of the original trilogy that fades away in the digital dazzle off the later prequels. I'm sure there's a generation out there who doesn't really care about that tactile dimension but to me it's part of what makes those films such a blast. They may not be perfect, but creativity that met the challenges of special effects in the pre-digital age is part of what makes them such beloved films.
For more in-depth and technically savvy reviews, I direct you to Home Theater Forum, The Digital Bits and High-Def Digest, and for reviews from the British release, identical to the American but for the physical packaging (the case itself), see my earlier posting on Videodrone here.
See an exclusive clip from the supplements, followed by a detailed listing of the contents of each disc, after the jump.
Your guide to our coverage of the new DVD/Blu-ray releases
Here's what's new on DVD and Blu-ray this week as featured on Videodrone
'Thor' – From Olympus to Earth to Home Video
'Meek's Cutoff' – Lost on the Trail
TV on DVD:
'Spartacus' and 'Camelot,' Spectacle and Sex
'Rescue Me: The Sixth Season and The Final Season' - Saved From the Flames
The Cool and the Collectible:
Countdown to 'Star Wars' Blu-ray: The First Reviews
Streams and Channels:
Countdown to 'Star Wars' Blu-ray: 'Star Wars Begins'
Coming up next week:
"Bride Flight" (Music Box)
"We Are the Night" (IFC)
"The Yusuf Trilogy: Yumurta, Sut, Bal" (Olive)
"Le beau Serge" (Criterion)
"Les cousins" (Criterion)
"Landmarks of Early Soviet Film: A Four-Disc DVD Collection Of 8 Groundbreaking Films" (Flicker Alley)
"Visions of Eight" (Olive)
"Modern Family: The Complete Second Season" (Fox)
"Hawaii Five-0: The First Season" (Paramount)
"Mike & Molly: The Complete First Season" (Warner)
"Happy Endings: The Complete First Season" (Sony)
"Raising Hope: The Complete First Season " (Fox)
"Body of Proof: The Complete First Season" (Disney)
"Law & Order: Los Angeles – The Complete Series" (Universal)
"Castle: The Complete Third Season" (Disney)
"The Mentalist: The Complete Third Season" (Warner)
"Mad: Season One, Part One" (Warner)
"Dumbo: 70th Anniversary Edition" (Blu-ray) (Disney)
"Breakfast At Tiffany’s" (Blu-ray) (Paramount)
|Tags:||Week in review|