RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: A Dangerous Method and Chipwrecked

Also, a Best Picture nominee, a maverick director's biopic, and a little bit of Bogey.

by | March 27, 2012 | Comments

The home video releases for this week are sort of all over the place, so bear with us. To kick things off, we have a critically panned kid flick, a solid hit from David Cronenberg, and a Best Picture nominee that induced a lot of head-scratching. After that, we’ve got Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, a well received doc on Roger Corman, a couple of notable Criterion Collection selections, and a bona fide classic getting a brand new anniversary edition. Without further ado, here’s this week’s list:

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

12%

The Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise isn’t exactly held up as a paragon of contemporary cinema, but even for its low standards, its latest installment, Chipwrecked, failed on pretty much every level. In this third animated/live-action romp, the titular trio and their female counterparts are stranded on a deserted island when a parasailing mishap leads them astray; caretaker Dave (Jason Lee) and his old boss Ian (David Cross) work together to locate and rescue their furry friends. Critics largely found the film forgettable, with recycled humor and lazy writing that made for an obnoxious and unfunny moviegoing experience. But, as with so many movies of this nature, we must keep in mind that grown up film critics are not the target audience here, and most concede that if you’re just looking for something mindless to keep your very young children at bay for a couple of hours, this might do the trick.

A Dangerous Method

78%

For his third collaboration with director David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises), Viggo Mortensen took on the role of famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, playing opposite Michael Fassbender (who was in, like, half of all the movies released in 2011) as his younger colleague Carl Jung and Keira Knightley as Sabina Spielrein, the woman who came between them. With that kind of pedigree and its provocative subject matter, A Dangerous Method picked up some early awards buzz that unfortunately burned off by the time the Oscars came around, though Mortensen did pick up a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Golden Globes. As for the critical reception, the film currently holds a Certified Fresh 78% on the Tomatometer, with most praising the performances from its distinguished three leads. If historical drama and psychosexual tension are your thing, this one’s definitely worth a look.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

45%

Considering it was based on the novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, the young writer whose success has polarized a portion of the literary community, it’s not surprising that Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has had nearly the same effect on film critics. The only film nominated for this year’s Best Picture Oscar that didn’t sport a Fresh rating (in fact, the only one that wasn’t Certified Fresh), Extremely Loud stars former Kids Jeopardy! winner-turned-actor Thomas Horn as Oskar Schell, son of a 9/11 victim (Tom Hanks), who must learn to cope with life in the wake of his father’s death. A year after the tragedy, when Oskar discovers a mysterious key among his father’s belongings, he sets out to discover what it unlocks. Extremely Loud split critics nearly right down the middle, scoring a 47% on the Tomatometer, with most of them noting that there’s a worthy story to tell, but that director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Reader) tells it in such a pretentious and shamelessly sentimental fashion as to make it distasteful.

In the Land of Blood and Honey

57%

After spending years in front of the camera as one of the most sought after A-list actresses, Angelina Jolie decided to take a shot at operating behind it, making her writing and directing debut with In the Land of Blood and Honey. Set in Bosnian War-era Sarajevo, Blood and Honey is a dark, disturbing story of star crossed love between a Serbian soldier (Goran Kostic) and his former flame (Zana Marjanovic), a Muslim woman now forced into sexual slavery in the camp he oversees. Jolie drew upon her experiences as UN ambassador for inspiration, and while the film just missed Freshness at 57%, most critics were willing to acknowledge her ambition in the project, noting that even if parts of the story were stretched too thin, the film marked a confidant debut for her. Filmed overseas with local actors from the surrounding regions, it’s not the glamorous Hollywood fare normally associated with Jolie’s acting roles, but it’s an intriguing film, if only to see what potential Jolie might possess as a filmmaker.

Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel

92%

This may not necessarily apply to our rather knowledgeable readership here on RT, but for those unfamiliar, Roger Corman may very well be the most influential director you’ve never heard of (or, if the name sounds familiar, you don’t know why). The king of low-budget cinema, Corman began his B-movie career back in the 1950s and came to prominence in the ’60s and ’70s, when he pretty much ruled the cult movie circuit, working with a number of notable actors (Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Dennis Hopper) and directors (Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola) “before they were famous.” Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, Certified Fresh at 90%, is last year’s documentary chronicling Corman’s illustrious career, and critics say that while it may not offer as complete a picture as some enthusiasts might hope, it’s nevertheless an affectionate, informative, and, above all, entertaining look at a cinematic giant who has touched more lives than many realize.

A Night to Remember – Criterion Collection

100%

Before James Cameron brought us his Oscar juggernaut Titanic in 1997 (coincidentally set to reopen in 3D next week), there was Roy Ward Baker’s A Night to Remember, released in 1958 and based on the non-fiction book of the same title by Walter Lord. Though its modest production values were nowhere near as lavish as Cameron’s film, it has long been thought of as one of the most accurate portrayals of the famous maritime tragedy, employing a social sensitivity and quiet elegance to tell its story. One of Criterion’s earliest DVD releases, A Night to Remember gets a brand new high definition transfer on DVD and Blu-ray, with special features like an hourlong making-of documentary, a Swedish documentary from 1962 featuring interviews with actual survivors, another 60-minute documentary by the BBC, and, of course, a commentary track by a Titanic scholar. It’s a great film and a perfect alternative for those put off by the romantic angle of Cameron’s version.

David Lean Directs Noël Coward – Criterion Collection

David Lean is best known for historical epics like Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and The Bridge on the River Kwai, but the celebrated English editor-turned-director got his first big break behind the camera for 1942’s In Which We Serve, written by playwright Noël Coward. Though Coward received most of the accolades for the successful wartime film, the two went on to work together on their next three films, all adaptations of Coward plays directed by Lean: This Happy Breed (1944), Blithe Spirit (1945), and Brief Encounter (1945). This week, the good people over at the Criterion Collection have made it easy for novices to dive into these masterful collaborations by collecting all four in a set called, simply, David Lean Directs Noël Coward. The films are treats in themselves, but the set also comes equipped with extras like short making-of documentaries, interviews, a commentary track for Brief Encounter, and TV docs on both Lean’s and Coward’s careers.

Casablanca – 70th Anniversary Limited Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray

99%

Casablanca is one of those rare classics deserving of every ounce of praise that’s been heaped upon it. It’s suspenseful, witty, heartbreaking, dreamy, and wildly entertaining — as close to perfect as classic Hollywood gets. In fact, Casablanca has left such an indelible mark on the history of cinema that even if you’ve never seen it, you could probably quote large swaths of its wonderful dialogue verbatim: “Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.'” “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman give career-defining performances as Rick and Ilsa, perhaps the screen’s most iconic couple; he’s a cynical expat saloon owner, and she’s the wife of a freedom fighter looking to secure his safe passage into America. They shared a great love once; now, can they get past their feelings and work together for a greater cause? The Casablanca 70th Anniversary Limited Edition Blu-ray and DVD does this classic proud, with a sparkling new transfer of the film plus oodles of extras, including deleted scenes, a bunch of documentaries about the making of the movie and its key participants, and audio commentaries.

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