RT on DVD

RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: Limitless and Take Me Home Tonight

Plus, a little-seen French farce and some bona fide classics.

by | July 20, 2011 | Comments

This week on home video, there isn’t a whole lot to choose from again. That is, of course, unless you’re interested in a straight-to-video adaptation of the video game Tekken or a Blu-ray reissue of Jean Claude Van Damme’s Nowhere to Run. No? We didn’t think so. Instead, we bring you the few new releases, including a Bradley Cooper-powered thriller, a throwback to the 1980s, and an acclaimed French comedy, and a few classics, ranging from some of the best cinema India has created to a hood movie that’s about more than just the hood. See below for the full list!

Limitless

69%

Bradley Cooper’s becoming quite the leading man as of late, particularly with the popularity of the Hangover films, but his ability to carry a film was truly tested with this year’s Limitless. A sci-fi film of sorts, Limitless centers around an author (Cooper) with a severe case of writer’s block who takes an experimental drug that unlocks his full potential. What he didn’t count on was the side effects of the drug or the unwanted attention its usage would bring him. Though it didn’t make oodles of cash at the box office, Limitless did impress quite a few critics, who praised Cooper’s charismatic work in the starring role. Overall, the film netted a respectable 70% on the Tomatometer despite an uneven script, and Cooper’s presence, as well as director Neil Burger’s visual flair, was a big part of that positive score. With supporting turns from Abbie Cornish, Robert De Niro, and Anna Friel, among others, this is a thriller that might be worth checking out if you’re curious.

Take Me Home Tonight

28%

There’s nothing wrong with a little retro love, and the 1980s have definitely enjoyed a pop culture resurgence, probably because the kids who grew up during that decade are now full-fledged adults longing to relive their childhoods. But just because you throw a bunch of casual references up on the screen, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing justice to the era. Such was the case with Take Me Home Tonight, a misguided attempt to take audiences back to the days of hairspray and leg warmers. That ’70s Show alum Topher Grace stars as Matt Franklin, an aimless MIT grad working at a local video store who gets invited to an epic end-of-summer party by his high school crush (Teresa Palmer). With his twin sister (Anna Faris) and best friend (Dan Fogler) in tow, Matt embarks on an evening that will change his life. Though critics felt Take Me Home Tonight had a certain charming sweetness about it, they also felt that it was neither funny nor original enough to live up to the comedies it evokes. With a 28% on the Tomatometer, it’s far from a guaranteed crowd pleaser, but if you just want to relive some generic moments from the 1980s, it might be for you.

Potiche

83%

Here’s another one of those gems that you probably either never heard about or never got a chance to see, due to its extremely limited release. Based on a French play of the same name, Potiche — which, roughly translated, means “trophy wife” — tells the story of a wealthy entrepreneur’s submissive wife, who steps in and takes control of her husband’s umbrella factory after his workers revolt. Luckily, she proves herself a competent and assertive leader, and when her husband returns from a short respite on a cruise, complications arise. Set in the early 1970s and starring French screen legends Catherine Deneuve and Gerard Depardieu, Potiche is a delightful comic farce and somewhat of a departure for director Francois Ozon, probably known more overseas for his sexually charged 2003 psychodrama Swimming Pool. Critics found the film to be an effective satire of the era’s class and gender struggles, packed with great performances and witty dialogue, and it’s earned a Certified Fresh 85% on the Tomatometer. French satire might be a bit of an esoteric genre for some, but those who give this a shot are likely to enjoy it.

Boyz N the Hood – Blu-ray

96%

It’s hard to believe that “gangsta rap” is already almost a quarter of a century old, but the album that arguably started it all, N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton indeed released in 1988. That highly influential rap group birthed the careers of currently big names like Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, and just a few years after the album’s release, in 1991, Cube also starred in what would become the definitive movie about urban inner city life, John Singleton’s directorial debut Boyz N the Hood. Focusing on the relationships and struggles of three boys growing up in the hood, the film stars Cuba Gooding Jr. as a smart kid fighting the bad influences of his neighborhood, Morris Chestnut as an up-and-coming athlete, and Cube as a gangbanger-to-be who gives in to the pressures of his peers. With an all-star cast that included Laurence Fishburne, Angela Basset, and Nia Long, among others, Boyz N the Hood earned Singleton Best Director and Best Screenplay Oscar nods, as well as accolades for the outstanding cast, including Ice Cube in particular. It’s a powerful and gritty take on the coming-of-age tale, and it’s available for the first time on Blu-ray with an assortment of bonus features that includes an HD retrospective of the film’s significance, deleted scenes, audition tapes, and the requisite commentary track.

Beauty and the Beast (1946) – Criterion Collection Blu-ray

96%

If you’re only familiar with Disney’s animated musical version of the classic fairy tale, then you’re missing arguably the best film adaptation of Beauty and the Beast — French surrealist Jean Cocteau’s 1946 masterpiece. Sure, Jean Marais’ Beast looks like the sullen cousin to the cowardly lion, but behind the pantomime gestures lies a deeply heartbreaking performance, while Cocteau’s use of light, old-school photographic effects and mirrors creates an atmosphere without peer. Arriving this week on Criterion Blu-ray, this edition of the film features a new hi-def transfer, two commentaries, Philip Glass’ take on the soundtrack, a documentary on the making of the movie and the usual supplements of artwork and solid liner notes.

The Music Room – Criterion Collection

100%

One of cinema’s greatest artists, Satyajit Ray is best known for his Apu trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and The World of Apu), a hypnotically beautiful, achingly humanist portrait of a young man coming of age in a changing India. (In case you’re wondering, yes, a well-known Kiwk-E-Mart proprietor in Springfield got his name in homage to Ray’s protagonist.) However, Ray’s filmography is full of masterpieces, including The Music Room, a haunting tale of hubris and faded glory that occasionally feels like an Indian Sunset Boulevard. Chhabi Biswas stars as an aristocrat whose vast fortune has dwindled considerably, though he continues to spend large sums of money, mostly on lavish concerts in his crumbling mansion’s music room. With its dark air of dread and its evocative score (some of which was borrowed by Wes Anderson for The Darjeeling Limited), The Music Room is a tragic tale of pride in the face of cultural change; a swanky new Criterion disc features a new transfer of the film, plus documentaries and interviews with Ray and his admirers, plus a booklet with detailed info on the movie’s location and music.

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