New Release Round-Up: "Fair Game," "Made in Dagenham" and "All Good Things"
Plus "Black Swan," "Tangled" and "Mesrine: Public Enemy #1" in a big week of New Releases
We dance with "Black Swan" (Fox) and get caught up with "Tangled" (Disney) on Videodrone here, where they get spotlight treatment as the New Releases of the week: "Tangled" for the families and "Black Swan" for when the kids go to bed.
"Made in Dagenham" (Sony)
Though based on a real-life strike for equal rights by the women workers at a British auto plant, "Made in Dagenham" is less a social drama than a light British celebration of underdog triumph with lots of cheeky humor and lovable characters. It is, after all, a film from the director of "Calendar Girls" starring the bubbly Sally Hawkins of "Happy Go Lucky." She's the worker who leads her fellow female employees in a fight for equal pay that becomes the focus of the nation in 1968. Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson and Rosamund Pike costar. "The unexpected thing about “Made in Dagenham” is how entertaining it is," writes Roger Ebert. "That's largely due to director Nigel Cole's choice of Sally Hawkins for his lead… she shows an effortless lightness of being."
Both the DVD and the Blu-ray releases feature commentary by director Nigel Cole, the 13-minute "The Making of Made in Dagenham" featurette (mostly film clips and cast interviews) and the usual collection of deleted scenes and outtakes.
MSN has an exclusive clip from the featurette "The Making of Made in Dagenham," featuring interviews with Bob Hoskins and Rosamund Pike below.
"Fair Game" (Summit) tells the story of Valerie Plame, the active CIA officer whose identity was leaked to the press by members of George W. Bush's administration in retaliation for her husband Joe Wilson's public rebuke of the administration's justification for the invasion of Iraq, endangering the lives of her contacts and, according to American law, committing treason. Directed by Doug Liman, the film stars Naomi Watts as Valerie Plame and Sean Penn as Joe Wilson. But MSN critic Kat Murphy was not impressed with their dramatization of the real-life events. "(T)his wannabe political thriller comes off as old news, obviously manipulative and smugly self-righteous," she complains. "And Liman missteps big-time by shooting the movie himself, laying on the kind of distracting camera work that's all jump and jitter, signifying nothing. The only honest work in "Fair Game" comes from Naomi Watts, an actress who couldn't cheat if she wanted to."
The real-life Valerie Plame Wilson and Joe Wilson contribute commentary to the DVD and Blu-ray release, the only supplement on both releases.
"All Good Things" (Magnolia) is a speculative drama based on the story of New York real estate heir Robert Durst (renamed David Marks here and played by Ryan Gosling) and the unsolved disappearance of his wife (Kirsten Dunst) in 1982. MSN critic Glenn Kenny argues that director Andrew Jarecki, a documentary director making his first narrative feature, "never quite gets a handle on the sprawling story he compresses to a little over 90 minutes here: Sometimes he goes for a domestic melodrama feel, others for a suspense or shock effect. He never really achieves either one…" His final assessment of the film: "what we have here is a somewhat higher grade of a Lifetime true-crime picture." The DVD and Blu-ray feature commentary with Robert Durst himself joining director Andrew Jarecki as well as a second track with Jarecki and screenwriters/producers Marcus Hinchley and Marc Smerling. Also includes featurettes, interviews and deleted scenes.
"Mesrine: Public Enemy #1" (Music Box) is part two of the saga of Jacques Mesrine, the most notorious French criminal of the 20th Century. (Part One, "Mesrine: Killer Instinct," was released on DVD and Blu-ray in January; it's featured here.) Vincent Cassel (also represented this week in "Black Swan") is the brazen bank robber and Ludivine Sagnier, Mathieu Amalric, Gérard Lanvin, Samuel Le Bihan and Olivier Gourmet co-star. "Both of these films are directly and forcibly made, and indeed won Cesars for best director (Jean-Francois Richet) and best actor (Vincent Cassel)," writes Roger Ebert, who praises Cassel as the "overwhelming fact of both films." In French with English subtitles and an optional English language dub track. No supplements beyond a trailer.
Also new this week:
"The Resident" (Image), starring Hilary Swank as a New York doctor stalked in her apartment, is the second film from the newly revived Hammer Film Productions. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Christopher Lee co-star.
"One Week" (IFC) is a Canadian road movie drama starring Joshua Jackson as a schoolteacher who hits the road on a used motorcycle after he discovers that he has cancer.
"Heaven Ain't Hard to Find" (eOne) when a young man on the run gets involved in a fight to save a Baptist church from a land developer.
"The Owls" (First Run) from Cheryl Dunye is the drama around the reunion of a lesbian punk band.
"Fatal Secrets" (MTI) stars Dina Meyer, Vincent Spano, Tess Harper and Lea Thompson in a revenge thriller.
And there is also a big collection of documentary/non-fiction features, which I will cover next week, and more foreign language films, which I'll survey later this week.