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RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

Plus, Gwyneth Paltrow's country breakdown and a critically acclaimed doc.

by | April 12, 2011 | Comments

This week on home video, we’ve got the latest installment in a worldwide blockbuster phenomenon and a music-movie misfire to lead off the list. Then, we’ve also got one of the most critically acclaimed documentaries of the past year and a French film that largely flew under the radar. Following those are a couple of Blu-Ray reissues of note, and we finish things up with a collection of films starring the unmatched duo of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Check out the full list below!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

77%

It seems like only yesterday that young Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) was being whisked away to Hogwarts for the very first time, and now, just a decade later, we lowly Muggles are fast approaching the final installment of the franchise. That said, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I officially hits DVD and Blu-Ray this week, and if you haven’t seen it or are itching to own the whole collection, you can pick it up. Deathly Hallows Part I begins the search for Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes, the secret to his power, and sees Harry, Hermoine (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) hiding out from Death Eaters and attempting to prevent Voldemort ultimately from obtaining the Elder Wand. Sound like Greek to you? Then you need to catch up on the series, which you can do with the special gift set of Harry Potter Years 1-7; not a poor choice to make, either, considering every single one of the Harry Potter films is Certified Fresh at 78% or above on the Tomatometer. For the rest of you, there’s also a special edition of Deathly Hallows that comes with a Dobby bookend.

Country Strong

22%

It seems there’s a bit of a singer inside Gwyneth Paltrow, what with her part in (and subsequent radio single from) 2000’s Duets and her semi-recurring role on Glee. Last year, on the heels of Jeff Bridges’s Oscar-winning turn in Crazy Heart, Paltrow slipped on her cowboy boots and her southern accent to play Kelly Canter, a volatile country star with lots of baggage, in Country Strong. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t met with the same accolades that rained upon Crazy Heart; despite some dedicated performances by Paltrow and her castmates (which included Garrett Hedlund, Leighton Meester, and Tim McGraw), the film was simply too clichéd and disjointed to resonate with the same kind of power that earned Jeff Bridges his award. The story revolves around Paltrow’s character, who embarks on a comeback tour with a another young singer (Hedlund) with whom she’s become involved, despite the fact that her manager (McGraw) is also her husband. The film only managed a 21% on the Tomatometer, but it may provide some entertainment value for fans of country music and those who don’t mind stories that follow a sort of “VH1 Behind the Music” plotline.

Marwencol

98%

Here’s one of those little-seen gems that comes along every once in a while, reaps lots of praise from critics, wins a few festival awards… and then is promptly forgotten about by the mainstream public, if they even heard about it in the first place. Marwencol not only earned the second place slot in the Limited Release category of our own 2010 Golden Tomato Awards, but it actually earned the Golden Tomato for Best Documentary; it may not be an Oscar, but it certainly means a lot of people who saw it liked it. This documentary profiles a unique individual, Mark Hogancamp, who was brutally attacked outside of a bar, knocking him into a short coma and ultimately resulting in severe memory loss. In order to cope with this tragedy, Mark begins building a miniature World War II-era town in his back yard, building scale replicas of himself and the people in his life and using the figurines to act out various scenes. Think Steve Carell’s character from Dinner for Schmucks, but without the mice or the annoying knack for self-destruction. Critics had nothing but positive things to say about the film (just look at its 100% Tomatometer score), calling it an inspiring and fascinating story that raises poignant questions about art and personal tragedy. If you missed this when it was in theaters (and chances are, you did), you can pick it up on DVD or Blu-Ray this week.

White Material – Criterion Collection

86%

French auteur Claire Denis spent much of her life in various parts of colonial Africa, and her experiences growing up there have informed several of her films, beginning with her semi-autobiographical 1988 debut Chocolat. Her latest film, 2009’s White Material, continues exploring these themes in a story set in an unnamed African country where civil war and anti-colonialist sentiment threaten to destroy one white woman’s (Isabelle Huppert) livelihood. Critics felt that White Material was yet another bold, haunting, and ultimately powerful drama from Denis, rewarding it with a Certified Fresh 87% on the Tomatometer, and it’s now one of those rare contemporary films that Criterion has decided to release under their label. The film comes with extras like new interviews with Denis and Huppert, as well as co-star Isaach de Bankole (honestly, why isn’t this guy a bigger star than he is?); a short documentary by Denis about the film’s premiere in Cameroon, and a deleted scene. You can pick it up this week on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Le Cercle Rouge – Criterion Collection Blu-Ray

95%

If you’re looking for a crime movie with more heft than your average piece of pulp, Jean-Pierre Melville’s your man. His stylish, minimalist tales of existential hoods and their escapades eschew the romanticism of most gangster flicks, but betray a profound love for American film noir and a journalist’s observant eye. A good place to start is Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle) from 1970, starring the suave, cool-as-ice Alain Delon as Corey, whose first order of business after being released from prison is to plan the robbery of a mob boss. He enlists a sharpshooter (the legendary Yves Montand) and a convicted murderer to assist him, but the gang is soon bedeviled by both the police and the underworld. The highlight is of this crime masterpiece is a wordless 30-minute sequence in which the gang undertake the heist ? it’s heavily influenced by a similar sequence in Jules Dassin’s Rififi, but the sheer tension pushes the scene beyond mere homage. You should see Le Cercle Rouge now ? Johnny To has a remake in the works starring Orlando Bloom ? and Criterion has a sparkling new set which features interviews, tons of on-set archival footage, the original trailer, and a booklet with an essay from John Woo.

The Incredibles – Blu-Ray

97%

What happens when all the collateral damage from superhero battles actually catches up with them, causing the general public to call for superhumans to live “normal” lives? The team at Pixar decided to explore the answer to that question with their hit 2004 animated film, The Incredibles, which featured voice work from Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jason Lee, among others. As with many other Pixar releases, the film received glowing reviews, to the tune of a Certified Fresh 97% Tomatometer score, with critics calling it a witty and fun-filled adventure. This week, for the first time, The Incredibles comes home on Blu-Ray, and not only does it come with all the bonus features found on previous DVD editions, but it also contains a handful of exclusive new extras, including a roundtable discussion with Brad Bird, the producers, and the animation staff; a short segment detailing the process of storyboard and pitching; and a PiP commentary track for the “Jack-Jack Attack” short. Definitely worth picking up for Pixar enthusiasts and fans of the film. For those interested, Cars is also available in a second Blu-Ray release.

Tracy & Hepburn: The Definitive Collection

Forget Brangelina ? Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are the ultimate onscreen-and-off Hollywood power couple. And if you’re looking for an authoritative chemistry lesson, the 10-disc Tracy and Hepburn – The Definitive Collection should do the trick. The set features every film featuring the pair ? including such classics as Woman of the Year, Adam’s Rib, Pat and Mike, and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner — as well as a bonus disc with Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute by Katharine Hepburn, a 1986 documentary in which Hepburn reflects on their unique partnership. If you’ve never seen these two Hollywood legends in action, this box set is the perfect place to start.

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